2018 Review: What I Learnt And Experienced
Sleep - I've never been a particularly amazing sleeper, but I've never had as much trouble as I had over the last year. I don't have insomnia, but there would be an increasing number of days, each month, where I just wouldn't be able to fall asleep until about 3 or 4am. A big part of the reason is stress-related, but I'll also admit that my sleep hygiene is fairly poor and I've never really paid much attention to it before. Over 2018, I became increasingly obsessed about learning about sleep (still not sure if this helps or hinders my anxiety around sleep) and taking steps to try to improve it. I use the Oura ring to track my sleep and have been trying things like blue light blocking glasses, time-boxing coffee intake, sauna sessions, not eating so late and limiting screen time before bed. This is all a work in progress.
Fasting - Regretfully, I went all year without actually doing any water-only fasts. What I did try instead, were a couple of periods of fasting mimicking diets, namely Prolon. My adherence to that diet was a lot easier, where it was uncomfortable going through the 5 days, but doable. I don't have much quantifiable data apart from weight loss over both fasting periods, but I have to say that I did feel good doing it, and immediately after. I'll be continuing with this, and also reintroducing water-only fasts this year.
Meditation - I made the most progress that I ever have with meditation last year. I did it on and off throughout the year, with my longest continuous streak being 108 days. I reached a point where I actually started feeling like I was experiencing benefits even when I wasn't meditating, which is what kept me motivated. However, I found that it still wasn't always a top priority if I say, had too little sleep (see above!) or felt like my to-do list was too long (which is probably when I actually need it most). I'm going to continue trying to cultivate a meditation habit this year.
Journaling - In last year's review, I mentioned that my intention was to try keeping a daily logbook over 2018. Having never managed to cultivate a daily writing habit, I was surprised that I was actually successful! The low bar when it came to the content definitely helped - it was just a simple list of things that I would log daily, not some beautiful prose to be kept for all eternity. Now that I'm used to taking time each evening to write, I've decided to continue with my daily log, and additionally have a separate journal for writing longer-form content, when the feeling to do so arises.
Executive and life coaching - After a great experience with an executive coach, I decided to pursue a coaching qualification of my own and trained for a number of months for an executive coaching diploma. Why? Mostly because I knew that the communication skills I would learn would benefit me greatly in all of my interactions with others, whether it was with my team, direct reports, co-founders, friends or even strangers. Great coaches actively listen and help others help themselves - sounds like an amazing skill that I would love to have!
Nutrition - I got certified as a holistic nutritionist this year. I've been immensely interested in nutrition and health since becoming vegan in 2015 and wanted to really immerse myself in the science. I therefore did a self-study course online over about 3 months. It was a lot of fun going through a bit of structured learning again, and I liked the fact that this course didn't just focus on the theory, but also the practical skills of being a nutritionist (how you motivate and encourage behavioral change).
Skiing - My ski trip this year was to Ischgl in Austria. The snow was amazing at the start of the year and it was a fun trip. I'm not sure that I'll be going skiing this year, so that was a good one to savour until my next one.
Chicago Marathon - I crossed off another bucket list marathon from the Marathon Majors list, this time in Chicago. This was the first marathon I ever did without going through a marathon-specific training schedule. I was therefore pretty pleased that (1) I managed to finish it in one piece, but also (2) that I did it in a half-decent time of under 4.5 hours. My training mostly consisted of HIIT cardio and strength classes. The power was therefore there, but not the endurance and stamina. Chicago was also a lovely US-city to visit (all those donuts!)
I see big changes ahead in 2019 and I'm super excited to see what it brings. In the meantime, I wish you all an amazing year!