Belated Birthday Resolutions

  1. Why?

  2. Gut check

  3. 2023 in review

    1. Physical: Bolster and Balance
    2. Emotional: Kindness and Support
    3. Mental: Guide and Surrender
    4. Spiritual: Float and Observe
    5. 2022 goals
  4. What now?

    1. Physical: Steady and Balanced
    2. Emotional: Warmth and Connectedness
    3. Mental: Tranquility, Roots and Leadership
    4. Spiritual: Float and Observe
  5. Final reflection

Why?

Why do these resolutions? To add purpose (direction), growth and focus on what I value.

Continuing with a top-down, intentional approach, and key results added and connected after.

Past: 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.

Gut check

I like to start with a quick gut check - what's top of mind for 2024? What powerful questions can I ask?

Questions:

  • How would I like to feel by EOY 2024? What would serve me most? Generally, health and balance. Sustainability. Feeling strong and sharp, fit, focused, etc.
  • What would I like to have by EOY 2024? A family, at least as many friends, and fond memories and experiences.
  • I would also like my aches and stress levels to be lower, to be overall content and feel energetic.

The theme word for 2024 is tranquility. I think about warmth, connectedness and safety as part of that - the ability to relax and feel in a good place.

The main focus is on my nervous system - downregulating, spending more time in PNS (parasympathetic nervous system). On the personal front, the focus is on reducing mental and emotional alertness, and physical stress so my muscles can truly relax and let go. On the business front, it's about not taking everything so seriously, to be urgent or needed to be done, and letting more things move along on their own.

Sticking with max 4 top-level items for each goal.

2023 in review

2023 was a more stressful year than usual.

  1. On the business front, demand for software contracts went downhill fast and stayed there through most of the year. Closing projects was tough. Some very large payments were delayed until Q4 and that put a strain on the business overall. Couldn't extend all contractors and lost an employee as well. It was rough. Made it difficult to rest and enjoy time away from work.
  2. On the personal front, I started the year by overdoing a workout program and busting up my knees. I was discouraged for many months. On the upside, I was able to enjoy my February kite trip all the way until the end. Then, later in the year, my upper body - shoulder and neck - started acting up, and I'm still working through that. Ah, the joys of an aging body and long-term patterns of computer work and other hobbies...

Opportunities:

  1. Started Q1 with investment in sales and business development, learned some useful strategies for growing and closing projects.
  2. Was able to host a team building again, despite economic pressures. Small but fun!
  3. Learned a lot about recovery - tried Rossiter's, a very interesting technique for tissue recovery and had great results for my knees/legs overall. They are 90+% recovered now! At the end of the year learned about dry needling and physical therapy overall, and am excited to continue with that to help recover my upper body and improve my posture overall. In November my left elbow started hurting and I'm currently working through that, I'm cautiously optimistic.
  4. Learned to kitefoil. I'm very grateful to have been able to do that in my mid-30s. It wasn't easy and this is probably the year I got the most bruises and scars since I started kiting, but it was also exhilarating, fun and challenging. It gave me reasons to stay strong through the year, which I really did.
  5. I'm the heaviest I've been but not by a lot - roughly 195 lbs. Last year I was mostly around 190 and the year before 180-185. Most of the gain is muscle, though some is fat which I'll be working on trimming in 2024. I've definitely managed to maintain my muscle and strength through 2022, and continued to exercise in 2023 despite the injuries. I'm looking forward to building up strength again in 2024.
  6. Lastly and also very important, my home life has a good balance and I find my relationship with my partner to continue growing and provide contentment and some excitement still. I also started doing therapy/counseling this year in Q2, and have been very consistent about with helpful insights into my past and my relationship. More coming on this, and it's really great to be able to have support and growth in this area.

Overall, even though some of the physical and mental (business) challenges this year were quite rough, I was able to enjoy growth and learning in more ways than I expected. However, I see that the level of stress I've experienced is not sustainable and I feel a strong need to devote energy in ways that help with recovery and an overall lower baseline of stress.

For 2023, my goals were:

  1. Physical: Bolster and Balance
  2. Emotional: Kindness and Support
  3. Mental: Guide and Surrender
  4. Spiritual: Float and Observe

Physical: Bolster and Balance

Grade: B-

Affirmation:

I bolster my muscles so my body feels balanced and strong. I nourish my body with care and patience so it can support me and my adventures.

I encountered many challenges in 2023 with my body - muscles and stress being very affected. I don't feel as fit as I did by EOY 2022. My sleep has been solid for many months now though, and my knees have been mostly recovered since mid-summer. A challenge going into 2024 is the overall stress and tension in my upper body - neck, shoulders and arms. I'll feel a lot better once I can release some of the stress and tension accumulated there, and maintain a healthier baseline.

I also didn't take as much time off this year as usual, due to business stresses. That would have helped my physical recovery too, I'm sure.

I'd give myself a B+ if it wasn't for these challenges and setbacks. I was hoping to continue strengthening my body and have barely managed to maintain my 2022 levels. While I healed my lower body, the upper body's in worse shape. I've dropped off doing yoga almost entirely, though I continue working out 2-3x/week.

Well:

  • Improved nutrition and experimentation. Low fiber for a while which did help with gas and bloating.
  • Improved blood sugar levels. This has got to be one of the biggest wins of the year. Used CGMs repeatedly to experiment and learn that a low carb diet is not great for my blood sugar. Seems counter-intuitive, right? But I've confirmed multiple times that high fat/low carb is taxing for my body. The higher carbs probably contributed to gaining some weight, but I'm very glad that my average blood sugar has dropped, probably by 10 points or so into the mid-80s.
  • Continued maintaining a healthy gut with diverse microbiome. Hit over a year of raw milk consumption now. Experimented with gluten again to confirm I'm somewhat sensitive to it, OK in low doses.
  • Got plenty of sun, IR/NIR, blue blocking in the evenings, reduced bright lights and have circadian-friendly lighting in the bedroom. Even got a bedroom lamp at the end of the year and enjoying that, and a Vit D lamp as well that definitely helps with sleep in the winter. Exciting stuff!
  • Went another year without COVID, basically - well, I suppose I had it since my partner did, but other than a scratchy throat one evening and maybe feeling a bit tired, I had absolutely no symptoms. Crazy to think it's 4 years since the pandemic started and this was "the first time". I haven't had a shot in 2 years now either, so I'm not even sure if the vaccine made much of a difference in 2023, but it likely helped in previous years.
  • Used the trampoline for sure. Mounted the punching bag and used it less than a handful of times - could use more
  • Continued to invert and care for my neck. Used the massage gun extensively and even got a nicer one.
  • Got back into swimming in Q4

Nell:

  • Didn't use the kettlebell and I'd like to. It should help with posture and elbows.
  • Want to use the trampoline more regularly
  • Barely swam, want to do more in 2024 and stick to weekly.
  • Sore neck/shoulders/elbow - big reason for the lower grade. I worked too hard in November and December without breaks.
  • More headaches due to long workdays/sessions at PC without resting eyes and posture

Intention:

Feel strong and balanced in posture and digestion.

It almost seems like an A except that I don't feel nearly as good as I could be feeling.

Emotional: Kindness and Support

Grade: B+

Affirmation:

I listen patiently and appreciate myself and others first, and support with questions and ideas second.

I lived by this in my work very well, learned a lot about sales, business development, managing my team and dealing with stressful situations in a healthier way. In years past I lost more sleep over work issues, so overall I feel good about how I dealt with challenges, though I did stress too much at times. For example, when things did go very south with a client project that ended up terminating early and I felt bad for that for days. I touched on this in Q2 reflections.

I found less self-blame but still had a hard time letting things go, mostly due to ongoing stress. In my personal relationships things grew steadily and found more balance. I spent less time with family than I'd like, but it went well. I thank my brother as well for providing some detachment/perspective on dealing with work issues more patiently.

Well:

  • Seeing a therapist regularly
  • Made a new friend and got back into snowboarding for the first time in 5 years!
  • Reminders to support my partner weekly in different ways
  • Spent QT with kitties and watched them grow. Managed to put up a christmas tree and not have it be totally destroyed.
  • Was kind to coworkers and friends, partner.
  • Reduced self-blame
  • Used the punching bag a couple of times when I got angry and frustrated
  • Measuring my stress levels daily, and then only when it's a 4/10 or above - helped me become more aware of when I tend to stress and how I deal with it. More on this will be good.
  • Enjoyed a relaxing beach vacation in Jamaica!

Nell:

  • Did not talk to current friends more. Got busy, tired, etc
  • Didn't contribute as much in the kitchen as past years, leaving more on my partner.
  • High levels of stress due to business downturns
  • Some challenges with friends, partner, family, but probably exacerbated by work stressors more than anything. Times of anger and frustration.
  • Could have "given first" more often.

Intention:

Show kindness and support to myself and others.

While I've grown in this area, there is still quite a bit of room for self-kindness and finding ways to release stress as it accumulates. That's the main takeaway for 2024: lower that average stress. How? That's the challenge. I need some tools and I'm skeptical of their success.

Mental: Guide and Surrender

Grade: A-

Affirmation:

I lean into my senses, breathe, and surrender to what's coming up.

I had some mental struggles with stress this year for sure, but also let go of things a bit more easily than I expected. Given the ongoing challenges with business and physical pain, I'll cut myself some slack and grade for how I coped - which is ultimately all I can control when challenges arise.

Well:

  • Guided others well and mindfully. Increased awareness and context on this.
  • Paid attention to my levels of stress very diligently for at least 4 months.
  • Organized with lists/must-dos when there was too much going on, and that helped. Didn't really use the list to induce more of a relaxed state though. I did use the Delegate Doc/Daily list when things got busy, and still use it now for biz.

Nell:

  • Still did not step away as much as I should have. But I did let things go and come back to them later, with more ease than before.
  • Took some deep breaths but not enough. Still lived in a heightened state too much.
  • Make lists to help get to a relaxed state, and allow more time than I think I need - 2-3x more, to leave room for recovery and downregulation.

Intention:

Nudge my thoughts in a direction that serves me.

Overall this goal was kind of loose and I didn't have great ways to measure. The nervous system alertness/stressors and ongoing pushing myself are the main drawbacks - but some of those were really tough due to external circumstances. Of what was within my control, a big victory was being able to guide others and improve my overall people skills and conflict approach. On that front it's an A+, but the B stuff is in how I dealt with ongoing stress, not resting enough and pushing myself with that sense of urgency. When shit hit the fan I jumped around and tried to do everything in one day, so I worked quite a few late days.

Spiritual: Float and Observe

Grade: A-

Affirmation:

I appreciate my life, my body, my people, my plants, my self and my loved ones, with all the support and love shared everywhere

Well:

  • Regular baths
  • Enjoyed inner journeys and weekly transformations with medicinal plants
  • Enjoyed kiting, visited the Wyoming lake even more and had some beautiful days there. Also tried it in Longmont once for fun
  • Explored Saratoga WY and nearby areas, hot springs, walks. Got more plants at home and took care of them. Enjoy planted tulips from last year. Trimmed roses and took care of the trees.
  • Continued meditation
  • Awareness of stress and related patterns, to some extent
  • Did find dealing with work challenges easier and learned some tools for that.
  • Made it through 2023 with a decent size business and revenue.

Nell:

  • Didn't leave enough time for stress levels to come down, especially on the body, but also on the mind/emotions on busy days
  • Downgraded to 15m meditations, want to go back to 20m
  • Didn't really feel inspired or connected to the world as much, possibly due to stress.

Intention:

Float and observe closely.

Overall I felt compassion and beauty in the world around me.

2022 goals

Quick review of 2022's goals, what's changed after another year?

  1. Physical: Move with Ease

    • [-] Better digestion and learned some more with a hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) test. Reducing fibers helped the most with bloat and gas, starchy foods were fine actually.
    • [+] Better glucose management
    • [+] Got back into swimming, though didn't do it enough.
    • [-] Worse headaches than last year. Not too bad but noticeably more.
  2. Emotional: Embrace What Is

    • [+] Took a proper beach vacation in Jamaica and really enjoyed it, no work, not much of anything but chillin'
    • [-] Still struggling to step away on busy days, and my brain would sometimes be fried - headaches, eye sores.
      • [+] Got more eye relaxing tools though to use
      • New year I'd like to set a goal of 5 work hours a day. Everything beyond is a bonus.
    • [-] Still struggling to do nothing on weekdays
    • [+] Enjoyed doing nothing for an hour most Sundays
    • [+/-] Haven't been doing business coaching, but got help with sales/bizdev, and personally with therapy
  3. Mental: Part of a Whole

    • [-] Deep breaths were not enough this year. I need to do more. Still could be just 5-10 min break.
      • I did rearrange my desk to look out the window and am excited to do that more.
    • [+] Continued to use trampoline, inversion table, neck pillow
    • [-] Still struggling with "one more thing and then I'm done", perhaps making a list and classifying by urgency - what can wait? would help. Also taking breaks and working later is better than pushing through
    • [-] Still spending too much time in a stressful state
  4. Spiritual: Wholehearted Collaboration

    • [-] Busy mind, stress
    • [+] Collaboration. Empathy at work. People skills.

What now?

My theme for 2024 is tranquility. It's about taking things as they come and not amping myself up on the daily. Letting challenges unfold and only tackling what's truly needed.

I'm even more proud this year for quarterly reflections and even wrote a quick blog post about migrating Android SMS backups. Being able to consistently review where I am and where I want to be helps keep things in perspective, and I was able to write without overthinking each paragraph.

If it was December 2024 and I looked back on the year, where would I want to be?

Physical: Steady and Balanced

For 2024, my main focus on the physical front is to see steady improvement. Don't try to go too far and injure myself. Don't be impatient and try to "heal quickly".

Intention:

Steadily take care of my body, daily, consistently.

Affirmation:

I give my body the time and rest it needs to heal and strengthen between the times I push. I know I can push hard, but can I "rest hard"?

Do a few small things consistently and patiently wait for improvement. Aim for balance instead of skyrocketing in any way. Better to gain a little bit of strength, reduce the pain bit by bit, and improve my overall posture over months, rather than try to rush or give up altogether.

  1. Heal my aches
    • Heal my shoulder with PT and at-home exercises
    • Strengthen my posture. Take breaks
    • Continue maintaining knees, strong glutes
    • Watch out for eye strain and any prolonged periods of strain on my posture from desk work
  2. Sustainably active
    • Swim 1x/week
    • Yoga at least 1x/week
    • Weight workouts at least 2x/week
    • Cardio at least 1x/week
    • Improve kitefoiling just so I eventually get into wingfoiling - could be 2024
    • Ultimate goal here: trim body. Lose some fat, gain more muscle. Perhaps -5lbs with increased bicep and reduced waist measurements.
  3. Continue focus on digestion, use insights from HTMA results
    • Reduce felt stress on an ongoing basis
    • Measure with CGM again and pay attention to diet
    • Eat more plants and fiber again
    • Increase stomach acid: take bitters, apple cider vinegar (cobalt phosphorus and copper low-ish)
    • Maybe try taurine for heavy metals
    • Get another HTMA test mid-year
      • Hope for lower oxidative number (<3)
      • Hope for reduced signs of long term stress

Emotional: Warmth and Connectedness

In 2023 I stressed a lot about work and also some personal things, especially how my body was doing. Instead of stress, I want to appreciate and feel into whatever comes up, reminding myself that everything is OK at any moment.

Intention:

Feel warm and safe and loved and connected. Everything is OK.

Affirmation:

I love my life and appreciate what I have every moment. I'm surrounded by caring, kind people.

It's kind of the same idea as my physical goals. Sounds kinda boring maybe, but I just want to feel relaxed and content with the daily life, and not fret so much about what's going poorly.

  1. Let go
    • Let go of stress
    • Take deep breaths. Belly breaths. PT exercises that involve letting go and unlearning those stress postures
    • Downregulate nervous system and spend more time in PNS
  2. Family time
    • Connect emotionally with my partner
    • Contribute at home. Help my partner out.
    • Family time and be present with them
    • Meet new people
  3. Afternoon rests
    • Find time each afternoon, even just 20 minutes, to relax, belly breathe, appreciate another day well-lived (or not well lived, but survived lol)
  4. Work through past burdens
    • Part of my therapy

Mental: Tranquility, Roots and Leadership

Again with the high levels of stress from 2023, my focus for 2024 is to take things piecemeal and remember that nearly everything can wait and isn't earth shattering.

Intention:

Remember my roots and lead with patience and compassion.

Affirmation:

I am unshaken, a pillar or a strong tree, rooted in my Romanian past and leading a collaborative team/environment.

The main one here is to relax my mind and not always be thinking I must be doing something. As a simple and "feels dumb that I think like this" example, even when my partner is off doing her own thing, I'm thinking I must be doing something so I don't "fall behind" or "miss out" or "wish I'd been doing something". This urge to be doing something is strong and I've tried many things with little to moderate success. At the end of the day, it's possible that quick releases + periods of "sitting around" would do the trick? Talk to people and see.

  1. Spend more time in PNS
    • Add some routines through the day to relax and create space. Allowing the mind to find rest/reduced alertness
    • Work on releasing sense of urgency, afternoon breaks of some sort
    • Ask PT and therapist about ideas here, discuss why I feel the way I do or how to adjust my perspective. Come up with concrete things and try them.
    • Examples from top 10 playlist: "I always must be doing something", "This is not good enough", analyzing or second guessing decisions, rehearsing todos and thinking of things to check off
  2. Strengthen Romanian roots
    • Read 2 Romanian books. I missed out on that this year. I started a book but barely read 10 pages.
    • Write 1 Romanian blog post
    • Maybe have some intentional medicinal inner journeys in Romanian. Journal in Romanian.
  3. Compassionate leadership
    • Lead at business with compassion, patience, empathy, understanding, etc.
    • Network and maintain relationships with clients, contractors, etc

Spiritual:

Spiritually I do feel a bit more lost, and I've been wondering if that's because I'm getting what I need so I can't think of what's missing? I think in part that's true. With the amazing nature journeys this year in Saratoga, kiting and learning to foil, medicinal journeys at home and a decently long few-week period of dreams sort of "forecasting" what's about to happen, I felt surprisingly content with my spirits. The stress weighed on me though, so a bit more deliberate practice and appreciation for the spirit would be helpful.

Intention:

Live like a bird. Relaxed on a branch. Ready to fly and play in the wind.

Affirmation:

I am one with those around me. Nature protects me. All is well in the present moment.

  1. Family
    • Start a family
    • Enjoy time with kitties
    • Appreciate family and friends and find ways to love and give to them more
      • How can I make this more concrete?
  2. Experience tranquility and peace
    • Feel solidarity with the world and with those close to me.
    • Meditate 2x/day OR 20m at once
    • Continued inner journeys.
  3. Nature and beauty
    • Spend time in nature. Explore somewhere new. Enjoy the usual places fully, presently.
    • Appreciate the beauty around me. Kitties. Partner. My own body as it is.

Final Reflection

Even with all the setbacks in 2023, there was a lot of good stuff. I'm grateful for what this year has taught me, and for all of the accomplishments, opportunities, and fortunes that came my way. It may have gone by even faster than 2022, but there was more newness, I feel.

Here are some celebrations from 2023:

  • Starting off with a strong workout program that eventually went too far and taught me to heal and recover.
  • Learning to kitefoil in my favorite place in Mexico, and taking that to Colorado even. Enjoying many days in Wyoming kiteboarding, pacing myself well, using knee sleeves to stay safe.
  • Many hot springs and baths, PT, massage and much self care. Soaking in 109F hot springs in Saratoga.
  • Family time, travel to my partner's family to meet 4th nephew/niece! Time with kitties. Teaching me to become more tender and child-like :)
  • Getting back into snowboarding after a 5-year break and jumping right in. Enjoying a hot tub after to aid recovery, so nice!
  • Continuing to work out and keep my body in shape despite setbacks and injuries. I've been consistent about body measurements so I know I've maintained good metrics. Learning about recovery from PT and Rossiter's.
  • Consistently doing therapy for self growth and understanding. Excited for more of this in 2024!
  • Had a very sweet birthday celebration this year, with friends and games and laughs!
  • Great metrics on blood sugar and learning more about my digestion.
  • Enjoyed many concerts and shows this year. To name a few: Dermot Kennedy. Ed Sheeran filled a record stadium attendance. Lord Huron. Hip Hop Nutcracker. That 1 guy. Riverdance 25th anniversary. TedX Boulder returned. The Taste Walkabout foodie walk. Loveland Chocolate Festival.
  • Ate amazing foods - Lanna food at Waldo Thai in KC. Amazing fine dining at the Wolf's Taylor in Denver.
  • Relaxed in Jamaica, enjoyed the sun, sea, pool and food.
  • Watched a lot of tennis - Grand Slam Tournaments.

Although it doesn't feel as inspired as other years, I'm excited for 2024 to heal, grow, and feel relaxed and content with my life. It's time to give myself and others the tranquility we all neglect to take in.