I’ve written a manifesto for 2022. As we stand (metaphorically) at the start a new year, there’s a tendency to look forward. What lies ahead, what are the goals? What are the plans? How do we wish to change and what do we wish to achieve?
But to see where we’re going, I also believe there’s value in reflection. What led us to this point? What do we know to have changed? What have we learned? If your life is anything like mine, the last couple of years have seen a dramatic transformation – possibly some of the most transformative years of our lives.
The years 2020 and 2021 came at some cost to us all. Personally, there were costs to me…
We built an extension and re-modelled the entire downstairs floor of our house. It was a project that took a very long time and saw us living in a building site for over 12 months.
The lockdowns changed the way I earned a living. There were extended periods of lockdown in the UK, so I had to shift my business. I was doing outdoor personal training because gyms were shut. I lost around 40% of my income, which I had to rebuild.
The closing of gyms forced me to grow my copywriting work, which was a financial lifesaver and an opportunity to indulge in something I always enjoyed but didn’t have the time for. As more fitness businesses pivoted to an online model, the demand for content increased, which meant I could replace the lost income.
Financial costs were one thing, but they weren’t the only ones. The closing of gyms meant that my workouts suffered – I’d gone from weightlifting 5 times per week to exercising with the limited equipment I had access to. Don’t get me wrong – we had more than most, but it’s impossible to replicate weightlifting workouts with a maximum of 50kg on a barbell, a 16kg and 24kg kettlebell, a TRX, a skipping rope and a pull up bar. Running and cycling made their way back to the menu.
Sleep suffered too. My days were less ‘full’ and there were stresses in other ways – making decisions on the house, the relentlessness of growing a line of work, juggling home schooling, being at home seemingly 24/7, with occasional ventures out. I’d fallen out of a usual routine.
There’s more to life than business, income and the other things tied to that. There were things I missed out on and in truth, still haven’t recovered fully. You’re reading one right now.
I used to blog weekly (sometimes multiple times per week), but that has dramatically slowed down since 2020. I’ve probably put some real effort into less than 10 posts in 2 years, and it’s something I’ve missed. I feel like I’ve let a project I’ve put a lot of heart and soul into for over a decade slide. I’m endeavouring to rebuild this site in 2022 and make it more of what it could and should be.
Travel is something I love but have missed out on. Having had a couple of my fitness retreats cancelled in 2020 and 2021, I took the decision to close my fitness retreat business. That’s not to say they’re dead forever, but there’s too much going on for me to make them a priority in the meantime. I haven’t left the UK since 2019 and given I used to travel 4-5 times per year, that’s a lot of missed trips!
Yet from hardship comes lessons…
The important thing here though is we were fortunate. We didn’t lose any loved ones. Yes, we had our stresses – timing wasn’t great with the extension, but we didn’t exactly forecast a global pandemic during the planning of the build. We lost much of our income, but we were able to replace most of it within a few months. There were upsides.
But we can’t always focus on the cost.
Building the extension was a stress, and it was awful living in a house with no central heating throughout a freezing cold winter with two small children. Despite that, the result was improved knowledge about building, about the process, about a lot of practical and DIY tasks. Ultimately we’re left with a much nicer home and an environment that is a nice, comfortable and practical base.
I learned a lot about business. I learned that if things get really tough, I can navigate my way around the internet well enough to make a living. With access to the entire world, we’re no longer reliant on our local economy – I write for businesses based in the US, in Qatar, the UK, Australia and the far east. This was a huge eye-opener.
A lockdown forced me to focus on developing an existing skill. I’m now a significantly better writer. I improved my network, my research skills, my marketing abilities and my value to businesses, both my own and other people’s.
Most importantly, the lockdown enabled me to spend more time with my family and it really brought us closer. We spent a lot of time in each others’s pockets and whilst that has the potential to make or break relationships, I’d like to think it really made us all appreciate each other more.
I’m not going to describe our situation as ‘lucky’. Of course there’s an element of luck involved in most things, but where we live, the people we’re in relationships with, what we do for livings etc… they’re not really lucky. We’re not ‘lucky’ to live where we do – we made a choice to buy a house in suburbia and not the city. We could have chosen to live in many places, but we chose where we are based on the factors that (ultimately) made it a nice place to be in the pandemic.
A lot of good work and decisions can be dismissed as ‘lucky’.
To help me make good decisions in future, and help to make the year ahead a fruitful and productive one, I’ve written a manifesto for 2022. It’s a mixture of lessons learned and future promises, so hopefully it’ll serve its purpose well.
A manifesto for 2022
In a long-winded way, I’ve gotten to the point of explaining why 2020 and 2021 served as the springboard to learn a lot about ourselves. Never in my life have I had that amount of time spent at home and with my family, reflecting on lessons and what’s important.
In a somewhat indulgent article, I’m going to share (what I believe) are self-evident truths that have revealed themselves to me over the last couple of years. I’m using these as a springboard to improve my life across a number of different areas in 2022. This manifesto for 2022 is a collection of these truths and maxims that I’ll work hard to keep in mind as the year unfolds…
Here’s my manifesto for 2022 (and beyond)
- Newton’s third law of motion holds true… for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Extreme work requires extreme rest. Eaten too much? Then eat too little afterwards.
- Make your home, however humble, as nice as you can. Your main environment has to be a nice place to be.
- Resources are finite. Time. Energy. Money. Health. They need replenishment should you wish to make regular withdrawals from them.
- A warm shower is the groundwork for a major improvement in mood, energy and capability.
- Movement (in almost any form) is medicine.
- Tracking workouts, even in a crude fashion is helpful.
- Living with more ancestral tenets in mind is a good thing. Daily movement, regular sun exposure and lots of clean food and water help improve your health.
- The most frequent stress is a financial one, so live within your means.
- Many of our health issues are diet related. Fasting will prove this – fast for 48-72 hours and watch your aches and pains reduce. Yes, it’ll be tough. No, you won’t starve to death.
- If you work from home, dress for work. It’s a uniform and it changes your state. Work in pyjamas… you’ll not be as good.
- Filling your day with tasks is rewarding. Feeling productive and useful is important to us all.
- A social media audit is a good thing. Unfollow people and things that don’t serve your needs. Follow more people who help lift you up.
- Invest in your relationships. You can’t expect to be happy if you treat others with disdain.
- Taking action is far more useful than worrying. If you indulge worry it’ll consume you.
- You can say no. Say it more.
- Never underestimate the power of good sleep.
- Read more. When you forget, read this again.
- Your social media is a perfect diary of your wins in life. Fill it with positivity.
- Masculinity needn’t be toxic. Don’t be ‘less’ because it makes people uncomfortable. Just don’t be a dick.
- Nobody wins a fight on the internet. There’ll always be people you disagree with. There’ll also always be bots trying to wind you up.
- Consume less, but consume better.
- Just do it. Whatever ‘it’ is to you, get it done. The writing. The training. The DIY task. It’s on you. Own the responsibility, the process and the outcome.
Using lessons of the past to improve our future…
We’re all in a constant state of evolution, but it’s important to look back every now and then. What have we learned, what do we need to re-learn? How can we avoid repeating mistakes? That’s the purpose of the manifesto for 2022.
I’m personally a fan of using the new year to assess. I like to look at what I’ve done and draw a line under things. There’s a sense of renewal of everything in the new year – days get longer, the weather (gradually) improves, there’s an air of optimism and possibility around us as well.
I’m going to use this manifesto for 2022 to make improvements to my life. That’s a promise.
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