SS#5 – We Need To Talk About Afghanistan

August 2021 will be remembered for years to come for one of the greatest betrayals in human history. The premature withdrawal from Afghanistan by coalition forces has effectively pulled the rug from beneath the feet of millions of Afghan citizens striving for a better future.

The NATO coalition led by the USA & keenly supported by the UK, Canada and many others has “aimed to create the conditions whereby the Afghan government could exercise its authority throughout the country”. Upon completion of that mission in late 2014, the Alliance had the sole objective to help the local Afghan population build the infrastructure for a brighter tomorrow (Resolute Support Mission).

These missions have come at great cost for all involved; over 7,000 days elapsed, with the loss of over 240,000 lives including 70,000 civilians. The financial cost is estimated in excess of $2.1tn (£1.5tn).

Political Popularity Trumps Morals

The endeavours of the Western coalition were of course not completely selfless – the rationale for intervening in Afghanistan was linked directly to the Taliban providing refuge and resources to Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda in the run up to, and immediately following the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

It was therefore politically convenient at that point in time for the US to announce an invasion of the Taliban controlled territory, made internationally palatable by the presence of allied forces from NATO.

The opinion polls soared for George W Bush with his overall approval ratings hitting 90% in late 2001 & remaining consistently over 80% through 2002. There was a similar story in the UK with parliament overwhelmingly backing Tony Blair in a vote by 317 votes to 13.

Following early successful advances from the Northern Alliance backed by the Allied forces, there came an opportunity to strike a deal with the Taliban; they would surrender on the condition that their leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar could remain in Kandahar under supervision from the appropriate military forces. 

However Donald Rumsfeld quickly rejected this offer to effectively end the war before it had gathered momentum. Why? There are many explanations, including;

  • The perception that the offer would result in the leader of the Taliban receiving relatively little punishment. This was politically unpalatable to the Allied forces given the Taliban’s collusion with Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.
  • Defeating the Taliban in such quick time would raise uncomfortable questions about how such a comparatively weak organisations (Taliban & Al-Qaeda) had caused so much damage and destruction on US soil and evaded capture. A longer effort that saw the complete destruction of the Taliban would be a better “show of force” and deterrent.
  • The economic benefits of war would be lost. War drives employment figures up, and also justifies exorbitant amounts of money to be invested in defence budgets and the development of new military technologies. In effect the US (and to a lesser extent their Allies) could make large advances without much scrutiny.
  • “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.”

The common thread amongst all the above explanations being they would all almost certainly cause significant damage to the approval ratings of Bush, Blair et al.

Mirror, Mirror

Fast forward 20 years, and the narrative surrounding the acrimonious departure of the Allied forces from Afghanistan seems to be avoiding this key thread. Political popularity.

Why was President Joe Biden so quick to reject calls to reverse the Trump administration decision to withdraw from Afghanistan?

  • The perception that the war has run its course – Punishment has been served. Osama bin Laden has been found and executed, and any further action was a waste of much needed money and American (& Allies) lives.
  • To do so would further divide the US politically, and result in the Afghan war and all its previous failings becoming Biden’s War – causing significant damage to chances of a second term in office.
  • The economic benefits have waned. There is no longer any real benefit in this regard and so it becomes purely ideological.

In other words Biden, Johnson and Trudeau et al have calculated that any U-turn here would cause significant damage in the polls. As we have seen throughout this war, ultimately for the ruling elite political popularity trumps morals.


However where Bush & Blair’s gamble initially paid off in the early days of the conflict in Afghanistan, the Allied gamble of 2020/1 has backfired spectacularly.

Criticism has rained down from all sides across each Allied nation. The gains made in Afghanistan now seen as lost. Service men and women, over 3500 of whom made the ultimate sacrifice in support of the mission statements above, seemingly now betrayed – with a catastrophic impact on the mental health of both those who served and the families of those who never returned.

There is now a very real fear of reprisals and the return of terrorist factions to Afghanistan, plotting attacks in the region as well as in the USA, UK & Canada. The complete betrayal and subsequent lack of compassion shown to the Afghan people by each Allied government will now serve as the ultimate recruiting tool for the Taliban and other extremist groups.

The Convenient By-product

Back to the mission statement; to help the local Afghan population build the infrastructure for a brighter tomorrow.

The truly positive by-product of this popularity contest has been the progress made across Afghanistan, be it girls attending schools, women holding office, businesses flourishing, or simply freedom of expression and thought. The green shoots of progress have been clear to see.

Sadly, these green shoots, 20 years in the making, have been all but destroyed in a matter of weeks. The news is a continuous cycle of scenes of desperate crowds at Kabul Airport / various Embassy buildings trying to flee the country, and harrowing stories of the Taliban’s aggression against so called “collaborators”.

The true intentions of the governments of the US and its Allies now laid clear for the world to see – the so called mission statement abandoned and left in tatters, yet each government still claiming a success…

Light in the darkness

But where there was once growth, it shall return. Whilst the green shoots above the ground may have been temporarily destroyed, the roots run deep.

Brave Afghans have been protesting in the streets against the Taliban, celebrating Afghanistan independence day, waving their national flag as opposed to the flag of the Taliban. Brave young girls continue to go to school. Valiant government ministers such as Rangina Hamidi make a stand and refuse to leave their country behind. Courageous female journalists such as Beheshta Arghand continue to hold the Taliban to account.

Beheshta Arghand interviewing Taliban spokesman on live TV

The resolve of the Afghan people, who have been in an almost continuous state of war for half a century, should not be questioned. They will rise from the ashes and create a beautiful tomorrow for their country.

What Happens Next?

It’s already clear to see the Taliban will not live up to their promises of peaceful rule – those seen as having worked for or alongside Allied forces have in some instances been tortured, and executed in others. Citizens attempting to leave via Kabul Airport have been whipped and beaten as they run the gauntlet past Taliban fighters to get to the overcrowded airport gates.

Some commentators are expecting the Northern Alliance to regroup and a civil war to break out in the coming weeks and months in Afghanistan. Others are anticipating China and Russia having a growing influence with the Taliban – China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi met with leaders of the Taliban as recently as July in Tianjin. But the prediction most experts agree on is the expectation the Taliban will implement a brutal and bloody regime similar to that of two decades ago, only this time armed with new weaponry left behind by the Allied troops, and having learnt the art of political propaganda.

Whether some or all of the above forecasts are correct, the months and years ahead for Afghanistan are going to be tumultuous. It is vitally important that across the globe we keep helping in any way we can – by applying pressure to our politicians, donating to charities where possible (some suggestions down below), maintaining the current high profile of the ongoing situation, and letting the Afghan people know that we are aware of what is happening and we care about them.

The solution in Afghanistan should not be one decided in the wings of the White House or the corridors of Whitehall – but by the Afghan people. Our role is to help facilitate that solution in any way we can.

The West needs to avoid thinking about this in terms of implementing “democracy” as we know it. The western style of democracy is fundamentally broken – to implement this system elsewhere is guaranteed to result in future failure. Countries such as Afghanistan are not capitalist countries in the West. They are their own country with a fantastic culture and deep history in the East. The identity of the Afghan nation and the structure of the government should be reflective of that.

As the main stream news coverage of the situation in Afghanistan starts to slowly decline over the coming days and weeks, it is our responsibility to make sure the Afghan people remain at the forefront of our thoughts and actions. The cameras will soon stop rolling, and the eyes of the world will move on, but the Afghan people will remain engaged in their battle for survival and a brighter future. I urge anyone reading this to help in any way you can.

Please don’t forget about Afghanistan.

Charities & NGOs

Here are some links to charities and other organisations who are providing support to Afghan people, both refugees and those still in Afghanistan;

And here are some links to charities and other organisations who are providing mental health support to service men and women who served in Afghanistan;

SS#4 – Testing Times

It has been well over a week since my last post, and I need to be honest about why I have missed both Friday and Sunday’s posts.

The truth is I’m scared. I don’t like admitting it, but I am scared of making major life changes, of failing in following my dreams, of losing everything whilst in pursuit of my purpose.

I’m not sure why it has hit me so hard this past week or so. There have been no major events, no particular setbacks to speak of. Yet by Thursday afternoon my chest was tightening, my breathing a little laborious, and I felt trapped. 

Rock And A Hard Place 

It boils down to what feels like a lose – lose situation. I am unhappy in one part of my life, and yet to rectify that situation I have to temporarily sacrifice another. It would seem I have two options;

I stay in a job situation that is making me unhappy and having a negative impact on my mental wellbeing, but (just about) allows me to carry on chasing my dreams and developing the Pursuit Of Purpose brand;


I change jobs and move to a new organisation – but I accept that for the next 6 months at least my dreams are on hold. The blog will drop to 1 post per week at a maximum and the videos and other activities will grind to a halt. 

Doesn’t sound like such a tricky situation, does it? I should go for option 2 and protect my mental wellbeing and put things at Pursuit Of Purpose on hold for 6 months or so. Seems pretty clear cut. 

Except that throws me back in to the position I found myself in at the start of this year. Going back to that place would be to reinstate the feelings of being unfulfilled, the feeling that I am sleepwalking my way through life. Retreating isn’t an option.

So it’s the first option then? Stay where I am and tough it out. Sacrifice my mental wellbeing for the ‘greater good’. But then what if this also sacrifices the benefits being realised from Pursuit Of Purpose? What if it impacts the content I produce?

So here I am, back at square one. 

Imperfect Reality

But then there are no meaningful journeys in life that don’t involve some level of sacrifice and hardship. Even in the airbrushed reality of the movies or on TV shows, there is always a struggle along the way to the happily ever after! 

However the difference between Hollywood and real life is that those struggles and hard times are unpredictable and there is no guaranteed rainbow and pot of gold waiting at the end. As a society it feels as though we have become so conditioned to the augmented reality we digest on a weekly basis that we have forgotten

  1. that its ok to struggle
  2. how to persevere through tough times, &
  3. that dreams don’t become reality without 1 & 2

“Think, think, think.”

I have spent the past few days thinking through my options and processing the decision. It’s time to answer the question. 

What do I do now? Where do I go from here? 


Which means somewhat ironically I stay where I am with regards work. I take the rough with the smooth and carry on chasing my dreams – because life is too short, and time is too precious to waste another 6 months treading water. I know where I want to be, and where I want to go – and I promised myself I would make decisions in pursuit of that end goal.

But I am making some subtle changes…

The content we are all used to ingesting across every medium is 95% airbrushed and/or carefully curated to show a side of life we all aspire to experience, whether it be lifestyle, happiness, love, or adventure. 

The honest reality is that the lifestyle they are selling to you is unattainable, because that lifestyle is their dream – not yours. We spend so much time watching other people successfully chasing their dreams that we give up chasing our own when we don’t have the success we have come to expect, or we forget to chase our own dreams altogether.

How many times have you watched YouTube videos, read blog articles, or listened to podcasts where the host has shared with you their doubts and their struggles as well as their successes?

More often than not the only struggles discussed are ones that already have a happy ending. This isn’t healthy. It’s time to redress the balance.

I am going to persevere, share with you my struggles and tough times, as well as the happy moments, to show you the unfiltered reality of my journey chasing my dreams.

My promise to you is that I will always be honest, no matter how hard that will be at times. This is your invite to invest time in the journey, and share in the achievements along the way.

Following on from this post I will revert back to the standard posting schedule – with the next post on Friday!

Until then… have a good ‘un guys.

Serendipitous Sundays #2: Stagnant, For All Intents And Purposes.

The last 18 months will be remembered for the obvious reasons, however key trends have emerged that at least deserve a footnote in the history books. From a personal perspective, the key trend is not upward or downward, nor horizontal, but rather eerily still. The resolute perception and at times strongly held belief, though often not reality, that progress has halted in its entirety and key areas of life have become stagnant.

Too much time.

Back in February and March of 2020 as the pandemic took hold across the globe, life changed for each and every one of us. In a work setting – entire industries ground to a halt and millions around the world lost their jobs.

For those who remained in employment, new working arrangements were required. Many were required to work from home, whilst others were placed on schemes such as the “furlough” scheme in the UK. Those in key front line roles were to adopt new ways of working to maximise safety whilst ensure critical services were maintained.

But whatever the work situation you found yourself in, the one thing we all had far more of was time… even for those who were required to work longer hours than ever before.

That seems counterintuitive, but unpack it slightly. Once work has finished, even if its later than usual think about these 2 questions;

  • What did you do?
  • Where did you go?

Unless the rules were not adhered to, the answer will be pretty straightforward for most. For me;

  • What did I do? Moved from one room of the house to the other to watch TV and have food before bed.
  • Where did I go? Nowhere.

Now what about free time and weekends;

  • What did you do? Went for a walk or baked banana bread with varying degrees of success
  • Where did you go? Remained within a 3 mile radius of home.

Of course the number of hours in any given day or week remained constant. However with no plans, no social life and no events, the number of truly free hours – hours with no plans, increased significantly. We found ourselves with more free time, whatever our work situation.

The question was, what the hell do we do with it?

Self reflection.

For me, as was the case for many others, I chose to use this time to analyse every element of my life. The starting point of the analysis was a feeling of unhappiness, and so the results were unsurprisingly negative.

I was wasting my time doing things that I didn’t want to do. Getting drunk each weekend, watching a lot of TV / Netflix, ordering takeaways and occasionally going for a walk in the local area. I live with my partner, I was seeing people on video calls each week, and yet I felt so lonely and unfulfilled.

From the outside my life would appear brilliant – a great job with a salary to match, engaged to be married, new house, new car. So what right did I have to feel lonely and unfulfilled? Numbing myself of these feelings seemed easier than accepting and addressing them.

For all intents and purposes, my life was stagnant. I felt as though everything was passing me by as I remained rooted to the spot, out of control and unable to drag myself forwards.

Life’s trajectory.

This all stems from the pressure that we all feel to continually make progress. Through this lens life is continuous motion – either forwards, or laterally initially with the goal of advancing in the near future.

The easiest way to satisfy this urge is through work. We strive for a career in a certain industry and we base our success on that of our peers, either at work or in our social lives. We see promotion and salary increases as progress, without giving much consideration to the destination. We spend far more time making sure we are seen to be moving that the destination almost becomes irrelevant.

And then it hits. The feeling of being stagnant.

Normally this is the time we become restless and strive for the next step just to keep moving. We seek to advance our careers and progress up the chain. In essence, to do what it takes to maintain the trajectory we have set for our life.

Keep busy, work hard, move forward.

But this time it was different. The thought of progression in my career wasn’t providing any sense of satisfaction. It dawned on me that I have spent so much time focussing on progression in my career that I haven’t taken the time to think about where I want to go and what I want to achieve.

Too much time?

If you have shared that feeling of being lonely and unfulfilled, and despite all the success you may have had in life there is still that unavoidable feeling of emptiness, a sense that you are yet to find your purpose, then it may be an indicator that you too have been focussed on the journey and neglecting the destination.

What better time than now to make a change! We all have more time on our hands to define our passions and dreams. We all have the ability to chase those dreams.

The direction of travel isn’t important. Life isn’t a graph, and you are not a business with “growth potential”. It’s about your destination – and as long as you are on your path that’s all that matters.

My journey began at the start of this year. Now in to month 8, I have identified my passions and defined my dreams. You guys are all sharing the journey towards that with me! It’s not easy, but I can promise you it is rewarding.

Remember to stop and appreciate the progress of the journey to date, and review the next leg of the journey ahead. You don’t need to be continually moving to be successful.

Have a good ‘un guys.

Posting Schedule

Having just written a post about not over planning, I appreciate the irony in this post now setting out a schedule for my future blog posts… however I will be practicing what I preach. Whilst the below provides an indication of what you can expect, it is by no means exhaustive!

notebook planning

Travel Tuesdays

Exactly what it says on the tin… Travel Tuesdays will cover a range of travel topics, such as;

  • In Depth Reviews / Cultural Discussions
  • Hints and Tips on Travel
  • Tier Lists
  • Top Travel Destinations
  • Bucket List Locations

Covering both UK destinations and those further afield, Travel Tuesdays has something for everyone. The reviews and discussion based posts at times focus on the importance of travel for mental health and me personally, whilst at others focus on important cultural topics of discussion with a positive lens wherever possible. Negative news stories surround us all on a daily basis – these posts add a dose of positivity to your daily reading!

Man looking over Lake Ohrid

Foodie Fridays

Fridays are the best day of the week, right?! The weekend is here, and its time to kick back and enjoy some brilliant food! Foodie Fridays will cover a range of topics, such as;

  • Restaurant Reviews – UK and Abroad
  • Viral Trends from Insta / TikTok – Hit or Miss?
  • Home cooking, including recipes
  • Dietary Discussion (including common diets of countries / regions)
  • Drink (of the non-alcoholic variety)

Foodie Fridays are eclectic mix of amazing food & drink (with some minor disasters along the way), beautiful restaurants and locations, with a healthy discussion around diet exploring how we eat around the world and the impact that food & drink has on us both physically and mentally.

sticky toffee pudding

Serendipitous Sundays

Sundays are the day of rest & reflection… and coffee. Sundays posts are on ever changing topics, depending on how I am feeling, what I have been doing and what is coming up! Topics include;

  • Mental Health
  • The Week That Was
  • Behind The Scenes
  • House Transformation / Progress
  • What’s Coming Up?

Sundays feature a mixture of written posts and vlogs of varying lengths – sometimes short and sweet, at others long and considered. Its the day of pot luck, to borrow an overused phrase from Forrest Gump,

…life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Forrest Gump, 1994

The topics are ever changing, but there will always be coffee. Lots of coffee!

cup of black coffee

Vlogging Anxiety…

I am curious – does anyone actually like the sound of their own voice on video? I can see its clearly me speaking, but it sounds like someone else has dubbed over my footage! I swear it doesn’t sound like me in real life… or does it?

man looking our over view Orrest Head
Photo by Sam, Pursuit of Purpose

Lights, Camera, Action!

Yesterday was my first day out filming footage for my upcoming YouTube debut video. I went back to my roots and explored the Lake District in North West England. I will be sharing some select snaps like the one above on my Instagram page!

For anyone who hasn’t been, I cannot recommend the Lakes highly enough – if you are planning a trip there or already have one booked and want any tips on where to go / what to see etc let me know in the comments below!

As this was a day trip, it meant getting up at 4.30am with locations and clips planned through until 9pm in the evening. Whilst a long day, it was 100% worth it! The weather was perfect, the locations were stunning and the footage actually came out pretty well!

Lights, Camera, Anxiety?

One thing became clear very early on in the day however was how much vlogging was increasing my anxiety levels… or more specifically listening back to my own voice on a recording was increasing my anxiety levels! It sounds so weird, and definitely not what (or at least not what I think) I sound like – so naturally I jumped on to Google to see what on earth was going on;

It’s because when you speak you hear your own voice in two different ways. … The first is through vibrating sound waves hitting your ear drum, the way other people hear your voice. The second way is through vibrations inside your skull set off by your vocal chords.

Greg Foot, BBC

So the reason we sound different is because on a recording we don’t have the vibrations of the skull… but that does mean that the recording is exactly how everyone else hears our voice! So whilst pretty relieved to discover there was science behind it, it didn’t help reduce my anxiety levels!

The long and short of it is, I am just not used to hearing myself talk on recordings. As most people do, I have taken thousands of photos and videos on my mobile phone over the years – but I have rarely heard myself talking on videos. To be honest, I have rarely taken ‘selfies’, never mind recorded videos of myself!

The Comfort Zone

As the day drew on, and once I had gotten over the initial shock of the strange noises coming from my mouth on the videos, I started to settle down and get used to the concept of speaking to the camera. I wouldn’t say I loved it – but I certainly felt comfortable in front of the camera by the end of the day.

It was the guys at Yes Theory who first introduced me to the idea that the greatest moments and deepest connections in life are outside of our comfort zones – and they are 100% correct. By the time I got home at about 11pm last night, I was absolutely wiped out, however I couldn’t sleep – I still had the buzz of excitement and achievement.

That buzz came from doing something new and exciting, it came from pushing past my increased anxiety, from breaking through the awkward and uncomfortable stage. It came from from moving outside of my comfort zone.

I highly recommend sitting down and thinking about the things you would like to do, but your anxiety levels or fears hold you back from. Why don’t you make a pledge this month to give it a go? What’s the worst that could happen…

Maximising Your ‘Dash’

From time to time we all get a sobering reminder of our own, and our loved ones mortality. It is something I have always struggled with, and ultimately feared. Why? Because I am not ready to go! There is so much I want to say, so much I want to achieve, to see, to experience. Life is delicate and time is not guaranteed, its about time we all started maximising our dash!

father and son
Photo by Sam @ Pursuit of Purpose


by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own; the cars, the house, the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.

To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile, remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?

Live In The Present

Its part of the human condition that we are forever planning the future and working for tomorrow and neglecting the present day. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, or even if there is a tomorrow – we all need to start living in the here and now.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), John Lennon

To Plan, Or Not To Plan?

Of course it is important to make plans and to have some form of structure – to know the desired destination – but let life grow and manoeuvre organically towards that end goal. That isn’t to say we should be passive along the way, some gentle, and maybe a few firmer, steers every now and again are likely to be required.

Are you a planner? Making sure every little detail is considered and planned for, every hour of each trip has a planned activity, every event runs to pre-set fixed agendas?

Naturally, I am. Knowing when to step back and to stop planning has been difficult, but finding that balance has been so rewarding.

Plan the big things, make a list of all the things you want to do – a bucket list of sorts! Make sure your life has direction and you are moving towards you goals, but leave room for happiness and enjoyment.

Your Dash

Ultimately your dash, your life, is just that – YOURS.

We spend so much time these days looking to please others, seeking validation or acceptance from friends, or even strangers on social media. Forget them. Step back for a second and think…

“Am I proud of how I am living my dash?”

We only get one dash, whether it ends up being a short story or a novel. So if the answer to the question above is no – consider what things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.

Clean Slate… Right?

Once you make a conscious decision to change, you often get a powerful gust of wind in your sails. The excitement of what is to come bubbles inside you, and you are more motivated than you have been in months, maybe even years. It’s a new dawn, you are starting over. But as those winds of change settle down to a gentle breeze, it’s easy to feel like you are losing yourself – the person people see you as, maybe even the person you see yourself as.

Photo by Sensei Minimal
Photo by Sensei Minimal

Change is never easy – if it was, the human race wouldn’t struggle so much with the concept. We often see our life choices as the things that define us, that make us who we are. Making changes to these things can often be short lived as after the honeymoon period we lose momentum and motivation.

This is where I have found myself the past couple of days. I know I want to make the changes and I know its the right thing to do, but as I sit in front of this blank page I am feeling a little lost. A world full of colour and excitement feels pretty grey and drab today. In this moment, it feels far easier to go back than to sit and stare in to the abyss.

So it got me thinking, when we strip back large parts of our lives and make changes, what are we left with?

The answer for me, is essence.

…the essence of anything is the thing that stays true about them in any situation. And the essence of a penguin is similar to the essence of me… penguins need each other. They look out for the good of the colony. And once a penguin decides to do something there’s no changing her mind. Because the essence of a penguin comes down to this: penguins live in abnormally harsh conditions and they never leave. They’re one of the few species that stays, struggles and perseveres.

Sam Gardner, Atypical

Essence is another slightly clichéd term, like purpose. But then, its clichéd because we don’t understand it, or embrace it. It’s easier to laugh at than it is to consider and appreciate it.

So here goes… My Name is Sam, and I am a penguin.

Ok, so I don’t identify as a penguin. I haven’t lost the plot just yet… but in all seriousness I do feel an affinity with the above quote from my namesake, Sam in the Netflix show Atypical (which, if you haven’t already, is well worth a watch). I need to be around other people, I look out for the good of my people, and once I decide to do something – like this – there is no changing my mind.

Yes, I am starting to struggle, so it’s time to dig in and persevere.

It’s ok to struggle.

Just as life in general, the process of change can be a bit of a rollercoaster ride at times. The highs are great and things seem easy, and the lows are shit and things seem altogether pointless.

So you’re not feeling it today? That’s ok.

You feel like giving up might be easier? That’s ok too.

Take a day off. Watch your favourite TV programme, or put on your favourite film. Order some food & eat your favourite meal. Play on your favourite game. Write an entry in your journal – or start one. Talk to someone if you need to – and if you don’t have anyone to talk to, talk to me!

Having off days is perfectly normal. Don’t lose hope. You got this!

Challenging The Stigma Of Change

I am a strong believer that all stigmas should be challenged and debated – and in modern society we are getting far better at challenging these preconceptions. Social stigmas surrounding mental health, culture, gender, sexuality are often challenged and rightly so – but the social stigma surround change, especially from those closest to us, is rarely discussed.

Photo by Matheus Ferrero
Photo by Matheus Ferrero



disapproval or discrimination associated with a particular circumstance or characteristic, particularly those that distinguish and individual or group from the rest of society.

We’ve all been there at some point in our lives, on both sides of this coin. Either the one on the receiving end, or the one of those people dishing it out. It’s often put forward as a joke, or banter (I will do a future post on my disdain for this word). Sometimes it is even badged as life guidance or advice. In rarer and more extreme circumstances it can even be manipulation or an intervention.

It’s that moment when you, or a friend / family member announces they are making a life change. Whether it be a new hobby, a change of career, becoming vegan, a new partner, moving home, moving country, and so on. In that moment, many supportive friends and family members will provide neutral or positive responses, some will offer encouragement, however there are always those dissenting voices. As I mention above, it will often be delivered as a joke aimed to belittle your decision or take the piss (poking fun, for any readers from across the Atlantic). Sometimes its instantaneous, other times its behind your back, or later down the line, but it always seems to crop up, and it always seems to be those people closest to us that deliver the gut punch.

When challenged on this, the defences will range from “come on, it’s a joke” to “well you’ve brought this on yourself, its a silly decision” to “look, all I am saying is, you might want to rethink this”.

Status Quo

But why the hell do they do it? To maintain the status quo. No, not the band… but rather the maintaining of the current situation. Although now I mention it, the lyrics to one of their greatest hits – Down, Down are rather fitting;

I want all the world to see

To see you’re laughing, and you’re laughing at me

Status Quo

See, if you change then it impacts the equilibrium for others. You aren’t the same person you were, and that is too much for some people to accept. Forget that you might be happier & healthier, the important factor for these people is that you aren’t the person you are today… and that prospect frightens some people.

Does this change mean you won’t see them as much? Potentially make new friends? Live further away? Do things they wish they could do? Be more successful? Find true happiness?

For some, those questions will strike fear in to their hearts. They look to a future where you are no longer giving them what you currently do, rather than thinking about how amazing the change could be for you.

Stand And Deliver

These attitudes and the stigma it has created are exactly what we need to challenge. Trying something new, whether we fail or succeed, is crucial to our happiness. We need to stand and deliver a robust response when people decide to joke about our life choices or belittle them in anyway, whether its our parents, siblings, our best friends, colleagues or anyone else for that matter.

If following challenge they aren’t prepared to provide support and take it seriously, then ultimately they don’t deserve to be a part of the future you. Who needs negativity and nastiness in their lives?

Also, shout out to those who noticed me take my musical references from the 70’s through to the 80’s here with Adam and The Ants…

A Little Respect

I’ve started, so I am going to have to continue… In to the late 80’s with Erasure. I may be a 90’s kid, but you’ve got to appreciate the classics!

To be clear, the above is not suggesting that we should have tunnel vision and be ignorant to everyone and everything around us. It is really important to have respect for those closest to us and their views. Healthy debate and challenge is great and helps us focus and make solid and informed decisions. But that respect needs to go both ways. There will be people around you whose views and advice you may want to consider, so engage with them, have that open and honest debate… but also set the ground rules.

It isn’t a chance to belittle you or your vision, but a chance to help you shape it. If they want to input in to your future, and you are happy for them to do it, make it an investment.

Who Do You Believe In?

I believe in you. You should too. Ultimately we either have to be prepared to take some risks, albeit calculated wherever possible, or accept the current situation. Whatever your decision is, back yourself. If you don’t, you can’t expect those around you to invest in your vision either.

It’s ok to stay where you are if that’s what makes you happy, just as it’s ok to make wholesale changes. Society seems to have an unwritten rulebook when it comes to these things. It’s time to tear that work of fiction up, throw it out of the window and write your own future.

Lets see who is on the ball with their musical references – for this last one its a song released in 1999. If you know the artist, drop the answer in the comments!

Why I Quit Drinking.

It is prime time summer, the pubs and bars are finally opening up properly again in post lockdown UK, the weather has been unusually warm, and the Euros are in full swing. Football may well be coming home, after 55 years away… so why on earth would I choose now to quite drinking? Why quit drinking at all?


A lot of these kinds of post can get very preachy and self righteous, so I will preface this post with a quick point of clarification – I am not writing this to try and make other people stop drinking. Neither will I be suggesting that people who do not drink are in some way enlightened or more intelligent than those who do, that simply isn’t true.

Why Quit Drinking?

In the UK, as I am sure in other nations, we seem to have this belief that there is an intrinsic link between fun, happiness and alcohol.

So over the last 18 months, I have completed 2 charity challenges to raise money for mental health charity, Andy’s Man Club and The Trussell Trust supporting a nationwide network of foodbanks across the UK. On both occasions, part of the charity challenge has been no drinking of any alcohol – for a combined total of 190 days. And I haven’t felt as good in years! Having an elongated period with no alcohol was amazing;

getting better quality of sleep – rising earlier, more refreshed

eating far healthier – lack of cravings for junk food / take out

increased energy – no energy dips later in the day

productivity through the roof – clarity of thought and output significantly increased

Yet on both occasions, following the end of the charity challenges, I slipped back in to old habits and found myself drinking on the weekends (or when the football is on). In more recent times, with lockdown restrictions lifting, I have been hosting BBQ’s for birthday parties, friend meet ups and so on… and who grills without a beer in their hand?!

In the past, I have genuinely enjoyed drinking, but having seen the positive impact it has on me when I stop, I no longer get any pleasure from it. If it’s not bringing any happiness, and it is having a net negative impact on my life, the only sensible option in my opinion is to get rid!

The Recovery Period

One of the key characteristics of my drinking habits in the last few years has been to not drink through the week, but then drink with the intention of getting drunk most weekends. It’s a habit a lot of people have, and one I am sure many of you can relate to. I was always the annoying one – never suffering from hangovers, and always fresh and spritely the next day. However what my friends couldn’t see, and what I didn’t want to admit was that whilst the after effects of the alcohol hadn’t left my clutching the toilet or unable to function, it would often have a huge impact on my mental health.

Alcohol is a depressant, and when its exiting your body and your brain is more conscious of its surroundings, it can wreak havoc. For me, that could manifest itself in a few ways, but often would lead to 2 or 3 days of feeling incredibly low. Beating myself up for wasting my weekend being drunk rather than doing something productive, feeling like I was was wasting my life. By day 4 I would be starting to level out, understand it was the after effects of the beer talking and looking back at the last weekend with rose tinted specs. By day 5 it was Friday and time to go again. And so the cycle continues…

Some people reading this may think that drinking to get a bit merry with your friends every weekend is absolutely fine & it may bring you ultimate happiness. I respect that. It’s just that for me personally, I no longer gain that happiness from it – it doesn’t give me purpose or fulfilment.

Why Quit Now Though?

Why not? If something like this isn’t bringing you happiness, it should be removed from your life as soon as possible. Yes, I am sure I will feel slightly gutted I am not drinking with my friends should football come home, as England win Euro 2020(1) – but I will feel a damn sight better the next day when I can remember each and every moment of the game.

As I embark on this journey, I need to clear the decks of distractions, remove anything that will hinder my progress. It’s time to focus on the goal.

Yes, you will still see the occasional post from me on my travels with a glass of wine with a meal or trying a local speciality drink – but the casual consumption is no more.

So here’s to weekends full of activities and memories, to watching the football with a can of Coke Zero, and to grilling with no beer!

I’m very serious about no alcohol, no drugs. Life is too beautiful.

– Jim Carrey

I have reached my limit. I have had some fun times, and some not so fun times along the way with it, but now its time to go our separate ways.

It’s not you, Beer… it’s me. I’ve changed.

Photo by Paul Skorupskas

Defining Our Purpose

Sounds a little silly, right? I am in pursuit of something that I am yet to properly define. It is really important to understand the journey we are looking to embark upon, and where / what we are aiming for before we take those first strides.



the intention, aim or function of something; the thing that something is supposed to achieve

The Oxford English Dictionary definition seemed a good place to start, but it leaves me with more questions than answers…

What am I supposed to achieve? How do I measure achievement?

What is my function / aim? How do I know when I have found my ‘function’?

What are my intentions? Are they sufficiently challenging and yet still realistic?

At what point does challenge become unrealistic?

And there you have it, an insight in to my thought process. Inquisitive and critical, methodical and frantic.

But if there is one thing I have learnt in recent times, it’s that it is ok to not have all the answers. If we did, life would be pretty damn boring! Part of this process is about discovery and learning.

I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.

– Socrates (via Plato)

Just to be clear, I am not professing to be the wisest of humans – but I do think this quote is an important one to keep in mind. The thirst for knowledge, information and answers can lead to us feeling inadequate when faced with questions about ourselves, and our purpose. When the internal google search returns no results, it’s hard to feel anything but inadequate and incredibly frustrated.

It is ok to not have the answers to internal questions, but it is also important we keep asking them!

Can I define my purpose?

Yes! It isn’t always about knowing exactly where you are going to end up or even the precise journey you are going to undertake. All I need to define at this stage are the traits that will define success for me.

The chances are throughout this journey I will take several detours and the final destination will move more than once! So no, I don’t know where I want to end up, but I do know the traits I am looking for;

Happiness – to wake up each day looking forward to the upcoming 24 hours, either because I am doing something I love, or because I am moving towards doing something I love.

Pride – to have a deep sense of pride in my work and in myself as a human being & to know that I am being the best version of me that I can be.

Achievement – to be able to see the tangible output of my efforts in both work and life.

Fulfilment – to combine happiness, pride and achievement will deliver a sense of fulfilment.

It all sounds a bit cheesy & clichéd, doesn’t it? Well sometimes it’s good to be a bit cheesy! I said at the start of this post;

It is really important to understand the journey we are looking to embark upon, and where / what we are aiming for before we take those first strides.

I might not know the exact co-ordinates of the destination, nor the route or method of transport, but I certainly do understand the journey I am embarking upon, and what I am aiming for.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

– Lao Tzu