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.

heartbeat

What a start to the year… I think I might still be sort of recovering from the sleep deprivation from Monday night / Tuesday… Totally cannot get grasp how I wasn’t hungry at all the whole time (and most others didn’t seem hungry at all)even though I’d only eaten a burger and had some juice. Also really weird how I could be relatively alert and not sleepy, but once we got on the highway, I didn’t stand a chance (good thing I wasn’t one of the people driving…)

Ok, details, details… Went to The Spit down at the Gold Coast for sunrise (which we kind of missed by a few minutes but it was cloudy along the horizon so it didn’t really count anyway) and hung around on the beach for most of the morning.

Staying up practically all night, or even just getting to the beach at 4:30am, made the whole day seem really long. Seriously, when we headed off the beach at 10:30-ish (if I’m remembering correctly, which I might not be), it felt like it was at least early/mid afternoon rather than just mid-morning.

But it was heaps of fun, despite the tiredness and weird concept of time and unusual absence of hunger. I don’t think I went to any beaches in all of 2012, so it was pretty good being on the beach on the first day of 2013.

When we were driving back to Brisbane (at least I think it was on the way back…) ‘Summer Paradise’ (Simple Plan) came on (friend’s playlist, presumably shuffled). I’ve had it stuck in my head all day today, and possibly part of yesterday too. It seems like quite a fitting song for the occasion. It’s an awesome song either way.