I recently came across a Twitter post – courtesy of Kim Murray – that outlined a number of goals for the coming year. It struck a chord with me. Her own goals were very cool to read, and I thought it would be an interesting task to attempt myself. I have previously set New Year Resolutions but they were more of a wish list than a goal. A goal, to me, is more set in stone. A tangible target that requires a plan of action to achieve it. I initially found this quite challenging. Most people think about doing something more, or less, and I guess the table used for this task is essentially about doing things more or less often, but the words add more variety. The words provided a different meaning to the goals attached to them.
I took a few days to consider the wording and an appropriate goal for each. I am under no illusion that I will complete all of them, but I will certainly try to accomplish them. The reason I am doing this, really, is because I want to see if I can change my lifestyle in places for the better. I wanted to think long-term in some cases, lose distractions, further my knowledge, increase daily fulfilment. Furthermore it is also a challenge for me that is away from my comfort zone. They are not easy goals, and they are not necessarily related to one single component like a physical challenge or a technological know how, although some involve both mentioned areas – and that is why I like this structure. It may initially look excessive, but to me they are all entwined with one another. I feel quite enlightened by doing it; a weirdly refreshing opportunity to simply step back and take an honest assessment of myself and what I want to do with my year, and I thoroughly recommend doing the same or similar. So here are mine, my 2017 goals and my initial plan of attack to achieve them:
Do more reading
Doing more reading is an obvious one for me. It is a task I have found arduous through most of my life, never enjoying fiction that much and never really finding books that capture my attention for long enough. I bought The Chimp Paradox a while ago and that was the best book I have read yet, although I am still yet to complete it. My reason for this goal though is simply to expand my interests, my knowledge on certain topics, and it is a good way to relax in the evenings. Nonetheless I won’t give up on this pastime. I want to read more and I have recently purchased four more books to keep me busy – they include ‘Black Box Thinking’, ‘Bounce – The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice’, ‘How to Support a Champion’, and ‘Sleep: The Myth of 8 hours, the power of naps and the new plan to recharge your body and mind’. I cannot wait to get started!
Use less technology before bed
This is a double whammy for me really. It is well documented that watching screens before bedtime can hinder your sleep, and I love/need my sleep. I have notoriously had poor sleeping patterns in the past which affects my mornings too and I have tried a lot of different ways to help this, but my focus has been getting up. Now it is time to focus on getting my head down. Going to bed sooner, and at a regular time, coupled with a reduction in the use of technology. This, and through no accident, ties in beautifully with my previous goal of reading – a good collaboration indeed.
Travel to three new European countries
It occurred to me recently that I have been very lucky to travel to a number of places through work, and other nice places I have travelled to have predominantly been with family. I haven’t really taken a proper exploring weekend break or two weeks abroad since joining British Tennis almost two years ago, so I would like to dedicate some of my time and money to exploring Europe a little more. Three new countries, unknown to me where just yet, but a reasonable target nonetheless.
Be more active in the community
Amongst my deliberations over what would be good to set as goals I realised I, rightly so, was focusing a lot on me. This is my own task of course, but I am not a selfish person. I like to help others, being a big fan in the past of buying The Big Issue to help those homeless or struggling financially. It is easy to donate some money here and there, but I felt compelled to get hands on. A little google search later and I discovered the Team London app. The Mayor of London volunteering programme. Search by location or task, identify what skills or time you can give and off you go. I found a volunteering task close to me that helps to clear up the local river, the River Wandle Cleanup. Something refreshing and different for me. I can get hands on. I can clean up the litter. I can give back to the community, and I can branch out with meeting new people. This one is all about giving back, and I am excited to get my wellies on!
Achieve a physical challenge
Following on from my Himalayan endeavours last year I have really liked the idea of doing something similar, but closer to home. I recently had a discussion with a colleague who asked me “If you earn’t your current salary, but did not have to work, and you are not allowed to travel abroad, what would you do with your time?”. I immediately thought about exploring the UK and doing physical challenges and swiftly asked myself “Why can’t you do that anyway?”. Sure enough I was on to Google and this idea had quickly developed. I searched for a number of different events and found this fantastic challenge in June that I genuinely cannot wait for. It is the Lake District Adventure Challenge, encompassing a hike, a bike and a kayak. There is a Classic and an Extreme option, so naturally I will be opting for the extreme option that includes a 12km hike, a 24km bike and a 3km kayak. How cool! And similar to my cycling trip in India, this originally started off as a personal challenge to achieve, however, it is set up by and run in conjunction with the NSPCC, so the challenge offers a great opportunity to help raise money for children and young people all over the country too. More details to follow.
Publish a blog once per month
I loved writing during my time in Norway and beyond. I just needed topics to write about. So here I am… again. Looking to explore this untapped creative spell.
I have spent my entire life being the skinny guy. No matter how strong or athletic I have been at different stages of my life, I continue to get the same comment. Time to try and put on a bit of mass. And maybe get some guns? We will see…
Eliminate late nights during the week
For the same overriding reason of using less technology before bed, I also plan to keep the wild school nights to a minimum. The odd one here and there is not too bad, but it’s all about routine, right? Albeit simple, these evening goals are one of the harder ones as they are deeply routed bad habits of mine.
Generate more savings into investments
Discovered an app recently called MoneyBox. It’s safe to say I love it. It is essentially a digital piggy bank. The app allows you to save your money through ’round ups’, ‘weekly deposits’ or ‘one-off deposits’. With round ups the app reads your bank transactions and allows you to round up that spend to the nearest pound, and deposit those pennies. For example, you spend £3.25 on a coffee, the app then asks if you want to deposit the 75p into your MoneyBox. Continue this for the rest of your week and you have a few quid to move across. Weekly deposits move set amounts of money across each week, and one-off deposits are just that. The app takes this money every Wednesday at midday and invests it into stocks and shares through Cash Funds, Global Funds and Property Share Funds over the following week. You get to choose the % split in to each investment with a cautious, balanced or risky option and that’s it. Watch your money grow over time in a long-term investment. This goal for me is to expand on this, and be more savings/investment aware, and this application really helps with that. If you are interested yourself, sign up, make a deposit of any size (minimum is £1) and enter the referral code X48FK to give us both a free £10 investment.
Create an app
Something I have wanted to do for years. I have two great ideas, and neither of them exist. Does that mean I am on to something genius, or maybe the ideas are so bad that no one has bothered to entertain them? Who knows. Time to learn to code and develop an app – unless there are any savvy app developers out there that would help me out, for a % share of course.
Improve my cooking repertoire
Received a really cool present from my parents for Christmas. A voucher for L’atelier des Chefs. They offer loads of lessons from knife skills to learning cuisines from around the world. You learn and cook your meal in the class, then devour it once complete. Yummy! I will write more on this as I embark on my little foodie adventure.
Always envious of multi-lingual individuals. For years I have wanted to be proficient in another language. A tough call between French and Spanish. Spanish wins. I was told about a podcast called Coffee Break Spanish, and I am starting to play with the Duolingo and Babbel apps on iOS. Not sure of my potential success rate, but it is fun trying to learn. Let’s see how far I get.
Listen to a TED talk once a week
If you don’t know TED already then where have you been? TED, by its own admission, is a “nonpartisan nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks” and they cover a whole host of topics from science to business to technology or global issues. Check them out here. They have content on their website, YouTube and they have their own app too. I want to continue learning about new things, with no remit on the topic.
Make videos with my GoPro
A fantastic gadget that I love and it is massively underused. Time to start using it. I don’t know what for, but I know I want to film and create something, even if it is short. Certainly one for a quiet weekend.
Embrace early mornings
One of my struggles in the morning is that I just don’t have the trigger that tells me to get up. On the off-days that I have managed to get out of bed genuinely early, I have loved it. The ability to go running or to the gym, or simply start the day with a productive morning is great. I want to do more of this yet to do so, I must embrace the early morning. I will look to take note of those days as a clear reminder of why they are so good, and use it as encouragement to continue the earlier starts.
Organise my digital life
My iPhone, my MacBook Pro, my external HD. They all near a clear up/out of photos, applications, documents, movies etc. I find a digital clean up just as therapeutic as cleaning a room… when I am in the mood to do so that is. Another goal for a quiet weekend some time.
Simplify my phone usage
Phones these days are incredible feats of technology with their numerous capabilities, but we just can’t live without them! I made a conscious effort a couple of years ago to stop acknowledging my phone at the dinner table when I was with family (and friends), and it is a really nice get away. Almost similarly, turning my phone off in the cinema, rather than just on silent. There is definitely something soothing about doing this. I want to continue to use my phone less, particularly when it is just unnecessary to do so. I will happily use it when I need it, but I will look to leave it alone to avoid procrastination and distraction from more important things, like friends, family, or work.
I have not played for years, and I miss it. Even more so when I see an upright or grand piano in a train station or a hotel, and I know I cannot play it. I will be unbelievably rusty, however I have an urge to rekindle my skills in this area.
And that’s it. Have a go yourself and see what you can come up with.