[Slightly late in posting this]
With half a year already behind us it’s nice to take the time for sitting down and dedicating a few minutes to think about how things have gone so far – and even more importantly, how we want them to go in the following 6 months. Because honestly, planning for an entire year in advance is kind of optimistic. Many of the things we thought were important in January are no longer on the horizon by March, so readjusting and reevaluating is always a good practice.
I shared at the beginning of the year some of the ‘silly’ things I wanted to do in 2018, but I actually have four main areas of self growth in which I put my focus every year: language learning, health & wellness, books, and screen time (movies as well as tv shows).
I’m going to review each of them in order of increasing difficulty, meaning, from the activity that requires the least will power to the one that I almost have to force myself to do.
1. Movies, Asian Dramas, TV series
Paradoxically, this year my main goal in this sector was to watch less stuff. Last year I spent a lot of my free time with my nose glued on the iPad screen, only to feel disappointed in the end for not accomplish much in terms of Chinese and everything else (surprise surprise). Another goal of mine this year was to decrease the amount of American tv series I watch and start focusing more on Asian dramas.
I’m happy to report that I’ve been quite successful with both these goals. I now watch American tv series almost exclusively when I’m cooking / washing the dishes / ironing (I also watch them with my significant other, but not every night). I wanted to watch a minimum of 6 Asian dramas in 2018, and at the time I’m writing this I’m close to finish my 5th. I’ve also been watching more movies, something I used to do a lot in my teen years but for which I’ve kinda been lazy lately.
All in all, it’s a much welcomed change that has improved my life quality a lot, and has allowed me to find room for other more important and satisfying activities.
2. Books (novels and non fiction)
Reading is definitely the sector that has been more successful this year. In 2017 I barely managed to reach my goal of 25 books, and not because I didn’t have the time to; I was devoting my free time to the wrong activities (see above) and I wasn’t even making all that conscious choices in terms of what I wanted to read.
So I went for 25 books again in 2018, just to play it safe, and I actually reached my goal by June, 15th. Not only I have achieved it in less than half the expected time – I’m also much more satisfied by the reading choices I’m making. This year I finally read a lot of books that had been on my wish list for the longest time, I’m switching between genres and reading different things a lot more, and I’ve been keeping myself up to date with the latest trends and bookshop releases. Now every time that I go Waterstones or Blackwell’s I know the majority of titles that are on display, and I’ve often read a few of them already.
I don’t want 2018 to be a rare bird but rather to become the standard way I approach my reading time. It’s not so much about the numbers, but mostly about making intentional choices and be aware of how I spend my own free time.
3. Language learning
Here comes the sore point of this list. Despite my best efforts, I cannot honestly say that my language study routine has improved much since the lows of last year. I’m starting now to be a little more consistent with my study and to see the first serious progresses, but these first 6 months have been mostly trials and errors.
Honestly, I would have never though that self-learning would have been this hard. I was so motivated and positive when I fist decided not to go back to Chinese classes and to start the solo-journey – where has all that good energy gone? I’m still passionate about language learning but I’m struggling a lot in finding my own way. Which means that the road towards fluency is still very long.
On a more positive note, I can say that at least this year I’ve spend a lot much time studying that in 2017. It may not be extremely successful, but at least I’ve brought myself more times than not to do the work. Another good thing of 2018 is the fact that, after much toying with the idea, I finally started studying Japanese again. It’s only a 10 min daily practice on Duolingo, so definitely nothing mind-blowing, but for now it’s enough to bring me in touch with the language again.
4. Health and wellness
I like being healthy and I like the idea of being healthy, but sometimes I find it hard to keep it up to my expectations (especially when living with someone who craves junk food all the time). I’m fairly good at eating healthy [water intake, 5 a day, no refined sugars etc.] but when it comes to do physical exercise, except for walking, I have to really push myself to do it.
In January I had to investigate a potentially bad health condition which thankfully didn’t happen in the end – this was the much-needed wakeup call to finally face the physical activity issue and change my mind frame once and for all.
I can’t say that now I’m the queen of workouts and, yes, I could always do more, but since then I’ve been making a conscious effort in trying and being more active. A very important thing for me in this process has been finding the sort of activity that I actually like doing; so no gym, no I-want-to-be-slimmer workouts, not hiit – yes yoga, yes pilates, yes qi gong. I want to be able to enjoy what I’m doing, not just appreciate the results.
So how am I assessing the achievements in this sector for the first half of the year? I’d say that I can and I want to do more, but I’ve also made important progresses and I now feel a lot more engaged in my overall health and wellbeing. In the end it’s a kind of holistic practice – I can’t really be healthy if I don’t take care of my nutrition as well as physical exercise as well as self love and self care. You know the I treat my body like a temple meme? Exactly, just, for real.
Blog. I’ve been more relaxed about blogging this year, which sometimes has turned out as ‘I would like to write this on my blog but naaaah‘, but in general it’s worked better for me. I often think about giving up since I’d rather spend time actually studying than writing about studying, but for now I can’t really bring myself to do it.
Instagram. I’ve been a lot better this year. I’ve had my good share of non-active periods, but I’ve kept it up fairly well and I’ve shared a lot more compared to 2017. I love the language learning community there and it’s definitely one of my main source of inspiration for when I’m feeling down (LL-wise).
Things that I would like to implement in my routine
Photography: it’s always been a great passion of mine and I also have a super classy sassy DSLR camera waiting for me to release my inner artist (much inner), but I just seem to never find the time for it. It’s actually a bit of a controversial point, because I know that, when it come to focus and attention, less is more – but it’s also something I really really want to do, so I’ll definitely take it into consideration.
I’ve been also quite good at my simple life project this year (there will be a dedicated post on this topic), so for the rest of 2018 I hope to be able to declutter even more and to be able to streamline my routines by cutting down all the different time-wasting activities I still carry out.
2018 has been a surprisingly satisfactory year so far, and honestly I think this is the first time I feel like I’m really getting closer to where I want to be in life. I think that reflecting on how things have gone so far is extremely useful, and it’ll help a lot in making the right choices in the upcoming months.