What to do in troublesome times… Looking forward without regret.

Here is a short story to help you think about personal preparation and how to live life without always looking backwards with a twisted stomach of anxiety and regret. 

A lot of people are saying that we will all look back at 2020 as one of the worst years ever. Worst year for our finances and businesses; worst year for exam results, worst year for anxiety, obesity, hair loss (too late for me), job loss, stress, and even suicide. I can think of someone for every verb in that last sentence, which is super sad, but I’m not alone in that. Its tough times for nearly all. 

But what if 2020 wasn’t the worst year to remember? What if this year fades away as nothing compared to 2021 or 2022? You see… we just don’t know do we? That last sentence might be a sobering one, leaving daunting thoughts for the future. But I don’t think it has to necessarily be that way.

Those who know me know that I like to get remote. Right out there in the unknown is where I love to be. On one particular trip I got to rub shoulders with some of the best climbers in the business. There was so much knowledge in that group, I felt like I could sit back and chill the whole climb. Before the trip I spoke to the team, we chatted preparation. “Shall I bring ‘X’?” I asked. “No Mat you won’t need that”. “What about ‘Y’ or ‘Z’?” “No no, you won’t need any of that stuff”. We were going off the map, very, very far off the map. Uncharted territory gives me a skip in my step. I love it. But as I looked at ‘X, Y and Z’ next to the rest of my kit on my bed, with the words “you don’t need any of that stuff” whirring round my mind; and knowing that I was capable of hauling the weight, I packed it anyway, because I wanted the reassurance that comes to someone who is well prepared, and if needed, completely self-sufficient. With my prep done, I hit the road. 

So, did I have an epic situation where I needed the kit and it saved all our lives?! Well, not really; although my water purifier came in handy and it certainly stopped us all from getting the squirts, which in turn could have turned into something bad. My solar panel kept all our phones charged so we could get great pictures, and my extra comprehensive first aid kit sorted a lot of the group out with blisters, sprains and cuts. And that’s the point really. If you are well prepared in knowledge and whatever physical needs that are required, you usually don’t end up having an ‘Epic’, and your time is often much more relaxed and enjoyable. But what has that got to do with the crappy year for so many that has been 2020? 

It’s been a tough year for us for sure. I lost a business partner. We have had major financial worries because of the pandemic. I have seen friends lose loved ones to suicide and so on. Yet as we are coming to the end of this calendar year, I feel calm and surprisingly good! The reason for that is because I didn’t give up, and I took action. I looked at my situation, got some great advice from the team and people around me and I went to work, and boy did I work hard! Did I fix all mine and the world’s problems? No way, not even close… but looking back from lockdown in March until now, we have achieved some brilliant things, and even if it doesn’t work the way we want it to, we will go out of this year giving one another a hi-5 saying “good job!” 

Sometimes we look back on the hard times as some of the very best of times. As it is through resistance and ‘the squeeze’ that we come to shine the brightest; kind of like how a diamond is formed, going from black coal to a shiny precious something after undergoing huge pressure. Good preparation can stop us from cracking under that pressure when it comes upon us.  

To sum up. Try to be self sufficient and be prepared in body and mind. Be humble and get advice from those who care about you, especially those longer in the tooth, or your mother ? Then work work work, and don’t stop or give up! Don’t give yourself that chance to think afterwards “but if I had just given it a little more effort that week or that month”… don’t do it. Then, you will be able to move forward…and you won’t even need to look back, unless it’s to think about how well you handled that tough patch, to stay connected with the people who you helped and to give thanks to those who helped you along the way. 

See you all in 2021

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