My 2015 Annual Report

“No regrets, just lessons. No worries, just acceptance. No expectations, just gratitude. Life is too short.”

Taking a leaf out of James Clear’s book, I have decided to really start giving a shit about my life this year.

I want to do this because I don’t know about you, but I swear now that I’m getting older, each and every day comes and goes so damn fast that it scares me. It scares me because it truly is a poignant reminder that our time is precious. Deep down it means we ought to spend our time doing something we love and we all owe it to ourselves, our friends and family, and even the world - to find what it is that lights us up inside.

I’ve made some pretty exotic decisions to spend the majority of my adulthood abroad. It’s definitely something I do not regret. But as I age (ahhh I’m in my late twenties!) I certainly realise that there have certainly been a few decisions that I could/should have made back in the day that would have helped to secure the comfortableness of my future self.

For the first time in my life I am actually starting to see the “return” of my former life decisions. For example:

  1. I have no savings due to a decade of travel and adventure around the world, whereby I have most likely spent around $60,000.
  2. I have a degree in Town and Regional Planning from an excellent university.
  3. I understand German and have a basic knowledge of Chinese.
  4. I have a beautiful girlfriend who I love and am lucky enough to spend my life with.
  5. I am fit and healthy and extremely passionate about nutrition, health and well being thanks to Yoga, CrossFit and Rock Climbing.
  6. Thanks to Zoe I have found the perfect adventure sport - Rock Climbing!
  7. I have such an incredible collection of friends from all over the world.
  8. I currently have no car, no furniture, no house - just a pile of clothes, my climbing gear, a tent and some books.

You get the idea.

1. What went well this year?

Securing a partner visa for Zoe: Finally Zoe and I can live together without any more long distance hassles. It’s crazy to think we spent the last four years tussling between Austria and Australia, I really can’t believe it. But finally, now we can start getting on with our lives together. I love Zoe and I am so glad we went through all the pain’s of travelling back and forth, trying to make a long distance relationship work.

We have truly been tried and tested: China broke us down completely, which was a necessary experience, for we have now been rebuilt stronger, better and more together than ever. We both understand what we want, how we operate and what to expect when times get tough. Zoe is the only person I know I can be around 100 per cent of the day and feel completely comfortable no matter what.

Regaining my health: I had some scary moments in China. For one, my diet was terrible: I was eating a ton of super cheap, highly unhealthy Chinese meals. Don’t get me wrong, Chinese food is great but it certainly is not entirely healthy.

Worst of all, throughout the winter I came down with a extreme bout of whooping cough and lost a ton of weight. It was foul. That was a bittersweet moment for me, because that was the time I decided enough was enough. I cut the BS and stopped eating unhealthy, processed foods, I began a gentle, yet effective daily yoga routine, I began doing my research into various diets and nutrition protocols and I just started giving a shit. Now I am set on a path - a path which I love - where I feel great, have amazing energy, I love cooking, exercising, and of course, eating delicious food each and every day!

Travelling China and Europe: Despite our crazy times in Hangzhou, I am still blessed for our travels around China. There is so much more I wish I could have done and deep down China is a beautiful country. I am blessed for our incredible holiday in Beijing with Zoe’s brother and girlfriend, as well as our time in Hong Kong where my mum and step dad came to visit for my birthday. Not to mention our many trips to Shanghai where Zoe and I would generally go to relax and indulge in the incredible foodie scene.

And then there was Europe! Well, Europe was nothing short of spectacular. The weather was amazing throughout the summer, the local farmers markets were teeming with incredible fresh produce and we were in serious holiday mode. I got to travel to Germany, Greece, Croatia, Switzerland, and around Austria plus spend some quality time with Zoe, her friends and family, and even some surprise visits from some of my Aussie mates. What a beautiful experience.

Starting Adventure in My Veins: One of the cooler things I did this year was launch my own rock climbing and adventure travel blog, Adventure In My Veins. Basically I am on the quest to connect with more like minded adventure lovers and interview interesting climbers who make a life and living around their passion for adventure. I coined the term Digital Dirtbag to represent those who are able to live and work remotely, whether they are a freelance photographer, a web developer or a business owner. So far the blog is growing nicely. I have an instagram account too.

Building Habits: This last year has been such a profound time of personal development. I really love making change and finding clarity in life. Ever since I watched this video on Why your twenties matter I realised that I really need to get my shit sorted.

Since this time last year I have probably listened to over 300 podcasts on a huge range of topics from health and fitness to meditation, business building, marketing, personal development, you name it. From these, the one thing I tend to hear over and over again is this: build lasting habits and improve yourself incrementally over time. Each and every day is another chance to just become a little bit better than you were yesterday.

That is something I truly believe. I have probably read nearly 40 books this year and started to focus on taking my education seriously. Good habits are vital for your health, your well-being, your personality. Whether they are good or bad, they will inevitably solidify themselves into your identity so you better be careful as to how you spend your time. Here’s a few things that have helped me improve my life in 2015:

2. What didn’t go so well this year?

Choosing to live in China: When I look back I can appreciate my time in China. However, it really wasn’t the wisest of decisions. One thing I could not handle was the pollution. It’s bad. Really bad. Also, working six days a week was a terrible idea. In the beginning I was such a baby when it came to negotiating. We both never really knew where we stood and the cutthroat ways of the Chinese really left us feeling quite overwhelmed. Basically, both Zoe and I got completely run over because we didn’t know better. If there’s one thing we should have done more thoroughly it would have been research. Maybe then we could have found a better town or city to live and work in.

Travel and adventure are part of who I am and it really crushed us to not experience this amazing country on a more intimate level. I thought we would get more out of our time in China, however it was spent mostly working and recovering from the intensely unhealthy environment. Maybe I am being a bit dramatic, I don’t know…

I really had a bigger vision for what I wanted to do in China. I didn’t expect the work (teaching English) to be so chaotic. But anyhow, it happened. No regrets.

Isolation: Both Zoe and I spent much of this year holed away in our little 40 m² loft . When winter struck Hangzhou, I rarely left the apartment because every morning I would open the curtains and see nothing but a thick grey haze across the city. The most annoying part of our situation was where we lived: we were about 30 minutes from downtown and Zoe worked another 30 minutes north of that. This made it really hard for us to get out and see people. Well, aside from that, we aren’t big drinkers so that basically cut our opportunity for meaningful human interaction in half. We both kind of just got stuck in our little own world. The big, scary world outside never seemed very inviting.

Of course, I did meet some great people and made a few friends along the way, but not as many as I would have liked and I kind of regret not strengthening the ones I did make. If we lived and worked a bit closer to downtown things could have been much more different. But it is so true that when it comes to making and maintaining friends, location is everything.

3. What am I working toward?

Becoming a Town Planner: I really loved my degree. Town planning fascinates me because it is such a complex area of work involving a broad array of disciplines from urban design, geography, science, economics, social studies, politics, law, engineering, you name it! It’s a practical profession, faced with many of the worlds biggest questions and I really could see myself working abroad as a planner. But first things first: this will be a year of buckling down, a chance to truly understand the profession and gain some valuable graduate skills. I’m excited to sink my teeth into learning, using my brain and solving problems, building relationships and my professional network and just growing up.

Web Development: I am investing a lot of my time into web development because I see it as one of the best ways to create a great work/life balance. I love the Digital Nomad community and really see the world moving in this direction. I am fascinated with app’s and beautifully designed websites and would love to create something awesome! I want to help others with their projects and solve problems that can help the wider community.

Right now I am studying a certificate in Front End Web Development through Free Code Camp. It’s a self directed course, and I predict that by this time next year I should be qualified and ready to start making awesome shit!

I would love to combine my passion for urban planning with web development to create some kind of web app that integrates cities and it’s citizens. Something to think about for now…

Greater health and fitness: I want to be the fittest, healthiest version of myself, every day. Lately, the more I exercise and eat well, the more I want to just keep on going. I feel like I am on a bit of a roll now; to the point where it actually feels easier to eat healthy than it is to eat junk. I am starting to enjoy cooking and preparing my food and I really want to experiment more with recipes.

I love CrossFit, Yoga, F45, HIIT Workouts and Rock Climbing. I want to train and improve my overall flexibility, balance, strength, power, and physical endurance and perhaps even compete in some kind of social sporting events. I would love to attend some Yoga workshops and really just keep on improving each and every day.

Zoe and I did a 19km Spartan Race in Austria last year and it was absolutely incredible. So, so, so much fun!! We have booked another one here in Brisbane in February too!

I feel as though my climbing level has been at a lull for quite some time now, and that bugs me. Hopefully I can work towards just being better and by this time next year I will have ticked more routes and improved my technique, finger strength and overall climbing ability.

Improving my relationships: Keeping in touch with friends is hard work. As soon as you are out of someones “comfortable travel zone” then catch ups rarely happen. That’s something I would like to change this year. I want to work on building new friendships with like minded people and I would love to keep in contact with all of my old friends more regularly. I want to work on my conversational skills as well. I feel as though I could be more responsive: I need to listen and pay attention more, I need to ask better questions and I want to connect with people on deeper level, more than just the average “how’s it going” and “what’s new” conversation.

I need to compliment my girlfriend more; we need to go on more dates and create some unique moments. Most of all,we need to take more photos! I love sharing my life with Zoe and that is something I need to show to her more often.

Here’s to an amazing 2016.

“Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great.”
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