sixteen

At the end of last year, I wrote a post about my 2015 goals, and how I did reasonably well with them, and about what I wanted to carry over to, or aim for, in 2016. You can go and find that post if you want, but I’m not linking to it from this post because I realised that I didn’t really try very hard at these “goals” this year.

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last year (#3)

This year has been huge. I mean HUGE. And in a good way.

I almost forgot about my “last year” post series. Basically, around this time in 2014 and 2015, I wrote posts reflecting on what I would/wouldn’t change about my life if I had just one year left to live. I’m essentially contemplating how I’d like to spend my “last year” of life. My priorities didn’t seem to have changed much from 2014 to 2015, but this year’s post might be different…

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last year (#2)

Occasionally, I like to look back at old posts to see what sort of stuff I wrote “back then”, or to see how my writing has evolved, or just to reminisce about old times. The other night, I had a look at the posts I published in September last year, and I came across this one about hypothetically having one year left to live. It has a list of things that I would not change about my life, even if I knew that I was going to die in exactly one year’s time.

I thought it’d be good to do a follow-up post on that one, just to see what’s changed. But, actually, I’d probably keep all of those answers the same. Of course, now that I’m writing a novel (attempting to, at least), I’d probably include finishing the novel in my list. Well, I already had a dot-point for writing, so it’d probably just be included in that.

Something else that I probably wouldn’t change (and that wasn’t on the list) is the amount of travel I do, which is very minimal. Actually, maybe I would (?) It’s hard to say. I mean, initially, I thought I’d mostly stay put so that I could spend more time with family and friends, but then I thought that maybe I’d want to take said family and friends on holidays elsewhere just because I can, and it’d be a nice sort of thank-you to them. But then there’s also the consideration of whether or not it would be better to not squander all my money, so that I have more to leave behind for the people I’m leaving behind.

Gee.. I think I’m overthinking this a little bit…

Ok, how about an easy one: I’ve been baking more this year, and that’s another thing I probably wouldn’t change. In fact, I’d probably bake more. I made shortbread this morning, which I’m pairing with a peanut butter chocolate ganache. And maybe strawberries on top. I’d continue to bake because it makes me feel happy, and it makes others happy, and, really, what more can you ask for? (Ice-cream, maybe, but that can be arranged.) Also, if I only have one year left to live, I’m not going to be counting calories (I don’t even count calories now).

If I had just one year left to live, I’d still listen to lots of music, I’d still learn the lyrics to all the songs I like, and I’d still go to concerts. Again, I’d probably listen to music more often in this one year scenario than I do now. Hmm.. Let me put some music on…

Ok, that’s better.

Let’s delve into something deeper: What would I change? I think this is the harder question to answer because you have to confront the things that aren’t quite right with life, or that aren’t as good as they could be. Ok, here we go…

  1. I would probably share this blog more. Maybe. Currently, I don’t really tell anyone I know in real life that I have this blog (I think I was going to write a post about this, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Maybe I’ll write it next week …maybe after I’ve tried sharing this blog with more people.) It’s not really a big deal either way, I guess…?
  2. I wouldn’t worry so much about getting enough sleep. Considering all the reading, writing, running, baking, etc that I want to do, there’s just no way I’d have time to sleep in or over-sleep. I’d give myself 7 hours max. – ok, maybe 7.5 to 8 hours if I’m really tired. Maybe I’d just start drinking coffee more often. Hmm… I’m sure 7 hours is fine. I’m keeping my moments of stillness, though.
  3. I would give more hugs. I love a good hug as much as the next person but I don’t tend to initiate hugs. Most of my hugs happen on some sort of special occasion, or if I’m with someone who especially likes hugs. Sometimes I feel a bit awkward about hugs, sometimes I sense that the other person feels awkward about hugs. But, according to something I read somewhere some time ago, physical contact (in the form of hugs, etc not, like, violent contact) releases oxytocin, which makes people feel good toward each other, which can’t be a bad thing, right? (Well, it potentially could be, but let’s pretend it’s all good.)

I have this belief that you need at least three things to make a list, so that’s all I’m going to write. That was actually harder than I thought because when I planned this post (in my head), I was just going to write about not changing things again. It was only as I was actually writing this post that I randomly decided to write about making changes, and then I had to sit here and think of three things I would change.

And now the pressure’s on. Will I make these changes? Will I remember to write a follow-up post from this one in approximately one year’s time?

I’m actually curious to know what other people would change / not change, so if you decide to make your own list, and feel like sharing, I’d be interested in reading/hearing about it!

last year

I read an article the other day about finding purpose in life. I read it partly because I was bored, and partly because I was a bit curious to see if it was actually going to offer some decent advice, as it wasn’t from any of the usual sites that people share articles from.

I don’t actually remember anything from the article (pretty sure this was over a week ago…) except the last question it posed: If you only had one year left to live, what would you do differently?

I thought that that was an interesting question. One year is long enough to accomplish something significant, but not too long that long-term consequences really matter. Of course, the assumption is that you’re practically invincible for this one, final year – otherwise, I (and I assume plenty of others) would probably become more risk-averse, and hence not want to do anything with high risk of mortality/morbidity.

But I didn’t really like how the question implies that most people would change a lot of things in their final year, so I created a converse question: If you only had one year left, what would you do the same?

Ok, so the original question is good for people wanting to re-focus on what’s really important in their lives, and for people who need a bit of a nudge to actually do the things that make them feel happy/inspired/fulfilled, etc. But sometimes you also have to recognise and appreciate the things that are already good. I found it more satisfying to ponder my question than the original one (although I have realised that the original question is an all-too-convenient excuse to buy things I don’t really need (but that’s arguable) and to eat more cake).

So, after some thought, I’ve put together a list of (some of) the things that I would not change if I knew I had exactly one year left to live:

  • Work: This is probably one of the things that people consider first when asked a question like this (along with questions about winning large sums of money). Maybe I’d move to part-time hours, but I’d still go to work – up until the last couple of months at least.
  • Run: I don’t think there’s much need to explain this. I like running. I see no reason to stop or reduce how much I run in this hypothetical scenario.
  • Read: I would still read novels, but perhaps just be more selective with which ones I read. One I’d definitely want to finish is Dickens’ “David Copperfield”. I guess that’s next on my reading list then…
  • Write: After having this blog for so long, I’d feel weird stopping it suddenly. Besides, despite the irregularity of my posts (timing, content, style, etc), I do like to write. I can’t imagine not writing for a year.

And, of course, there are several other things, but I reckon those are the main ones.