Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…in 2011

And probably was before you.

One year ends, another takes its place, and the changing of the calendar signals a time when idiots like me think they’ll magically do something with themselves.

Last year, based on these goals, I had a pretty good 2010. Based on memories, I had a poor first half, an eager wait for a few months and then an exciting couple of months to finish. It’s amazing what perspective can do. With that in mind, I’m giong to set myself some more goals to try to make me think that, no matter what happens in 2011, I’ll come out of it having done well.

This year I’m not putting learning to drive on my list. Maybe it should always be on, but unless I stay in Australia permanently I’m not going to do it and if I do find out I’m staying here it will probably be quite late in the year before that gets settled. Learning a language is also off because unless I end up in a country which isn’t English-speaking I’m not going to use it much, which will make it tricky to practise and I’ll just end up forgetting it all like I did with my German.

So what will I do instead?

– buy less rubbish
Whenever I move flat, or even rooms in a flat, I’m amazed at some of the cack I’ve kept for some reason, normally ‘it might come in handy one day’. Invariably it doesn’t. This feeling of amazement was amplified when I was leaving Edinburgh. I packed some boxes to keep at my parents’ place for a while and threw out/sold/gave to charity shops the bulk of my stuff. I did wonder why I was keeping some of the stuff that I had sent down south, especially given that I won’t be seeing it for at least a year. If I can live without it for a year, can’t I live without it for longer/ever? If I do settle down any time soon, I’m quite keen to stick the lot on eBay and start living a more minimalist lifestyle like this amazing guy.

A lot of the stuff that I got rid of were things like books, DVDs and CDs that I rarely/never made use of. Nearly all of these came from Amazon, because that’s where I invariably went every pay day. Scanning through some of the stuff I’ve bought, it’s such a shocking waste of money that could’ve been saved with a library card and a film club membership. The only thing I bought from there of real use is my camera and I only bought it from there because I was given a voucher.

In 2011, I will buy no more than three items from Amazon (or similar) for my own use.

– do some good
Deliberately vague because I’m not sure what I’m going to do for this, I just know I want to do something. I don’t think I’ll be in a position to give blood as many times as I did last year, but I’ll aim to give a couple of times if I’m allowed over here. I’ll make use of Kiva more regularly and I hope to do something quite major with a charity or a goodwill style business. I have a couple of ideas, but I’m not recording them here because they both depends on other people, and that’s never a good way to have your goals ruined.

– run more, in races and in real life.
In 2010, I ran three races that amounted to 23 kilometres. In 2011, I hope to run either more races or the same number that total up to a higher number of kilometres.

Although I met my target for races last year, I was quite upset when I realised how little I ran over the course of the year. I always take my Nike+ kit when I go for a run to keep track of things like this and even though I bookmarked the year with a run on 1 January (in icy/snowy conditions) and one on 31 December (in the sun), I only ran I also ran 140.67 km in 2010, compared with 181.2km in the last six months of 2009. I also only ran 30 times in the past 12 months, compared to the 35 I managed in six months in 2009. I’ll aim to run more than 141km this year and if I get that then I’ll ramp it up to beating passing the 182 mark.

– visit a new country, for a decent period of time
As things stand, I have until the end of October in Australia. There’s a possibility that this can be extended, which I’d be keen to do, and if it does then I’ll just have to take a holiday somewhere. If it doesn’t, then I have the perfect reason to go somewhere new. New Zealand’s a very possible location, as are places like Indonesia, Fiji and Malaysia. A decent period of time just means more than just a week or so’s holiday. I’ll probably aim to get stood up in that country (and in Australia, come to think of it) just for old time’s sake.

– go diving at least four times
Now that I’ve learnt how to dive, it seems silly not to keep it up. Ideally I’ll go a lot more than four times, but with travelling and questionable income then that might be quite tricky. Also, it’s pretty ace fun so I’d like to do it more for that reason alone.

– go to a class/take some new lessons in absolutely anything (x3)
I liked having this loosely defined last year. In 2009 I told myself I’d learn sign language but then lost the urge to do that so failed. At the start of 2010 I said I’d learn something, probably Latin. If I defined it as Latin I would’ve failed and I might not have gone to didgeridoo or diving lessons, which would’ve been a big shame. This year I’m going to learn something new. I don’t know what, but it’ll be ace. This has been upped to learn three new things because of Jemma‘s recommendation.

– finish 12 books
Suggested by Lynsey, who is in no way responsible if my life is ruined because of it. I don’t know how many is a good target, so I’ve gone for one a month. This might not be very many, but it means I can take into account busy periods that don’t allow me to read much and slow times when I trudge through a part of a book that just doesn’t thrill me. I’m going to pick titles (or at least authors) from the Penguin Classics selection. If you can’t trust Penguin, who can you trust? Aiming for just 12 means I can also have a bit more freedom to my book choices if something else catches my eye or is recommended to me.

This shouldn’t conflict with the buying less stuff task, because most hostels have book swaps going on and if not there are normally second hand bookshops that are willing to do trades, or I can join one of those new fangled library places.

– make at least $5500 through freelance work
With Demand Studios, if they don’t kick me off for my lazy rewrites, that’s slightly more than one article every day of the year. It’s not a massive total, but it’s the only financial one I have. On screen it’s very doable, but there will be times when I can’t be bothered writing about some stupid thing I don’t care about and depending on working or living situations it might not be desirable or possible to keep up. If I pass this total relatively early in the year I might look to bump it up a bit.

– send postcards
I’ve got a bunch of addresses of people who wanted a postcard from my travels. Some asked for a certain number, some just want a shiny picture. I’ve already ticked some off, but I’ll aim to send at least one (or however many were requested) to all that asked, and so long as it’s with plenty of time left in the year (and not a stupidly high number), I’ll keep doing it for any new requests in 2011. If any of you would like a postcard, I think you all have a private way of contacting me so you don’t need to share your address with lunatics in a public domain.

– watch eight live sporting events
That’s only nine, and I like round numbers, so I’m adding sports watching again, the only condition being that no more than half of them can be sports I included in the 2010 round up.

I also want to stop wasting so much time online, but I’m not sure the best way to do that and how I can measure it so it’s just going to be a vague aim for now. Can anyone explain to me why I’m on Twitter? I’m not really sure.

That should keep me going for a while, but if anyone has any other amazing suggestions, please send them through. 2010 was eight hours shorter than I expected it to be this time last year. If I’m clever I could gain quite a few hours in 2011.

Filed under: life, , ,

9 Responses

  1. Dave w says:

    So happy about the first one. You need very little – save your family the burden of throwing out your crap when/if you die!

    Hostels have been happy for me to swap books as I go (I mostly ask).

    I count your blogs as postcards. You can fit more words on, anyway.

    Finally, if you want to gain some time back, get on a plane and travel east forever – according to Prof Stephen Hawking, you will live imperceptibly longer.

    As he brilliantly quips: “You would have to fly around the world four hundred million times to add one second to your life; but your life would be reduced by more than that by all those airline meals.” !!!

    I have no resolutions – I can only think of stuff like ‘sort out tax in April’ and ‘contact student loans company,’ but that’s stuff I have to do anyway. It would be dangerous to give the impression it was optional!

  2. Jemma says:

    Libraries never have any good books, and film club dvd’s are usually scratched to buggery. Although Lovefilm was awesome when I lived in the flat, saved me a bomb.

    What you should do is go to second hand book shops where you can pick up books for about 50p and then leave them under your bed in hostels, or in random places. Like how you found Shantaram.

    This way you’ll be doing good as you’re passing on a book to other people, and although it’s still wasting a wee bit of money it’s better than a tenner a pop.

    Also I think you should link to my new blog, WHAT I HAD FOR LUNCH TODAY. Although I do have a real life dilemma that I might write about later if I can be bothered.

    Miss you! xxx

    • Oliver says:

      I don’t think I’ll ever link to that site and if I see you try to again I’ll change it just like I did here.

      I can’t remember ever going to a library in Edinburgh but I know the ones I used to go to before I moved there had good books in them, and the libraries I’ve seen over here seem much better than those. Without a permanent address I can’t sign up to either of those things, though.

      LoveFilm was the sort of thing I was talking about — my flatmate in Aberdeen was a member and his discs seemed okay — are there other bad ones? I’ll try to join a good one.

      I want to read your next dilemma. Hurry up!

      • Jemma says:

        I used to go to the library in Corstorphine and all of the books were kind of rubbish. Then again, I haven’t been there for a good few years.

        LoveFilm was awesome. I think my only other experience was with Blockbuster who were very overpriced (£3 for one nights rental) and always scratched.

        My blog has been updated! (both) 🙂

    • Oliver says:

      I started writing a post but then I went on holiday and didn’t finish it. Coming soon!

      (It says here your comment was posted at 4 January 2012 as 2.50am but that’s IMPOSSIBLE because it’s only 9.17 pm on 3 January.)

      • Dave says:

        I was thinking yesterday that I’m now further in the future than I’ve ever been before (at GMT +9). Then I realised that statement is true for everyone all the time.

      • Dave says:

        Oh, unless they fly west across time zones or are Nicholas Lyndhurst’s character in Goodnight Sweetheart, obviously.

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