It’s a little later than most, but I have come to the conclusion that 2017 is my long overdue gap year. I didn’t realise it was going to be when January 1st hit and, to be honest, I had no reason to think that this year would be any different to previous years, filled with lots of hard work reaching for the stars with aspirational goals. But I needed to give myself a break.
The end of 2016 sucked big balls for me. A severely depressive period hit sometime in October, gradually getting worse until mid December when I broke down. Hell, I just broke. I have felt seriously suicidal three times in my life, and that was one of them. Clearly something had to change but I did not know what that was.
I enjoyed Christmas a lot. Vikki and I travelled down south and had a lovely time surrounded by family. For the first time ever, I think, I really made and effort to be in the moment, enjoying the company of these people instead of worrying about something else, or projecting forward to a time when I wouldn’t be with them again. Sadly, my brain has wired itself to seek misery from enjoyment. Why bother enjoying something because it will be over soon and, ultimately, nothing matters because we are all going to die.
Yeah, nihilism is so much fun.
Going in to 2017, I made some notes on how I wanted to live. Not necessarily just for 2017, but changes that I wanted to make for my now, my future and my future now. I will share these with you.
- Personal growth and development
- Plant-based alternatives
- Spiritual philosophy
- New ideas
- Saying YES!
- Being supportive
- Being truthful to myself
- Being honest to others
- Making “good” money
- Bad habits
- Unhealthy habits
- Doing stuff I don’t like
- Making “bad” money
I have thrown myself whole-heartedly into this challenge. I am very fortunate to have an ultra supportive partner in Vikki who, for a start, doesn’t resent my trying to fix myself and also doesn’t mind doing the lion’s share of the day-to-day money earning so I don’t have to. I am taking full advantage of her kindness, not just for me, but for our entire future.
How am I doing? So far, so good. Nearly all in the Yes category are to do with personal growth and happiness. Clearly, I wasn’t very happy and needed to do something about it, which is how I came across Mindfulness. That, in turn has lead to a much more “living in the moment” attitude which has broken down certain barriers meaning that I will explore new ideas and philosophies with a bit more of an open mind. To that end, since my birthday in June, I have started regular meditation and Yoga which comes round full circle to help with everything else. It is amazing how much easier things can be if you just accept what is instead of fighting what isn’t.
Thanks to being a bit more open with my time and actually taking some time out for Vikki and I, the plant-based thing came around much earlier than expected. When I wrote the above, I figured I might be 100% plant-based by the end of the year however, thanks to some incredibly interesting and enlightening documentaries, I did it back in February. “Old” Zion would have wanted to make sure he knew exactly what he was going to eat and how his body reacted before doing something that drastic; “New” Zion – Zion 2.0 – just did it and worried about the how as he went. It worked out just fine.
Just as Vikki is being supportive to me this year on a daily basis I, in turn, am supporting her in a new business venture. Thanks to an inheritence, I have been able to act as a bank and overdraft facility so she can buy stock and build it much faster than she could have otherwise. Additionally, I offer emotional support and encouragement and, if needed, help out with some technical stuff that she may not be so savvy at. This is paying dividends for us both as it has meant being able to move from “bad” money to “good” money much faster.
What do I mean by that? When I say “good” money, I am not referring to an amount, but a source. For years now, we have regularly attended Expos and ComicCons to sell our T-shirts. What started off being a fun novelty has, in the last couple of years, become an annoying chore and something we both resented having to do. For the first time since 2008, we have skipped two ComicCons so far and have just one more booked for the year. Chances are, it will be our last one ever. This could not be achieved if we hadn’t expedited the growth of Vikki’s business, thus earning “good” money instead of “bad”.
Finally, I am consciously changing my way of thinking. When I fail – as we all do – instead of berating myself, calling myself an idiot and so on, I just accept the failure and move on. I am able to workshop problems much easier as a result and see solutions much clearer. Instead of wasting time and energy punishing myself, I am putting that time and energy into fixing things. Of course, the knock on effect of this is that I feel better about myself and more confident, not the in-your-face confidence of Zion The Rock Star but the laid-back, self-assured confidence of someone that knows something you don’t. The best kind!
I don’t have all the answers and I never expect to. Maybe some of the things I am doing and benefiting from right now won’t be appropriate in six months, a year, five years or ten, but I will cross that bridge when I need to. In the meantime, I will continue to explore myself, explore life and explore the secret to happiness. I deserve it – we all do – and I hope that some of the posts on this site might give you some ideas of how to find your own.
I also don’t expect to always be happy. However, I am putting the mental tools in place to ensure that any unhappiness is brief and ultimately overcome. I am helping myself to help myself.
For the first time ever I am planning for my future – for our future – both emotionally and financially. I am now less of a burden and worry for Vikki so she can concentrate on the things that are important to her and the building of her new business. And, although I may not be doing much for the day-to-day finances, I have spent the last year learning all I can about investments in stocks, funds and shares so we can achieve some of our distant dreams.
If 2017 could be summed up in one word, it would be this: INVESTMENT. I am investing in myself. I am investing in Vikki. She is investing in me. She is investing in herself. We are investing for us.