Each year I put together a kind of existential shopping list of experiences and achievements I’d like to check off in the year to come.
Some years, like last year, are fantastic beyond my expectations but don’t quite check off the modest resolutions I’d set myself.
What had started as a year in which I’d return to school and maybe take a trip abroad at the end of the year turned into one of the best years of my life, and you can read all about my adventures in 2015 to see just how off script things got.
How Did I Do in 2015?
While 2015 was a huge year of successes for me as a writer and a traveller, I didn’t do quite as well with my resolutions.
10. Get rid of my credit card
9. Visit 4+ New Countries
8. Get back to my 2010 shape
7. Check off another ten bucket list items 6. Make writing my primary source of income
5. Finish my f***ing novel
4. Continue my education 3. Be happier
2. Launch an Aussie on the Road podcast/web series
1. Find somebody special
A 50% strike rate isn’t the best I’ve managed (I hit 85% in 2014), but I’m pretty pleased with the ones I did check off. Sure, I still haven’t written the next Game of Thrones or returned to the days when I could run a 5k for fun, but I had a lot of successes that I’m pleased with.
For a year that started with me returning to university and worrying about being able to afford even one trip abroad, I had a hell of a time.
I worked with Yahoo & Emirates on their Hidden Dubai campaign, spent four months living in East Africa, visited Indonesia with the Indonesian Tourism Board, and fell just a little bit in love with Namibia on a week long trip there too. My goal to visit four new countries was well and truly beaten, with seven new countries added to the tally.
Despite all of this travel, I also managed to finish the first semester of my Bachelor of Tourism Management with a pair of High Distinctions and a Distinction. That’s the Aussie equivalent of three Honors classes!
Between that, finding a really rewarding (and lucrative) gig with Shadows of Africa, and making steady progress on the bucket list, it’s no surprise that I was also happier in 2015 than I have been in a long time.
My failures in 2015 weren’t crippling blows by any means. Being on the road so much meant that launching a successful web series or finishing a novel were always going to be tough, and it’s hard to find Mrs. Right when you’re changing continents every few months.
I was a bit dismayed at my failure to get back into shape, but the last month of 2015 saw me hit the gym and the squash courts with a vengeance, and I’m pleased to say I’m starting 2016 feeling fitter than I have in quite some time.
As ‘failures’ go, it wasn’t a bad year…
Bucket List Update
I didn’t do half bad in 2015, checking off a whopping 22 items from my ever-growing bucket list of 1,000+ things to do before I die.
59. Hike Along the Great Wall of China
101. Start my own business
239. Swim with Sharks
244. Stay in a capsule hotel
291. Go flyboarding
319. Witness the Great Migration
326. Go sandboarding
411. Be mistaken for being much younger than I am
422. Drink real absinthe
447. Spend a night under the stars
480. Visit Sossusvlei
714. Visit Singapore
715. Visit Dubai
727. Holiday on a Houseboat
769. Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial
784. Have a Singapore Sling at Raffles in Singapore
788. Attend a TBEX event
885. Work in an office
891. Eat Beijing duck in Beijing
947. Drink banana beer in Uganda
997. Go glamping
My 2016 Resolutions
Okay, here we go
10. Launch a web series and/or podcast
This one didn’t get off the ground in 2015, but after speaking with Roo Rover and Nerd Travels at TBEX last October, I think we’re closer than ever.
I’ve got the equipment and I’ve got the passion, so now it’s just a matter of pinning down the other two so we can shoot the shit.
As far as the web series goes, I’m hoping my upcoming US trip will allow me to build some decent content to use as a starting point.
9. Continue getting into shape
I’ve been really enjoying being back home and away from distractions.
Between twice weekly squash sessions with my Dad & brother, and thrice weekly weights sessions, I’m feeling fitter and finally starting to see some changes in my arms and chest.
I have triceps now!
Now to get some abs…
8. Visit 4+ new countries
I don’t want to get carried away and assume I’ll visit 6-7 new countries every year, so I’m sticking conservative with my 2016 ambitions.
Three of my trips for the year involved revisiting old favourites (Thailand, the US, and Tanzania), but I’ve also got plans to add Slovenia, Greece, Sweden, Ethiopia, and the Seychelles to my passport.
7. Check of 10 more bucket list items
I’ve had good luck consistently checking of 10+ items a year with this one, so let’s see if I can keep the streak going.
My plan to visit Europe and road trip across the US ought to help me check off quite a few.
6. Cook more often
I really enjoy cooking, but I never do it.
Aside from my Christmas tradition of baking delicious snickerdoodle cookies and hit or miss blondies, I’m rarely in the kitchen aside from microwaving something.
After taking a seafood cooking class in Sydney this past October, I’m really keen to be more adventurous in the kitchen and add some healthy but tasty recipes to my limited repertoire.
5. Be a better uncle and brother
One of the things I enjoy most about being home (and miss most when I’m gone for long) is spending time with my family.
I have a great relationship with all three of my brothers, and I’ve loved being able to play squash, drink beers, BBQ, and just shoot the shit with them while I’ve been home.
I’m now an uncle four times over, and it’s been really rewarding watching the little guys (and gal) growing up. I do like being the uncle who brings exotic presents from overseas, but I’d like it if they remembered who I was when I got back.
4. Finish my accursed novel
Dustbowl continues to be a frustrating work in progress.
After getting to around 180 pages in 2013, I was confident I’d turned a corner.
Now two rewrites later, I’m back on page one.
Maybe this year.
3. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
For a serial lazy guy like me, tackling Africa’s highest mountain is a daunting prospect, but my role with Shadows of Africa has had me writing so much about it, that it only seems reasonable that I try.
The entire Shadows of Africa team is hoping to take on the mighty mountain this May as part of our yearly team building trip, and I’m determined to give it all I’ve got.
2. Learn to speak another language
I’m sick of being asked if I speak Chinese and/or Korean and having to say no.
I’m going to learn to speak a language pseudo fluently this year if it kills me, even if it’s something esoteric like Swahili or Ukrainian.
1. Be happier on my own
Every year I’ve said that I wanted to find a partner or fall head over heels in love.
Every year, that’s not really happened.
Rather than pinning my hopes of happiness on somebody validating me, I’m determined to instead practice more self love.
(And no, I don’t mean masturbation, although that’s a likely side effect)
I want to be happier with my own company and to be a more complete person on my own.
I don’t think I’ll be a fitting partner for somebody amazing until I can do that, and the first step towards that is (I think) stopping this cycle of pinning my hopes of somebody else ‘completing’ me.
What are your resolutions for 2016?
How’d you do with yours in 2015?