It’s been a year of highs and lows. With the arrival of 2016, here are 6 things I’m grateful for in 2015.
Wow. 2016 is here. That means the 20s are almost back (also known as the Twenty Twenties). You know, a lot of people at this time of year comment on how quickly the year has gone by. For me, it definitely feels like a year has gone by. Can you believe all the stuff that happened in 2015?
There’ve been some crazy developments such as the war in Syria and the attacks on Paris. Leonard Nimroy and Samuel Goldwyn Jr passed away this year. We’ve seen selfie sticks go nuts and Drake memes rule the Internet. We saw Adele’s Hello take over the music charts and Kim and Kanye’s new baby name take over the headlines. It’s definitely been a very eventful year.
I wonder what 2015 was like for you? If you’re anything like me, a new year is a reflective time. It’s because like your birthday or Christmas, a new year is a milestone which comes around the same time every year, and becomes an opportunity to compare your progress or satisfaction in life with this time last year. What did I do well this year? What did I screw up this year? Anything I was proud of? Anything I regret? Who were the people who characterized this year for you? What were the events? Are you further ahead than you were this time last year? Or are you further behind?
All these things flood our minds at this time of year. Usually I write some longer set piece chronicling the events in my year, but this year is a little different. Like every year, there have been some absolutely amazing moments, and like every year, there have been some awful or confusing moments. Yet despite the up and down nature of the events in our lives, I’ve been thinking about some of the things I’m truly grateful for this year.
So relax, sit back, grab a coffee, and let’s have a look at 6 things I’m grateful for in 2015. No matter what your year was like, I hope some of these ring true for you too.
Extra time to invest into people
Over 2013-2014, I was one busy bee. I guess I still am in a lot of ways, but over these two years, I was working full time, volunteering quite a bit at my church, and also studying part-time. At the end of last year, I finished my graduate diploma, meaning the nights and timeslots I had set aside to hammer those assignments around the other commitments were now free. As a result, I found myself with even more time to do one of my favourite things – invest into others.
An investment into people is the best investment you can ever make. This year I learnt a lot about investing into shares and into property, but those investments will never give me the same return I get by putting into others. People are all we can take with us when we die, therefore they are what matters above all else.
“Teach me to number my days”. Our time here is so limited. Literally as you read this, moments are passing by that you will never get back. I hope we spend them diligently and wisely pouring ourselves out into the lives of others.
Yes, you. This year has been a great year for Walking The Shoreline – it really isn’t getting smaller any time soon – and I’ve appreciated all my readers over the course of this year, whether you read absolutely everything, or you just skim some of the headings every once and a while. It’s been so cool hearing from so many of you over the course of this year. Some people write in to say how something they read really helped them, or challenged the way they thought. Others have fed back alternate views to what they’ve read and helped frame a discussion for learning for all of us. I’ve even been at different events where people have come up and spoken to me who recognize my face from Internet Land. It’s been truly an honour to talk to so many of you.
Look for a revamp to the home page coming soon, and hopefully more topics that you guys like to read about. As always, I love to keep hearing from you, so please keep the messages and comments coming through. Certainly grateful for you.
I think I say this every year, but I’m grateful for friends. I’ve just come back from a 9~ day trip around Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhongshan in Mainland China with some good friends of mine. We saw and did so much around the place – it really was a great time. But I also think over the course of the year to how many good moments have been shared with friends.
There’s something really powerful about staying regular with your friends. It’s all well and good to have the people we talk to every once in a while, but I’m especially grateful for the friendships where we very regularly make sure we stay in touch. Where we don’t just have a passing interest in each other’s lives, but we are regularly around each other enough that we can ask specific questions and celebrate specific wins, as well as share in the lows together. Especially thanks to technology, we are so, so able to keep regular, consistent contact with one another. The only limitation is the time we make for others.
Here’s to good friends.
The reward of persistence
One of the big milestones I achieved this year was purchasing my first house. It’s a pretty amazing place, and I’ve loved being able to use it exactly how I want to use it – having people over, giving people a safe place to come talk or get recharged, and also having a good safe place for myself to recharge in the busyness of life.
But the road to purchasing the house was not an easy road.
I started out quite optimistic at the start of the year – I put the offer in, they like the offer, I get the keys. Boom. How quickly did I learn, as is the experience of almost anyone who has gone through the purchasing or selling process before, that it is a massive emotional and financial investment, requiring sustained energy and commitment to see accomplished. I inspected 37 houses, put offers on 4 of them, and was under contract for 2 of them before eventually landing this one. In amidst those were several places where I was in elongated negotiations with owners, who would accept my offers on the subject of shorter timeframes or other changes. Even after making the requested changes, I found my offers being used as counteroffers by owners to try to get someone to outbid mine, meaning my offers were not being taken seriously. Very common practice, and as many people who’ve bought and sold several times informed me, the process is like this every time.
Most people who have purchased a house know what this is like. Heck, these experiences even happen across different areas of our lives – it can happen with friends, with relationships, with family, with university, in your career. The most frequent feedback our world likes to give today is to give up on things that seem too hard. Unfortunately, that approach means that many of us miss out on the things that would actually be great for us.
If I hadn’t have persisted on the house, I wouldn’t be living here. It’s that simple. If I didn’t save like I did, if I didn’t make the budget decisions I did, if I had called it quits because of miscommunication or changing timeframes…
Too many times, we pull the tree out of the ground while it is still a seedling. We don’t allow things a chance to grow or develop, and we often don’t stick in long enough to see the reward that commitment brings. Persistence and diligence always have their reward… and in my case it means a cool house in a great location.
Love is in the air. Most of the recent years of my life have been full of weddings, engagements, and friends getting together, and this year was no different. My workmates at my old place at work would always ask me on Monday morning, “Who got engaged this weekend?”. It’s funny that at the client sites I’ve been at this year, I continue to be asked the same thing. I think I would’ve seen at least 2 engagements of people I know across most weeks of the year – in fact, I just came back from being part of one. Add to that, quite a few more of my friends have had their first child or another child enter their life.
If you’ve read this blog or know me in person, you know I’m a massive fan of love. And this year was another reminder of why. A Hebrew proverb says, “Woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up”. One of my favourite things is seeing people not have to fall alone any more. Where they may have had friends or family who weren’t able to be there as much for them, to see another person, or another group of friends, or another network of support, lift up and embrace someone in their time of need, to be their biggest fan, to hear the sound of their heartbeat and to fully embrace them for who they are – it’s truly a beautiful thing.
The selfless love that demands our all and seeks out the best for others is powerful and world-changing. Certainly something to never take for granted.
Those older/ahead of me
This year I can happily say has been another year of growth for me. One of the largest reasons for that has been the people who are older or ahead of me who I have made an integral part of my life. Many of us often stay small because we stay around likeminded people who may just be content to enable our current behaviour and mindsets. Oh you’re doing fine, pat you on the back, there you go you’re doing well.
But many times, we’re not actually doing that well – we’re just treading water. Or sometimes worse – we’re going backwards, but people tell us it’s all good so we don’t feel bad. But if you truly want to learn and grow, you need people who are ahead of you who can champion and challenge you forward.
I’m grateful for the input and education of those further ahead than me in the arenas of finance and career. But even beyond the “performance oriented metrics of success”, just having those simple presences just in your life can make your day to day life a real joy. Because they won’t just put up with excuses – they’ll call you out. They’ll call you forward. They’ll help you actually make decisions that bring you into the places you want to be and that don’t just keep you in a holding pattern.
I hope that all of us can say that we have such people in our lives. Of course we need people who are around us and at our level to call friends and equals, and we also need people who are behind us that we are pulling forward, but in order for us to step into all we’re called to be, we need coaches, mentors, educators, and accountability boards who can suss out what’s really going on and call us into our destiny.
You know who you are, and thank you.
There’s so much more I could say about this year, and to be honest with you, I really, really struggled to think about how I could best write about the year that was. But here comes a new year of new opportunity. A year of second chances. A year to make right decisions. A year for love and treating people with respect and dignity. A year to add value and not to subtract it. A year to become your redeemed self.
I wonder what you’re carrying with you into 2016. Many times we’re unable to step into what’s ahead because we haven’t been faithful or diligent in dealing with what’s gone before. But it’s not even about the new year necessarily, and it’s not even really about 2016.
It’s about today.
Today is the day we have in our hands. Today is the day we have to make changes, to set things right, to dream again, to chase after and build towards our calling. Today is the day to hear the voice of God and to draw closer.
I wonder what you’ll do with your 2016?
I wonder what you’ll do with your today?
So there are my reflections on the year that was. The things I’m grateful for in 2015. I hope your 2016 brings you the fulfillment of dreams and more rewarding relationships than you ever hoped for. What about you? How was your year?