As I said in my recent 2011 in Review post, the year that just went by was not one for personal triumphs. While it was not a year without its successes and memorable moments, the fact that I failed to tick off a single one of my 2011 Resolutions would indicate something of a failure on my part.
Bad Chris. Bad, bad Chris.
I didn’t finish a novel. I didn’t get down to 90 kg. I didn’t visit two new countries. I didn’t finish my Master of Applied Linguistics (hell, I dropped out). I didn’t run a half marathon either.
Very bad Chris.
With 2011 not being the year it might otherwise have been, I’m heading in to 2012 determined to make it a year I look back on with nothing but fondness. A big part of that is going to be achieving the ten 2012 resolutions you see below. I’ve selected ones that are not only achievable, but ones that will also help turn 2012 into what I hope will be a year to rival 2008, 2009, and 2010 – a triple threat of the best years of my life.
And I’ve already started on two of them…
#10 – Complete my TEFL Certification and return to ESL teaching
I’ve actually already made some headway on this front. I spent January 2nd churning through the first module in my TEFL Online certification and submitted my first two essays yesterday. I should hopefully receive my marks back today. Twelve units and a grammar test to go and I’ll be a ‘qualified’ ESL teacher.
The plan from there is to take up a teaching position somewhere in South East Asia. With so many of my favorite bloggers currently calling the region home (Raymond from Man on the Lam, Lauren from Neverending Footsteps, Mica from Kaypacha Travels, Anthony from Man vs Clock, and Byron from Byron & His Backpacks) and my good friend Mel from The Mellyboo Project headed there at some point – it seems like South East Asia is the place to be as a travel blogger.
I also miss the ESL teacher/expat lifestyle, and since I won’t be saving $10,000 anytime soon – teaching abroad is what I’ll need to do.
I say that like it’s a chore. I’m never going to like working – that’s just how I’m put together. But I did enjoy making kids laugh and seeing that look of recognition dawn on their faces. It will be good to see that again in a totally new setting.
#9 – Travel to 2 or more countries
I previous years I’ve set myself the demand that this be two new countries, but I think I’ll be satisfied with just leaving Australian soil in 2012. I’ve got my free week at Fiji’s Mango Bay to look forward to, and if I manage to achieve resolution #10, I’ll tick this off the moment I set foot in my new South East Asian home.
I’m hoping that 2012 will see me hit Fiji, Thailand/Vietnam (as my base), and neighboring countries such as Cambodia and Laos. And there’s still hope to ring in the 2013 scuba diving at Palawan in the Philippines.
#8 – Improve my physical shape
This one goes against my friend Anthony’s recent post on Art of Conversations about applying the S.M.A.R.T line of thinking when deciding upon your resolutions. This isn’t something I can really quantify, as there isn’t a specific goal weight I have in mind.
It might be hard to believe from looking at me, but this broad-shouldered and cuddly lad once bore the nick-name of ‘Scrawn’ and was a pretty decent 800m runner who could put his hands around hi waist and link them up.
Yeah, I was tiny.
I don’t ever anticipate getting back to that level again. I wouldn’t want to. I like being a solid guy and looking like, despite my easy grin and glasses, I might be able to handle myself in a fight.
So I’m not aiming to shed 15kgs or reach a certain size of jeans. In fact, I’m hoping to instead replace some of my beer belly and love-handles with some tone. I’d love to be a guy who has the kind of biceps or triceps that set lady’s loins afire. Getting a compliment on my body would also tick off a bucket list item…
#7 – Be a better friend and brother
I labor under no illusions. I am a very lucky man when it comes to the supportive family I come from and the wonderfully diverse group of people I count amongst my friends.
I’ve had brothers fly to Fiji to keep me company after a break-up. I’ve had a friend return to University a month early to comfort me after my first heart-break. I’ve had friends who wired me cash or friends who listened to me cry into the phone over something they might have considered trivial.
Hell, I’ve got an ex-girlfriend who counselled me through the break-up of the girl who came immediately after her.
But while I am well aware of how good I have it, I feel like I am not always the friend or brother I should be. Too often I let my own issues (see #1 on this list) prevent me from being there when I am needed. I turn down too many social invitations and feel like I can be – from time to time – a tad selfish in reciprocating the time and care my friends and family have given me.
This is another 2012 resolution that isn’t easily quantifiable. I can’t measure how good a friend I am, but I can make efforts to be there more often for the people who I care about. If I can come out from this year feeling that I’ve spent more time with the people I care about than I have in previous years, I’ll consider this a successfully completed goal.
#6 – Finish a race of 10 or more km
I miss running. While my ongoing battle with dodgy shins means I can’t do it as often as I’d like, there are few feelings I find more invigorating and life affirming that coming to the end of a tough run and realizing that you’ve done it.
I most recently felt that feeling as I ran teary-eyed across the finish line of the 2011 City 2 Surf.
It’s a feeling that I would like to have more often in my life, and being able to run races also puts me in a position to improve my physical shape as mentioned in resolution #8.
If I’m still in Australia when August rolls around, I’ll do my third consecutive City 2 Surf and aim to finish it in under ninety minutes. If I’m not – I’ll find a race in whatever country I’m calling home and I’ll run it.
I won’t necessarily stop at one race either. I’ve always felt that my best race is a 5k. I completed the Manly 5k in 2010 in just on 26 minutes and feel like I can do much better with training. I’d love to run a few 5kms this year in addition to one (or more) 10k races.
#5 – Get Korean Tourist up and running
I’ve recently joined forces with my just-retired father to begin work on a passion project of his. Ever since his first visit to South Korea back in early 2008, he has been absolutely obsessed with all things Korean. He visited again (without me) in 2009 and again earlier in 2011. He’s already planning another trip for 2013 to cover the places he hasn’t already hit.
While I think I know the Korean culture quite a bit better as a result of having lived there, I won’t dispute that my Dad knows the sights far better than me.
So, we recently started Korean Tourist as a way to share our passion for the peninsula and introduce more people to the country we both love so much. The site isn’t much to look at right now, but my resolution is to have it up and completely running before the year is out.
This will include individual pages for each region and major city in the country, spotlights on the various festivals, detailed information on Korean culture and tradition, and plenty of my Dad’s photos to complete the pitch.
Long term we’re hoping that it will become a go to site for people wishing to plan a potential Korean vacation and, when my mother has retired as well, my parents plan on running tour groups from Australia into Korea. If that does happen, Korean Tourist will be the site from which tours are booked.
#4 – Finish a novel
I’ve been working on a novel (well, about ten different novels, actually) since I was 17. While I did finish one (a semi autobiographical piece about love and break-ups), I’ve not finished anything since. I’m anywhere between 5000 and 30,000 words in to about five or six other projects.
My problem isn’t ideas – it’s finding motivation and the dedication to stick to one project even when another shiny new idea pops up and waves its arms to grab my attention.
So in 2012 my goal is to finish a novel from start to finish. I don’t care if it’s not a best-seller (although that would obviously fold in nicely to my ‘never have a real job again’ dream) – but I’d like to at least persist with it and write right up to that last full stop.
#3 – Tick 5-10 items off of my Bucket List
This is the one I’m really looking forward to. With over 200 items on my bucket list now, I’ve got a lot to choose from. It might be a bit much to hope for a trip to Antarctica or a threesome in 2012 (although a guy can dream), but I reckon it’s a pretty reasonable goal to aim to check off at least five of the items that make my list.
Any suggestions as to which ones I should aim to complete?
#2 – Improve Aussie on the Road’s web presence and profitability
2011 was a great year for Aussie on the Road. While it’s not a mark on what sites like Nomadic Matt or Everything Everywhere pull in, I still managed to draw a respectable average of 150-300 hits a day in and generate over $1000 in income through ad-sales and sponsored posts. By year’s end the site was pulling in a minimum of 50 hits from Google a day – an improvement on the 3-4 it drew earlier in the year.
The site’s Page Rank jumped from 0 to 2 and it’s Alexa Rating dipped below 190,000. Not great numbers, but a positive step.
This year I’ve broken my Aussie on the Road goals up into a few smaller tasks.
– $200 a month income ($2400 in a year)
– Increase PR to 3 or 4
– Write 3+ posts a week
– Average 500 hits a day
#1 – Be happier
Ridiculously unquantifiable, but let me explain.
As I’ve mentioned on several occasions on the site, I suffer from depression and have for the better part of the past fifteen years. By and large it’s a very manageable issue. I have down days but I’m able to breeze through them.
But there are darker periods too.
There are days or even weeks in a row where I’m constantly tired and completely devoid of energy. There’s been periods where I spent the better part of every day on the verge of tears for no real reason. Hell, May of this year was one long month of complete and utter emotional exhaustion. While I’ve never given serious thought to the so-called ‘easy way out’, there’s definitely been periods where little has been more appealing to me than just sleeping away the rest of my days.
Depression has been such a constant companion that it’s shaped my entire adult life. It’s caused the end of otherwise promising relationships, inadvertently lead to my horrendous work situation in Korea earlier this year, and stopped me from enjoying much of my 2009 tour of the United States. In a lot of ways it’s meant that I’ve opted to take easier routes throughout my life. I’ve opted for the easy Uni course, the menial job, and the safe route because it’s easier than dealing with the sadness that comes with any setback I might encounter.
And I don’t intend to just let it keep having its way with me
In 2012 I intend to deal with my depression and not let it completely rule my life.
How? Beyond the normal avenues of medication and therapy, I also intend to work towards a healthier lifestyle through exercise and diet; be more proactive in my pursuit of the things that make me happy; and through being a better friend and not letting my fear of failure stop me from taking a risk – I hope to get more of the things I want.
Case in point being a girl I recently found out I’d missed my shot with after both of us had liked the other for months. I left my run late and she’s moved on. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a bit sobering to realize that hesitation and doubt on my part stopped me from having a shot with somebody I quite liked.
I need to chase after happiness. I can’t expect it to just fall into my lap.
In 2012 I intend to tackle my depression head on and I intend to actively work towards getting the life I want. Too often I sit and I bemoan the lack of romance or excitement in my life. I complain that I’m not working in the field I should be or not leading the life I’d like.
And while it’s true that my depression has had a profound effect on my ability to obtain this mythic life I want, it’s lazy for me to blame things entirely on the condition. I have it in myself to go after the things I want, and I’m not going to use depression as an excuse not to be a happier person.
As I said, this one is unquantifiable, but I think it will be the most obvious one for me to know if I’ve achieved it. If I can look back at 2012 and feel that I’ve squeezed every last drop out of it – I’ll know I achieved this goal.
Your 2012 Resolutions
So, there are my 2012 resolutions but I’d love to hear yours. What are you aiming to do in the year to come?
And what do you think of my resolutions? Reckon I can tick all ten off by year’s end?