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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baseline changes

After posting my self-judged report card for 2015, I remembered that I’d actually written a post at the start of the year that was meant to be my baseline for this assessment.

I already addressed things like reading, fitness and CPD, but there were a few other items that I didn’t assess in that other post.

First things first: my only kind of “official” resolution for 2015 was to bake more. I don’t even need to think about this to know that I completed it successfully. Alongside cakes and cookies, I also made scones and brownies and truffles – so many truffles! (To be fair, truffles aren’t baked, but I still brought them in to work, so I’m gonna let them count toward the total – not that I need them to, and not that I’m actually counting)

I also had paragraphs about drinks: both the caffeinated and alcoholic varieties. I feel like I’ve been drinking coffee more often in 2015. Still not a daily or even a weekly habit, but more often the thought occurs to me, and I think “why not”. I still only drink flat whites. Still full cream milk, no sugar. I don’t think this will ever change, but I can be fickle sometimes, so who knows…

As to the other drink, I feel like 2015 has been a year for beer. I know a few friends who brew their own beers, and I’ve been to a few “tasting” events to try craft beer, and the variety is sometimes quite impressive. I think I’ve moved on from pale ales to IPAs and amber ales, and I do like the occasional chocolate or coffee stout.

In my baseline post, I also mentioned cycling. In all of 2015, I think I went cycling maybe twice, so that certainly hasn’t improved from 2014. I don’t have high hopes of it changing for 2016 either, especially now that I’m more inspired to run (particularly after reading Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running). But I’ve decided that this doesn’t matter. As long as I don’t let my fitness slide, it doesn’t matter.

hit the ground running

I can hear the NYE fireworks from my home. We’re not close enough or in a good enough position to be able to see them too, but that’s alright.

There seems to be an increasing trend of people not wanting to go out for NYE. Either that, or it’s just the people I know “getting old”. It seems that people just don’t care as much about New Year’s as they care about Christmas. Not that people stay out late for Christmas, but there’s more of an inclination to make some sort of effort to be around loved ones and celebrate. For NYE, however, a lot of people kind of just shrug it off as “just another night”.

I still like NYE. I might not go to parties or go out drinking or watch the fireworks, but I still like NYE. It’s the general vibe, and all the symbolism, you know?

It’s kind of interesting, though, that if there was some global (or even just national) consensus that the New Year would start on, say, the 1st of May, then April 30 would suddenly be a hundred times more significant. Yeah, I know, that’s kind of stating the obvious, but what if we decided to extend the length of one “year” to 24 months? Let the Earth do two laps of the Sun before we change calendars. The significance is not in the day itself, but in what it’s signposting.

Ok, enough waffling, let’s get serious (kind of).

I’ve been reading Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running this last month. It’s not really an autobiography, but a “running memoir” of sorts (or just a collection of his thoughts). I’m really enjoying it because, although he mostly writes about running, he also talks a bit about writing (in relation to running), and the whole thing reads like a blog, so it’s essentially combined three of my favourite things – running, writing, blogging.

I also like that it’s inspirational. Murakami kind of made it clear from the outset that he wasn’t aiming to teach others or inspire them, but I’m sure he’s achieved that anyway. At the very least, he’s inspired me. I’ve still got about 15 more pages to read before finishing it, but I feel like it was a good book to end 2015 on, and perfect for greeting 2016 with.

In this book (which I’m just going to refer to as Running because the actual name is too long), Murakami also talks about his training and preparation for running marathons and triathlons. When he talks about this part of running, he talks about pushing his body to the limits – to its limits. He also talks about his own character and how it suits running. And although he never talks about NYE (unless it’s in the last 15 pages that I haven’t read yet), Running inspired my choice of NYE activity: running.

Pretty much the only thing I deadset wanted to do for NYE was go for a run. In effect, reading about Murakami preparing for and running marathons really made me want to run. And to push myself to my limits.

The run was completed in the early evening (up and down one of my favourite routes along the river), and now I’m completely exhausted. But,  you know what, I feel fantastic. It’s a deep sort of satisfaction.

Ok, I’m probably way too exhausted to keep writing this right now. Can’t wait to write a post on Running when I finish reading it, though. Might even give it multiple posts.

2015 report card

Since it is suddenly the last week of the year, I thought I should probably get on with publishing some end-of-year type posts (or at least one such post).

I think 2015 has been a pretty good year overall. This is mostly because if I don’t think about it too much, mostly good memories float to the surface, and the rest of it is somewhere underneath. Well, I probably said the same thing about 2014, but I kind of feel like this year has been better. I mean, I can’t really think of any super significant events from last year (but, again, I’m not thinking super hard on this one because there’s no time for that!)

I already wrote a post earlier this month (partially) about my reading goals for the year, which I managed to accomplish satisfactorily (to my standards, anyway). Next year, I only want to read (at a minimum) four books: David Copperfield, Anna Karenina, Love in the time of Cholera, and Ulysses. I’ll try to read them in that order, and hopefully I don’t get overly side-tracked by other books and recommendations along the way.

Another goal I was quite happy with (surprisingly so) was fitness-related. I’d set myself the challenge of achieving a 3-minute plank …and by the end of October I was doing 4-minute planks …and twice in December I’ve completed a 5-minute plank (5 min 10 sec to be exact). I’m not entirely sure why this has been such an important goal for me, but I was pretty stoked to get to 4 and then 5 minutes. I’ll just have to keep increasing the goal incrementally on this one.

Unfortunately, I did not achieve my other fitness goal of running at least once a week (or fortnight at the very least) because, well, life happened. I’m going to forgive myself for this one, however, because I reckon my fitness hasn’t declined, and that’s always a plus.

Something else I didn’t achieve was taking at least three weeks of annual leave this year. I wouldn’t say I’m a workaholic, but I like my job, and I tend to just not think very much about taking holidays. Consequently, I have a lot of annual leave accrued, and I kind of thought I should use some of it. This year I’ve only taken two weeks off in total, but if you count my time in Rocky as a “working holiday”, then I’ve totally smashed this goal.

I wasn’t going to mention CPD (continuing professional development) because I haven’t gotten any CPD points this last month, and I’ve just been avoiding even thinking about it at all, and I keep telling myself that I can get back into it next year …but I actually did pretty well with CPD this year, so I figure it’s worth a mention. The minimum requirement was 40 points, so of course I set my goal at 80 points. And before too long – actually, no, it did take a long time – I had over 100 points. As proud as I am of this blatant nerdiness, I might reign in this goal for next year (mostly so that I can prioritise other things).

Last but certainly not least: my blogging goal. As always, I wanted to maintain my one-post-per-week minimum. WordPress stats tells me that, including this post, I’ll have posted 90 posts this year. By my maths, that’s two posts per week on most weeks. (It actually makes me wonder how it’s possible that I have had that much to write about.) Don’t think I will change this goal for next year, since a two-or-more-posts-per-week requirement sounds like too much pressure. But we’ll see what happens.

baseline for new beginnings

New Year’s Eve is an interesting time of the year. It’s kind of similar to Christmas, when everyone seems more cheerful and hopeful. The prospect of a new beginning seems to make NYE feel more special than other days. Although I’m of the opinion that you shouldn’t have to wait until NYE to think about what changes you can make in your life, I do appreciate that NYE is special.

I wanted to write a post about things that have changed or improved in 2014, but then I realised that 2014 isn’t very clearly marked out in my memory. There are things that may have been from 2014, or may have happened late 2013, or just some other random point in time; some of it just blurs together.

It’s fortunate that I have this blog, since I can sort of track certain developments through my posts throughout the year. But there are still things that, for one reason or another, I just didn’t write about, so I thought I’d also use this as a baseline entry of sorts – just something that I can look at come December 31st 2015, and more easily gauge my progress. Since I don’t really want to bore you with details of my life, I don’t mind if you skip this post altogether and find something more interesting to read.

I’m not one to really make New Year resolutions, but I do think about certain goals I’d like to achieve during the new year. This year, I had the idea of asking others for suggestions about good resolutions/goals that I could make, with the logic that if I don’t follow through with it, it’s probably because it was set by someone else. It’s sort of like an emergency exit, but don’t worry – it won’t stop me from trying!

Well, I didn’t end up asking many people (and not many of these people were forthcoming with ideas), but one of our interns suggested that I resolve to do more baking, provided that I bring my cakes to work. This is something that I’m actually open to doing, since I really only started any remotely serious baking toward the end of last year. And I only took one of those cakes to work, so surely it wouldn’t be hard to improve on that. A potential hurdle is that I don’t want to become “the person who brings cake to work” because then everyone will just expect me to bring cake for every occasion. Also, there are already people who bring cakes, etc, and I don’t want to compete with them.

In 2014, I read 12 books. I would say that I read only 12 books, but considering that I don’t actually spend that much time reading (or not as much time as I should, or would like to), I don’t read very fast, and I only finished eight novels in 2013, I reckon 12 is a good number for me. Granted, three of the 12 were pretty short (The Alchemist, The Little Prince, and Hyperbole and a Half (I know some people might not technically count that one)) but even if you take those three out of the equation, it’s still an improvement on 2013. This year, however, instead of aiming for a certain number (although, deep down, I really want to aim for 13+ novels), I want to try to focus more on reading the books that I own or have on loan from friends, rather than picking books up from the library, or buying more books.

Something else that I was pondering while sipping my NYE coffee, was when exactly I stopped drinking lattes, and instead started ordering flat whites. I feel like this change happened in 2014, but can’t be sure. I don’t drink coffee very often (maybe once every few weeks or whenever the fancy takes me (yes, you read correctly – weeks)) so it’s a bit hard to tell. And for the record: regular, full-cream milk, no sugar.

One drink preference that I know changed in 2014 is that of alcoholic beverages: if I feel like having spirits, I now avoid vodka in preference of gin. My experience with vodka is that it’s always mixed with something acidic (lemonade, orange juice, etc), which doesn’t make me feel great. G&Ts are much easier to drink. Note, however, that my alcohol consumption seems to have significantly decreased during 2014, and most of my drinks will be beers/ciders rather than more alcoholic drinks.

On the fitness front, I can’t remember the last time I went cycling (probably towards the end of winter?). I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get back into it again this year, but it’s definitely something that I’ve been thinking about quite a lot lately. I am, however, satisfied with my running (once a week, or at least once a fortnight) amongst other workouts.

We come now, as we inevitably must, to work and study. I’m in dire need of some revision, and hope to write up some quick reference notes this year. I’m also aiming for 80+ CPD points this year (more than the required amount), so it’s probably good that I haven’t committed to reading >12 books as well (I still need a social life too!) As for work itself, vigilance levels have increased to “constant”, and I cannot let it slip from there. Conversely, I think I should take more holidays this year, since I used less than two weeks’ annual leave in 2014.

Gee, this post turned out to be longer than I was expecting. I’m just going to stop here because otherwise I might keep thinking of random/unimportant things to comment on and set goals for, like snacking (need to stop buying muesli/nut bars when we already have 2+ boxes at home) or social media (if I have a positive comment to add, I should just add it – that’s what makes it “social”). I think I did ok overall in 2014 but, you know, time to focus on what’s ahead, which, right now, is bedtime. Goodnight!

hi there, 2014

Ok, ok, I couldn’t resist – I’m going to do a New Year-related post.

I’m still not sure, however, if I want to do a reflective 2013 post. It sort of feels like too much happened in 2013 but not anything drastically life-changing. Well, there were events of significance and memorable moments but no one particular thing that stands out (or I might have already written about them somewhere)

Anyway, I actually wanted to write about new year resolutions because I know many people don’t make any new year resolutions because (1) they know they won’t keep them, (2) they think resolutions shouldn’t be limited to New Years, and/or (3) they’re happy with how their life is already. I, personally, can relate to these, but presently I am of the opinion that new year resolutions are a good thing (at least in principle).

A friend recently shared (via Facebook) an article about achieving goals. I found it quite interesting. It was written by a guy called James Clear and was about how it’s better to focus on systems/processes rather than actual goals. I reckon new year resolutions made with this in mind would be easier to keep, and so, reason #1 wouldn’t be a problem.

I do agree with reason #2, but I do, of course, have a counter-argument. If you think about it, how often, during the course of a year, do you really stop and reflect on your life and think about what you can do to improve it? And I don’t mean the occasional (or regular…?) case of over-indulging that prompts a bit of guilt exercise, fasting, detoxing or other similar activities.

Well, I, for one, don’t think that I do this seriously or often enough. Although blogging is a pretty good avenue for reflection… Ok, forget the counter-argument. If you’re going to stick with reason #2 for not making a new year resolution, then at least have a blog or something.

Seriously though, I reckon the lead up to New Year is a good prompt for people to take a moment to reflect and grow, especially since everyone else will inevitably be talking about resolutions.

As for reason #3, if you’re truly happy with your life being exactly how it is, then that’s great. But the only thing better than being happy is sharing happiness, and surely the capacity for sharing happiness is limitless, so #3 is still a poor excuse.

And now, the big question: what are my resolutions? My primary resolution is to drink more water. I actually started this a few weeks ago but I suppose it’s official or something now. Basically, whenever I go to drink some water, I drink a bit more than I usually would. It might seem overly simple, but I know I don’t usually drink a lot of water (and, no, I don’t tend to drink any other beverages, except milk with breakfast). Plus, I’m hoping that this resolution will have flow-on benefits.