Leaving 2015

It’s the end of 2015, and for the first time in a long time, it’s been a good year. It’s had its ups and downs for sure, but the general direction has definitely been upwards and positive.

On the ‘ups’ side, we have…

  • worked all year on the same contract, which has made things a lot easier
  • built up some savings, for the first time in at least a decade
  • started up my own company and business, plus laying the groundwork for next year’s developments
  • been out to a good range of restaurants, and had a long weekend in Edinburgh
  • done some writing, and developed some ideas for working on in 2016

On the ‘downs’…

  • When I say ‘worked all year’, I mean it. Holidays and breaks have pretty much not happened. Certainly nothing more than that long weekend in Edinburgh
  • I’ve not built up the savings as much as I could/should have – but that’s been down to stuff with the car, the restaurants, and actually having a decent year of non-monastic living
  • having my own company again means I also have to deal with HMRC, Companies House, and bastard accountants
  • I haven’t actually finished any of the writing things

So it’s all swings and roundabouts, but all told it’s been a good year with a lot of stuff I’m really pleased about and/or proud of.

2014-15 Summing Up

This time last year, I made a list of things I wanted to do in the coming year.

So how have I done? Actually, not badly at all.  (The initial goals are in bold, with the results in colour afterwards)

  • Weigh LessKind of. It’s fair to say, this has had its ups and downs. Over the course of the year, I put back on some of the weight I’d lost, and then lost it again. With more regular attendance at the gym, I’ve also changed shape, lost a noticeable amount of fat, but replaced it with a similar weight of muscle, so I’ve maintained roughly the same weight throughout the last six months, despite looking (and feeling) fitter and lighter. It’s annoying, but successful in a way.
  • Write MoreLess successful. I’ve completed a couple of pieces, and got ideas for others. So I guess I’ve written more – and been doing more here – but still, it’s not quite what I’d hoped/planned for.
  • IAM TestKinda. I’ve booked it in, but it’s not happened yet. I’ll write more about that when it does.
  • Ideas for my own businessSuccessful. In the last six months I’ve changed to doing the contract through my own limited company, and dealing with my own accounts and payroll etc. – which is definitely a good step in the right direction. I’ve also got more/better ideas and goals for the coming year, and what the plans will be.
  • Build The FinancesSuccessful. It’s not been perfect. There have been unexpected expenses like the car’s turbo needing replacement, and a few other things along the way. There’s also been that nasty habit of getting out and having a life – some of which hasn’t been super-cheap.
    But all told, I’m coming out of the year in a far better position than I went into it. Not as well as I could have come out of it, but there we go – my choice, my decision, and it’s still a good position to be in.

So all told, it’s been a pretty good year. Most of the plans have borne fruit, or are at least showing growth and promise for the coming year.  Frankly, I can live with that as a set of results.


The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

In preparation for another post (one of the usual ones for a couple of weeks’ time) I’ve been looking at things from (roughly) this time last year, and it’s been a bit odd in some ways.

There’s a distinct synchronicity between the two years, which is surprising.  Last weekend, I bought some new tyres for the car – and it turns out I did the same a year ago.  It also got a full service done – which I’ve just booked in again.

It’s also just under a year ago that I started doing the day-trips when I could (and/or when I wanted to) on weekends, which has continued and been pretty cool. I haven’t done one in a couple of months, mainly due to a madly busy period with no weekends ‘off’, but that doesn’t mean I won’t again.

Along the way, there’s also been a lot of good stuff.

Comparing where life was last October to this is like comparing pearls with cow shit.

October 2014 was a low point, although nowhere near my lowest. (There’s some competition for that ‘honour’, mainly September 2010, April 2012 and August 2012, although I’m sure there’s a couple of other close-runners too) At the start of it, I’d just walked out on ShitCo with nothing to go to, nothing even in the pipeline. That was a bit scary, but infinitely better than the prospect of staying working for them. I know, I still haven’t written much about that time, and probably won’t – safe to say, it was No Fun At All.

I got a new contract within two weeks though, and that was the start of the recovery process and climbing back to where I find myself now. I’m still working for the same people, and will be ’til at least the end of the year. It’s been good – and helped by being a role where I work for/by myself for four days a week. I’ve rented an office in central Milton Keynes, which works best for my schedule and environment, and keeps me vaguely sane. (Which working from home four days a week probably wouldn’t)

I’ve done a lot of rebuilding again in the last twelve months, and I’m pleased with how it’s gone.

Onwards and upwards!

Stasis – At Peace

While I was wandering around London last weekend, I had the time to do some thinking about the whole ‘not feeling the need to move on’ thing, which was much-needed.

There’s a lot of reasons for not feeling the need to move on at the moment, as I’ve written about already. I won’t bother with all those again, because this one is actually something else, something I hadn’t really looked into massively.

Basically, at the moment I’m really quite content with life and how it’s shaping up.

That has it’s good and bad aspects, for sure. Obviously it’s good that I’m content, that I’m at peace with things, and not yearning for change. It’s not something I’m massively familiar with, it’s all quite new, but I’m not going to complain.

On the downside, it also means I’m not feeling a huge level of urgency about things – certainly not for moving, but also with life in general. It’s kind-of all steady at the moment, which is fine for the time being. I don’t know that I want it to stay like that long-term though.

I am a lot less angry and irritable, though – and that’s primarily a good thing. I’ve noticed, looking back, how much D4D™ has changed over that time, looking back to when I started vs now. Life’s a lot calmer – but it’s also quite a lot duller.

Sure, people still piss me off. Life still pisses me off. But it seems (at the moment) to wash off again pretty quickly. I don’t feel the need to rant, to vent things out when I do get pissed off. (Well, not as much, anyway) But that also makes D4D™ less ranty, less annoyed, and somehow less amusing – both for me, and for anyone else still reading this rubbish.

It also goes some way to explaining (I realised) why I’m having problems getting going on some of the writing ideas. I’m not angry enough, not needing to vent out onto keyboard/paper. I need to find another way to do things, which may take time. We’ll see.

All told it’s a good thing, a sign of positive change – but it’s also going to have some knock-on effects, requiring some though and some further changes. That’ll take some time, and some sounding out of options. But it’s all good, and all entertaining.

Stasis – Weight and Health

It seems to be the season for stasis – and for thinking about it, which is kind of odd. But there we go.

Anyway, one of my goals for this year was to lose more weight – I lost two stone in 2014, and wanted to do a similar thing this year.

Well, that hasn’t happened.

(At this point I know I have to remind myself that there’s still three-and-a-bit months to go of the year, blah blah – but still, two stone in three months is less-than-likely)

It’s annoying in some ways, but in others it’s been an interesting process.

I have definitely, and visibly, lost inches. My strength and muscle have improved significantly, particularly since getting to do regular gym visits.  But the weight has stayed the same.

In general, I’m OK with that. I know I’ve improved, and have reduced body fat by about 20% (although there’s a way to go still) over the last eighteen months. I know I can beast through a 10Km walk in 100mins (an average speed of 6Kph) and I’m content with that. I know I can also do more on weight machines at the gym than the majority of the other users I see.

There’s still a good way to go – I’ve got my own targets, both short- and long-term, and I hope to get there. But I know I’ve made progress, I can see it and I can feel it.

I do wish that those bloody scales would show it though. I step on most mornings, so I know it’s not some weird coincidence that only sees me measure when I’m that weight. It varies by a pound or two either way – but that’s it.

I suppose I should be happy that my body is in some kind of balance/stasis, that it’s managing to replace fat with denser (note, not heavier, just denser – that’s a bugbear that I’ll write about some other time) muscle in a balanced way. And in most ways I’m content with it, with knowing there are changes that just don’t show on the scales.

But I’d still like to actually weigh less…

Easing Up

As regular readers will know, I’ve been working fairly hard over the last eighteen months when it comes to weight loss.

In 2014, I’d lost two stone, and I was planning (hoping) to do the same this year, which would get me to something close to where I want to be.

However, this year it’s not gone all that well. (And yes, I know we’re only halfway through the year, there’s still time to sort things) I’ve stayed around the same place weight-wise, although I’ve been doing a lot more – both more walking, and also getting back to going to the gym.

As a result, my health and fitness are improving significantly, but the weight is staying the same.

I know there’s a load of guff spoken about muscle being heavier than fat, and all that, but I’ve still been finding it pretty demoralising to do a load of work, walking, or working out, then step on the scales and see the same figures there, week after week.

So – I’m not giving up, but I am easing off on checking my weight. I can feel the changes, and see the differences in measurements etc. (although I haven’t recorded the measurements themselves) and that’ll do me for now.

Reducing Available Excuses

Over the last month, I’ve been getting back into going to the gym. At first it’s been more about just adding it in to my regular routine – and that’s been fairly successful, I’m pleased to say.  I do intend to go through things with a personal trainer and so on, figure out what my goals and targets should realistically be (and there’s some other parts to that too, but more of those at another time) but for now it’s been more about just going, doing some stuff there, and just getting it back into my normal day.

With the exception of last week – where I’d twatted my foot (again) enough that it was painful to walk on, let alone do any serious exercise/workout/walking – it’s worked out fairly well, and I got in at least twice a week.

This week, with the foot back to being OK (or at least OK enough) I was back to going, even though I really wasn’t in the mood, and frankly I was too fucking hot to want to go.  But I still went.

My philosophy at the moment is to go when I don’t want to, when the conditions are crap – too wet, too windy, too hot, too whatever – to make sure that I’ve no excuses on normal days. The only time where excuses are allowed are when I’m hurting, and it’ll affect them (and possibly make them worse) by going.  That’s it.

So having been on the hottest day of the year, I’ve no real excuses any more when “it’s too hot”. Yes, it’s definitely not nice (and an extra change of clothes was a very good plan!) but it got done, and I can’t make that excuse.  (I was actually surprised by how few people were in the gym on that day – I assume ‘It’s too hot to work out’ had an effect on that, too)

So – making progress. We’ll see how things work out from here…