The pace of life always quickens around Christmas. I find there to be a lull after the summer months, the period between September and December where there’s some awkwardly small events that some people celebrate, and some don’t. Halloween for one, and Guy Falkes is never quite as exciting in your twenties as it was in your teens. So, as the festivities begin it often leaves us with a whirlwind feeling of trying to remember what you’ve been doing all year since the last one. There is a small window of opportunity therefore, between the minor annual events finishing and Advent beginning where you can reflect upon what you may have achieved, failed and learnt in 365 days.
Personally, 2017 has been one of full-steam-ahead. On the 1st January 2017 I was in Loughborough ready to begin another year of training. However, behind this I had an application in with the Royal Navy as a Warfare Officer which had been submitted in July 2016. I had made the decision to make 2017 my last year in full time sport as there were other ventures and opportunities I wanted to explore whether it be military, business, being a homeowner and experiencing some normality on civvie street.
The process with the Royal Navy took 14 months from start to finish which involved two initial interview rounds, psychometric tests, medicals, fitness and an AIB (Admiral Interview Board) which was a 3-day interview process at HMS Sultan (which was far worse that ‘The Apprentice’). Months were spent learning current deployments, ships (not boats) and current affairs. I’m pleased to say I passed every stage of the process (and broke the female fitness record - chuffed) and was forwarded to the Selection Board which sat last month. We had been told there were 48 spaces for Warfare Officer candidates to begin military training in January 2018. However, with National budget cuts this was slashed last minute to 22 spaces, meaning my place was cut with this. 9 of those 22 were current serving soldiers going for commission, so it left ‘civilians’ a tough fight for the last few spaces.
I’ll leave a defence policy, military and political spiel for now (and forever more) but it is what it is, and one must move forwards. Passing a process like that is something I can be, and am proud of and I took a huge amount from. I’ve always said that ‘everything happens for a reason’, and even if it is not clear at the time it will become apparent in time. Which, in all fairness it is beginning to and the fog is lifting, if you like. With Tom in the Army, it would have been a tough gig being in opposing forces. Our holiday is already dictated by the British Army, with it being granted and retracted at any point we cancel plans on a weekly basis (I’ve been assured Christmas this year is going ahead). Tom has just finished a deployment and a second is already on the cards. I’ll just have to leave saving the country to him (insert sassy emoji).
The transition from being a full-time athlete to 9-5 life is one that I have greatly, greatly struggled with (that’s a blog for another day). After taking and swiftly leaving two different jobs in a four-month period I was struggling to find anything where my background, energy and experience would be utilized and understood (not to mention how nervous I was making Tom with regards to mortgage repayments). I was rapidly reaching breaking point of 9-5, accompanied by a feeling of total loss, uselessness and missing be able to throw myself full pelt into something, I quit my then current job with nothing else lined up (this situation was spun slightly differently to Mum and Dad).
I’m delighted (as is everyone within a small radius of me) that I was offered a job last month in Exeter. Much more about this soon but its not 9-5, and I love it.
The only other significant development of 2017 was hopping onto the property ladder. As we cling onto it for dear life (the first payment (which I may add is like DOUBLE the rest) coming out one month before Christmas and two weeks after quitting a job was oh SUCH bad planning), we are battling against a large renovation project. Whilst I merrily trot off to Exeter to purchase 16 cushions (this isn’t a joke), fairy lights and shatterproof baubles, Tom continues to battle with the leaking roof downstairs. Nothing better than adding a bit of POW to a relationship hey?
I was recently in Birmingham with work, and there was a business seminar at the expo about managing your working ‘time’. Something prominent that stuck with me was that we all have 168 hours in the week. As a bare minimum we would spend 40 of these working, 8 sleeping (ha, yeah) each night and say 6 in the gym, out running or playing tiddlywinks. This leaves us with 66 hours, which is effectively another working week plus some. The point he was trying to get us to think upon was could we account for those 66hours left?
Are we spending these 66hrs productively (on career, eating, family, commuting in order to reach career etc etc) or wasting them? Whilst the slant this businessman was coming from was “don’t waste hours when you could be putting it into your career” (granted) he also made a poignant point that you cannot buy back time. Worse still, no one knows when their time will run out. I won’t say Merry Christmas and leave it on that note but, it did leave one thinking “crikey”.
So, there you have it, another year summarised in 1000 words. I like to think I have written honestly about the successes, the failures and the lessons. If you can smoothly and tactically turn the failures into unheard of successes, then what a story that will be right?