When I want to find stillness and solitude, I paddle board. It gives enough distance from land to muffle sounds and blur sights, offering a rare feeling of escape from the madness of life.
Today, instead of paddle boarding, I went for a walk. I closed my front door without any plan or direction I put one foot in front of the other and covered seven miles, mostly in a daze. That's what I love about walking, it's so mindless that your subconscious kicks in and works its magic.
I covered everything and nothing and was reminded how good it felt to have a clear head away from distractions. I started thinking about next year and what it might bring, but that usual feeling of excitement at possible opportunities was replaced by a thick sense of anxiety. The lack of control I have over my ambitions and future suddenly overwhelmed me. And the fear of my limitations, or worse, what people might think of me started to hold me back. I couldn't think clearly.
This time last year the feeling of uncertainty and unfamiliarity had me bursting with excitement, but not today. I had let my inner doubts take control and it made me question myself, my values and my ambitions.
Getting back into a positive headspace can be tough when everything in your conscious mind is working against you. I struggled to work out what part of my thinking was rational, and what was a result of my flight response to the fear I was feeling.
It took a lot to silence my mind and force it into a hard reset. I focused entirely on breathing, pushing out any thoughts that rose until my thinking was completely clear, concentrated solely on my breath. All responses to our thoughts - including these - are a conscious choice, but knowing that often doesn't make it any easier. I had the power to turn it round, but I had to find the will to do it.
Getting over cancer taught me a lot about willpower and the importance of positive thinking. And every time I experience these wobbles I remind myself that I didn't survive it to let fear of my inadequacies dictate my decisions, or let what people might think hold me back. I quit my job last year to live the life I imagined for myself - and I'm determined to see that through.
I don't want to sound like a self-help book littered with cliches, but that walk - for the rollercoaster that it was - helped shape my mindset for the year ahead. I feel ready to start 2017 and all of the unknowns that it might bring, and I'm adopting a new outlook and I want to share it with you.
Firstly, and most importantly, give less of a shit, and live a happier life for it.
Control the controllables and embrace change.
Don’t let fear dictate your decisions, use it to push yourself. It’s when we face what scares us most that we really come alive and realise just how much we’re capable of.
It's OK to be selfish to keep yourself sane and happy, and it's normal to doubt yourself and your abilities from time to time. But compromising on what you want to achieve from life, what you stand for and the very essence of who you are in order to fit expectations is always going to lead to unhappiness, resentment and frustration.
Let's make 2017 the Year of Fear.
Stand up to what scares you, embrace what inspires you and stick two fingers up to anything that tries to get in your way.
We're all stronger than we know.