I’ve been trying to set my goals for 2019 and it’s been a hard process to arrive at something tangible, some goals that mean something. The process is hard because with the challenges I’ve done I seem to be on a path now where I feel the challenges have to become bigger, harder and have more mass-appeal in order to raise more money. I cannot simply go back to running a marathon and expect people to donate now can I – unless I attempt to break some kind of record that is!

Anyway, back to the point of this blog. Setting yourself goals is a powerful action – writing them down and sharing them gives them greater clarity, it brings them to life and it makes you accountable for them. Hence my repeated blog attempts at formalising what I want to have achieved when we get to the end of 2019.

I’ve now had two years of learning from the experiences I’ve had, finding out what I’ve loved, what hasn’t worked and as such what I want to spend more time doing. This thinking brought me back to my earlier blog about 2019 and as such, I’ve restarted the goal setting process with a focus on two key elements of my journey –

To be happy
To have a purpose - a why, a reason to continue challenging myself

Some of the best things in life are often the smallest, the simplest and they come free – I don’t think there is anything more true than this. I’ve just read a piece by JJ Lynch (an author, trainer and motivational speaker) and it got me thinking about my goals and my happiness.

Yes, I love running and riding my bike.

Yes, I want to get stronger and faster.

Yes, there are some PB times I want to beat.

But, simply running for myself is not enough for me.

I follow loads of runners and cyclists and I am in awe of some of the goals and challenges people are setting themselves – showing their commitment to something they love and making a statement about how hard they are going to work for it – that in itself is inspiring. On the flipside, following the likes of Sean Conway and Al Humphries, who have similarly been sharing their own aspirations, has put a very different spin on things – see Shaun’s resolutions for 2019 below as an example;

Courtesy of @seanconwayadventure

What made me pause was how different the two sets of ambitions appeared to be. So, I stopped trying to write goals down, but instead went back to what makes me happy, which is why I’m here on this journey in the first place.

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing you will be successful.

Albert Schweitzer

So, I’ve shamelessly stolen JJ Lynch’s idea and started to write a list, who doesn’t love a good list!? So, here are the 10 moments that make me the happiest in my life.

My Happiness List

1. The feeling I get in my stomach and on my face when I see that one person

I don’t need to say anymore here, if you know you know.

2. Cooking dinner with that someone

This moment is a combination of things for me – you put some music on and you dance and cook and talk and maybe drink a little wine…

3. The smell of hot golden syrup

Childhood for me in one smell, it’s just a memory of my mum, porridge and a little bit of childish innocence. Smelling it always stops me and brings a smile to my face.

4. The look on my kids face when they get it

I could write a whole separate list about the kids but I wanted to pick this one out in particular.

Everyday is a school day, an opportunity to learn and grow – that never stops, but there is something wonderful about watching your child learn something without your guiding hand. My eldest daughter has struggled with confidence and anxiety, but I remember the moment and the look on her face when she learned to ride her bike. I could see it clicking in to place and the realisation that she, herself, had made that happen. As with lots of things kids do, knowingly or not, its magic and inspiring and uplifting and should be celebrated.

5. Being on top of a mountain on a clear day

I don’t know what it is about mountains, well even hills actually. Maybe its the scale, the ability to see far in to the distance or the often sought solitude and quiet. Whatever it is, there is nothing quite like it in my opinion, because every time you go up its different but equally amazing and always special. I would highly recommend watching the sunset from a high place.

6. The moment you sit down, in silence with a good cup of coffee and a book

Books are great – depending on what you read you can get lost in a whole other world, learn or be inspired. I read some amazing books in 2018 – Jamie McDonald’s Adventureman and Mark Beaumont’s The Man Who Cycled the World among the best and this list comes courtesy of JJ Lynch’s How to Win . It doesn’t happen often, but I love the peace that comes with sitting somewhere, with a good coffee and a really great book.

7. The spontaneous break from a routine

We are from birth creatures of habit and routine, but sometimes what can seem like such a small action, simply saying yes to something or someone, can lead to big adventures and experiences. Yes, getting out of the comfort of our routines and ‘safe zone’ is hard and uncomfortable – but it is so often worth it, all it requires is a conscious choice to not let life get in the way once in a while.

8. The sense of achievement that comes from making something yourself

Being a perfectionist, this is a hard-to-come-by feeling, but being tight with money has its perks I guess – in that I will always try to make something myself rather than buy it new. Whether its a medal hanger or a bike, there is a something intoxicating in owning the process and having something to hold that you’ve made at the end of it.

9. The fine line between breaking and making it

Ok so bear with me here, the point I refer to is actually not a happy place – it’s a point where you are physically and emotionally void, where all effort has been expended. It is a point where you have a choice – to quit or continue. So this moment is the split second you decide to go for hell or glory, to risk it all and carry on. While a dark place that resulting feeling of invincibility in a little bit addictive.

10. Being randomly kind

Over the years I’ve given away coats & scarves, money, coffee and food to people who’ve asked for help. I think we can all recall an occasion where we, or someone we are with, gets the story and then a plea for money to get home. I remember a late, cold Friday night I was walking in to Marylebone Station when I got a rather long story from a lady but after listening to it all I told I was sorry I couldn’t help and I walked off rather quickly. My train was delayed by 40 minutes so I wandered over to get a coffee while I waited, something made me stop and think about what exactly I was doing, why was I suspicious, why walk off so quickly, why not? So I went to the cash machine and got some money out and walked back out of the station. After a few minutes wandering around I found the lady with the unmemorable story and offered her £10, I said that if she genuinely needed to get home or get some warm food then she could have it. She looked at me and burst in to tears, I gave her a hug, left her with the money and went on my own journey. Maybe giving money to people isn’t the right thing to do, it doesn’t solve the long term problems, maybe I should have done more to signpost her to help. I think I can just imagine how it must feel to have tens or hundreds or thousands of people walk past you everyday when you need help.  

By thinking of others, by making them happy, we can be happy ourselves.


So it is from this list – starting from a point of wanting to be happy – that I’ve drawn up my goals for 2019. I’ll share them in my next blog. Before that though I’d like you to give this some thought, you don’t have to make a full happy list but I’d love you to share just one thing, one moment or feeling that makes you truly happy.

Look out for my next blog, with my list of goals for 2019!

One thought on “The happiness list

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