It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving – Mother Theresa
We’re closing in on 2018, and following usual tradition, it’s that time of the year where I sit down to write my Annual Review.
I began writing my own Annual Reviews many years ago after being inspired by a writer I am fond of called Chris Guillebeau.
Since last year I now like to practice this process in public to give myself accountability, and to serve as a means to speak openly and frank about my life. That doesn’t just mean the happy and fulfilling moments, but also my struggles and hardships, because I believe this is where the real opportunity to learn is often found.
My hope is that you’ll enjoy reading my Annual Review, and perhaps it will inspire you to grab a pen and start writing your own. And, if you do decide to write your own, I’d love to take a read, so be sure to let me know.
Reflection on 2018
Personally speaking, 2018 was a year defined by simplicity and subtraction, becoming laser-focused on the things in my life that are important to me, and just as crucially, the things that are not.
As a result, this change in perspective has opened much more space in my life. I feel that I’ve grown and learned a lot through 2018, especially with the way that I manage stress. The first year of running
As I wrote in last year’s Annual
12 months on, I can say that decision proved pivotal, and it led to an intense learning curve in trying to understand how to manage, delegate and lead to tie everything together in a 15 person team, with a collective responsibility of managing the experience of up to 60 guests between both
Again, travel was a big part of my 2018. I attended a dozen or so hospitality and self-development conferences, and also spent my month off (aka “clarity month”) walking my 4th Camino in Spain – this time the Camino Del Norte – a 900km pilgrimage from Irun,
Finally, closing out summer in the 3rd quarter of the year was the most special part of the year for me as we hosted our second Podstel Annual Gathering. It was a week spent with 75 friends & family from 25 countries, including two of my Secondary school teachers, Mr Barber and Mr Bell. We spent 5 days or so together, everyone getting to know each other while enjoying events, workshops, activities, and good food. The 5 days were magnificent and this confirmed that having a place to bring friends together from all over the world is one of the best parts about having our own space and working in the hospitality industry.
Key Moments of 2018
I believe that travelling is one of the best ways we can way learn & grow. As a result, I regard travel as one of the most important priorities in my life, and it was a big part of 2018. My time travelling can be split into both events & conferences and personal travel.
Events & Conferences
Hostelworld Conference – Jason and I flew to Dublin at the end of January for the Annual Hostelworld Conference. It was a fantastic event, catching up with friends and fellow hostel owners from the industry, and while we were there we picked up the award for Best Hostel in Romania 2018 for Podstel Bucharest.
I also got
After the conference, I headed up to Northern Ireland to stay with my good friend John Paul Conway for a week who I met while working in Australia at the very beginning of my travels back in 2012.
Franchise Convention London – Since our mission is to grow Podstel through franchising, in February I flew out to London to join The Franchise Show, an annual convention which brings together franchise operators and enthusiasts from all different industries to share knowledge. It was very insightful with many big firms like McDonalds, Hilton and Subway representing. I learned a lot about the process of franchising, made some useful connections in London while also having a few days at the end of my trip to catch up with good friends. Also a big thanks to Ioana, my dear friend from Romania, for hosting me in London!
Hostelskills – In 2018 we attended two Hostelskills conferences. The first was in Krakow during April, and it was awesome to catch up with the community again, with this event usually attracting smaller independent hostel owners. A big thanks to Pim & Asia for hosting us at The Woodpecker Hostel too – what an awesome cosy place they’ve built together.
After the event, and to shake things up in true Podstel fashion, we turned our trip into a bit of an adventure, hitchhiking our way back to Bucharest. It was a
The second Hostelskills conference was held in Lisbon in October, and this time we were representing and speaking. Ambrose presented on behalf of the
Tbex Ostrava – In July, I flew out to
LifeHax – A Bucharest organised event hosted by a couple of good friends of
Power of Storytelling – I believe that storytelling underpins everything we do in life, so when I saw this event being hosted in Bucharest, I was keen to participate and learn how to tell better stories. My biggest takeaway point was that I have a lot of room to grow as a storyteller, but to do that I need to switch my trajectory and dedicate more time to writing and speaking, which is one reason I decided to commit to writing 500 words a day on a theme of my choice (more on that below).
TEDx Bucharest – A wonderful 2-day event with 20+ speakers with stories and ideas to share. A good friend of mine, Steven D’Souza, was speaking, so I was there to support him, and he rocked the stage with his talk about “The Paradox of Not Doing”. I was fascinated by a couple of the talks, but the biggest take away of the event came from a talk by UN Ambassador for Romanian, Laura
Istanbul – In April, Julia and I visited Istanbul and stayed with Ezgi – one of
Sister’s Wedding – In June I flew back to England for Laura & Rob’s wedding with Julia joined too. It was great being
The wedding was lovely with all our crazy family coming together, even my father… For many years my sister has a sticky and painful relationship with our dad because of his alcoholic past and his neglect in our upbringing so of course, she was sceptical to invite him. I used to feel the same, but several years ago I came to peace with everything and decided to let go. I knew that Laura would regret not inviting him in many years to come, so I persuaded her to give him a chance on the condition that I would be responsible for him (she was worried about him drinking and ruining her day).
After much persuasion, she decided to let him come, and even though the day before her wedding she went back on her decision, I managed to convince her that it was going to be ok and I brought dad along with me on the basis that he would be on his best behaviour. And indeed, as I hoped, dad was well behaved and Laura had a great wedding.
I am very happy that Laura married Rob – he’s a great man and they’ve built a lovely little family together. But one of the happiest moments of my year came as we were leaving the wedding at the end of the night. Laura came up to my dad and gave him a big hug and thanked him for coming. She also said that she wanted him to see his Grandchildren again and spend time with them, which in my eyes is a huge step forward.
Confirming my belief that anyone can change, I believe that holding on to wounds from the past, anger or grudges causes much unnecessary pain and suffering. No doubt, pain takes time and experience to heal, but love and forgiveness is the only way through.
Camino Del Norte – Straight after Laura’s wedding, I flew out to Spain for my yearly tradition of taking off a month to walk in solitude (aka a “clarity month”). During this month, I simply walk, write, read and connect with people I encounter on my journey.
But this journey was extra special because I got to walk the first ten days with my best mate Joe, who I went travelling with for the first time to Australia 6 years ago in 2012. Those 10 days were like walking alongside a brother,
When Joe left I walked on alone which I was also excited about. I’m pretty independent and I enjoy being alone, especially if I’m walking in nature. And my gosh what a beautiful walk it was. 900km’s across Northern Spain passing through gorgeous coastal towns like San Sebastian, Bilbao, Santander, followed by a picturesque journey through the Primitivo mountains, then finally winding down into Santiago de Compostela.
I walked for 30 days straight, and I wrote every single day, journalling the raw thoughts from my mind and posting them publicly on social media. My key takeaway from my walk was that gratitude, giving, and helping others by doing what I love is my path going forward.
I’ve walked 4 Camino routes now, and each one has had a big impact on my life, so much so that I will be walking again in May 2019. I’ll be walking the Via De La Plata, which is the longest Camino route in Spain at 1,0007km, and also said to be the walk with the most solitude.
Romania – Romania is a beautiful country and I made a pledge to myself at the start of 2018 that I’d see more of the country during the year. And that i did. I went on a 2-day hike with Sam to explore the Bucegi Mountains. It was awesome. We had great weather, and since our life and relationship had been pretty business focused since we’d arrived in Romania, this was an excellent opportunity to switch off from
During 2018 I also travelled along the famous Top Gear road – the Transfagarasen
I finished off my travels in Romania with a trip to Brasov with Paulo, my dear friend from Brazil,
Bulgaria – At the beginning of 2018 I found out that my legendary Secondary School Teacher and Head of Year, Mr Barber (now known as Keith – it still feels weird calling him by his first name), had bought a summer house in Bulgaria and was living there.
He’s done a great job with his summer house, but more important than that, Keith is a wise man, and it was great listening to his life experiences, stories and catching up with one of few teachers both Sam and I looked up to as a role model in Secondary School. We’ll definitely be taking more trips to Bulgaria to visit Keith, and he’s also going to come back to Bucharest and stay again in 2019.
Germany – My final trip of 2018 outside of Romania, was a trip down memory lane to Leipzig. For those who are unaware, Leipzig is where Sam, Jason and I tried to set up
Leipzig feels like home for me and I’ll be visiting more often now too. I was there for a week, and asides from a very special Vivaldi concert, it was a lot of living the simple life which I enjoy – we cooking, going on walks and visiting friends and family.
Best Hostel in Romania Award – In January 2018 we received an award from Hostelworld for the “Best Hostel In Romania”. I am very proud of the whole team since this award was achieved in our FIRST year running Podstel Bucharest. Our rating for the year was 9.7/10, and we received about 500 reviews. A big thank you to all the guests who stayed with us!
As it stands, we’ve kept up the high standards and we’re on to receive the award again this year, but results will be revealed in January 2019. Fingers crossed!
The first couple of months were incredibly tough juggling 3 businesses at the same time. But now I am glad to say that we are well above water and everything is running smoothly at both
Podstel Annual Gathering 2018 – At the end of September, 75 people from 25 countries joined us for our second gathering in Bucharest. There were many beautiful moments, but the stand out memory for me was our 30 person group hike to Mt. Omu in the Bucegi Mountains of Romania – what a great team effort all round despite the weather! It was also incredible that two of our ex-teachers, Mr Bell and Mr Barber, from the secondary
Automation & New Team Members – Since 2018 has been a year dedicated to managing, delegating and leading, we realised it was time for all of the managers to step away from the day-to-day operations running
So I’d like to thank our new superstars Dragos, Mihail, Iolanda and Hitesh for joining the team and all their hard work so far. Having staff running the day-to-day operations at
Teamwork – In the middle of 2018, we noticed we were all working way too much feeling like machines with one day drifting to the next. I hate to ruin the dream, but running a couple of hostels
3 Years No Alcohol – April 12th marked 3 years of no drinking alcohol, which was monumental considering that just several years back I couldn’t imagine living a weekend without alcohol. Life’s a lot different now, and I can really feel the positive effects of quitting on my health, mindset and body. This will continue indefinitely!
Quitting Processed Sugar – I spoke about my problem with sugar in my 2017 Annual Review. I’d realised that sugar had a big hold on me. I could polish off a big chocolate bar in minutes. I was addicted and it was something I needed to address. I’ve found it difficult to quit in the past and stay consistent, but this time was different, using the affirmation and experience of quitting alcohol gave me the power to take control. So I quit chocolate and processed foods all together. No fizzy drinks either. It’s been months now and I’m still going strong, and my mindset is thanking me for that.
Quitting Running To Compete – I wrote in last year’s Annual Review that I wanted to beat my personal best in a half-marathon. In May, after 6 months of training, I achieved that and ran my fastest half in 1 hr 25 mins, which was 13 minutes faster than my previous personal best.
I was then scheduled in to run the Marathon in October but during the
Writing 200,000 Words in less than 5 Months – Probably the biggest breakthrough of 2018 came with my hobby of writing. I’ve struggled with consistency and procrastination towards writing for years, and I couldn’t fathom out why.
Even though I’ve kept journals for most of my adult life, I have long dreamed about writing as a profession. I get into it for a little bit and then I lose the enthusiasm and the consistency drifts away. But in August 2018 I decided that once and for all that I would commit to writing 500 words every single day whether I felt like it or not. Wake up, pick a theme and write. That’s it.
Since August 9th 2018, I’ve written about 200,000 words which is the equivalent to about 3 books. I know great writing is not about quantity, but I realised that consistency and repetition is crucial in the early stages of forming a habit. Once I nailed the consistency of the habit of writing (it took about 2 months), I focused on
I’ve established that writing is very important to me and I see it as a form of therapy, so this may be a tall order, but I am confident in saying this: I am committing to
You can hold me to that.
Braces – I got braces! Although this decision came 15 years too late, it was about time since there was a tooth that was protruding and crowding my mouth which would bleed and cause discomfort every time I brushed. When I was younger I cared a lot about what people thought about me and I was very afraid to get a brace. So although it’s just getting braces in your mouth, it means a lot more to me and shows that I’ve come a long way from that insecure
I’ve had the braces in for about 3 weeks now and they took a bit of getting used to. I bought the Damon System and the whole treatment plan worked out at about €1,500 for the two years, including appointments, which is about 1/5 of the price I could expect to pay in the UK. My teeth have already started moving and I can’t bite with any of the front teeth which is annoying. I also have to wear elastics and I must’ve swallowed a lot of rubber now with forgetting to take them out before I eat.
I now have to take extra special care of my teeth, and I’ll have the braces on for two years. Learning how to look after your teeth is interesting with braces. I was advised to buy an electric toothbrush and a water flosser which turned out to be both game changers. I realised how much I neglected caring for my teeth as a kid and how inconsiderate I was as a young adult too, but luckily everything is OK, and considering I don’t eat any processed sugars anymore, it’ll be much easier to look after my teeth going forward.
Things I Want to Work On
Finishing What I Start – I say this in relation to completing my book project. I’ve been procrastinating on writing my book for 3 years now. It comes down to my resistance towards writing and probably a bit of fear of being judged too. However, my ritual of 500 words has slowly shifted my thinking and perceptions towards writing, which has had an incredible
I used to believe it was difficult to write 500 words but I’ve established it’s not as hard as I thought. It takes about 15 minutes each morning so there’s no excuse but to show up and write my book. I’ve now shifted my daily 500 words to writing my book and it’s going well. Granted Podstel took my attention for the last several years, but now that the business is in much better order so there’s no excuse, and my plan is to finish my first book and have it published by September 2019.
Attention – I have tried a lot to protect my attention from unnecessary meetings, notifications, social media and all kinds of junk that
Obsessive Working – I’m slowly beginning to see the fruits in relaxing and taking time off to do nothing. I still grapple with the constant urge to be productive, and I don’t know where it comes from. I used to be on the side of the narrative of “hustle” and “grind” at all costs, but now I realise that’s a sure path to burn out. For me,
Public Speaking – I’ve shied away from public speaking for the past years because I don’t like to be in the spotlight, or when all the attention is on me. I also get nervous as well, but now it’s time to confront it. I want to become a more articulate speaker and I’ve been using Instagram stories to document my life as a means of improving my ability to speak and improvise in front of the camera.
I’ve improved a lot too, and in confidence as well, because several years back I wouldn’t speak in front of a camera. So 2019 means more personal documenting, interviews, and speaking in public. I am also interested in hiring a speaking coach, so if you know anyone who has helped you, please put them in touch.
Realisations from 2018
Stories – Our mind and what we believe is a collection of stories we’ve been told (or told ourselves), and some of these stories are helping us grow and some of them are hurting us. We must realise that everything we know, even ‘truths’ are subject to interpretation.
With this in mind, we must be very careful with the stories we tell ourselves. For example, if I say to myself I’m not a morning person, what kind of behaviour do you think is going to manifest in my life? The promising part is the other side, though, because you’re just one moment away from telling yourself a new story that motivates, inspires and encourages you to change.
Everything I believe to be true is subjective and simply my take on the given the stories and information I’ve consumed over my life of 28 years on this planet.
Running a Business – I wish I learned this earlier but saving a bit of money and not employing staff to run the day-to-day operations of your business is not a good game to play. You become drowned in the operations and can never find time to grow your business. When you do find
This is the downfall of most small independent business owners. Instead, unless you see yourself having fun as a career as an employee inside your own
Communication – Effective communication and our ability to articulate ourselves well in writing, reading and speaking is the skill of the future. Healthy relationships, thriving businesses, or making a difference in the world – it all comes down to our ability to articulate ourselves.
Journeying – I have become fascinated with the idea of going on a journey as a form of self-improvement. I believe that one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves in life is time to get to know ourselves and one of the best ways to do that is to go on a journey of self-discovery.
Higher Self & Lower Self – Two hats are sitting on your shoulders – the higher self and the lower self – and we get to choose between them with every decision we make. The lower self is obsessed with things like violence, negativity, speaking about others and self-pity, whereas the higher self is wise, humble, peaceful and keeps you in check. The higher self is concerned with traits of gratitude and growth and self-improvement. But most important of all, remember that with every decision we make, we get to choose which hat we put on our heads.
Gratitude & Serving Humanity – After much reflection, particularly while walking the Camino, I have realised that I am here to help others. I am here to help
Looking Forward to 2019
Conferences – I will attend a small informal hostel gathering in Rome, Italy at the start of January, followed by the Hostelworld Conference in Dublin. I will also be at ITB in Berlin in March and then
Walking the Camino – As I wrote above, I will be heading back to Spain to walk my 5th Camino – the Via de la Plata. It’s a 1,000km route and I will walk out of Seville on May 15th for a month, heading north towards Santiago. It’s going to be hot (40
Personal – On a personal note I am happy, healthy and fulfilled right now. Content is complacent so I like to describe the state as “ambitiously content”. April will mark 4 years sober, and I want to continue taking time to look after the fundamentals of sleep, exercise, eating healthily and nurturing deep and meaningful relationships with fewer people because I believe that these things are the foundation to living a happy and healthy life. I want to continue learning German and have
I believe that this year has been a powerful awakening for me in realising a deeper purpose to give my all to help other people. I’m not sure how and what form it will manifest itself in yet, but I it certainly feels right to dedicate my life to serving humanity.
It’s been a beautiful year with many experiences, learnings, and realisations, and I am ready for 2019.
It’s time to spend New Years with the rest of the Podstel family and I hope to see as many of you in 2019.
Before I leave, i’d love to finish on a question for you in hope that you’ll also write your own Annual Review:
What was 2018 like for you and what’s in store for your 2019?
I’d love to hear your comments & feedback, and if you decide to write your own Annual Review
Have a great New Years,
Daniel Beaumont, 28th December 2018
About the Author
Hello everyone, I’m Dan – a 28-year-old social entrepreneur and writer from the north of England, living in Bucharest, Romania. I’m currently writing my first book about my 4-year journey around the world seeking wisdom and life-lessons from everyday people I met hitchhiking and Couchsurfing.
I discovered that travel, if approached with the right mindset, can be life-changing, and a trip combining travel, purpose and introspection is a great way to learn, challenge oneself and change for the better. Now my mission in life is to share what I’ve learned to inspire others to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and use travel, entrepreneurship and technology as a means to make the world a better place.
I’m also the founder of Podstel – a vision to help humanity belong and grow by creating a worldwide network of ‘homes’ that bring locals and travellers together to share their stories, passions and skills. The first two Podstels are open and thriving in Bucharest, so if you’re passing through, be sure to come and say hi, or stay the night with us.
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