My 2013 Resolutions

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Looking Back

It was around this time last last year that I came to you shame faced to admit that I did not manage to accomplish a single, solitary one of my 2011 resolutions. I’m pleased to say that as 2013 begins, I can look back on my 2012 resolutions feeling like I made a real run at them.

While I wasn’t able to topple all ten, I did manage to get five of them done. A 50% strike rate is hardly anything to crow about, but I’ll take that over the previous year’s 0% success rate, eh?

For those not wanting to dig back through the old entry, the ten were:

  1. Complete my TEFL Certification and return to ESL teaching
  2. Travel to 2 or more countries
  3. Improve my physical shape
  4. Be a better friend and brother
  5. Finish a race of 10km or more
  6. Get Korean Tourist up and running
  7. Finish a novel
  8. Tick 5-10 items off my bucket list
  9. Improve Aussie on the Road’s web presence and profitability
  10. Be happier
Chinese classroom
Reunited with my students in Lianyungang during a visit in late 2012.


Successes

As evidenced by the fact I’ve been living in China and working as a teacher since March, it’s safe to assume that #1 on the above list went off without a hitch. Truth be told, I fell into this whole situation when a friend from a rugby league forum (who also happened to be the vice president of a school) recruited my sight unseen to work abroad. I actually had to finish my TEFL certification after I got here.

China made country #1 and my five week tour of the United States (complete with somehow winning the affections of my beautiful girlfriend) meant I’d managed to hit two countries in 2012. Alas, two was where I had to stop.

tandem bike nyc
I checked off a bucket list item when Heather and I tandem bike rode through Central Park

Another big perk of my year abroad has been checking off no fewer than 15 items from my ever growing bucket list. You can see my progress on the Bucket List page.

Aussie on the Road enjoyed a bumper year that saw it jump from PR 1 to 3; average over 25,000 hits a month (my goal had been 15,000); earn approximately $10,000 for my travels (my goal had been $2,400); reach over 200 subscribers; and inch dangerously close to 1,000 fans on Facebook – far exceeding my modest goals for 2012.

And in the hunt to be happier? I had some dark days wrestling with depression, but it’s safe to say that 2012 was infinitely happier than the abortion that was 2011. I’m on the right track and hopefully heading in the right direction. Touch wood.

Failures

The year was not without its failings, though. In many ways, I feel like I failed some that were much more important than those that I managed to succeed in.

While I experienced patches of genuine enthusiasm with regards to my health – semi regular runs in China’s insanely crowded streets and the purchase of an exercise bike, for example – for the most part, it was a year of sloth and decadence. It’s become particularly bad of late with the icy weather and the seemingly weekly McDonalds delivery episodes.

I haven’t even looked in the direction of a race, although getting lost in a park at night did inadvertently lead to me running a 10k in a respectable time. I don’t think that counts, though.

I made a good dash at finishing a novel earlier this year when the month of April saw me churning out new pages at a rate of knots, but that came to a sputtering halt around the same time I decided I was headed to the United States. Korean Tourist never got so much as a look in (nor did my other projects such as Fantasy Rugby League or Road Romance) and my one new launch – Multiple Nerdgasms – has been given minimal effort.

But my biggest failing this year, and one I keenly feel, has been in being a better friend and brother. While I can pat myself on the back for making the trip to Chicago for a wedding and I’ve maintained close contact with a few of my oldest friends thanks to the joint wonders of Facebook and WhatsApp, I can’t lie to myself and say that I’ve been a good friend.

best family portrait ever
Best family portrait ever! Photo courtesy of Tony Grant.

I’ve completely severed one friendship, let several new friendships here in China fall by the wayside, and been only a token presence in my family’s lives over the course of the year. Far from the kid who had fortnightly phone conversations with his family in 2008 and 2009 – I’ve been almost completely off the radar for them this year outside of reappearing for the birth of my niece and the passing of my grandmother.

It’s easy, I think, to convince ourselves that we’re good people. It’s another thing entirely to stop, look at yourself, and realize that simply believing that to be true does not make it so. I have been guilty of immense selfishness when it comes to reciprocating and appreciating the friendships I have and the support of my wonderful family.

I’m ashamed of it, to tell you the truth. And on that low note, let’s look at what I’ll be doing (I won’t say trying to do, let’s be positive) in 2013.

My 2013 Resolutions

#10 – Continue to improve Aussie on the Road as a brand while also launching one other site

2012 was a stellar year for Aussie on the Road. I managed to exceed every one of the (at the time ambitious) goals I had set myself early in the year and virtually paid for my entire US trip itself. While there were times where I felt a little dirty with multiple ‘guest posts’, that’s something that I’ve put behind me.

In 2013 I’d like to see the site expand as a brand with continued growth in viewership and subscriptions; the official launch of a regular podcast or video project; and (hopefully) a slightly more reliable income stream.

In addition to that, I am determined to see one of my four side projects (Road Romance, Korean Tourist, Fantasy Rugby League, or Multiple Nerdgasms) experience a year of growth as well. They don’t need to be profitable or even hugely popular, but I’d like to get at least one of them established before the year is out.

#9 – Travel to four or more countries

2012 saw me return to two countries I had previously visited: China and the United States. In both cases, I managed to see parts I had not seen in my previous visits as well as revisiting old favourites (Portland in the US and Hainan in China). In 2013, I’d like to really step up my travels.

I’m already aiming to add Thailand and Cambodia to my visited list in the upcoming Spring Festival vacation, and a visit to Australia is a certainty somewhere along the way as well. Further exploration of China won’t count towards anything, but I may just find time to revisit Korea, check out Japan, pay visits to Hong Kong & Macau, and potentially ring in the new year someplace warm and exotic. Maybe the Philippines?

#8 – Finish a novel or game design

The perennial resolution that never comes close to getting resolved.

For as long as I’ve been writing, I’ve had teachers or friends or (in some cases) strangers telling me that I have a gift for writing. I don’t want to toot my horn, but I do believe I have the talent to become a published author if I can ever get my shit together and actually finish something.

Having eight manuscripts started is not a productive way to go about it, and Nomadic American believes I’m ADHD in the way I leap from project to project so suddenly – but that’s no excuse. In 2013 I’ll either finish writing one of my novels or I’ll finish designing one of several board-game/RPG games I’ve been toying with since college.

With Byron of Byron & His Backpacks and Diaspora fame in the same country as me again, I reckon I have a better chance than ever of getting it done.

#7 – Improve my physical shape

The only year I feel that this happened after I put it on my resolutions were 2010 – when I had a fitness and healthy eating nut for a girlfriend who whipped my ass into shape with a healthier diet and regular runs. Over the course of the year I lost 10kgs, ran the 14k City 2 Surf, ran a 5k in a personal best time of 26 minutes, and generally lived a healthier lifestyle.

Love on South Beach
A bit of couple time on South Beach in Miami. I’d like to look better with my shirt off for future shoots!

If 2011 was a failure in that respect, than 2012 had been an abject one.

This year I aim to drop down to 90kgs (I’m currently at 95kg), run at least one race of 5 or more k, and work on getting some tone. Cutting McDonalds delivery and soda out of my diet is a must as well.

#6 – Complete another 10 bucket list items

After aiming to complete 5-10 in 2012, I rocketed past that to hit 15 thanks to a visit to the United States and at least one… less than desirable encounter.

The list grew from 200 to 302 in 2012 as well, so there’s no shortage of options. Hell, China and SE Asia both offer about 20 between them. This should be easy.

#5 – Get rid of my credit card debt (again)

Thanks to the generosity of my father, I was able to erase my credit card debt early in 2011 – but as credit card debt has a way of doing, it’s slowly crept back up. Thanks to my site generating income this year, I’ve more than managed to meet payments – but I’d love to get to a stage where that off white MasterCard temptress could be as much an unpleasant ex as… well, let’s not name her here.

I’m not off to a red hot start with SE Asia requiring me to book things online, but I’m hoping to work the rest of it off in 2013 so I can quit my job and become a true traveling nomad type in 2014.

#4 – Continue my education

I turned 29 last December, and while that’s not cause for alarm – it is cause for me to start giving at least a passing thought to my future. I’d love for that to just be traveling, partying, and fucking – but I’ve got to be realistic.

Truth be told, it’s getting hard to be away from my family so often and for so long. I’m missing the childhoods of my nephew and niece, the early adulthood of my siblings, and time with my parents.

My grandmother’s passing this year drove home to me how short life can be. Does my father ever stop and wish he’d made more time to spend with his mother? It’s easy when somebody is in your life to put off a phone call or a visit – but I find myself regretting that the last time I had more than a few word conversation with my grandmother was in early 2010. I’ll never have that opportunity again.

While neither of my parents are of an age where I need to worry about that (touch wood, all the same) – I don’t ever want to find myself regretting that I hadn’t spent enough time with the two wonderful people who brought me into this world and helped me become the man I am today. The same goes for my siblings.

But Jesus, did that get off track. The point I’m making is that I need to take steps to ensure I have something to go home to eventually. With that in mind, I’m going to take my third run at finishing a teaching degree. Let’s hope this time I actually managed to see out a semester before deciding I can’t focus on it.

#3 – Learn to speak another language

I know the logical choice would be Mandarin, and I have taken steps in that direction of late with semi-regular lessons. Truth is, though, I’m more interested in continuing my Spanish education. Who knows? Perhaps someday I’ll be able to switch my ESL lifestyle from Asia to Central and South America?

I’ve got an entirely legally acquired copy of Rosetta Stone just begging me to give it a whirl.

#2 – Get my life in some semblance of order

Tying in with #4, I’ve realized recently that I’ve somehow spent 29 years on this earth without acquiring several life skills people half my age probably have. I can’t cook for myself, I struggle to keep a home that doesn’t look like a teenage boy lives in it, and I’m entirely too easily distracted by my various side projects.

introspective chris is introspective
Being all introspective and stuff. Or maybe just taking a photo. Photo courtesy of Heather Flemion.

Maybe that makes me a product of my generation, but I don’t like that my 24 year old girlfriend is far more grown up than I am. I’m all for rocking a Peter Pan lifestyle, but I’d like to survive the zombie apocalypse and I’d someday like to at least look like I grew up in the real world and wasn’t raised by wolves.

I aim to remedy that by cooking at least twice a week, doing a better job of being aware of my surroundings, and checking off a few of the above along the way.

#1 – Be a better friend, brother, and boyfriend

As I mentioned earlier, I had quite a few failings in 2012 as far as being a friend went. I’ve always been a bit hard to nail down – preferring my own company/the company of a video game, but this year took it to new levels. I constantly blew off social commitments, abandoned one friendship, and let others slip into the cracks.

Oregon beach
Catching up with Desiree, Cody, and Adam while on the Oregon coast. Photo courtesy of Heather Flemion.

In 2013 I hope to maintain regular contact with my family through Skype calls and actually sending birthday gifts, make a greater effort to be involved in the lives of my friends, and be a more committed and attentive boyfriend to whoever is lucky (unlucky?) enough to tame this stallion named CWB.

In all seriousness, this is an issue I can trace back to… God. Childhood? I’ve never been the most loyal or focused friend. I could retitle this ‘be less selfish’ and I’d probably achieve the same outcome.

Your 2013 Resolutions

I’ve shown you mine, now show me yours.

What are your resolutions for the year to come?

And what do you think of my resolutions? Doable?

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9 comments

  1. Intriguing resolutions – you can surely drop 5kg 🙂 Mine are pretty much exercise-related. Start prep for the North Face 100km is the tallest order…

  2. 5 for 10 isn;t bad we it comes to New Year Resolutions! Good job mate. Looking forward to what 2013 brings to Aussie on the Road.

  3. I can certainly relate to you missing your nephew and niece. I have 3 nephews who I havent seen in 2 years and I am yet to meet my niece. As much as I love travelling, there is always a trade off.

    • It’s a sacrifice we make. There are days where it feels worth it and days where it seems like the stupidest decision I ever made, heh.

  4. Great plans! Although my advice is that teaching in South America is a no-no. Compared to Asia there is a huge drop in wages, standard of living and it is really difficult to find work…it is great here for studying…not so great for working…

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