[Back To School Kind of Post]
Happy 1st of September! And happy -21 day till fall and -114 day till Christmas 😛 seems like I’m really ready for the colder months to arrive.
So time to grab pen and paper and decide what I absolutely want to accomplish before December 31st.
2018 has been an important year for me, under many respects; there have been a few big external changes (like moving to Edinburgh), but mostly I think I’ve witnessed a huge evolution in myself and the way I approach things in life. The jump in the number of books I’ve managed to read this year is just one display of these changes.
It’s not always easy to quantify my goals since the majority of them are on-going projects (Chinese, books, blog etc), so one of the things I’ve really worked hard on this year has been trying to identify a few concrete benchmarks I could work towards.
To plan for my goals (while keeping in mind the bigger picture) I use Trello; this is my second year using it for this scope and I’m going to stick to it. Every year at the end of December I create a new board called ‘2018 (or whatever year) Goals’ and then create 4 lists:
- yearly goals
- quarterly goals
- monthly goals
- motivational quotes
In each list I create multiple cards. For example, in the ‘yearly goals’ list I create a card for every area of my life I have goals for (Chinese, personal, wellness etc) and in each card I create checklists to further break down my tasks. In the last list I just collect photos and graphics form Pinterest with inspirational quotes to keep me moving throughout the year.
I then plan for my goals at the micro-level on my weekly and daily pages, which are both on paper and on Google Keep. There’s still a lot of room for improvement in my system, but overall I can say that after a lot trial and error I’ve become much better at using my daily planner to try and achieve things in the long run.
As I rule, I try to review my goals every quarter, and then every month and every week. The monthly step can sometimes be overlooked (though I would like to work more on that in 2019), but the other two for me are essential.
The weekly review is a GTD concept that I think everyone is pretty familiar with, so I don’t need to spend too much words on it. I’ve failed at doing my weekly review for a very long time, but I think the main reason was the fact that my system was too complicated and all over the place. Now that I’ve managed to make things simpler and easier, I’m able to perform my review almost every Friday afternoon without fail.
The quarterly review is also important because it keeps me grounded on what the ultimate goal is and makes me realise whether I’m setting my goals too high or too low. I think one of the main reasons why I wasn’t always able to make progresses in my Chinese studies was because I didn’t realise that I can only accomplish so much in a 4-month timespan; when you star failing at reaching your goals quarter after quarter, you definitely learn something.
Another reason why a quarterly review is essential is because goals do change. In general (= I thought I wanted to do something in January, now it’s May and I’m realising I’m not interested anymore), and also at a more specific level – I still want to learn Chinese, but maybe I want to use different resources and I don’t want to finish studying that specific textbook anymore.
Sept – Oct – Nov – Dec 2018: What I want to accomplish
My big goal for this year is HSK3 which will be held on the 1st of December this year so it mostly overlaps with my last quarter. I usually talk about my exam preparation in separated and dedicated posts, so I won’t add anything more here.
I’ve reached my target of 25 books a while ago, so I’m much less concerned about numbers right now and more interested into finding interesting themes for my reading experience. In particular, before the end of the year I would like to
- read most of the books shortlisted for the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction
- read most of the books shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize
- finish 3 books I had put on hold
- read 3 more non-fiction books
- read a couple of classics
- read a fantasy over Christmas
Synthwave is a big passion of mine, not just as music but also as an aesthetic choice and a way of life; in this last months of 2018 I would like to read more about its origins and themes and also make sure to listen to the full discography of a few favourite bands of mine, namely
- FM 84
- Lost Years
- Timecop 1983
- Tommy ’86
I’ve fallen out of my routine of, but not of my love of yoga – so main goal in this area is to go back to a regular practice. I also have some health condition to follow up with and I want to get it done before the end of the year.
Near our home there’s a lovely public park that would be perfect to start a running routine – I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time, maybe instead of approaching it as a ‘I’ll start it next year’ kind of thing I could for once start now.
I’ve worked really hard on establishing healthy and productive habits this year, so I don’t want to push it too far; successful habits established during 2018:
- waking up between 6:00 and 6:30am
- morning yoga (to go back to, at the moment of writing)
- doing something related to Chinese everyday
- reading everyday
- movie night on Thursday
- eating reasonably healthy
- daily planning
- sharing my language learning experience on Instagram
- weekly review
- night time routine
- going to sleep between 10:00 and 10:30pm
Habits I would like to implement/enhance in the next 4 months
- spend less time on the phone while I wake up and
- journal instead
- be more strict about the 5 a day rule
- establish a sushi/Wagamama night with Asian dramas
- eat less cheese
I don’t have specific plans for my Japanese apart from keep studying it (almost) daily on Duolingo. All my focus is on Chinese right now and I already find myself confused between the two sometimes (especially with numbers), so for now I don’t intend to increase my effort on it. I will surely give Japanese much more space in 2019.
Things I absolutely want to watch before the end of the year:
- Black (Korean drama)
- On children (Chinese drama)
- Fire walk with me (Twin Peaks movie)
- Cold Case season 7
- Boys over flowers (Korean version)
- Reply 1994 (Korean drama)
- Falling skies season 1
- Mortal kombat
- The vengeance trilogy by Park Chan-wook
- Princess Mononoke
Closing note: the aim of this post is not to brag about how good I am at setting and accomplishing goals. First, because I’m not – and second, because I come from *years* of not knowing how to properly set and track my goals. So this is more to show the world that if I have gotten better at goals setting – well, any one can. Seriously.