Vancouver, BC, Canada
Sunday 1st January 2017

See ya later 2016…a year of contradictions, challenges, successes, failures, loves, losses and reflection. Whilst it ranks as my most tumultuous year to date, I say “goodbye” with no regrets, no resentment and no desire to change any decisions I made.

Each obstacle I encountered taught me more about myself and prompted more personal growth in 12 short months than I have achieved such a time span before. I proved to myself just how resilient I am, how capable I am, and that when the going gets tough, I don’t shirk away from the tough realities that need to be taken care of. I enter 2017 in a strong place, excited with the all on the horizon, a spring in my step and a huge smile on my face.

So new year, new aims and objectives, right? That’s how it goes. Well, in my case, it appears that by moving country yesterday, I’m thinking more “new year, new life”, but alongside a new life still come new aims and objectives. And, to make it simple, as a friend once suggested, it’s only right to compile a '17 for 17'.

Here we go (in no particular order):

  • Practice mindfulness and/or yoga everyday.Since July I have been working hard on this and whilst succeeding when at home, I know there is room for improvement on my travels.In fact, to this I will add my journalling, gratitudes, daily headlines and reading, which have become habits over recent months but suffer the same issues when I board a flight.
  • Volunteer 200 hours over the year.I am currently working through the registration process for Big Brothers, Vancouver, which seeks to provide mentorship to young people in the city.
  • Teach or coach at least 50 people.I am looking to get back to coaching lacrosse and also start teaching the tendinopathy course I wrote (and recently beta tested), alongside Andy Small.
  • Host at least two educational events.I am currently planning the tendinopathy courses, in addition to a “mindfulness training and flow in sport” conference and “an analytics in sports conference” with Daniel Stenz.Watch this space…
  • Do something every month that pushes me way out of my comfort zone.On Sunday, I start my stand-up improvisation classes, so I figure that’s a ballsy enough way to start!There was, no doubt, a precedent set when I decided to move to a new country on New Year’s Eve!
  • Talk to my family on (at least) a bi-weekly basis.Maintaining communication across time zones is always challenging and this is only harder now there are 8 hours, as opposed to 5 hours between us, but it is a challenge that we will, no doubt, overcome.
  • Contribute substantially to charity.This last year, my main charity was the Matt Urban Human Services Center of New York, in Buffalo, with other contributions being donated to the Stroke Foundation and Oxfam.This year I want to focus my efforts on raising money for Big Brothers, Vancouver and the Alzheimer’s Research UK.
  • Play daily.My work with my life coach identified that I often dedicated more efforts to work than to play and this year, I aim to resolve this imbalance in my life.The stand-up improvisation classes will be a taster but part of the idea of moving to Vancouver is to enjoy the activities that I missed out in whilst living in Buffalo, such as hiking, skiing, snow shoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding and playing lacrosse again.
  • Listen to the music!Another of the areas of my life that my life coach recognised as needing attention was my love of music and the fact that over the last year I had drifted away from dancing round the house or even starting the mornings with some appropriate beats.I’ve since turned up the tunes and want to make the most of being in a big city again by getting to concerts (small gigs or large venue events) every month, as I used to do in London.
  • Strip away some of the material excesses in my life. In the process of selling my house in Buffalo, I managed to donate three truck loads of furniture and several bags of clothes to charity and friends. As I settle in Vancouver, I have decided to move into a one bedroomed apartment, which should be more suitable for my needs, and I will look to keep it free of clutter! I recently read a very insightful commentary (see link below), published back in 2012, highlighting how society today has become so accustomed to accepting wasteful living and it reinforced my frustrations with so much of the material waste I saw whilst living in the USA.
Monbiot, G. (2012). The Gift of Death.

  • Reduce my time spent on my phone, whether that is browsing the internet, using social media or checking my messages so frequently.I am employing a “no phone in the bedroom” rule, once I have bought an old school alarm clock, will ban it from the table or when out with friends, unless I have a pre-arranged meeting to check in on. I've been working on this for a while, but Simon Sinek's observations voiced in his recent interview discussing the challenges Millenials face in the workplace, brought this issue back to the fore.

  • Visit two new countries.I have now visited 81 different countries and am excited to see where I end up this year.Stand-up paddle boarding in Puerto Rica?Exploring the famous night life in Buenos Aires, Argentina? Island hopping around Greece?The possibilities are endless!!!
  • Complete my Masters in Sporting Directorship by September and make a strong start to my PhD in Experimental Medicine at UBC, looking at change management in high performing sports organisations.
  • Stay fit and increase my personal bests in the gym. In the last month I have hit (post-lacrosse retirement) PBs in the snath, clean and jerk and nailed muscle ups on the rings.I am aiming to increase both those PBs by July, achieve 3 consecutive muscle ups and want to keep increasing my front squat up to PB level.
  • Host one dinner party a month for friends and colleagues. I used to love hosting dinner parties when I lived in Edinburgh and have slipped out of the habit in recent times.  I might even throw in a few cooking lessons to freshen up my repertoire and keep things interesting!
  • Keep my personal growth journey in gear. After experiencing a year of dizzy heights and some of the most challenging lows I have had to deal with in my fortunate life, I started working with a life coach to support my personal reflection and address areas of growth I had wanted to work on away from my professional career.Whilst I have taken a month break to give mental space for my move, I will be starting back with my biweekly sessions by the end of January.
  • Identify a physical challenge that provides a mental barrier to overcome and train to smash through it in the last three months of the year.Maybe a marathon, maybe a multi-day cycling event, or maybe accept a random invitation that I have yet to consider!

    So there we have it…my ’17 for 17’ and now that I have shared them with you, you have my permission to keep asking me how I am getting on with facing each one. I could have kept them private but by inviting you to read them, it ensures accountability on my part!!

    As for you all, may I take this opportunity to wish you and yours ‘all the best’ for a happy, healthy and successful 2017 and I look forward to joining you somewhere on the journey!

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