A Good Year. Really.

I hate the fact that I am writing, again, about the end of a year. I must write the same crap every year about how weird it is to write about the sadness of the years flying by, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

But what really is a shock is that I honestly think 2014 has been a very good year for me. I have just finished reading back my traditional start-of-year post and I seem to have done and achieved roughly what I wanted.

There is a bit of cheating though. I feel like I set my expectations low for 2014. At the start of the year I was worried whether the new business I am involved in was going to achieve anything significant. Turns out the answer was yes. It has had a very positive year, with a decent return on investment, and more to come. It has one or two members of staff, and a third if we stretch the definition. That is some good growth, and it feels like a real company. I like the feeling of running a real company. It feels like an achievement to be proud of.

My IT business has also had a decent year. It has peaked, yes, but it is a decent peak to be at. I tried my best to share the business with two other people by giving them an opportunity to work for me. It didn’t work out, but I tried. I wanted to move on and allow someone else to start filling in the gaps. But they failed. Maybe I could have tried again and found someone else. Maybe there is a right person out there to do the job. But I started to think it wasn’t worth spending my time on it, and that I should just start to prioritise the jobs instead… especially given the impact it was having on my life.

I had written at the start of the year that employing someone would make it a very good year. It was, but turns out it was a good year because of what it taught me, not necessarily because they have stuck with me…

I hoped that this year I would get myself a house. I was wrong as far as this was concerned, but the way it has turned out I am not bothered. With the potential to turn it into a new revenue stream, I am excited about this delay. We are very close indeed to starting out on a new track. It’s going to allow me to start on a new project entirely. New work is good for me. It allows me to reset the boredom clock. So this too has helped to make it a good year.

In my private life, I haven’t changed at all. I am still a closed individual, with no real worries about it. I have had an opportunity to maybe look at extending this to another person, but even the way I write about this is so functional and stilted that I surely would be a disaster. I am not bothered either way, really. My unconscious is telling me to do something about it, because I’m not getting any younger, and certainly am no oil painting, but my conscious mind loves my freedom and independence. I love my own company. That has been something I have reinforced all year, and it, to some minor extent, also contributes to why I think it was a good year. I like my Sundays on my own, with my guitar, my voice, my music, my radio, my internet, doing my things. It’s sad, but it is me.

So I end the year without any regrets, really. My work life is good, I am accepting of my personal life, I have good prospects to come, and my family are OK. It has been kind to us all.

So 2014 is a Good Year. It might even be a Very Good Year. But hey, good is good, right?

A year successfully navigated, with finances improved, prospects improved, and experiences, generally, being positive. Not bad, really.

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A Fair to Middle’un Year

Here I am again, sitting in my parents house with a computer, writing yet another assessment of yet another year.

The formal business is always to decide what type of year this was. In general, I think I am heavily influenced by what happened towards the end of it, whilst forgetting about happened earlier in the year. So, trying to avoid this, I will have to work this out carefully.

This year, more than most, would be a serious negative if I allowed the closing bias to shine through. The back end of this year has been particularly difficult. First was the death of my grandfather, which, although not unexpected in the end, was still a traumatic experience. This has been particularly difficult with my mum, as she is still struggling.

Then there was the nightmare that was the employee that the other business took on. I’d rather not relive that, but, in better news, this has now been all drawn to a close with the re-sale of the car I bought for his use.

But casually using phrases like “the other business” disguises the fact that “the other business” is a completely new step for me. This was not predicted at the start of the year, and has been a major change to my life.

When I look back at my expectations for the year I can see that I didn’t really know what was going to happen. No surprise there.

The only thing I knew for sure was that my household circumstances were going to change with the moving out of my housemate. This was a big improvement for me, and has made my life significantly better during the last year. I now have a much more positive feeling about my house. I still don’t feel like calling it my “other home”… it just doesn’t have that quality to it.

The other thing I didn’t predict, although during the year I have claimed to the contrary to people in Real Life, is that I had set myself a goal to get an office. I have told many people that it was all part of my plan for 2013, but, having re-read my post from the start of the year, that’s not quite true. I had in fact said that I wanted to buy my own house.

But whatever, this too has made a big difference to my life. It has made my house marginally more like a home. Now I leave my house and go to work, and I leave work and go to my house. This mental separation has been a great help to me in trying to achieve some semblance of a life balance. It’s not quite there yet, but I do feel better from it.

The other business referred to above also did not quite appear in the sense I’d hoped. This time last year I was predicting my “media” side of the business to take off. That didn’t happen in any sense, which… in hindsight… is no surprise really. The media business always did seem like it would never happen. It really is a poor industry.

But, instead, the green consultancy business has been a surprise success. However, it is very hard work, and is increasingly – already – looking like it may be difficult to sustain in the long run. It is starting to look exceptionally risky, and the margins are slimming.

In my own business, the one that started all of this, the workload is continuing, and the clients are sticking with me, and, in some cases, getting better. This is generally good, but a real struggle to juggle everything.

Family life, apart from the upsets, has been OK. So we’re all progressing… all doing something decent.

On the whole I’d say it’s been an Average year. The work has been OK, and the new office and improvements in the house are very good, but the external circumstances, the family incidents and the hopeless employee have really dragged things down.

But I’m happy with that. Happy with being average. Sounds good to me. Sounds like my life all over.

The title of this post is in honour of my grandfather. “Fair to middle’un” was a phrase he would often use when you asked him how he was. I think it might be from a film, or from some general 30s-50s phrase. Here’s to you, Grandad.

Where Did It Go?

Looking back at my start of year expectations setter, I appear to have been a miserable failure. I knew that anyway, but since this is the first time I’ve considered what I wrote in January of this year, it’s actually quite a shock to me.

First of all though, the formal business. Each year I label the previous year with a verdict on how it went. 2008 was a Neutral Year. 2009 is most definitely a Bad Year.

That’s a major disappointment to me. I had said I wanted to sort my life out by the end of February. Didn’t happen. Still hasn’t happened. I’m still fucking about trying to see where it goes.

The big event of the year on a personal level, possibly the only one, was that I moved out. Sort of. It’s the most ridiculous moving out in history. So far it’s cost me nearly two grand, and it has been an outstanding disaster. I’m currently sitting in my parents house, and will be for another 12 days, having already spent the past two weeks here. I should never have let myself be convinced by my stupid housemate that moving out would bring the successful growth of my business that I thought.

I really don’t know why I fell for it either, because he has said many things in the past that have never come to pass, usually involving job offers, business leads and so-called joint ventures. Argh. What an idiot I am.

I made a prediction at the start of the year that something big would happen. That sort of happened. But I said it in a good way, like it would finally be the clicking into place of my life.

And as I know all too well, it hasn’t, and I don’t see any prospects for it in future. But that’s for tomorrow.

So my life has been a travesty this year. Some money earned, though not enough. Lots of time wasted. No life’s ambitions achieved. No progress. At all. Fuck.

Meanwhile, my family are getting on OK. One of my brothers is in uni, messing around. I don’t know if he’ll make it to the end, but good luck to him anyway. My other brother is in his last year of school, suffering the GCSE curse, and not really doing enough revision. I offer my help, but no one wants it. I get on a bit better with both of them than I did at the start of the year, which was one of my hopes for the year. At least something has gone right.

My younger sister is funny, and we get on very well. That’s very nice. My elder sister is doing OK, but she’s in a constant battle with the father of my nephew regarding access to him. Even though my nephew now wants nothing to do with his useless father. Court involvement will continue. Either way, it’s not been good for my nephew, who is now very different to what he was even three years ago.

As for my parents, they still seem fine, and we all get on well. I just wish my poor dad would get a lucky break and find a new job. He hates his current one, and has been applying for promotion for years in all manner of departments. Gets nowhere. I feel really sorry for him.

My mum continues to enjoy her job working as a teaching assistant, and has no ambitions to do any more. Though she isn’t that content about her life. Maybe no one ever is.

Goodbye 2009. It hasn’t been nice knowing you.

Where Did The Year Go?

It’s hard for me to look back on this year. 2009 has turned out to be a year of real change for me. Yet nothing has really changed all that much.

For instance, right now I’m writing this post while sitting in my parents’ house. All this in spite of the fact that I allegedly moved out of the parental home in October. I think, with hindsight, this was a bad move. So far the transition to living away and trying to make a living of my own has been a total failure.

Hence why I’m here. Indeed, the main reason why I’m back in the old home right now is that I’ve had loads of work to do this week. Work that has paid me some cash and will definitely see me through Christmas. I could have had a lot more if I’d stayed here, I’m sure.

But on the other hand, I had to go. I needed change. I needed a break. I just wish I hadn’t move somewhere so far away and so inaccessible.

This has been the biggest change this year. My life is now on its head. Split across a couple of hundred miles. Travelling all the bloody time.

And yet, I don’t really know why the year has gone so quickly. In truth, it has been a year of inactivity. With so much time to spare, and so little actually done in it, I should have been bored out of my mind, sitting here watching the clock.

There has been a bit of that, but broadly speaking time has flown by. It has been frustrating and immensely depressing, but it hasn’t mattered. Time has gone.

At the start of the year I knew it would be important. I remember saying as much to my fellow New Year revellers. But I don’t think I’ll truly know the significance of this year until I can look back on it in a few years time. Whether this was a false start, and a waste of money. Or whether it was the stepping stone to turning myself into the entrepreneur that right now exists in my dreams only.

I keep setting myself deadlines at which I need to have achieved X. They come and go, without me achieving anything. But I still don’t feel brave enough to scrap the current gamble and accept I really ought to live an ordinary life like other people, rather than sitting, waiting for customers.

It depresses me too much. That alone should make me reconsider. I once thought I was a fan of change, exciting, different things happening each day. But I also long for a bit of stability and predictability. And more predictability than being able to confidently predict that today would, yet again, be a lost day.

There’s something seriously wrong with me. I have no motivation any more. I am filled with depressing thoughts constantly. A feeling of total inadequacy.

And I don’t want to do anything about it.

2009 has been a great let down. Maybe it was for the best that it’s gone so quickly.

Now all that’s left is to hope that I’m not too down over Christmas. That would be extremely difficult for me.

That Was The Year That Was

It’s customary around these parts to review the year when I finally reach the fag-end of it. And sure enough, today seems the most opportune moment to do so. 

The beauty of this exercise is that I am aided in my assessment by looking back to the post I made on January 1st in which I set down what I expected to happen this year.

This year started coldly, in the same way as it’s finishing coldly. The weather made me dread going back to Hull after Christmas, and it was even worse this year because I had exams awaiting me there. But back I went, nailing the buggers, and getting on with the rest of university life. 

The months ticked by, not a lot happened with me other than ploughing on with my university work. After all, it was my final year and I had a dissertation to write, an absolute monster spanning 15,000 words. But I did it…

Winter gave way to Spring, and yet more exams appeared over the horizon. But all of a sudden I had a new goal. Away had went my previous expectations of being able to get a 2:1. All of a sudden I’d done so well in my previous exams, essays and the dissertation to know that I could, if I pushed myself, get a First. 

The exam revision was hellish. It would be another two months before I finally got the answer I was hoping for.

In the meantime, I moved back home and began preparing for life doing a PGCE. My plan was to become a primary school teacher, as it was something I had found interesting when I did lots of work experience for them. But as the months went by, I found myself backtracking from this commitment. Somehow, it just didn’t seem right any more. Each day another seed of doubt was sewn. I felt like I was just doing it because I didn’t have any other plans.

Days later there was the joy of the graduation result, a First, and the day itself, which was a very happy moment. Then my brain began to think up alternatives. If not teaching, what else? 

Unfortunately, to this day there is no answer to that question, made worse by the fact that the recession seems to be seriously damaging my prospects. I tried and tried, but ratcheted up just two interviews, one of which was a disaster not worth repeating, and the other was a long journey to London which ended with the same result. In any event, I soon learned that a First in politics is not really that useful. 

And so the remaining months of the year have been spent here, where I’ve lived out a rather odd existence as a houseson, spending my time looking after the house while my parents aren’t here, helping my brother and sister with their homework, and generally mooching around watching DVDs or reading books. 

Not good, basically. 

Because of all this, I am, for the first time in a while, not going to label this as a Good Year. Though it started well, and the middle bit was pretty sweet, the end has been a disaster. So this is a Neutral Year. 

For the rest of my family, I have been fortune that the sadness I feared was going to happen with my grandparents has not yet arrived. In fact, things are pretty much as they were at the start of the year. So that is some comfort. But I am still worried about what might happen in the near future. 

Meanwhile, my younger but elder of my brothers has gone to university, and seems to be enjoying it. The other brother has begun his GCSEs and is turning into a right scally. But he’s still my brother, and as amusing as ever. And my sister has gone all girly-girly, but has turned into a massive couch potato, watching soaps, reality TV and endless Nickelodeon shows. Not good at all.

My elder sister didn’t keep up with her nurse training, but now has a job for the first time in a long time. Her son, my nephew, has, unfortunately, become very naughty and very thick, a change which has upset me a lot. I suspect it’s related to the beginnings of a long and tedious legal battle that will kick off in 2009 as his useless father tries to score some points over my sister. 

As for my parents, well, I can’t help but feel that living here has changed the dynamic of their relationship. Some times I feel like I’m the referee of their silly conflicts, like they appeal to me for a judgement on who is to blame for things. I don’t like it, and hope I don’t have to put up with it for much longer. 

So, sorry 2008, but I’ll be glad to see the back of you. Things just haven’t gone anywhere near the way I thought they would. A shame, but we move on…