15 Things I Learned In 2015


It’s been just over a year since I came back to Melbourne after a major life change. You may recall – in February 2014 I left a promising career in architecture to travel and pursue my passion, eventually starting my own business training people in public speaking, communication and development.

2014 was an insane year of travel, adventure and personal growth for me. But when I returned to Melbourne, I was not in a good place. I was in denial at being home. I wanted to go back to the USA. I felt lost, stuck, unsure of myself. I even started applying for jobs overseas – anything to leave home again.

But I kept my chin up, stayed positive, connected with people and shared my ideas. And slowly but surely, I built new networks, developed my business model and, importantly, fell back in love with Melbourne.

If 2014 was about adventure, 2015 has been about growth. I’ve come a very long way in the past year, and I am incredibly proud of myself and my achievements.

In keeping with the ‘things I’ve learned’ posts I did in 2014 and 2013, here are 15 things I’ve learned during what has been a whirlwind 2015.

1. Quitting coffee IS possible

After a failed attempt in late 2014, I managed to kick my caffeine addiction during the 8-week CrossFit-U Winter Challenge. I honestly didn’t think I could do it AND remain a functioning human being, but it turns out…it is possible! I’ve gone back to drinking coffee occasionally, but I don’t depend on it to get me through my day.

My tip if you want to quit? Don’t go cold turkey. You will want to kick a small child. I switched to decaf a couple of months before I cut it out completely.

christina canters quit coffee caffeine withdrawals twitter

2. Jumping out of a plane isn’t as scary as doing stand-up comedy

I guess I’m like most people, in that 
the fear of public ridicule is greater than the fear of plummeting to my death! See my skydive video below.

3. CrossFit gives you an unfair advantage

I’ve been doing CrossFit for almost 3 years now. I can do strict pull-ups, I can walk on my hands, and I can power clean 55kg. I’m definitely a lot stronger than I used to be. And not only does it help when carrying bags at the supermarket, it fast-tracks my skills in other activities.

For example, I recently took a break from CrossFit to do 8 weeks of pole dancing. Most girls who start pole need to repeat levels 1 and 2 because they simply don’t have the strength to support their body weight. But not me!

For me, it was simply a matter of co-ordination. Not to say it was easy, of course! But it did make the activity a whole lot more enjoyable (sorry, no pole videos for you today :P)

I had similar experiences when doing things like Bikram yoga and rock climbing. So if you’ve been CrossFitting for a while, I highly recommend you try out some other activities that require strength. You may be surprised at how much ass you can kick!

4. The 6 human needs

I learned this from Tony Robbins at the ‘Unleash the Power Within’ event (where I walked on hot coals). The 6 needs are: certainty, variety, significance, love/connection, growth and contribution.

Everything we do (good or bad), we do because it meets one or more of these needs. And when something meets 3 or more of these needs, it becomes addictive.

Why do you think CrossFit is so addictive? You can be certain the session will go for an hour and you’ll get a good workout. There’s variety with a different workout every time. You’re training with others, which gives you connection. You grow, as you lift heavier or get your pull-ups or double unders (both emotionally and physically!). And if your fellow CrossFitters congratulate you on your awesome lift – well, that makes you feel pretty significant, right?

If you have a bad habit (like smoking, lying to your partner, overeating etc), think about which of the 6 needs it’s meeting. And if you want to stop that habit, it’s important you replace it with something else that meets those same needs.

5. How to housesit…long term

I managed to live mostly rent-free this entire year. I did a combination of house sitting for friends, as well as a 7 week stint pet sitting in Brunswick. That gig I found on Trusted Housesitters. Plus, I asked around and when friends were travelling for 3-plus weeks, I’d stay in their room and pay them a negotiated amount to help them out with rent. It’s been awesome! Great way to save money when you’re starting a business 🙂

6. Working from home makes me want to kill myself

As a raging extrovert, I need to be around people if I want to be productive and happy. Some people love working from home, but I found myself still in my pyjamas at 6pm, wondering where the time went and if I was going to make contact with another human that day.

So in July I joined Hub Melbourne, a co-working space in the city. It’s like my second home. I pay a monthly membership fee, and I work whenever I want from any of their flexi-desks. The people are great, the space is beautiful and I can host client meetings there. So good.

If you’re in Melbourne, come and visit! We’ll do a co-work jam session 🙂

7. If an old tone-deaf man can busk on the street, so can I.

Out of all the crazy things I’ve done this year, nothing seemed to get the attention of my friends more than my performance on the streets of Melbourne with my ukulele. Busking was a major comfort challenge I set myself, and I documented the experience on the podcast here.

It was something I had NEVER considered doing, but when I saw an old man singing terrible karaoke songs on Lygon Street, I thought ‘If he can do it…I can do it!’

And if I can do a crazy comfort challenge…so can you 😉

8. What’s a profit and loss statement

This year, I did the NEIS program, a government incentive that supports new business owners. You do a Cert IV in Small Business Management (I did mine at RMIT), and they give you mentoring and some financial support for 9 months after the course.

Before doing NEIS, I had only focused on the business things I found ‘fun’ – the marketing, content creation etc. And I blissfully ignored the financial side. But doing the program forced me to sit down and learn about things like profit and loss, balance sheets and cash flow. And now I get it! It’s important stuff to know, and I’m glad I can now look at the spreadsheet without my eyes glazing over.

9. If you want to BE something, just DO it anyway until someone takes notice

Want to be a professional writer? Start a blog and show us your skills. Want to be a singer? Record yourself and put it on YouTube. Want to be a voice over artist? Start a podcast (hehe).

You don’t need anyone’s permission to create the stuff you want to create. You don’t need to wait to be ‘discovered’ or have someone pay you to do the things you love. Just frickin’ do it.

I’ve been presenting videos on my YouTube channel for a while now – and what do you know? I’ve since landed myself some TV presenting work. Woo hoo! But that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had the experience of speaking and presenting and making my own videos. Does that make sense?

10. Where to get the best sushi in Melbourne

Go to Southern Cross Station. There’s a Woolworths on the second level (yeah I know, hear me out). Go in to the Woolworths. There’s a full sushi bar there. It’s super fresh, they do brown rice sushi, fresh soft shell crab sushi, plus they can make it on the spot for you. Yum!!

11. My movie knowledge is embarassingly lacking

During a recent lunch room discussion, I admitted to my co-work colleagues I hadn’t seen any of the original Star Wars movies. I was met with a stunned silence and looks that said ‘we-can-no-longer-be-friends’.

To avoid any further social ostracism, I’m taking action on my movie education. Here’s what I’ve watched recently: Star Wars (the new one), Pulp Fiction, Stand By Me, Aliens, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Usual Suspects. 

On the to-watch list are: Star Wars IV, V and VI, Terminator 1 & 2, all the Indiana Jones movies, The Lobster, Ghost (for Patrick Swayze’s haircut), Shawshank Redemption, Taxi Driver, The Godfather, Goodfellas, Spirited Away…and the list goes on and on and on. Any more I should add? (Just comment below)

12. No one can MAKE you feel emotions

We CHOOSE to feel what we feel. You can just as easily choose to feel happy or choose to feel frustrated or angry. Next time you’re about to say “He made me so angry” or “I’m so annoyed right now!”, say instead “I chose to get angry” or “I’ve made a decision to feel annoyed right now!”

See how it changes things? It makes you responsible for your emotions, and this means you’re in control.

13. The concept of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ energy

This was a lightbulb moment for me. We all have both masculine and feminine energy, and we ‘come into’ those energies depending on the situation. I learned that since starting my business, I project a very ‘masculine’ energy, that is – strong, decisive, confident – through the way I speak and present myself. But this is not ‘true’ to who I am, and I was also bringing this energy into my relationships, which isn’t healthy. So I’ve been working on coming more into my ‘feminine’, and show a softer, more vulnerable side.

I could go on about this in more detail – but maybe I’ll leave that for a future post.

14. For the greatest chance of success, become MORE of who you are

I used to think that to be successful in business, I needed to be super slick, polished and professional – because that’s the type of person people want to work with, right? But according to Sally Hogshead, founder of How To Fascinate, to be truly successful, you need to discover what makes you fascinating to others, and do more of that, because that’s what makes you stand out and communicate at your best.

Her personality test revealed I am artistic, unorthodox, and bold. Which I already knew. But I discovered that this is why people like me. This is why people follow me. And why they hire me. And if I want to reach higher levels of success, I need to become more of this. 

Discovering this was a revelation for me. Having permission to be more of myself? Yes please!

15. Know your values and stick to them

This semi relates to number 14 above. I had an experience this year where I got extremely confused – I was supposed to carry out a certain task, but I just couldn’t do it. And for a while, I didn’t know why. It wasn’t the difficulty of the task. It wasn’t the money. It wasn’t me being lazy.

I eventually realised there was a gross misalignment between my values and the values of the people asking me to do the task. They just did things differently to me. And that’s why it couldn’t work. Now, when I’m presented with an opportunity, I make sure that person has similar values to me. Otherwise working with them is going to be uglier than a toad in a blender.

…and those are 15 of the many many things I learned this year. Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom – you rock! Enjoy the last few hours of 2015, and I’ll see you bright and fresh in 2016!

Stay classy,

Christina xx