Category Archives: Philosophy

The Stoic’s Guide to 2017

Starting a New Year is filled with anticipatory anxiety. Who will die this year?  Will I lose the weight this year? Will I find the perfect lover? Will I clear out the junk drawer?

So many expectations and yet so many surprises come and smash us in the face year after year and we’re in shock. This wasn’t on the “To-Do list,” we moan. Of course, it wasn’t on any list, no one writes down:

  • Bury Dad
  • Find lump
  • Attempt suicide
  • Have car crash
  • Get robbed.

I find standard goal setting is futile in an uncertain world. My 2016 was better because I had no idea what my year would look like, instead, I just worked hard on myself and stayed open to opportunities,  and I certainly didn’t have any presumptions about what the year was supposed to bring me.  I am not #blessed, as some like to write on Instagram. As though they were chosen above all other to have such bliss enter their life. I am not blessed. And for the record neither are you.

I have experienced two years of drama, and every time another blow came, I just shook it off and kept going. Not because I am so amazing but because I didn’t have a choice.

So, if I have learned anything from my two years of cataclysm and calamity, it is simply that you cannot predict an outcome, you can only control your role in the process and nothing more.

This week, I spoke to a friend whose child is undergoing serious and potentially life ending treatment for cancer.

“Stoicism wins the day. You can control your part of the process in your son’s life but nothing more. Stay centered and process driven. 🏹🏆”

Now here is my list on how to set goals like a Stoic and be a process driven machine.

  1. Write down what you want to do.
  2. Assess the current state of your situation.
  3. Where are your weaknesses?
  4. Where do you need to improve?
  5. What can you do to turn the weaknesses into strengths?
  6. How will your life have to change?
  7. What will you do when people question or even mock you?
  8. And finally, how will achieving this goal push you towards being the person you want to be?

Let’s look at this in relation to  a real goal.

Perhaps your goal is to have a book published.

If you are setting stoic goals, the goal would be not to be published but instead, the noble goal of bringing you closer to your fated self.  To write something that you are proud of,  that you hope will help people or bring enjoyment to others.

To write something that is the result of you pushing yourself to become a better writer with each draft, to assess your writing, and your process and see where it can improve.

Take a writing course, read more, make more time to do both of these, so perhaps you have to give up watching television two nights of the week. Will your loved ones support you in this? Will they step up to help you reach the goals of becoming a focused, principled, learned writer?

Get it?

And will this bring you to the initial, naive goal of being published? Who knows? If the Fates allow, but that’s not the point, is it? The point is- make the goal noble, make the process stringent, and change your life to support this. The rest is up to destiny, and after the clusterfuck of 2016 we have learned that life turns on a dime and the best we can do is just make progress however we can, with harm to none and the hope that we will be closer to our true selves by the end of 2017.

Peace to you and may 2017 bring you to your best self.








Hoop Dreams Minus Beef

My kid said to me the other day that they just want to hang out with people who aren’t all about the ‘beef’.  (Beef is a common teenage term for having drama and arguments with someone. )

‘I just want to spend time with people whose biggest problems are that they’re late to basketball.’

Ha! Ain’t that the truth.

After two years of drama, my 2016 has been relatively peaceful. I am now watching some people in my life go through some extraordinarily tough times, and I want to say to them, ‘Focus on what you can do in the time you have, and do only that, but don’t expect other things or people around you to flourish during that time.’

Harsh but true.

During my crapfest of 2014 and 2015, I was so focussed on two members of my family, that I assumed the others were fine. One of them was not, and now I we are focussing on them. Trying to maintain the balance between needs vs responsibility is so difficult. It’s constant monitoring of everyone around you, including yourself. How am I/ they coping? What do I need? They need? What makes a moment bearable? How can life become easier?

The one thing I can offer is that you need to dump as much beef in your life, as possible. The roast beef, the ground beef, and the stewing steak. The less beef the better.

Say no to pointless rehashing of beef. I recently had to tell a friend that don’t need to hear again, for the thousandth time, what a bitch someone we know is. I know they’re a bitch. Everyone knows this. This is why I don’t see them or am Facebook friends with the. I don’t need their alcoholic beef drama in my life which is why I stopped returning the calls years ago. I have no idea what they’re doing now. I don’t care. Their beef bourguignon isn’t anything I think about anymore.

Or when the fist fight between two drivers happened in the streets of Brighton yesterday over a perceived parking beef, I rolled my eyes and tooted at them to stop beefing so I can go home and have a coffee. Get your beef off my streets!

Or when you give someone all the information they need to heal, and they decide to ignore it or tell you you’re wrong, even though you know you’re not wrong. I figure you’re addicted to the beef in your life. You must be if you don’t want to fix it, or even listen. I have to walk away now. I cannot learn for you.

I have walked away from a lot of stuff going on around me this year and yet I was mindful of those who I wanted to help.

My dear friend whose small child has Stage 4 Cancer? Yes, that’s one beef I am prepared to wrestle with.

The kid who needed a place to live when he had nowhere else to go? Yep. Again. Not even a choice.

A phone call and listening to my friend who is watching her family disintegrate from illness and old age? Sure thing.

Anything else, I’m leaving up to the individual to manage. One of my goals this year was to stay out of online bullshit. I know, I love a bit of online argy bargy, but I realised it was a way of venting my unhappiness in an unhealthy way. So this year, I haven’t engaged. It’s been good to witness the crazy people out there, and remember I used to be one of them. I sought out beef, and now I’m vegetarian and I am all the happier for it.

There comes a point when you can’t fix things or people or politics anymore.  You can only try to get to your basketball game on time.

This is maturity.  Being able to walk away from situations that threaten your peace of mind, your self-esteem and your self-worth, and leave behind any people who make you doubt yourself and what you know, who question your values and morals.

Life is short. Do the best you can in the time you have, spread the joy, go for the shot, smell the flowers, make the cake, eat the cheese and for god’s sake, stay away from the beef.