2017: My Yearly Review

What kind of life did you create this year?

Every year, I conduct a review of my year to look back, celebrate what I achieved, what didn’t go to plan and what I learnt. I do this by focusing on three questions: What went well? What didn’t go well? and What did I learn?

I’ll also be clearer in my actions & plans this time — asking how will I do that? What will it require? How will I measure it & when?

I. Education & Writing

This years reading challenge

Overview

I studied 30 books this year, 20 less than 2016 but more focused on quality learning.

In 2017, I read less self help & went for more political/social commentary. I supplemented this with subscriptions too journals & magazines like The Economist, Consented & Delayed Gratification.

In the future I’d actually like to do a master’s degree, but can’t right now. However, I did what I could & managed a 10 week university level course in the humanities.

The course was titled “Thinking Without Borders” and looked at the way our world was created through the different disciplines of philosophy, literature & politics. This gave me a space & community to explore ideas that I haven’t had for so long — something I have MISSED.

I also stopped doing full time 1:1 life coaching so I could diversify & grow Rev Hive more objectively. But I continued developing my skills as a coach, attending 8 CPD days throughout the year. This massively diversified my skill set even further: I’m now able to coach people on additional areas like mindfulness, finance & wealth, transactional analysis, confidence, neuroscience, ACT therapy & image/branding.

Lastly, I released a few more videos from “Dead Roots” — the mixtape of spoken word, essays & speeches I created in 2016; as well as writing one guest post/article for Metro UK.

Working at the YouTube Space (left), my article on the UK election for the Metro UK (right)

Next steps for 2018

Writing

I really missed being able to contribute my own ideas & voice more. 
I used to use the Revolution Hive social platforms to do this, but I’ve separated the two now. As a result, in 2018, I’ll publish essays & blogs here with a view to use some pieces towards my second mixtape. The course made me realise the power of sharing, and my intentions may have been noble, but playing small is dumb. I’m holding back from sharing what I think & believe in, which serves no one. I’ve already been writing the second mixtape, so I just need to refine & release it. I’d also like to create some more guest posts, but for a better quality journal/paper. I won’t commit to anything specific however, as I feel I have enough to work on already. So let’s see how it goes.

Aim: Finish videos from Dead Roots. Then release Mixtape 2. Use Sunday mornings to write 1 article per month.

Reading & Studying

I hit my reading goals via a combo of physical & audio books. There’s more than one way to self learn though. In 2018, I’m going to add online courses/training into the mix.

Reading
I’ll be reading 32 of the top books on leadership, business & management next year. This is a list I’ve put together based on the best I’ve what I’ve read so far & recommendations from others.

Audiobooks
In November, I hit a peak of listening to 26 hours of audio. It set a new benchmark. I did it by just going all in, and bombarding my brain constantly with information. My goal now is to maintain that each month at the minimum. I’ll do this by not listening to music on commutes & at the gym which gives me ~1–3 hours time to listen per day. 
Aim: 26 hours/month audible time & take notes on my phone as I go.

Courses
I’ve already got together 15 of the best course in online marketing, so I’ll be doing those over the first half of 2018. Once this is done, I can move on to the coaching diplomas & research for a post grad degree. 
Aim: Complete & implement the 15 courses by Q1. I’ll do this by dedicating Saturdays at a library to this so I approach it like a pro.

Reviews I reviewed books less this year, and it was a mistake. So over the next few days I’ll be finishing those off and ensuring I write reviews as I complete a book. My past book reviews were really helpful, and I still go back to remind myself of what I learned. Reviews will also help towards my writing goals. 
Aim: 100% of books read reviewed. Notes as I go.

II. Fitness

There’s 5 elements to my fitness routine right now — weights, flexibility, steps, diet & cardio, so I’ll review them in that order for this section.

Weights

My goal this year was to improve my consistency in the gym to above 65% and I succeeded in hitting this target by making just a few small tweaks to what I was already doing.

I worked out a total of 129 times (of a possible 192) and generally got in at least 10 workouts per month. My main lifts currently stand at Bench: 85kg, Squat: 110kg, Box DL: 120kg, Curls: 30kg, Clean & Jerk: 50kg

There’s not much I need to change other than improving my consistency again

Next steps: 75–80% total workouts over the year, must be min 14 per month.

Flexibility

This is an area I’d neglected previously but have started to give more focus to. With the help of a sport massage therapist, I’ve been doing a routine of regular foam rolling & daily stretches to make sure I’m keeping my muscular system in good shape. I think driving/sitting a lot had created a knot in my right glute/hip, which the routine has really helped resolve.

Next steps: Stick to stretches in the morning 2x/week, to keep up the good work. The discomfort has just slightly begun to creep in again.

Steps

I finally replaced my lost fitness tracker with a VivoSmart HR+ midway through the year. This has helped me get more active throughout the day and avoid prolonged periods of sitting. At the moment I’m doing ~8-9k steps a day.

Next steps: Average 10k steps daily, always move when the the hourly time goes off. Aim to hit the 150 intensity mins each week via cardio/football.

Diet

Last year I recommitted to a vegan diet, and I’ve maintained this easily in 2017. I’ve finally found a good supplement to help hit my macros and am pretty much spoilt for choice due to the boom in free-from products. During this last quarter, I’ve also started to do my weekly meal preps again to keep me on track.

Next steps: Meal prep has to be a staple MUST on a weekly basis. It’s a corner stone habit. I’ll also say no to less favourable foods at least 3x week.

Cardio

Again over the last quarter of the year in particular, I’ve been doing an additional few things to improve my cardiovascular fitness. This is a mix of weekly 7 a side games on Sundays, 5km runs & long walks.

Next steps: Aim to do some form of cardio twice per week either via football games or 20–30 min runs/cardio sessions on days I can’t make it.

III. Business

This time, I’ve brought YouTube into the Business category, as it no longer requires its own section. Why? I’m no longer romantic or sentimental about making YouTube videos — the form follows the function.

In fact, in the past I was way too personally caught up in Rev Hive. It was my baby. And as much as I love this company, this kind of mindset put too much pressure on every tiny little aspect of it.

It hindered me from being a more effective leader. I needed to separate myself from it, and see the bigger picture.

I previously wrote about doing this in 2016. Of moving to being an owner and not an operator. In 2017, I definitely did this even better, and it is something I’m excited to continue doing.

I think like the of a CEO of a small business now, instead of a hustling lone entrepreneur.

Revolution Hive: we equip young people for life beyond the classroom & increase their performance by teaching the personal, social & global topics formal education doesn’t always cover.

Revolution Hive made a lot of progress in key areas in 2017. The team has now expanded to 17 people, and though not all working full time, it means we are able to do a lot more. Last year I got together a core of 4–5 people who would run the organisation alongside me, and we’ve since brought in more people to help us do good.

At the beginning of the year, we finished the Young Academy programme, and pitched for £36k investment to help us grow. It went really well (despite being a bit of a red herring) and we created some positive opportunities & relationships because of it.

Rev Hive recently turned 5!

We now have developed a really clear mission, a better organisational structure with accountability & processes, and an awesome theory of change called “RAPID”. We’ll be publishing more in our Impact Report & new site so I’ll save the details for that.

Some highlights —

  • We delivered face to face workshops to 1,404 young people aged 9–25 across the UK on topics like mental health, toxic masculinity, politics, social leadership, revision techniques, healthy relationships & more.
  • Our YouTube channel passed 20,000 subs & we launched a brand new show called “Leadership Lessons” where we interview experts & find out what we need to learn from their expertise on topics like confidence, money, politics, climate change & more.
  • We’ve now got a really cool library of free content on the channel, on topics related to lifelong learning. Alongside this, we’ve created a “Leadership Academy” which you’ll hear far far more about in 2018.
  • We stress tested our education curriculum more rigorously with different groups of young people & expanded the range of topics we cover.
  • Bringing together an advisory board who hold us accountable & help us make sure we’re focusing in on the right areas.

Next steps for 2018

  • Be better at marketing/sales. 
    Many of our more specific goals, come back to this basic fact. And the missing piece is simply pitching our services more. We’ve spent a year developing our products & services, our messaging, and how things work so it was ready to grow. So how will we do this? I’ll save the fluff and tell you the core goal. 
    Aim: Enrol 500 people in the Leadership Academy & reach 3,000 young people in the Midlands/London via our face to face workshops.
  • Improve conversion of videos. 
    We will be creating more Leadership Lessons videos, and also working to improve the engagement & promotion of them. The focus for 2017 was building a bank of content that was HQ. Now the next step is to get them out there more, and have them working for us. We’ve developed a free leadership training course to help us do this, so it will be interesting to see how this fares. 
    Aim: Reach the 70th episode by the end of 2018 & keep building on the free course we created — making it better, improving conversions on it & marketing it to custom audiences.
  • 20x Strategy.
    “Think 20 years ahead Keshav, and then plan 90 days in the future”. In 20 years, where do I want Revolution Hive to be? What does this company stand for? What does it represent? I’ve struggled this year to think the way a “normal” company does. And then I realised, since when do we want to be normal? I went on a training recently from one the world’s top coaches and he recommended a different approach. Think 20 years ahead — it’s far away enough to dream BIG. Then plan for the next 90 days — short enough to really plan for. This makes a lot of sense to me. 
    Aim: Create a 20 year vision & keep working on this each quarter (when I do my review). Then turn this into 90 day GANT plans for me & my team.
  • Improving Our Talent. 
    I think we have an inspirational & passionate team at Rev. Hive right now. And we’re also young! It’s like we have the force of a water cannon, but you have to make sure it’s aimed in the exact right place to really win. In 2018, I want to challenge myself & my team by levelling up our talent. The better the people around us, the better we will do. This means getting the best experts on our advisory board (almost there!), the best mentors, training & team members.
  • Office Space.
    For the last year, we’ve bootstrapped & hustled by having a base in co-working spaces like Impact Hub & YouTube Space. And we’ve outgrown those places quite quickly. So we’re going to find something more permanent in 2018 that we can call our own. Environment is really important, and whilst we can work remotely & often do, nothing beats being in a room together with a bunch of flipchart & post it notes. Or having your own space to film & produce content. I can’t actually say how, but I know I am going to make this happen in 2018. 
    Aim: Use the power of our network to see who can help us. The previous goals also contribute to this.

IV. Life, Leisure & Relationships

2018 was a standout year. Not that there weren’t any challenges or problems. There were some very big sticky dramatic messy ones, some of which are still unresolved. But I learnt a long time ago that that is OK, and just how life goes. Some problems happen, some you solve, some you don’t. There’s really no need to lose energy worrying about them.

I’ll share them because I want you to see my life, and I, am by no means perfect. It wouldn’t be an honest review without those things.

My hair is getting thin & I’ll probably have a bald head one day. Some big arguments happened between people I’m close to & hurtful things were said & done. I realised that blood probably isn’t thicker than water, that sharing the same genes doesn’t mean an entitlement to unconditional love. That some people make mistakes, rub your face in it & you try not to react but you do. And you’ll still be painted as the bad guy anyway.

I didn’t make tonnes of money, just a little bit more. I got frustrated sometimes, and lacked focus sometimes. I ate too much sometimes or got inconsistent with some of my goals/habits. I spent 4 days in a hospital in Cuba with dengue fever. Some of my beard hair randomly fell out so I have a (slowly disappearing) hole in it now. A lot of stuff I thought I’d get done I either didn’t or it took wayyyy longer than I thought. I got judged & criticised because of my height/the uni I went to/how “intelligent” I am/how much money I make. It wasn’t fun and made me feel quite insecure about myself.

See? It’s a bunch of stuff right. Now I could get sad/emotional/etc about it but I really don’t choose to. I might have for a day, or a week but these things pass.

Any experience in life can produce wounds for you, or wisdom.

I look back & see 2017 as a really wonderful year & I’m even more thankful that I have developed the resilience to look at it as such. We take too many of our successes & failures too personally but once you remove that, you find a balance that precedes either.

Life produces storms & waves of all kinds. But the water that crashes around you when you’re down & out is the same water as when things are calm & still.

My younger brother graduated and became a vet. My oldest brother & my cousin both got married in the summer leading to two beautiful & hugely fun weddings. We did an epic dance for both, and I did a lot of fun things with my fam during the summer. I went to Cuba & experienced a very different culture/society to anything I’d seen before. We had our first Rev Hive retreat in the countryside. I ate a lot of really good tasty food. And as this whole post summarises, achieved & grew a lot too.

Even outside these big life moments, I had a much better balance of “work” & play. There were some really awesome exhibitions, fun runs, football games, chess matches, theatre shows, long walks, dinners, lunches, drives, adventures that I went on. There were some really good TV shows & animes, and movies I watched!

One question I always like to ask is — how did I show up? Who was I this year?

Definitely a lot more focused & reassured. A lot more responsible. A much better & smarter leader. One who needs less & gives more.

Practically speaking. Next year the only change I’ll make is to not travel abroad. This summer I took almost 4–6 weeks “off” due to holidays/weddings. It was a one off but I found it was disadvantageous in building momentum & success towards some of my other goals. And to be honest, I don’t feel the need to.

I have a very happy, balanced life which is moving in the direction I’d like it to. The main thing I am going to absolutely nail in 2018 is financial freedom. I think I’ve got some basics down now but it’s time to move from security to prosperity. Hence, so much of this review was focused on addressing that.

Between 2019–2022, I am going to be investing in my first property, saving for my wedding & setting up a few other ventures (coaching & investing in other businesses). 2018 is all about getting the prosperity to achieve those long term goals.

I think life happens in cycles, roughly 5 years at a time. I notice it in so many areas of my life. The previous 5 years were about starting a business, travelling, becoming an adult for the first time and all those typical “20-something entrepreneur in the making” things.

But now on the horizon I see it will be the start of a new 5 year cycle. One where I’m getting married & building a life of my own. Or investing & growing my business & helping other people to do the same. Writing my own book instead of reading other people’s. Doing the things my parents & grandparents & aunts/uncles did. Raising a new generation of kids and being an uncle myself.

I end my year thinking about this quote:

The more you do, the more you can do.

I wonder what else can be done in 2018?

Thanks for reading, and check out my previous yearly reviews below. I’d love to hear from you so definitely comment/hit the applause button/subscribe for email updates from this Medium blog.

The story & dance continues…

Previous reviews:

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011