2014 – A Recap: Travels, Writing and Lessons Learned

Walking the Highline, NYC
Walking the Highline, NYC


As another year starts to close its doors, it’s always good to recap on what went well and what we can work on for the year ahead.

Taking inspiration from and with a tip of the hat to Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Review I will do this for my year by focusing on the following:
• Highlights for the Year
• Lessons learned (or relearnt and affirmed this year)

Let’s get started:



1) Writing & New Books
The early part of this year started in fairly spectacular fashion for my writing as I was approached by the Huffington Post to write for them!

Initially I thought this all sounded a little too good to be true. One of the biggest and most read sites in the world contacting little old me for some contributions. However, 8 posts in, true it is. I am truly thankful for the opportunity and really enjoy writing my posts there.

I released two further books this year Frictionless Email and 22 Ways to Happier.

I also had the good fortune to interview some pretty amazing guests this year for the blog.  People that have influenced me and that I have been a long time fan of myself so my aim is to continue the interviews.

In addition I have also started collections on Medium:

Although Frictionless will remain my main focus, the additional forums allow me to explore and experiment a bit wider as a writer. I enjoy the variety and challenge this brings.


2) Simpler Living & Lifestyle Design
My journey into simplifying my own life has also continued.

As I’ve written about here, the concept of what my version of simpler living actually means and looks like has changed and challenged me along the way so this area also fits into the lessons learned heading. However, I figure this is very much a life journey and not a quick fix.

Casting away the unnecessary so the necessary has room to breathe continues to improve the quality of my life.

3) Travels

Fisherman in Mui Ne, Vietnam
Fisherman in Mui Ne, Vietnam

As with the last few years, I have been fortunate enough to travel to some amazing locations this year (Malaysia, Vietnam, New York, Portugal and Prague).

The whole of February was taken care of with travels to Malaysia and Vietnam. Vietnam was new for me and we visited Ho Chi Minh, Mui Nei and Hoi An. Each offered up contrasting but beautiful adventures and tastes from an amazing country. The Vietnamese people were also incredibly welcoming on our travels.

New York is a long standing favourite and again we celebrated birthdays there this year with dinner in my favourite restaurant for my birthday (as last year and hopefully many ahead!). Visiting NYC is a love affair that continues for me and, if anything, deepens on each visit as we get underneath the layers more.

Portugal was new for us and we loved the sleepy town feel and lovely beaches where we were.

Prague was also new and offered up many treats with its Christmas markets, jaw- dropping architecture and romantic vistas. It even proved to be the ideal location for no 5 on this list!


4) Wild Dolphins

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Regular visitors will know wildlife and nature are two of my real passions in life. Each day can of course bring its own highlights in these areas if we just keep our ears and eyes open wherever we are. However, for me, a stand out highlight this year was wild dolphin trekking off the shores of Portugal.


We were amazingly fortunate with our trip and ended up in the middle of a pod of hundreds of dolphins. Once the engines on our speedboat were cut this really turned into a magical experience. All around us we could hear the breaking of the surface as the dolphins grabbed some air and a peak at the visitors in the strange boat. I found the whole experience more than a little overwhelming in a beautiful way and the memories are something I will always cherish.


5) I Got Engaged!!

Stunning views and Xmas markets in Prague
Stunning views and Xmas markets in Prague

Last, but certainly not by any means least – I got engaged!

My partner of 3 plus years seemed genuinely surprised but thankfully also said yes when I asked for her hand in Old Town Square, Prague (I have a little romance in me!)

A very nice note to end 2014 on and I look forward to our journey ahead.

Lessons I Learned (or Relearned)

1) I Can Procrastinate with the Best of Them
With my second book this year in particular (22 Ways to Happier) I really dragged my heels getting to complete. I can be like this with other areas in my life as well.

I can be a somewhat strange mix of either hyper-productive or cat like lazy. I work best in bursts of activity as the motivation for something really grabs me or as an upcoming deadline demands. However, without either of those I can drift.


I understand this about myself so have to work with it and create tactics and circumstances that keep me producing. I didn’t always do that as well as I could in 2014.


2) I Really Need to Follow My Own Advice
If you’ve read this blog you’ll know I’m a pretty straightforward guy. I like to keep things simple and uncomplicated. I also like to operate in an open and inclusive way when working with others. Not everyone is the same way of course.

At times this year I’ve got in my own way a little when dealing with external politics and the odd devisive person along the way. This has led to a little frustration at the time and reflection afterwards. The reflection has of course made me realise that the problem with some of this is my own reaction.

Better to breathe deep and walk on sometimes rather than try to figure out what motivates others.


3) People are Easily Distracted from What Matters

I find a lot of my work involves me bringing others (and sometimes myself) back to fundamentals. These fundamentals seem to get lost. The reasons are fourfold:

  • People get distracted by the shiny, bright and new
  • The fundamentals and things that matter seem to get drowned out by the less important (spending the whole day in an inbox, going to unproductive meetings etc)
  • The stuff that matters (the fundamentals) aren’t always sexy/interesting/easy
  • People get stuck in the herd mentality and just do things that others do without questioning why they’re really doing them or what they are achieving


It will be no surprise that I’m a big believer in keeping things as simple as they can be. Less moving parts often means better results from my experience. A focus on what matters and a focus on the fundamentals serves all of us well in life. Although I’m also all for a little rule bending along the way as well.



How about you? What went well for you this year? What do you have in your targets for the year ahead?

For More:
See Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Review



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I also write regularly for the Huffington Post here