January Review

“How noble and good everyone could be if, every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to mind the events of the whole day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then, without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day; of course, you achieve quite a lot in the course of time.”

Anne Frank 

STATS:

Meditated  – 31/31 days (currently 144 days in a row)

Exercise – 17/31 days (Injured back lifting weights)

Writing – 20/31 days – Published 1 post/week on blog (5 total)

Reading – 24/31 days – Finished 3 books (The 4 Hour Body – Timothy Ferris. Tools of Titans – Timothy Ferris. How To Self-Publish A Children’s Book – Eevi Jones).

Alcohol free days – 20/31 days – 1 x alcohol free week (1st – 7th)

10k + Steps – 21/31 days

WHAT WENT WELL?

Meditated every single morning. 

Got plenty of reading and writing done – resulted in reading a total of three books plus publishing a post on the new blog every week (5 total)! 

Diet has been consistent, keeping to largely protein rich/low carb meals during my fasting window of 12-8pm. 

Completed alcohol free week (1st – 7th). 

Body weight = 75.2kg and body fat = 17.1% as of Jan 31st. Although my body fat loss has plateaued in recent weeks I’m mindful of the fact I’ve not been lifting weights or doing HIT because of my back (see below). (Also I’ve been having a few more cheat days as Mum and Dad have been in town to celebrate a belated Christmas and Chinese New Year!) At any rate I’ve not gained weight which is a plus. 

Injury setback through weight training. Despite this I managed to modify my exercise regime – replacing planned weight and hit workouts with lots of swimming (FYI swimming is awesome!). It has also given me a few ideas for upcoming blog posts. 

In terms of admin got plenty done – filling my UK tax return and paying my HK ones. Also organised new mortgage for UK property. 

WHAT DIDN’T GO WELL?

Work – haven’t performed as well as I would have liked although, in my defence, I’ve not done much flying this month. At any rate, still plenty of room for improvement. Lack of motivation still an issue too. How might I resolve this and find my former enthusiasm for flying? Honestly I think I’m suffering a little burn out following nearly ten years of long haul flying. A longer break this year is planned for exactly this reason. As a way of resting, resetting and coming back stronger. 

Injury set back. Managed to hurt my back during weights training. This stopped me from working the second half of the month due to lower back pain associated with sciatica. The warning signs were there – a small twinge but definitely felt something before stupidly going ahead with weights training when I should have backed off. MISSING ONE WORKOUT TO PREVENT INJURY IS ALWAYS WORTH IT! Listen to your body!

At home I’ve not prioritised writing a will which I keep putting off – mainly because I’m lazy which is no excuse. Get it done!  

WHAT DID I LEARN?

Mentally it’s been a tough month with this back injury. I have felt angry and frustrated, failing to see the bigger picture – ie. it will pass and NOTHING IS PERMANENT. I think finding the time to BE MORE PLAYFUL and HAVE MORE LAUGHS with friends and family should be a priority for February. Mercifully I have some leave this month and plans to go to skiing in Japan (back permitting) with the family. I must make the most of it regardless of how much skiing I can actually manage. 

TALK TO YOUR WIFE more (insert expletive) head. She’s your partner and wants to help you (just like the rest of your family!). Communication clearly still a weakness for me. My idea of talking every night before bed is a good one but I must MAKE A POINT OF REALLY ENGAGING. Asking more questions and listening intently. Just as importantly TELL HER WHAT’S REALLY ON YOUR MIND

Two things I can think of implementing straight away: 

MEDITATE MORE OFTEN, not just in the morning. Meditation really helps but I think I’m simply going through the motions a bit with my morning practice. My plan is to experiment more with different times during the day when I have a quiet moment and to meditate in the evening just before I go to sleep! 

When talking to my wife in the evening come prepared with THE SINGLE GREATEST CONCERN you have had during the day and TELL IT TO HER. Don’t keep it to yourself.

There is always an opportunity with any set back and it’s important to look for it. Following my injury I told myself NO EXCUSES, that THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY TO MODIFY even if you have to scale way back! Adopting swimming has been a great way to do this given the circumstances and is something I’m particularly proud of implementing. It turns out SWIMMING IS AWESOME and I believe is what’s responsible for a marked improvement in my cardiovascular system. My resting heart rate dropped from the mid to low fifties into the mid to high forties for the first time in a long time! Not to mention it’s been brilliant for my back pain. 

Another silver lining regarding my back injury is I’ve had more time to read and write. TAKING NOTES OF THE BOOKS I READ is something relatively new I’ve been doing but has proven a GREAY WAY TO CONSOLIDATE MY LEARNING. One thing I’ve noticed is that I’m spending more time on writing blog posts then continuing with my children’s book. I must revisit notes from how to self publish a children’s book and WRITE A TIMELINE TO FOLLOW. Approaching an editor will be a close second objective. 

My 2020 GOALS & PLEDGES

Following on from my 4 part 2019 review, below are my pledges and goals for the coming year. I intend to do a monthly review of these goals as a way of holding myself on accountable as the year progresses. I hope you enjoy!

MY 2020 PLEDGES

By the end of 2020 my wife and I will have begun trying for a second child (or be pregnant with the second (and last!) on the way). 

With regards to work I will be “command ready” having worked to further my operation and confidence to its highest ever level. I will have attended a performance based course to help in this regard. I will have taken an extended period of 3 months off work from May till July. 

Health wise, I will be far more consistent with regards to my exercise and healthy living habits, sticking to my morning and evening routines that incorporates yoga and/or some other form of physical exercise. I will have completed one alcohol free week every month plus one alcohol free month during the year. My eating habits will much improved following a ‘slow carb diet’ 5 days a week. I’ll also have found a new activity based hobby that I enjoy outside of the home. As a result I’ll be as fit as ever having achieved my desired body fat percentage of 14%. My back injury will have completely healed.

My mental health will be vastly improved due to a more consistent practice of meditation, reading and writing that I’ll have better incorporated into both my morning and evening routines. I will have attended at least one silent retreat and a transcendental course to further my practise. I will have opened up to my parents about my previous difficulties and become much closer to them as a result. I will talk to my wife every single night when at home before bed.

In my spare time I will continue to write everyday. My first goal will be to write and publish a children’s book for wiggles. I will also start a new blog that explores the question of how to live a healthier and happier life at home and at work, as well as being a better father, husband and all round human being. I will have taken the time to volunteer and start annual donations to two new charities. 

At home I will be far more environmentally conscious having done a large amount of research into how I can live more sustainably. This will act as a model for Wiggles as he grows up.

Financially we’ll be in very good shape having organised a better tracking/savings system as we look to the future. We will have made a significant investment into my brother’s hedge fund and also a third property. I will have also invested in renewable technologies and/or an environmental project aimed at helping save the planet. Insurance wise we will have reviewed and updated all our policies and plans as necessary and have set up a will. 

MY 2020 GOALS

HEALTH

MENTAL

  • Meditate 365 days/year
  • Attend a silent retreat
  • Complete a course in transcendental meditation 

PHYSICAL

  • 5 x Exercise days/week
  • 4 x Alcohol free days/week
  • 1 x Alcohol free week/month 
  • 1 x Alcohol free month/year
  • 5 x low carb/high protein days/week (during intermittent fasting window 12 till 8)
  • 4 x long fast/year (24hr-76hr)
  • 14% body-fat goal 
  • Stretch/Yoga daily

OTHER

  • Perform LASIK
  • Heal back injury
  • Find new activity based hobby to commit weekly
  • Oxfam Trail Walker 2020?

CAREER

AVIATION

  • Be ‘Command Ready’ by 2021
  • Complete Performance course through work
  • Logbook journal after every flight – write 1 thing I did well and 1 thing I could do better
  • Take an extended period off work (3 months following LASIK? – May – July)

WRITING

  • Publish first children’s book
  • Start new blog (with a particular focus on health this year)
  • Post 1 new article/week
  • Write daily (As a minimum in my 5MJ)
  • Read 2 books/month
  • Read daily

FAMILY/HOME/TRAVEL

FAMILY

  • Set Liam goals to help his achieve throughout the year
  • Date night x 1/week
  • Talk to my wife every night when at home
  • Open up to Mum and Dad

HOME

  • Environmental research/piece on blog about how to live more sustainably/responsibly at home for the family to centre around 
  • Set goals and make changes based on this research

TRAVEL 

  • Skiing Japan Trip (February)
  • April/May getaway with Holly
  • Silent retreat (May in Bhutan?)
  • UK Trip (June)
  • Croatia and Serbia – Villa plus Ogi and Mia wedding (September/October)
  • UK (Christmas)

FINANCE/INSURANCE 

FINANCE

  • File/pay UK Taxes
  • File/pay HK Taxes
  • Research new mortgage for London apartment
  • Invest in my brother’s fund
  • Invest in third property
  • Sort better tracking/savings system with longer term goals in mind

INSURANCE

  • Write a will
  • Set up loss of income insurance through Union

CHARITY

  • Set up annual donation to 2 x new charities
  • Volunteer locally

My 2019 Review – FINANCES, INSURANCE AND CHARITY💰

FINANCES

I think there’s a great deal of work left to do in this department. We are in a decent position financially, but I have been less than proactive with that money. Doing the research and making some smart investments will be a priority for 2020. 

That said I’ve had similar goals in the past that have amounted to little in the way of new investments. I think the problem is my financial goals have been too vague. What am I working towards? What is the kind of financial freedom I’m looking for and what does that look like? Perhaps a more important question to ask myself is, what does investment mean to me? Why am I doing it? It can’t just be to make money. I’m investing in the future. In a better world for my son to grow up in. So what are the kinds of things I need to invest in to help make that happen? 

I absolutely want to invest in renewable technologies and projects. I believe the biggest problem of my son’s lifetime, if not ours right now, is how are we going to save this planet. I also believe rates of depression are on the rise, in no small part, because of difficulties learning to adapt to an ever increasing rate of change. Helping those who are helping others through problems such as depression and anxiety is close to my heart and absolutely something I want to support as well. How can I do this? Who and/or what are the companies doing this right now?

While these are good goal setting questions for 2020, one other important point I want to make is this. Be grateful. 🙏 You already have everything you need to be happy and content right now! There is nothing wrong with seeking to improve your financial position but you should do so while acknowledging what you already have. It is enough. A roof over my family’s head. Clean water. Money to put food on the table many, many times over. A healthy son. A healthy wife. A healthy me. It is enough. 

INSURANCE

Insurance wise we are well set up, but I have two major things I want to look at as a priority in 2020. The first being writing a will (for Liam’s sake), which we still haven’t put together!! The other being looking into loss of licence/income insurance through my union, should I find myself unable to work due injury or illness. The first I’ve no excuses for putting off. The second I put off for a long time because a) it’s a very expensive insurance plan and b) with just me to support I wasn’t too worried about losing my job/income. My wife would be able to support us if needed and pre child it never seemed sensible to spend that amount of money especially considering we are well covered with over insurance policies/plans. Recently however I’ve had something of a scare and also know of a few fellow pilots who have found themselves unable to work and needed to use such an insurance plan. With a little more to lose nowadays I think it’s time to give myself this extra safety net. 

CHARITY

Charity. Do any of us really do enough? I certainly don’t which, quite frankly, isn’t good enough. I live a privileged life well above the global average. While my wealth might not make me anywhere near the top 1% in my own country, for the rest of the world I am the 1%. So where to start? 

It makes sense to start giving to causes that mean something to me. So what are those causes? Two spring to mind readily. The first being mental health and the second being the environment. I think it’s important to choose the right charities, ones that will use my money effectively in their efforts to help people and the world at large. But how do I know who I should give my money to? Do your research seems an obvious answer so that’s exactly what I’ll do as my first priority.

My 2019 Review – FAMILY, HOME and TRAVEL🏡

FAMILY

To be brutally honest I think there is plenty of room left for me to grow as both a father and husband. I don’t, by any means, think I’m a bad family man, but I’m acutely aware I have made the latter part of the year very much about me. About becoming better. That has meant making a few sacrifices re time spent with the family, as I’ve prioritised my routines around sleep, meditation and exercise. While some might view it as selfish, I know in my heart I had to do this. To put myself first, at least for a while, so that I may ultimately be much better in my roles as both father and husband. Finding and scheduling proper time with my family will be a priority next year – as well as finding more activities with whom to do together. At this stage the afternoon appears to work well – after my son has woken from his nap – as time to block off just for my boy. Saying to myself this is time for Wiggles and blocking out everything else means I can be truly engaged with him. 

Before getting help I felt so guilty when spending time with him but not really being there as I struggled with bouts of depression. It was like seeing everything through a thick fog. The truth is I didn’t really want to be there and I didn’t know why. It broke my heart but I understand now, it was a process I had to go through to get where I am today. This was the biggest motivator for seeking help. I realise that more important than the amount of time spent, is the quality of time spent. Ultimately I believe this is why being selfish and looking after myself first was necessary. It still is. You can’t help others without first helping yourself. 

HOME

Home is where the heart is, so they say. But are we really using our hearts at home? I often feel we take our homes for granted, largely oblivious to the damage our home and more specifically, our habits at home, are having on the environment and to ourselves. So what improvements can we make to change this and really bring our hearts back into it? I can think of several changes – taking shorter showers, using the air-con less, cooking more and with less (no) meat, less tv (less screen time altogether for that matter), recycling more, etc – all of which would help our family live a healthier, happier and more sustainable life. With this in mind, I think a really good project to undertake going forward would be to make our home as environmentally friendly as possible, concentrating on sustainable living habits. To make this our collective mission as a family. To have a real emphasis on sustainable living, working as a family to become better, changing our more harmful ways. To raise Wiggles in this way, so that he can learn to live the way his generation must. For now I’ll set the simple goal of writing a post about how we might go about this in greater detail, and use that as a spring board toward a more sustainable way of living.

TRAVEL

Travel, as always, is non stop for me. New destinations with work this year have included Seattle, Frankfurt, Toronto and Cape Town. Visiting the Boeing factory in Seattle, hiking along the coast near Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland and cage diving with sharks in Cape Town are highlights. Outside of work and with the family we have done a fair bit too. Vietnam, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Japan and Thailand including two weddings and a Rugby World Cup. Not a bad first year of life! Shame my son won’t remember any of it! We, however, most certainly will. 

Highlights are many but one which really stands out would have to be, my boy taking his first steps in Tokyo with the whole family present! Flying him and mummy to the UK, then bringing him into the cockpit after landing, was pretty cool too! Other than that, the opportunity to simply spend so much quality time with the family during our travels this year has been very special. 

It’s fair to say adding a child has made traveling very different. As you’d expect, everything revolves around them, their nap times, schedule etc. Although it has limited us in many ways, ‘employing the grandparents’ to help out has made things significantly easier than it otherwise would have been. We’ve shared  many special memories as a result. I’m incredibly grateful for the time we as a family, and especially Liam, has had with them. 

So what have I taken away from my travels this year, and how can I make them more special going forward? As anyone who knows me understands, I’m a strong believer in travel. It’s one of the best ways to challenge the bullshit stereotypes running around in your head. I also believe it’s one of the best ways to break free from your everyday distractions and simply be present. Travelling continues to teach me lessons all the time. Not only about the wider world but myself too. It’s such a cliche to say travel is means for self discovery, but I’ve definitely found it rings true. 

That said I’ve recently found my travels to be lacking a certain something. A greater purpose perhaps. It’s not something I thought about too much before, always content exploring neighbourhoods, finding great local eateries far removed from the tourist drags or going on adventures, trying something completely new. I think I will always find happiness doing these things, but I now feel something’s missing. More than ever I desire to add greater meaning. To not only experience local cultures, but give back to them. To not stay at the luxury resort, but the eco lodge instead. Support those who are trying to live responsibly or indeed support those who need it most. Whether finding projects to get involved in or going on a silent retreat for a period of prolonged introspection. This will be something to think about going forward. For my son I hope to demonstrate that meaningful purpose can be applied to anything he chooses to do. That by doing so his travels, and life, will be far far richer.

2020 will see us travel less often but for longer trips as a result of trying to limit the damage of changing Wiggles’s routine. Those trips will be similar to 2019 in that we will look to spend as much time as possible with the family but with a greater emphasis on travelling sustainability and/or with some kind of purpose. Ultimately in order to teach Wiggles something valuable. If nothing else to teach him to look for the value in travel.

My 2019 Review – CAREER, WORK and WRITING✍️

Hi there and welcome to part 2 of my 2019 review! Today I’m looking at work, specifically my career in aviation and as a writer. As before two major questions are driving my thoughts. Those are, ‘What went well?’ and What could I do better?’. I hope you enjoy.

AVIATION

In terms of my job (the one that pays the bills), I’m flying less often as a result of requesting a long haul roster, which means I get more days off. Given how young my boy is, family time is simply a much bigger priority for me at the moment. I don’t feel guilty about this however, the result is, quite naturally, a less proficient operation. Approaching my command I will look to focus more on my operation again, but for now and looking forward to 2020, given it’s still a way off, my focus will remain on improving my own health and well-being on top of becoming a better father to Liam and husband to Holly. 

With that said I would at least say I have achieved a much healthier relationship towards work, especially with regards to flying through the night, which previously occupied a much greater and more negative space in my head. Working with my therapist has paid dividends in this regard.

I also have a better handle on my anxiety toward flying with certain, shall we say, personality types. Although rare, previous experiences had left me feeling nervous almost every time I showed up to work. Outside of my family it was perhaps the biggest driver for me to seek help. I used to take work home with me all the time – worrying about my performance, lack of drive, who I might have to fly with, the havoc night flying must be having on my health – basically A LOT OF NEGATIVE SHIT. Without getting into too much detail about my therapy, we worked out a great deal of these thoughts stemmed from an underlying belief of inadequacy that I had been carrying around with me for a very long time.

I can happily say my perspective has changed significantly. The boundaries between work and home are much clearer – more or less forgetting about work when at home and feeling more excited and motivated when back at it. I’m less hard on myself when I don’t have the best day and far better at taking the positives.

Next year will very much be about bringing this improved perspective toward work consistently. I still have demons to fight, but unlike before I now look forward to the battle. I now want to put myself in the uncomfortable situations – take the more challenging sectors with the more difficult captains – knowing that I’m more than capable of dealing with them, but that I still have things to learn and room to grow. We always do. 

I think it’s fair to say I haven’t really felt like a captain yet up to this point in my career – settling and becoming too comfortable with my role as First Officer and Second Officer before that. However far off it may be, I want to feel that I am truly ‘Command ready’ by the end of 2020, so that the course may be less of a shock to the system than previous upgrades have proved. This will be my ultimate work goal for next year.

To achieve that I will look at perfecting my routines around work as well as at it. I will never turn down a sector offered and I will challenge myself at every opportunity to put myself in the captains shoes. I will seek to attend a command performance course. I will ask the question, “What could I have done better/differently?” Beyond that I will remember, It is a privilege to be an aviator and I owe it to the profession to give it my all. 

WRITING

Consistently writing every day has to be a major goal for 2020. Setting myself the goal of one post a week, or however many a month, has not proven the best way to get me writing. If anything I find it demotivating when I inevitably miss the deadlines set for myself. I think much more important is the process or routine of writing. Making it a daily habit. If I simply do, then I know I’ll be more productive regardless of how many articles/posts/books I actually end up producing.

Like a lot of things, I’ve had too much of an on and off relationship with writing, as has been the case this year. Happily I’ve seen a major improvement, in the latter part of this year. I have been writing almost everyday. In the past month. I’ve written my family Christmas newsletter, finished my first draft of my children’s book, which I hope to get published next year, written in my 5MJ every day and started this blog. Let see what I can get done in a year by committing to the simple goal of writing just one lousy paragraph a day.