11 Things I’ve Learnt in 2011.

Partied the night away in the clubs of Ibiza, sang with the crowds in the streets of Ireland, loved and lost in the palaces of Spain; Slept in the deserts of Jordan, met the President in London, graduated from Loughborough University; Ran for Singapore, finished 3 decathlons, met a whole bunch of awesome people along the way.

What a year it has been, hasn’t always been good or easy, but with the new year just around the corner I thought I’d take a moment to reflect and come up with a list of 11 things I’ve learnt from it.

1. Life is an adventure, if you want it to be.

It always starts with a dream.

Take a step out into the unknown and more importantly, keep moving.

All this would not have happened if I did not make that decision years ago to chase my dream of making it to the Olympics someday. Come to think of it, I don’t exactly know what gotten to me then, having no experience, no talent, no ability, no support and no money, I decided to give it a shot anyway.  Hasn’t been exactly smooth sailing or straightforward, but boy have I’ve had one heck of an adventure.

2. Stop expecting, start living.

Dead Sea, Jordan 2011

Throw away your guide books, stop looking at the world through the internet, watch less TV. Get out of your house, your office, your routine. Life is waiting for you out there to be experience with your own eyes and being.

This year for my travels I’ve ditched the guide books, dropped all my expectations and just went to experience life as it is. And you know what? It turned out to be pretty amazing.

3. People Are Awesome.

Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan 2011

Screw 5 star hotels, nothing beats the hospitality, warmth and value of sleeping on the floors or couches of a good friend’s home.

Meeting awesome and amazing people from all over the world is one of the most valuable things I’ve gained from this journey. From international Olympic athletes to humble street vendors, you come to realise that everybody has an amazing story to tell and amazing lessons to teach if you bother to slow down and start listening.

As Confucius say, under the sky there is but one family.


4. Tell your story.

Training in Ibiza, 2011

Honestly express yourself – Bruce Lee.

May it be through your words, pictures or movement, honestly express yourself, because you never know when you might never get the chance to do so ever again. Starting this blog and taking around 15 thousand pictures this year has made me realise how much I have grown as a person.

Though I must admit, it can turn out to be an ego feeding exercise sometimes and I’m always careful to avoid that. But when I get the occasional random message or two from people thanking me for helping them along their journey, I know it was all worth it, because I’ve returned the favour of those who bothered to share their stories with me.

5. Running around in circles, jumping over things and throwing stuff around taught me more about life than 15 years in school.

Loughborough Track, 2011.

It’s ok to believe.

I’ve learnt that it doesn’t matter where you are at right now, because as long as you know where you want to go and start taking steps in that direction, eventually you’ll be a heck of a lot closer than you think.

I sincerely believe that to live to one’s full potential, one has to both develop his mind and his body. Only by challenging yourself will you be able to expand your life.

Don’t be satisfied with being a slightly bigger fish in a very small pond, the oceans are out there waiting for you to explore. And though you may find yourself wanting, that’s ok, because only then will you realise what you have to do to keep growing.

Same principles I have learnt on the track have allowed me to pursue other things in life like photography and starting up a business venture with a few of my mates.

Remember, doesn’t matter where you start off from, because quite likely it will be from the very bottom anyway.

Dare to keep climbing.

6. Just because you tried, doesn’t mean you’ll succeed.

DNF due to a pulled hamstring during the 400m event, Woodford 2011

Over 3 years ago I decided to come to Loughborough University where there are some of the best sporting facilities in the world with some of the best athletes and coaches based around here. I thought by being in the right place at the right time something would magically happen.

It didn’t.

Still regret not pushing myself hard enough at the start of the 3 years, only to run out of time at the end.

It doesn’t matter the thousands of hours you put in, it boils down to what you’ve put in those thousands of hours.

Make them count.

7. Run your own race.

Finished the Decathlon during the England Combine Events Championships, Bedford 2011.

At the end of the day, it is your own race, your own life and your own decision on what you want to get out of it.

After I pulled my hamstring in the first decathlon of the season, a couple of weeks later I tried to do another hoping that my hamstring would have recovered.

It didn’t.

Found that out during the first event (100m) and was really disappointed because my hope of finally getting a decent score was gone and there were still 9 more events to get through.

But I stuck through it and finished it to my best ability regardless, proving to myself that I had the guts to see it through not just when things are easy but when things are not going my way.

Till date that was the most mentally challenging decathlon I’ve done and I know because I did, I am a better person for it.

8. You are not a special snowflake, but that’s ok.

Watching the universe, Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan 2011

As Tyler Durden puts it, ‘You are not a special snowflake’, but that’s ok.

Found out that at best, I am just a very very average athlete.

I guess we grow up thinking we are going to be special and talented in someway, but chances are, we’re just statistically average. (I always love the funny fact that more than 50% of us think that we’re better than average at doing anything).

In the statistical world, a normal distribution dictates that the majority of us form the average, and coming to terms with that is ok.

Because what statistics don’t tell you is that the small and everyday things make the world an amazing place.

9. When the race is on, all bets are off.

That said, when the race is on, all bets are off.

Qualified for the finals in the Shot Put event representing my school during the British Universities and College Sport Championships 2011.

Firstly I got a last minute call up to make the team because two of our main guys were injured and for the competition, most of the other guys had higher PBs than myself going in, leaving me little chance to qualify for the finals.

But somehow during the qualifiers everybody was struggling and I managed to put out a very average throw.

That somehow just managed to get me in to the last spot of the finals.

Doesn’t matter the odds, always give your best and leave the worry for the rest.

10. How bad do you want it?

300m runs, Loughborough 2011.

At the end of the day, how bad do you want it?

Chances are, to get closer to where you want to be, you have to do things you don’t normally do. And quite likely, it’s not going to be pleasent or easy.

Because I never was much of a runner/sprinter when I was younger, the problem I faced in decathlon was that I wasn’t very fast nor could I hold any kinds of speed for long. For the longest time I hated speed endurance training because it really hurt and I sucked at it.

But in order to get better at something, you just got to go ahead do it.

Didn’t matter I was miles behind my training partner during the reps, as long I finished the session to my best ability, I won’t say I was happy because of the pain, but I was satisfied because of my effort.

Never ran that many 300m’s in my life.

11. Things don’t always go your way, but we’re going to be ok.

Champagne showers with my best mates to celebrate my graduation.

So 3 years came and gone but I didn’t achieve what I set out to do originally.

I didn’t qualify for the SEA games, didn’t break the Singapore decathlon record, picked up a couple more injuries.

You don’t always get what you want, but if you try hard enough you just might get what you need.

I realised I gained so much more than those numbers and even though I’m not too sure what’s going to happen next, I’ve decided to stay on and run for one more season because as long as I keep moving forwards, I know that everything’s going to be ok.

So yup, there it is, my 11 lessons I’ve learnt in 2011. It’s been an eventful and amazing year, thank you guys for following my blog, tweets, facebook or even if you’ve randomly come across this. I truely hope that you have had an amazing year yourself too.

And as I look forward to 2012, all I can say is, I’ve got a good feeling. 😉

Sunshine after finishing a very cold and wet decathlon, Manchester 2011

All the best guys! Since 2012 might well be the last year due to some ancient calendar, let’s make it one heck of a year to remember. Wishing you a very Happy New Year, Cheers! =)

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