It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am type-A. I am a planner. I am the organiser. I like lists and goals and ticking things off. This organisation tends not to extend to the management of my home – I am still only prompted to do my washing when I run out of underwear – but, in general, I like to keep my life and plans under control. If you met my parents, you’d understand why I’m like this. (Love you guys!)
With that in mind, I like the New Year. A chance to set goals. An opportunity to make plans and aims without seeming like a weirdo. I love it.
I don’t really think of my plans as resolutions, as such. If there’s something I want to change about my day-to-day life, like my diet or exercise routine or technology usage, I’d just do it there and then. The best time to change your life in small, meaningful ways is now.
But you know what ‘now’ is not the best time for? Every dream or plan or project you’ve ever wanted to attempt at the same time. I feel like everyone has a long list of things they want to learn, places they want to visit and experiences they want to have. It then feels intimidating trying to complete this list, so, instead of taking it one step at a time and slowly chipping away at our plans, we put it into the box of ‘someday’ and promptly never do any of it.
I don’t want to be like that. If possible, I want to actually do the things I dream about doing. And part of that, for me, is taking a couple of things I want do or learn or see and trying to make them happen in a specific time frame. A year seems as good as marker as any to use. I also think goals can be useful as motivation for one-off tasks that need doing. Rather than keep that task in the ‘someday’ box, I pop it into the 2019 box and it’s much more likely to get done.
As I mentioned in my 2018 review, my final year at Cambridge was particularly stressful and overwhelming. While the second half of 2017 was certainly less frantic, it was still a time full of uncertainty, where I graduated, found a job, moved to London and had to make real choices about commitment in what was still a relatively new relationship.
As I started 2018, things finally felt settled (though I would start a new (and my now current) job only seven weeks later but you’ve got to keep it moving somehow) and I wanted to capitalise on that with some FUN. Not so much large-scale fun, just creativity and being social and trying new things. It was a blast.
2018 goals: a review
Take 5 weekends away to Vienna, Prague, Dublin, Copenhagen & Brussels.
I knew I wanted to make travel a priority in 2018 so this seemed like a good place to start. I consider this a goal a big TICK, even though I went to some different cities than the ones I originally listed.
I hadn’t done a weekend trip before and so was woefully naïve as to the pricing of such escapades. When I put together this list, it was major, well-known European cities that sprung to mind. Of course, they also sprung to everyone else’s minds too, hence why they are typically super expensive places to visit.
It became clear quickly that not all of these places were going to be financially feasible. But goals, especially fun ones, should be nothing if not adaptable to the realities to life. I adapted. In 2018, I spent weekends in: Vilnius, Lithuania; Salzburg, Austria; Milan, Italy; Copenhagen, Denmark; Prague, Czechia and Wrocław and Kraków in Poland.
Some choices were dictated solely by cheap flights (*cough* Lithuania) and others were a mixture of cheap flights, places I really wanted to see – though I would go pretty much anywhere – family considerations and amazing pasta.
They were all great. I’m so lucky to be able to travel this much and happy to be making it a priority.
Read 52 books
Yep. Reading is another great love and I ploughed through books this year. I feel like reading is part of my continuing education and keeps my brain whirring all the time. I read 104 books in 2018 and it was totally worth it. Although I want to make reading a priority always, I do want to read less in 2019 to free up some of that time for other things.
Make a new friend
Is this one lame? Possibly. After graduating and starting work, making new friends became much harder than before. I want to always be open to new people as I just love my friends and always want more of them. I’m greedy for brilliant, fun, kind people.
While I don’t think I made any friends that I’m as close to as my long-time best friends from university and school, I do think I’ve made some lovely, lovely new friends in London. Work friends, friends of friends, Jake’s friends, reconnecting with old friends and getting to know people I knew peripherally at university better who now live in London. I hope I’m always open to new friendships.
Make 25 YouTube videos
I knew wanted to do something creative in 2018. Originally I thought of YouTube, because I love to talk (no surprises there) but I was a) terrified of sharing a YouTube channel with people and b) not sure about the platform in general.
Instead, I started this blog, though I have made a couple of videos this year too that are embedded in blog posts. My full-time work as writer made me remember how much I love to write, which made a blog the natural choice. Plus it’s a great way of sharing photos, something else I’ve been working on this year. Sharing this blog has definitely made me feel more bold in terms of sharing things online – apologies to anyone who is already sick of my opinions – so maybe there will be more videos in 2019, who knows?
In 2018, I wrote 39 blogs, most of them after September. I am super proud of the words I’ve written here and that I’ve put them out there for everyone to read. Definitely more writing in 2019. I’d say this one was done.
Do yoga & go climbing
I did both of these things in 2018, though not with any regularity (though that was never my aim). I have been climbing at my local climbing gym at couple of times and took a lot of yoga classes until the super cheap intro offer at my local studio expired. The main issue is that exercising in London is so expensive, and I’d rather spend my money on other things. I cycle everywhere and am generally active, so feel good about my current exercise levels. But I’m glad I tried a new sport with climbing and did some yoga, which I love.
Get my tooth fixed
Okay, so when I was twelve or thirteen, mere months after three years of braces came to an end, I smashed my front tooth with an enormous iron curtain hook while playing indoors with my brother. Devastated.
I spent the next 8-10 years with various temporary solutions – totally as a result of my own laziness – only getting the next temporary chip when the prior broke off, always at an extremely inopportune moment, leaving me missing my front tooth and feeling embarrassed.
I have broken my tooth on a peach pit, a brownie, a piece of pizza and a fork. Four separate occasions. The last incident, involving the piece of pizza, was the day before my second date with Jake and two days before our enormous post-boat race dinner in London at a swanky venue.
I needed a front tooth. The emergency repair cost a small fortune and definitely made clear that I needed a permanent solution as soon as possible. I had this recurring vision of breaking my tooth just before an important meeting at work. I’m pretty confident but even I would struggle to pull that off.
Voilà! A permanent veneer that means I can eat apples and corn on the cob and not worry that I’ll be resuming my role of Gappy the Limpy Pirate (don’t ask) any time soon.
Get my blade made
I just wanted to make sure I got around to this. My time rowing at Cambridge was extremely important to me and that victory remains one of the things I am most proud of. I knew it would be easy to never get my blade made so I wanted the reminder.
Check. Maybe in 2019 we’ll actually hang it up…
So those were my goals for the year. I also have plenty of work goals but that’s an official work process that does not need mentioning on my personal blog for fear you may all fall asleep.
I feel generally good about the way I spent my time and money in 2018, so this year I am hoping to expand on a lot of the habits and projects I started last year. Here are my 2019 goals:
Write 150 blog posts
Get published online (somewhere that isn’t here)
Complete my ‘Tower Bridge’ and ‘Square Mile’ photography projects
Improve my French & Polish (this may seem wishy-washy, and it is, but I will know if I’ve meaningfully improved or not)
Read 52 books (not 104!)
Earn some money freelancing
Sell or donate the things I don’t use
I’m sure plenty of other things will come up, as many of the places I visited and things I’ve done this year certainly weren’t on my radar at the beginning of January. But these are some of the things I want to make sure I get up to this year. Cheers to 2019! I hope it’s a great one.