Rewind Repeat | Stream of Consciousness #4

It’s been quite a long time since the last time I had the chance to write a post here, so here we go… It’s now been two years in Paris and things have been quite moving, changing and evolving

Professional Life

Since the last post, I left my previous company, after a bit more of one year, because I wasn’t feeling in line with the values and the way things worked in it. The things on which I was working on were also quite heavy on my mental health and slowly killing me, so after having to take a several medical break because I was having a serious nervous breakdown, I decided to quit.

I joined a startup here in Paris which aims to help people to learn how to handle their financial life (yes, I work for this, me :D) and get to know how to improve and evolve. I had the chance to find some really great people in here, with a deep human touch and interesting projects. Not everything is always great, but I’m hardly satisfied so that’s ok.

However, I’m slowly reaching a stage in life where I’m putting quite a lot of things on hold to give me some time to think about. At this point, I’m not sure about how I want to evolve in a professional way for the years to come, nor where exactly I want to work. I’m taking quite some time to think all this through, helped by some friends, workshops and new mental models. We’ll see how it goes.

Personal Projects & Growth

So the newsletter is currently on hold, after around 50 editions, but because a lot of things changed and I to be honest, I didn’t have the time to read that many books in 2019. With the new work, my time to go to work changed from 50 minutes to around 15 minutes, most of the time done by bike (so it’s quite hard to read and ride at the same time :D).

However, this year has been quite big on the personal level :

  • After years having a hard time to live with it, I finally had a masectomy. I had hormonal troubles since I was a teenager, leading to a small breast and some level of pain, most of it psychological leading me to have a real trouble to expose myself bare. The surgery was a real success and it’s really helping my mental health. I’m not ashamed anymore and I can finally breath 🙂

  • During the last four months I worked with Aadam (Physiqonomics) who coached me to improve my nutrition and develop gym habits. Since working with him I lost more than 10kg and it’s still going on. I learned to cook all my lunchs for the week during the week-end, to ensure a good meal and the best macronutrients. I started the weight training recently and I’m in the “oh my god I’m so sooooore” phase, but it’s a proof that my muscles are working (dying). After years doing things by myself and evolving like a yo-yo it feels good to have a good structure and someone to work with. I’ve got so much more energy now and feel pretty good most of the time.

  • For now almost a year, I’m working with a psychotherapist doing hypnosis to help me cope with some scars from my past. It really helped me and continues to do so. I see her one time a month and we work on a lot of things, but my mind is finally getting clearer which is great 🙂 In the meantime, I’m back on medication, having finally accepted my depression and well, if it helps, let’s do it (and it does help). I’m alternating between meditation and hypnosis mp3 on a daily basis, and it really helps.

  • I (mostly) stopped smoking (ok I still fails sometimes when I’m drinking, but as I also stopped this except for special occasions, this is getting rarer and rarer).

  • I dyed my hair in white (or gray depending on the mood), because I wanted to test it and I’m really happy with the result. This also break a big part of my Body Dysmorphic Disorder, as my mind has now a hard time trying to affect my self perception with this big change

  • I started to clean my social life, getting rid of toxic influences and allowing myself to be more blunt about what I accepted or not. This also affected my online life. After years of trying not to get in a bubble, I decided I just couldn’t take the aggressiveness of a lot of people online and so I block on sight. Or piss them off until they block me. But I just can’t take this “two-sides” mentality going on nowadays, so I’m burning bridges. This also goes for some old acquaintances who became quite anti-science and started to dwelve into conspiracy theories : good ridance.

It’s about time we calm (the fuck) down.

Thanks XKCD

Some months ago I decided to remove almost every data in my Facebook account. Not because of the usage of my personal data (about which I may have some concerns but mostly don’t care) but to refrain me to go there except for events and the occasional use of Messenger as most of my friends aren’t on something else. I grew tired of the way we show ourselves on social medias, but mostly I grew tired of myself.

Some months ago, I realized I wasn’t myself when I was interacting with people through social medias. It was harder and harder to have grounded conversations based on arguments, and I tended to adopt the two basic reactions of human nature: fight or flight.

I was slowly getting tired of seeing several behavior in my social feeds. Being it anti-science arguments, anti-experts behaviors, constant fearmongering, … but mostly I grew tired about how we seem to have lost our capacity to just listen to other arguments.

Slowly I realized that there was simply no point in trying to discuss things on social medias. Slowly we all became activists for everything in our life. And the problem with activism is its inherent incapacity to listen to any argument going against itself.

But while on social medias I could easily avoid discussions, mask people, perfect my own little bubble, I realized that in real life, a flight or fight response just wasn’t possible. I realized that social medias slowly made me behave in a more agressive and nervous way in real life than what I ever was before. Therefore I decided to slowly cut the cord.

First I purged my Facebook account, then refrained my Twitter usage. Gone are the apps from my phone, but gone also is the stress they made me feel every time I saw someone post something “wrong”. Because I realized that those apps where the go to places I went every time I was bored. But I also came to realize that I was simply trading my boredom against more and more stress.

The impact of this is quite dramatic. I realized that I was behaving in a way I simply hated. But I also realized how people around me were acting on social medias in a way I abhorred.

I don’t know how we are going to evolve as a society, but seeing the constant violence on social medias, I must admit that I’m afraid about our democratic system. Sure we can all live in bubbles where there’s no “violence” (but do we realize how smaller and smaller those bubbles are becoming?), but this isn’t a way to build a society.

This isn’t a post against social medias. I don’t want to be a part of this group that constantly blame the tools. I think there’s something deeply wrong going with us and our ability to interact with other people. Sure our tools granted us a greater digital safe-space, but we are the one who decided to agressively attack any people with a slightly different opinion from our own.

A society is a set of shades, it’s full of colors, it’s not black and white as we tend to see the world. And while activists are necessary, we can’t build a society of activists. Such a society wouldn’t be a dream, but either a totalitarian nightmare or doomed to constant skirmishes.

There’s nothing great in attacking other’s people when they try to discuss and have a different opinion. There’s nothing rewarding in cutting off a discussion with a sassy meme. There’s no greatness in having +100 people blocked on every social medias as soon as they have a slightly divergent opinion. It’s time we calm the fuck down. It’s about time we slowly learn to live all together again if we still want to build something out of this world.

2018: The Road So Far

Ok I’m a bit late, but it’s never too late to wrap up a whole year, and this will act also as a stream of consciousness and way to plan things ahead. You might also notice that I decided to switch back to a self hosted blog due to several changes in the monetization strategy of Medium.

This require a bit more of maintenance but I was able to set up everything almost right (ok, I might have broken some things or two). So let’s start this wrap up.

Work

The biggest change that ended 2018 was the fact that I decided to leave UX Republic and my work as consultant. A lot of things led to this decision which was quite difficult, but after 9 years of working for big historical companies, I wanted something more real in life.

Something were I felt I had a real impact and where 80% of my energy wasn’t focused on solving corporate politics problems. I realized that I wasn’t feeling well even if my work was recognized, that I wasn’t feeling fulfilled at all. And while I’m not advocating per se for following one’s passion, there’s a clear line where work starts to become a destructive force more than anything and where it’s time to leave.

As from February 2019, I joined Bankin, a start up aimed to help people manage their money, a smaller team but building something that has a real impact on people lives and where I feel that my competencies could be used at their fullest (and where internal politics will be hopefully less than 20%).

Health & Spirituality

On this part I’m not really proud. 2018 and my work problems took quite a toll on my health leading me to loose almost everything I built in 2017. My willpower was depleted and therefore I regained most of the weight I managed to loose

I started 2019 by cutting sugars again and reducing carbs. I also practice intermittent fasting, which is quite great (except for the fact that people keep looking at you like a weirdo when you’re not eating). Reducing sugars already helped to feel a bit more energized.

I started to keep an eye on my sleeping patterns and influences while also journaling everyday and I’m slowly able to spot which things impact my health and energy level. I’m also slowly getting back to meditation, something I also lost going through a lot of things last year.

Brainfood & Mental Health

I finished 74 books in 2018, less than last year but those were heavily oriented toward self improvement and work. Some of the most important readings for 2018 were :

  • Start with why: This book helped me solve a lot of questions by providing me with a clear framework about the things I wanted to sort out in my life and clearly led to some of the work related decisions. It’s a book I advised for everyone.
  • The Filter Bubble: a book showing you everything the Internet is hiding from you. Very important to read especially with algorithms presence growing more and more and getting involved deeper and deeper in our lives in ways we don’t realize.
  • Man’s Search for Meaning: a profound life lesson from a survivor of the horrors of World War 2, something everyone should read. True and life-changing.
  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century: I’m a big fan of Yuval Harari and while Homo Deus disappointed me a bit, I really love those 21 lessons. His lessons are really important problems we must tackle now if we want to evolve and create a world we’re proud to live in, and it’s something I really look forward to.

Thankfully, 2018 didn’t destroyed everything, I keep on updating my Book of Beliefs, which evolved quite a lot but not as much as in 2017. I changed my mind on some things, especially crypto influences and global politics, but unfortunately 2018 wasn’t full of learnings on this.

I built my newsletter, which has around 140 people and on which I’m able to work a lot. I wanted to make one every week, but things in 2018 had such an impact that it wasn’t possible. Still, I was able to write 31 newsletters and it’s something I’m quite proud of.

Love & Social Life

Thankfully this was a really highlight of 2018. I’m living with someone wonderful who’s doing a lot to support, help and love me everyday, this is something I wasn’t expecting and one of the big positive part of 2018.

I also made some really strong connections and real friends in 2018. I realized some people were always there when I needed to talk, help or support. And this is something amazing as I realized some of those people were like childhood friends to me while I didn’t knew them 1.5 year ago. Kudos to them.

The Road Ahead

My goals for 2019 are quite clear, and will look a lot like : get the fuck back on tracks.

I’ll work on feeling empowered at work by doing something I love and having a real impact on people lives.

I’ll get back on tracks in terms of fitness by having a better food consumption and also get some exercice back (walking to work for example).

I’ll go back to meditation everyday to be able to give my mind some space and breathing.

And I’ll do everything in my power to avoid getting crushed again.

Here we go 2019!

Creating a digital identity system ?

This is just some thoughts written down while reading 21 lessons for the 21st century. I’ll update if needed, feel free to discuss.

Reading 21 lessons for the 21st century makes we wonder how we could develop ownership on our own data / digital identity. We tend to rely on states, but they can be quite slow to move, evolve, especially when we look at how fast the digital landscape is moving. Therefore there is perhaps a room for a personal digital identity system which would allow us to give / remove access to our personal data and to to keep those informations up to date.

First I thought about a blockchain solution, allowing us to secure our data, but then I realized how much of our “identity” is moving. A blockchain solution would be a real problem for a lot of people.

Some examples I had :

  • Transgender people have to be able to change their gender and name
  • People leaving their country might adopt a new nationality
  • The simple act of moving out means our address isn’t something fixed
  • People can change their name by legal means, therefore even our names might change

People should also be able to own those data totally, which means some kind of self hosted solution as relying on a company (Facebook much?) to own those data is too big of a threat. But then, what kind of solution ? A physical system means it could easily get lost, a digital one would require both hardware and basic skills, and what happens if we lost the hardware ?

Still thinking about it, will update if needed.

One year in Paris | Stream of Consciousness #3

So it’s been already one year in Paris. One year that I decided to switch my life around, leave Belgium for France and to reboot several parts of my life. The decision wasn’t easy, but the bet wasn’t too risky. After one year here it seemed necessary to write things down and look at the road so far.

Professional Life

I can say that this was the best decision of my life. Moving to Paris allowed me to reboot a giant part of my life for the better. In Belgium, I always felt I was stuck because of my bachelor degree (blocking me from strategic possibilities) and because of the professional landscape. While I do love my country, there was something that I couldn’t wrap my head around, it was how so many people settle for something good enough. This lack of ambition and vision slowly killed me while being there, moving from the country changed that.

But France isn’t that much better I’d say. There’s certainly a kind of ambition lying here and there, but it revolves mostly about being the french version of something else. They can’t seem to open their eyes to the outside world, focusing solely on their local market and competitors. Fortunately some people start to move things around and it’s for the best. I also realised how much this country is focused on words instead of acts. Here you’ll find 100 people able to tell you how you should do things, be bitter, angry or resentful, but in the end very few will get their hands dirty and get to work. This is not a behaviour I want to adopt.

After several talks with the company I work with, I was awarded some responsibilities that could help it grow. I’m deeply grateful for this chance, as this give me the unique opportunity to help other people grow and develop another mindset. I’m still trying to figure things out, and I know that the way I act most of the time is not really business wise, but reaching 30 years old I decided it was more important to be true to myself than to act the way corporate people would like me to act. So I’ll still crack a joke here and there, I will still talk to people across the company whatever their positions might be, and I will still be bored as hell during a 2 hour Powerpoint meeting.

I’ll also be able to give a training on GV’s Design Sprint in September (and several other dates), a workshop I truly love and which can accomplish great things with the right people. This alongside with the chance to have taught at the Gobelins (a school I admired when I was younger) felt like crossing things on my bucket list and felt damn good.

In my previous stream of consciousness, I was expressing how my professional life took a toll on my mental state, I can now say that those dark clouds are over. I have so many things I’d like to accomplish and so many things to put in motion that I’m truly looking forward to get my hand dirty in September.

Personal Projects

Beginning of June I started a small newsletter project called Tranches de Livres. My purpose was to write each week about a book I read, what I learned from it and how people could apply it in their daily life. So far I’ve managed to write every week and got around 125 people to read it which is far more than I thought would be possible.

This little project allowed me to dive back in important books of my life and what they taught me as well as to be able to give back to other people everything I had learned along the way. It also helps me to decide what I should read next and made me talk a lot about deeply interesting subjects with various people. Something I missed a lot in my life from time to time.

Growth

I’ve just finished my 59th book for this year. I learned a lot of things through the books I read even if some were quite deceitful. This helped me wrap my mind around a lot of things and reach the goals I set to myself in the last stream : meditation ✅, push ups everyday ✅ (around 30 a day now, started at 5), cook more ✅ (ok, this is also because I want to lose weight), write more and launch the newsletter ✅✅.

During the last months I learned to structure a bit more my mind and what I wanted to say as well as when I wanted to say it. This helped me have meaningful conversations that lead to several life changing decisions concerning my professional life.

I also realised I had a giant problem with the way I was seeing myself. After years of battling dark thoughts (on which I want to write next), I thought the battle was over, but I realised that the way I was physically seeing myself was a big problem in my psyche. So I went back to therapy (CBT) to try to solve that, and I hope it’ll solve things out. I just never realised, hidden behind other problems, how I couldn’t stand the way I look, this grew to proportions I just can’t stand anymore : refusing to have my picture taken, refusing to see a recording, hiding my image feed on the screen when doing a video call, … This is not something I want to live with anymore, and certainly something that isn’t true. So I’ve got a big work to do on that, but I’m crossing fingers, I’ve battled worse demons.

Next Steps

  • Keep on the session with my therapist
  • Swim once to twice a week
  • Keep on cookin
  • Meditate (almost) each day (we all have very busy days sometimes)

Changes & Toll | Stream of Consciousness #2

So here we are, end of April, and a lot of things happened since the first stream and I’m still quite surprised about the magnitude of the changes, the impact on my mind and energy. As my mind is clogged again, it was time to relieve a bit the pressure and put things in perspective to be able to go ahead with a clear head.

Professional Life

Things went to evolve in unexpected ways and I’m glad they did. I’m taking a new role as real Lead in my professional life, having to manage 5 people and ensure their well-being. While it’s quite interesting, I’m a bit concerned about the fact that all those people are quite great. Don’t mistake me, that’s a great team to manage, but I learn to grow through difficulties, and I’m afraid I’m not learning enough without at least one black sheep (but when I’ll have one trust me I’ll hate myself for writing this).

I also gained a supportive role in my company, being able to welcome newcomers, set a nice welcome path, but also to create growth opportunities for them and anyone who’s not afraid to grow. Working hand in hand with others, we started to create a growth e-mail course to be able to maximize the potential of our new recruits and we’re going to implement it quite soon (still beta testing some of this).

I gave a talk about the impostor syndrome, something I’d never think I’d do. It went really nice, in fact I wish I had the ability to duplicate myself regarding all the discussions that this talk sparked. So much great people, so much shared experiences, this was really a great moment (even if it was frightening at first). The talk is available here. I also had the chance to write some articles for my company, but there’s still a lof I want to write about.

As for the company, I still love it quite deeply and don’t regret being a part of it. However, as for all companies, there’s some things I’d like to change, see evolve, and aim for a better. But this time I have the chance to make a change, so I’ll do my best to invest myself in proposing and implementing those changes for a better. And I really hope this will do a lot of good and improve a company I already respect quite a lot.

However, I have to handle a lot of politics and related topics, so this is taking a toll on my mental state, leading me to be quite exhausted. I’m slowly trying to distanciate myself to be able to take back my energy and jump back on my feet. While being an empath is great and transform you in a touchpoint for everyone in need to talk, I still have to find a correct way to declutter my mind and distanciate from other’s problems. Ongoing…

Personal Projects

I’ve got a lot of ideas in my mind. As I’m reading quite a lot of books during the year, and keeping notes in a common place book (in fact it’s more of a file), I’m wondering if there was a way I could capitalize on that. So far I’m thinking about either a newsletter (… and it’s done !). I’ll give it some thoughts, it’s something I could work on this summer.

On the side, I’ve decided to go back to code, so I’m trying to learn how to handle javascript in a better way and aim to start a framework just as Vue.js. I also started to experiment with UI to improve my skill set, but both those are for my personal life. Unfortunately, I discovered that the more skills you have, the more roles are expected from you and this is something I don’t want. I had parts of my life where I had to work several roles, and it lead to not being able to do any of those correctly because of a lack of time. This is something I won’t do again.

Growth

I read a lot of things lately that help me grow and made up my mind on some things. A new cardinal rule I set for people is now Acta non verba, meaning that if a person doesn’t act and just keep on a talking, his words aren’t worth shit. Same goes for talking about values and not living according to them. I’m tired of people spending their days giving by morality lessons on how society / government should behave while not implementing those changes in their personal life. Be the change you want to see in the world, is still the biggest motto ever.

Same I don’t believe in society as a separate entity. Society is a set of people, therefore it’s important to implement changes on the people scale. Expecting the “society” to implement it is reliving some unsolved daddy issue. If we want to change society, we have to do it on our level, than go all the way to the top.

Skin in the Game — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Love life

Things happen when you don’t expect them too, and I guess this is true. While I decided to stop worrying about dating and things like that, I met someone really great. The start of our relationship hasn’t been the best, we both hoped for a cleaner start, but I must say that the last 3 months have been really great and this relationship is everything I could expect (kudos to him ❤).

Next Steps

Some things I want to implement for the next months

  • Meditate again everyday
  • Push ups everyday (Kaizen way)
  • Start the newsletter
  • Cook more instead of eating outside
  • Learn to distanciate myself through meditation
  • Write more when I need to empty my mind.

Changes & conscious choices | Stream of Consciousness #1

I’ve been living in Paris now for more than 6 months. The reasons that made me leave my country were multiple: lack of intellectual stimulus, feeling of getting stuck in a career path too soon, uninteresting professional landscape and way too much memories everywhere. After six months, my mind is a bit clogged and need some relief to structure things a bit.

Professional Life

On this part I must say that I got everything that I expected. My career evolved in the most interesting way and at an incredible pace those last months, and the coming months promise interesting challenges I couldn’t expect to find in Belgium. It seems that in order to evolve you have to break things and dare to jump. While it has been a bit frightening, I’m really happy with the results.

Concerning the French professional world, things are quite different. I think the main part is how much the personal side affects work and how everything is tied to human relationships (and no clear division between work and its producer). From time to time I have the feeling of being stuck in a Game of Thrones episode, which isn’t quite pleasant as I’m usually the kind of person that tend to avoid conflict when it’s unnecessary and who try to be honest. Politics and powerplay makes navigating into the French professional landscape quite strange.

Colleagues & friends

While I always thought myself as more of an introvert, I discovered that I needed people around me way more than I thought. And on this side I’ve been quite lucky, the people have met until here, mainly thanks to my work and social networks have been both intellectually challenging and profoundly humans. I discovered tremendous people and some of them already play a big part in my life and in the span of 6 months became really important for me, some of them I can really call close friends. I’ve also discovered friends with whom I can be totally myself, without any needs for barriers or anything, which felt quite as a relief when I lived most of my life using a fake self persona to go through social life.

However, there’s a dark side to this. While work helped me to connect easily with people in an interesting way, I found the way people behave here in Paris quite strange. I tried to connect outside my circle but always felt that you somehow need to gain the right to talk to some people. After some time trying to engage into unilateral conversations, I decided to dedicate my time to my friends here and colleague and avoid some areas (I’ll develop).

Gay places, apps and lgbt life in general

I’ve always had troubles getting into the LGBT life, and wrote quite a lot about it. But after some years of trying, I’ve decided to take some radical decisions and cut the ties with anything related to it. I’ve deleted both the dating apps (which helped me rebuild my self esteem and personal energy) and quit the LGBT associations I was part of.

The main reasons were both the fact that I didn’t felt I needed to keep on trying to have conversations where I had to gain some divine right to talk to the person. In fact, I was exhausted to always be the one leading the discussion without any feedback. This hit me after meeting a friend’s friend for the 4th time and when he realized he didn’t knew a single thing about me… because he never returned any answer.

The second reason was the perpetual drama. As I said I hate conflict, especially unnecessary conflict. I couldn’t take anymore the relationships drama going all around, keeping in mind who wanted to talk to who, who was deadly enemy and things like that.

This also lead me to leave my main Twitter account and focus on my professional one. Since then I feel like I’m able to breath and feel generally better about myself.

Rebuilding a social circle

With all this I’ve rebuilt a social circle of what I consider to be people both intellectually challenging but also benevolent people. Being with them makes me grow, evolve and learn. And I’m assured that any drama coming my way won’t be unnecessary but something that requires time, dedication and help to grow.

I’ve taken steps to remove all the toxic people from my life, but also the people who hurt me even not willingly. I have enough good and close friends to keep on hurting myself.

Dating

I’ve deleted the apps to give myself a bit of breath but also because I realized several things. The first one is that the reason that make me synchronize with a human being are quite blurry, and hard to define. This lead to a lot of search on the dating apps to find those special people I could connect to. But spending a lot of time on those apps takes a deadly toll: self esteem destruction, constant comparison toward society ideals, rejection, … The fact was that I was investing a lot of time on those for maybe 1% return of investment. Not a great idea.

The second reason was that I realized I needed time for myself. The previous years haven’t been kind on the sentimental level and I was barely able to stand up again. While I think I have a lot to offer, it’s time also for me to meet someone who’s ready to invest into a relationship as much as I am. I realized that those things would come in time, but that now, I didn’t have any energy left, nor the capacity to handle another failure. I can accept to welcome things as they come, but can’t invest in this area of my life all by myself at the moment.

In contradiction, I’ve realized that I was ready for someone to enter my life. While it’s still healing, my heart finally stopped aching. I’m still in defensive mode, so the next one will have some battles to fight, but still, I’m ready to accept someone for who he’s and not because I’m in pain. And that’s quite an evolution. The thing I expect from a soulmate became also quite precise which helped me quite a lot.

The next steps

I thought I’d stay 5 years here, but reconsidering some parts (mainly how the society works and things I’ve expressed here), I think I’d switch to 3 years then see another place. I realized there was much to discover still and places to go, and I’m too eager to stay in some place I don’t really love.

I wanted to tackle a master in management, but I realized that this was important only for the French society. The competences I’ve gained and will gain in the coming months will be more valuable than any paper I could gain, and the financial and time costs would be way too heavy for what I could gain. There are other ways to evolve that will suit me better, so I’m still giving me sometime to think about.

And that’s aaaall for the moment.

P.S. : Thanks to Yoan for this idea, it indeed helps a lot.

My heart skipped a beat

Some things cannot be explained I guess. The light of a moment, the smell of the air, the feeling of a certain place, those strange news eyes you find yourself suddenly diving in. It’s always strange how, in a missed beat, things can change so suddenly.

Suddenly in those eyes you discover for the first time, you encounter a soul you seem to be longing for for years. Suddenly someone you never knew misses you strangely more than anyone you knew before, as if time took you apart and pulled you back. In those moments, for the smallest fraction of time, for an incredible strange moment, just between to heartbeats, an eternity passes away.

You find yourself looking at his face, trying to understand where you could have seen it before. This seems impossible, deep down you know you couldn’t possibly have seen him before, you’d have remembered him for sure. But your mind can’t stop working at full speed, trying to link facts, places, people, in search of his face.

You’re lost in the moment, trying to keep the pace of the conversation while the time goes by incredibly fast. Around you the night falls while you can’t seem to fall asleep. Suddenly you feel a strange energy going around, some strange connection going through the both of you. You can’t really explain why, often you can’t express things properly, but next to him the words flow easily.

Time will always catch you up, that’s the way it is, but in this missed beat, you already lived an eternity. In this look you lost yourself, falling into something you don’t understand but that feels so familiar. You can’t express exactly what’s happening and that’s the strangest thing. Your mind is still racing about how this stranger feels so familiar, about why you feel so at ease with him on your first encounter. But things can’t always be explained. Some things come, some go, some moments last for an eternity.

But some things cannot be explained. It must have been the moment, perhaps the smell of the air or this particular setting. Perhaps it was his eyes that you know you have to let go for the first time, but it feels like you’ve repeated this pattern again and again. So as he leaves, your heart skips a beat and an eternity is lost.

2017 : The Road So Far

With this year slowly ending, I felt it was the time to have a small look back and see the road I’ve travelled on different aspects of my life in 2017. While this has been quite a difficult year, it lead also to a lot of improvements, learnings, new habits useful to share and to discover new improvements paths.

Health

I started the year with a weight of exactly 80.2kg and a 22% Fat Mass. 12 months later, thanks to several improvements, I’ve reached 68kg and a 15% Fat Mass. I still have some work to do (especially dive into fitness and weight lifting on a more regular basis), still I’m quite proud of the work accomplished.

I’ve reached this by taking some simple steps: cutting sugar from my food intake (and most related carbs… well except for pizza. You can’t refuse pizza.) and adopting a ketogenic diet. This lead at the beginning to some headaches but finally I feel more energized, dynamic and less nauseous overall.

Based on some readings, I’ve also started to take some supplements: magnesium citrate & krill oil mainly. Those helped me to get a better brain health. Since I take them, I’m able to make connections between things more quickly, but also I’ve gained a capacity to focus on things, which was quite a challenge due to my ADHD troubles.

I’ve started 2017 by removing coffee and alcohol from my alimentation. Since then I’ve started to slowly reintroduce coffee (mainly for the taste), and I’ve lost the unfortunate side effects. I drink it less than before, and I don’t need it anymore to feel energized. Alcohol has been reintroduced quite quickly mainly due to two things : first I spotted that some of my depression events where provoked by either life events I didn’t want to acknowledge or simply by reacting to some kind of alcohol (bye whisky, it has been quite a ride), secondly I’ve noted that when you’re the only sober person in a party, it’s really hard to keep a conversation with someone drunk without wanting to kill them.

Spirituality

I tried to keep the pace with daily meditation (depending mostly on daily energy and mood) and must say that it really helped me to sort things out, keep my mood under balance and be able to analyze some events and encounters in a more clearer way. This is still something I’d recommend to anyone regarding the improvements it does to one’s life. I’ve divided the meditation in several parts (and learned to use mudras to improve my energy flow):

  • Mindfulness: take the time to acknowledge the time and space you’re in and how your body is feeling, what thoughts are going through your mind and labelling them
  • Premeditatio Malorum: imagine what could go in the worst possible way for the day ahead, experience how it’d make me feel
  • Projection: picture what I want to reach on several level, and be able to set steps to get there by projecting ahead
  • Forgiving: take one person in my life that hurt me, relive the moments I felt hurt and then forgive this person, and letting her go.
  • Reverse gap: take some time to acknowledge the road I travelled so far and express gratitude for all the things I’ve done until now.

I kept the habit on journaling almost every day on my life. This transformed a lot from a place to empty my thoughts to something more structured. Nowadays it’s divided in several parts I’m able to go through quite quickly:

  • Acknowledge 3 things I’m grateful for in other people
  • Acknowledge 3 things I’m grateful about myself (this is quite hard)
  • Try to remember parts of my dreams (this helped me acknowledge some things that were bothering me but that I didn’t want to bring up to the conscious level)
  • Set 3 things I want to accomplish for the day.

Brainfood & Mental Health

I’m finishing this year with 128 books read, and I’m quite happy with the result. While I was a bit afraid at the beginning of the year concerning the quality of the books I was reading, this year end has been really fruitful and brought to me a lot of books I’d totally advise:

  • Progress, Ten Reasons to look forward to the future (Johan Norberg): lately I’ve seen a lot of people being quite negative about the world we live in and the state of our society. This book help us to develop a more objective view of our times and to see that things are, in fact, going better and better in every possible way.
  • The Code of The Extraordinary Mind (Vishen Lakhiani): This book really helped me setting some things straight. It shows how you need to change the way you look at things and how to adopt a more healthier way to go through life and its events. It also forces you to examine some rules you live by and to destroy them. I’ve developed a spreadsheet to help you question the 12 areas of life balance exposed in the book, available here.
  • Homo Deus & Sapiens (Yuval Noah Harari): I can’t express how much I’ve learned from those two books and how it changed everything I learned until them. From the beginning of our stories to the way our cultures have been shaped, those are truly eye opening. For everyone interested in our common history and future, those are must read.
  • Gaïa : A New Look at Life on Earth (James Lovelock): The Gaïa hypothesis is something I was deeply convinced before encountering this book. James Lovelock exposes here some scientific theories about it and gives a new look about the planet we live on. Mind blowing in every possible way.
  • La route du temps — Théorie de la double causalité (Philippe Guillemant): Time as we experience it seems like a finite dimension on which we have no control. In this book, Philippe Guillemant shows that things might be different than we think they are and that we have some control about both our past and our future. It also shows that our minds are way more powerful than we think they are.

Based on an idea from Buster Benson, I’ve started to write my Book of Beliefs, it encompass everything I believe in in a perpetual draft state. Everytime I learn something new or that I change my mind about something, I edit it. It’s already well developed and some readings and experiences lead to dramatic changes, but this really helped me setting things straight in my mind and establish some basis for discussions.

I’ve also finished writing my second book. While it’s still under correction, the draft version is available here. It was a real help in getting through my breakup and learning to let go, and I’m quite happy with the result (and the fact that it’s now out of my head).

After some time for myself, I’m keeping my listener role on 7 Cups. There’s something highly efficient in helping others get through life events, and I’ve found there some way to give back to the world and help people around me. I’ve discovered that it was something I was really happy to do and, in some ways, needed to do. So if you ever need some anonymous help, don’t hesitate 🙂

Work

A lot has changed about this during this year. After some time freelancing (which allowed me to finally gain a real confidence in my capacities and about what I wanted to do), I’ve decided to take several decisions.

Things started thanks to a friend who opened my eyes. For a year, I was supposed to search for a flat to buy. After 6 months, she simply asked me how many flat I had visited. Two. Two flats in six months. She then asked me if I really wanted to buy a flat. This is when I realized that deeply I didn’t really want to buy a place but that was something I was supposed to do. And then I digged deeper.

I realized that I wasn’t happy at all in Belgium. While for years I’ve put this on being in a relationship or single, I slowly realized that, in fact, I wasn’t finding anymore what I was looking for where I was living. I was, in a metaphoric way, dying. I wasn’t learning anything anymore except through books. While on the economic side things were bright, on a mental state I couldn’t live like that anymore, not at almost 30 years old.

There was only one thing I could change: where I was living. After some self examination, I’ve ended considering several states around Europe. For the first time in my life I wrote a real motivation letter, send it and things went really well. In the space of one month and half I moved to Paris and started to work for a company I admire, UX Republic. Since that, I’m finally challenged on the professional level, I’m able to discuss and debate about ideas I couldn’t in Belgium. There’s still some steps I want to take, but I’ve never felt so alive.

The Road Ahead

2018 will begin for me in this new country, new city. I’ve already started to make some friends and encountered a lot of different people. I’ve set my intentions for this year in a more clearer way, and based on things depending only on myself:

  • Keep learning and evolving, teach and transmit: I’m slowly giving back more and more through some internal conferences, and this is slowly I want to expand more. I’m also setting things straight to be able to start a master in management and innovation sciences, something I’ve been willing to do for years but always refused.
  • Be surrounded by love & Help people: While I’ve decided to be happy in the present moment, I’ve also decided that I wanted to deepen my relationships. Finally I’ve learned that love wasn’t only based on my soulmate relationship, but through all my relationships. I’m eager to meet new people and build new relationships. I’m also still willing to help as much people as I can this year.

All those are depending only on myself and doable. While there are things I want to reach for next year (fitness based for example), those are not the most important things for me and this is something I’ve finally learned. I still have a lot of time ahead of me, so many things to discover, test, learn, so many people I want to meet and things I want to see. There’s only this moment, and in this moment, I’m finally happy being myself. See ya next year!

“This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny.”
Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

The right not to care

This year a lot of my reading where going around the same subject : How not to give a fuck. It’s strange that nowadays we end up reading something that should really be natural, even spontaneous. It always felt strange that we slowly switched from a world where you had the right not to care about some subjects (not even in a violent way, just not to take position), to a world of constant shoutings, personal vendettas and small wars.

So it’s strange to say it this way, but I now reclaim the right not to care about some subjects. I reclaim the right not to be enlightened enough on a subject to take any position about it, but also the right to neither know enough about it nor willing to take the time to learn about it. We’re all here for a limited time, with all our passions, subject of interest, personal fights, and it seems to me absolutely necessary to reclaim our right to decide where we invest our personal energy. Not caring about something isn’t an aggression toward the persons fighting for this thing, in fact it’s letting them more room to act, but also to be active proponent of the discussion by using their knowledge at the best. Not caring allow us to focus on the things that really matter to us, to lead our own fights. And sometimes, even if we would like it to be this way, things aren’t just all black and white, and some subjects are too dense to take position for one side or the other.

We have to also be able to let others not care about the things that matter to us. We have to understand that not everybody care about the things we do, that sometimes our fights are not understandable nor worth fighting for to their eyes without it being a critic about ourselves.

While we’re living in better and better times (please read this by the way), it seems essential to me that we learn to cool down a bit on the tensions we put everywhere, and that we accept to learn again how to compromise and accept that what we do doesn’t make sense for everyone all the time. So please give yourself a little gift when you can, and choose not to care about the latest fight on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or whatever. Just go along the way and breathe. You have a limited amount of energy, keep it for what really matters to you.