Tuesday 4 October 2016

My 2015 10Q answers

I've been doing this exercise in personal reflection every autumn since 2010 (see also my 201120122013 and 2014 answers). I really seem to have embraced the upside of quitting over the past few years. It's often at this time of year that I realize I need to quit something. It's pleasing to see how much I've changed, even if it doesn't feel like it at the time because the process of change is so incremental. But this process of self-reflection definitely helps by echoing the conversations I'm having with myself and others about how I live my life and how I want to live it, which aren't always in alignment.

Here's what I was thinking this time last year. If you want to find out what I'm thinking now, come back next year (or ask me!).

Day 1:

Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

My answer:

I have finally got a girlfriend! My frustrations with women turning me down have been a common theme in previous years' answers. Last year, I sensed something was changing. This year has been the breakthrough.

It has had a big impact on my life. I now have someone to share things with. I'm immensely grateful. I feel so lucky.

Yes, I'm relieved. I knew, someday, it would happen. But I had to wait a long time. My only other girlfriend was 15 years ago when I was 17.

I can be myself with Fran. I love being in our own private world together with our own lexicon and in-jokes. I hope we are also fun for other people to be around, but I think that's something that will come with time as we get more comfortable with each other's friends and family.

Being with Fran is everything I've hoped for. I've been preparing for this mentally and emotionally since I was about 11, when I developed my first real crush on a girl.

I'm so happy and content. I feel complete, at last.

Day 2:

Is there something that you wish you had done differently this past year? Alternatively, is there something you're especially proud of from this past year?

My answer:

I'm proud of making some big life decisions. I quit refereeing touch and rugby union. I realized they weren't making me happy. On the contrary, they were stressing me out, making me grumpy. I didn't feel fully appreciated and wasn't enjoying it as much as I used to.

I realized that just because I've been doing something for a long time, it doesn't mean I have to keep doing it for the rest of my life. It's OK to quit. Abandoning my DPhil back in 2010 was a positive move. I now have the courage to make those kinds of decisions.

They're not snap decisions. I discuss them with trusted friends and family. I find myself complaining about the same problems and eventually I realize that I can avoid the problems by quitting whatever it is that is causing them.

I'm going through a similar phase with Sol Samba at the moment. I'm taking a break and I'm not sure I want to go back for the start of the new season. I may stand down from the committee.

I don't think I've got any major regrets. I guess there's a guy at work who I hired that isn't working out particularly well at the moment. He was the best candidate, but maybe I shouldn't have accepted a sub-standard candidate; maybe I should have waited until the right person applied for the job.

Day 3:

Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?

My answer:

My sister had her 4th baby. It hasn't affected me at all. I wasn't able to attend the christening because I was on holiday in France. I feel a bit weird about it, to be honest. I'm not interested and it makes me feel a bit guilty. I haven't even met the father. I feel estranged.

Day 4:

Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

My answer:

Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour party leadership election. I went to see him at a hustings in Oxford and was impressed by his integrity and moral reasoning behind opposing nuclear weapons, poverty and inequality. I'm a Lib Dem party member, but I'm thinking about switching - even though there are many things about the Labour party (from the Blair years) that I don't like. I believe more in the man than the party. I really hope he changes how politics is conducted in the UK and manages to engage the younger generation of voters. He's very inspiring. His leadership victory address made me cry. I hope he has the same impact on the quality of political debate in the UK that the SNP has had in Scotland with its progressive policies.

Day 5:

Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? "Spiritual" can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.

My answer:

There have been a few times when I've been wild swimming that I'm awed by the beauty of nature, the soft feel of the water. I was also humbled when cycling up Mont Vonteux during my recent holiday in France. The sight of the famous climb to the summit made my eyes water during our recce drive up to the top and I felt broken by the time I reached the top. It was very emotional.

Day 6:

Describe one thing you'd like to achieve by this time next year. Why is this important to you?

My answer:

I'd like to pay my parents back the £3,000 I borrowed to buy my car in 2012. I've been saving up the whole time but have had to dip into my savings for various reasons. This year I moved house and now live alone, which put a bit of a dent in my savings because of the large deposit.

It's important to me because I don't like being in debt and I'd like to stick to our agreement to pay it back in 3 years. I can then start saving for something else!

Day 7:

How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you?

My answer:

I'd like to get into the habit of turning up 10 minutes early to things. I used to be more punctual than I am. I can use that extra time to talk to people, watch the world go by, be mindful or read. I don't like lateness in others. I find it rude. So I shouldn't do it myself. I need to take note of how long it takes me to get ready.

Day 8:

Is there something (a person, a cause, an idea) that you want to investigate more fully in 2016?

My answer:

I'd like to continue to spend a big chunk of my time with my girlfriend, Fran. We've spent a lot of time together recently. We sometimes see each other 5 or 6 days a week. I've met many of her friends and family. She hasn't met as many of my friends - but I don't have that many close friends.

In the past week, I've really started to get back into chess via the Chess.com app on my iPhone. I used to play when I was at primary school but haven't played regularly for 20 years. I'm really enjoying exercising that part of my brain.

I'd like to continue to declutter my life. I started doing it at the beginning of the year in preparation for moving house. Partly because I've spent so much time with Fran, I haven't had the time to process some of my possessions such as my DVDs, CDs and other junk that could be recycled. There's always something more interesting to do. But I really felt lighter when I got rid of some of my old clothes and academic notes. There's also a whole bunch of admin to sort through and recycle.

Day 9:

What is a fear that you have and how has it limited you? How do you plan on letting it go or overcoming it in the coming year?

My answer:

I don't think I have many fears. I used to be staunchly against dancing. Now I find myself dancing in front of Fran to amuse her. I'm not sure I'm ready to do it in public yet.

I'm sometimes afraid of being found out at work for slacking. If I was managing myself, I'd want to see more productivity. But my clients and my line manager seem to be happy with what I do. I could overcome this by developing better habits and getting rid of the bad habits. And also by being less tired, getting more sleep.

Day 10:

When September 2016 rolls around and you receive your answers to your 10Q questions, how do you think you'll feel? What do you think/hope might be different about your life and where you're at as a result of thinking about and answering these questions?

My answer:

I hope I'll continue to be in a good spot this time next year: still seeing Fran, still very much in love and enjoying each other's company; still stimulated at work, but perhaps more motivated than I am right now. I feel a bit overworked and overwhelmed sometimes with too many competing demands on my time.

I think I'll feel quite proud of the progress I've made over the past year or so.

There's probably nothing revelatory in my responses this year: nothing controversial, nothing to be embarrassed about.

I guess the one big thing that might be different is that Fran and I could be living together.

Day 11:

What are your predictions for 2016?

My answer:

Still with Fran. Life keeps improving.


Record your own answers this year at www.doyou10q.com.

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