After making an annual habit of publishing both my year in review and New Year’s Resolutions posts each and every year, I somehow overlooked putting together my new year’s resolutions post at the end of 2016!
It’s a crying shame too, as I actually did really well at checking off resolutions that year.
With that in mind, I’ve combined 2016-17 into one year so that my 2016 Resolutions get a little bit of closure.
I’ve updated my bucket list with my progress and also included my 2017 resolutions.
How Did I Do in 2016-17?
I checked off 60% of my resolutions in 2016-17, and I’m pleased to say most of these happened in 2016 too.
While I wasn’t able to achieve my big productivity goals such as launching a podcast or finishing my novel, there were a lot of great personal steps forward that have really improved my life.
10. Launch a web series of podcast
Continue getting into shape
Visit 4+ new countries
Check off 10 more bucket list items
Cook more often
Be a better uncle and brother
4. Finish my accursed novel
3. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
2. Learn to speak another language
Be happier on my own
Successes in 2016-17
It’s ironic that in the year I stop having a ‘find a relationship’ goal and have a ‘be happier alone‘ goal, I manage to find myself a girlfriend.
Not just any girlfriend, either. The irrepressible, effervescent, beautiful, and superbly gifted Richelle from Adventures Around Asia. From the humble beginnings of a Beijing tryst to moving in together to plotting world domination as blogging’s next power couple, every day with Richelle in my life has been one filled with laughter. It’s hard to hope for more than that in a relationship.
In addition to living with my new partner, I also had the pleasure of living with my brother, his partner, and my adorable nephew, Elliot for most of 2017. This certainly made my “be a better uncle and brother” goal an easier one to achieve.
I more than met my bucket list goals (see below) and managed to add Taiwan, Malaysia, the Maldives, and Japan to my ‘new countries’ list.
Other highlights of the year were my time working with the Sabah Tourism Board on their HelloSabah campaign, spending eight amazing days in The Maldives on assignment, gorilla trekking in Uganda, trekking the Kumano Kodo with Mie Prefecture Tourism Board, completing the Great US Road Trip, and traveling around China with both Richelle’s parents and my own.
What a year!
To top it all off, I’m in some of the best shape of my life due to multiple Wild Great Wall hikes and our Kumano Kodo shenanigans.
Every year I have to come on here and apologize for not finishing my novel. 2016-17 were no different, although I did make a lot of ground in developing the world of Dustbowl and fleshing out its races. I hired a talented artist on UpWork who has helped to bring some of the races to life wonderfully, and I’m confident I can see some actual pen to paper in 2018.
My grand ambitions to launch a podcast or web series never eventuated, nor did I pick up more than 40-50 words of Mandarin despite living in China for the majority of two years.
Bucket List Update
I’d set myself a goal of checking off ten items from my bucket list in 2016 and definitely hit that mark. As we’re combining 2016 and 2017 for the purposes of this post, my total of 27 definitely meets both years’ targets.
Highlights for me were definitely completing the Kumano Kodo Iseji, going gorilla trekking in Uganda, spending a holiday in the Maldives, and going canyoning in Moalboal to try my hand at throwing myself off of waterfalls.
The obvious lowlight? Writing the eulogy for my foster brother, Ben when he passed away late in 2017.
#5 – Climb a mountain (Binshiyama and Yakiyama)
#62 – Go skinny dipping
#110 – Give a eulogy
#191 – Have something I do go viral.
#195 – Have a lover ten years my junior.
#225 – See gorillas in the wild.
#258 – See the Terra Cotta Warriors.
#278 – Visit Harajuku.
#325 – Abseil.
#362 – Try stand up paddle boarding.
#484 – Walk along the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
#506 – Explore Arishiyama Bamboo Forest.
#548 – Get my name on a wall for completing a food challenge.
#557 – Explore Tokyo.
#592 – Eat sushi in Japan.
#600 – Eat real ramen in Japan.
#666 – Visit Hell’s Gate National Park.
#677 – Spend a night in a ryokan.
#698 – Land in a sea plane.
#728 – Visit Jiufen.
#738 – Go on a food tour.
#807 – Holiday in the Maldives.
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Flashing back to the magnificent ten days I spent in The Maldives last September. Growing up, and even when I started traveling, I never would have imagined I'd someday spend the night in an over water bungalow in a five star Maldives resort. And while being alone in honeymoon paradise was certainly lonely at points, it's hard not to look back at my time there and smile.
#834 – Jump off a waterfall.
#837 – Visit the Statue of Liberty.
#1003 – Walk the Kumano Kodo
My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions
Without further ado, I present my 2018 New Year’s Resolutions. Can I actually complete a year’s worth of goals?
10. Finish my novel
Let’s just get this one out of the way.
I want to say I’ll finish the first of the ten planned Dustbowl novels in 2018, but we’ll see how I go.
Richelle has been a huge help in guiding my world-building, asking pointed questions and getting excited for particular characters and storylines. It’s a huge help having somebody invested in the work I am doing, and hopefully that can translate into some real progress in 2018.
It’s frustrating to be very confident you’ve got a book that will get published but not be able to get the damned thing out of your skull.
9. Visit 5+ new countries
2018 already has something of a full dance card, as we trade Australia for the US in February and then Tanzania in April. I’m hoping that I can show Richelle around Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya while we’re in Africa, and I’d love to add Ethiopia to the list of countries I’ve explored.
We’re then planning to spend summer in Eastern Europe, where we’ll hopefully be able to finally take my Europe virginity. The idea of exploring Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Albania, Romania, and other European nations is super exciting to me.
And with my brother and his young family hoping to move to Vietnam this year, it’s a perfect excuse for me to finally get back to Southeast Asia and take care of unfinished business with Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar.
8. Complete another ambitious hike
Finishing the 170km Kumano Kodo was one of the most thrilling and gratifying achievements of my life and it’s only got me thirsty for more.
Richelle and I have both been eying off other ambitious treks such as the Camino de Santiago, the Overland Trek, and the Appalachian Trail as things we’d love to do somewhere down the line.
While I’m not sure where or when we’ll find the time for another big trek, we’re both keen to give our hiking boots, hiking poles, and tents another spin.
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Off to conquer another section of the Great Wall of China! While many people have heard of Mutianyu and Badaling, the Wall itself has dozens upon dozens of sections – each with their own charms. Today is Gubeikou, but last month we tackled Jiankou. It was the hardest hike we've had on the Great Wall yet, but it was stunning.
7. Continue to grow my business
Aussie on the Road has, sadly, taken something of a back seat to my duties with Shadows of Africa in recent years. With my role there expanding from blogging to sales and business development for the Asia-Pacific, most days see me spending 5-6 hours on the safari business before I can even glance at my blog.
I’m hoping that in 2018, I’ll be more motivated to focus on growing my blog as well. While the safari business definitely provides the lion’s share (pun intended) of my finances, I’d like to not be so reliant on one revenue scheme.
With that in mind, I’m hoping to spend 2018 on growing the site’s bucket list focus (the South Korea bucket list, China bucket list, and Japan bucket list posts are my most popular) and expanding my safari content.
6. Attend a World Cup game
The 2018 FIFA World Cup is headed to Russia and it just so happens that Richelle and I plan to be just across the border in Kiev at around the time it’s happening.
While the logistics of entering Russia and buying a World Cup ticket are frustrating, it would be a golden opportunity for me to finally see my Socceroos at football’s premier event.
We don’t stand a chance in hell, but an opportunity to experience the pomp and circumstance would be amazing.
5. Check off 10+ bucket list items
I always set out to achieve at least ten bucket list items each year and this year is no different.
I’m actually planning to completely rewrite the 1,000 Things to do Before You Die section of the site this year, removing the more personal ones and instead making it a purely travel based list.
Don’t worry, though, my personal list will still exist on the site and be updated.
4. Get a regular D&D game running
This one is a bit out of left field but bear with me.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve found myself wanting to maintain connections to the hobbies and people who defined my youth. I’m not alone in this, either. Most of my closest friends have rediscovered their love of Warhammer and/or Warhammer 40’000 over recent years, and I type this post sitting next to a knee-high pile of Chaos and Imperial Guard miniatures crying for my attention.
For me, though, the days of my carefree youth are most closely associated with the swords, sorcery, and sexual puns of Dungeons & Dragons.
While I’ve been lucky enough to have sporadic games with my old crew over Skype in recent years, my constant travel schedule and their accursed ‘real lives’ have made it hard to maintain a game for long.
I’m hoping (against hope) that 2018 will see me able to get a regular fortnightly game going, especially since Richelle is so enamored of her character, Vesepia.
3. Get into better shape
While I’m in some of the best shape I’ve been in since 2010, I’m still eager to improve on that. My long cardio game is strong enough that I wasn’t tired on any of our hiking days on the Kumano Kodo, so I’d like to work on my short burst cardio.
Games like cricket, football, and squash definitely see me tired quicker than any day of 20+ km hiking in Japan did.
I’d also like to get those killer biceps and that six pack that I’ve always wanted…
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I just love this shot of me snapped by @adventuresaroundasia a few weeks ago. We'd just finished an exhausting day of hiking through the jungle mountains of Gunung Leuser National Park in Sumatra and arriving on the banks of this cool, clear river was just heavenly. While spotting nine beautiful orangutans in the wild was certainly the highlight of the day, flopping into the river to rinse off and cool down wasn't far behind. Richelle caught me looking all pensive about the universe, but I'm pretty sure I was wondering when we'd get to eat dinner…
2. Be a better friend
It’s somewhat sobering to get to a point in your adult life and realise that you haven’t spoken to the guys you consider to be your ‘best friends’ for weeks or months.
The growing reliance on social media to give me my friendship news meant that I missed out on big news like my mate, Magro taking a career break.
I’ve always been a person who values friendships but slips into the old habit of being a loner when friends are out of sight, and that’s been to my detriment.
How does the song go?
Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle
because the older you get
the more you need the people you knew when you were young
As I make my way inexorably towards my thirties, I realise how many of my ‘new friendships’ are superficial things built around drinking or blogging or occasionally crossing paths.
The likes of Schmo, Magro, Dave, Stu, Grant, Rob, Byron, and Steph are not only important connections to my past, but also people whose friendship has seen me through tough times and good alike.
I’ve been guilty of neglecting my own garden in that regard for some time now, and I’m hoping I can make more of an effort in 2018.
Whether it’s semi-regular Skype dates, paying them a visit wherever it is they’re calling home, or just keeping in better touch via Facebook, I’ve got a lot of improving to do.
1. Continue to grow my relationship
You know this one was coming, surely?
My relationship with Richelle is one of the best things going on in my life now and we’re excited for what our future together holds.
2018 is our first year of full-time location independence and we’re beyond excited to see where that takes us.
After surviving living together and hiking across Japan together, we’re pretty confident we’ve got what it takes to go the distance.
I don’t want to be guilty of getting too comfortable though. Even if it’s only a small gesture, I really intend to make the effort to make every day that little bit better for the woman who makes my life so much warmer and brighter.
Wish me luck!
What are your 2018 resolutions?
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