At the start of 2014, a friend and I each made a list of 100 things we planned to do during the forthcoming year. As the time approaches to reflect on the year and look forward to the next, I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve done, or not.
Somewhat bizarrely, and to the hilarity of my oldest friend, I wrote my list of 100 things and then recategorised them according to area of life and put them all totally out of numerical order. My six categories consisted of ‘free time‘, ‘work‘, ‘family‘, ‘friends‘, ‘spiritual life‘ and ‘life‘. Looking at my list, ‘life‘ seems to have comprised the attitudes and actions I decided to partake of, whilst ‘free time‘ was more the activities I hoped to undertake. I think the categorisation helped me feel they were more identifiable, rather than an enormously unachievable to do list. The numbers themselves were merely assigned in the order I thought of the actions, to number them by desire to achieve them would have been nigh-on impossible!
As of this moment, unhappily there are 19 things I have not achieved this year – but there’s still a month to go! Some of these (24 – eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, 88 – read the Bible every day and 59 – hang up the bath mat) are now, sadly, unattainable goals. Those items that required daily achievement can be instantly undone. My advice therefore, to those who feel they would like to try this, would be to make these goals very specific. I shall perhaps, as an example, aim to eat breakfast at least 3 times a week in 2015, read my Bible at least 4 times a week, and hang up the bath mat on Fridays (live the dream people). That said, I created a seemingly achievable goal in writing one letter a month (11) which I singularly also failed to do…I did however, write 12 letters in a single month, which, as it is my list, I decided counted.
My work goals were an aspirational combination focusing on working less (15, 64 and 95), not feeling bad about it (14), and wearing my hair curly to work (7). While I wore my hair curly regularly, I singularly failed and succeeded at number 14, which I copy directly from my list: “repeat ‘I work hard, it is ok not to be working’ whenever I feel guilty about that – NO, BUT I RESIGNED!” My resignation has achieved all of my work goals, which I guess makes it great that I resigned. Happily I have even exceeded some goals, exemplified by aiming to research career options (96) and ending the year with a different career.
Nothing was too trivial to make the list – in fact, a few trivial goals are joyous, and easy to tick off. Framing a picture (45), drinking more water (89) and sorting the Tupperware cupboard (46 – needs doing again..) all made the grade. Painting my nails (87), wearing flip-flops (91) and travelling by train (54, bizarre how things work out) went onto the list purely because I enjoy them, and they make me feel happy. Starting the year out in the limbo of marital separation, that was incredibly important. The goals needed to bring me alive again. They needed to help me explore who I was as an individual. By writing a list of all the things I enjoy doing (43), I began to remind myself of who I am, meaning I end the year able to answer questions like ‘what music do you like?’ or ‘how would you spend a perfect day?’ with my own considered opinion. I’ve played more cards (44), I’ve lay on the beach looking for shooting stars (9), and I’ve sung my heart out in the car in front of (selected) friends (52). Also importantly, every goal was about me. None of them depended on anyone else doing anything; I could have gone about them all independently.
The goals weren’t entirely selfish though, and a significant number involved communicating more regularly and fully with family and friends, and paying visits. For some reason while I am often good at visiting in the new year, by September I am a lot worse. Communication apps have kept my immediate family in contact (19 and 20), as though we are all sat around the dining table. Banter, insults and random photos ensue, keeping everyone up to date with where brother #2 may be in the world, how the new youngest family member is faring and when people are reconvening at the parental home. I’ve also enjoyed stays and trips with a number of friends and relations (3, 8, 12 and 17), while having varied success on the birthday card front (31).
My primary goal was to go to London for an evening (1) because I know London brings me alive. Never would I have added getting a job in London to my list. I can’t even now remember when I went for an evening specifically, or what I did, but I think I’ve now well and truly covered it, and I imagine I thoroughly enjoyed it at the time, as I have every time since. Amongst other free time aims were going to a gig (71), the dancing show I used to perform in as a child (34), a musical (35), a comedy show (72), a football match (99) and the Victoria and Albert museum (97). As of September I had achieved the inspiring number of two, although I’d very much enjoyed the dancing show and the musical, but then received a flurry of invitations enabling me to achieve my dreams. Little would anyone have expected me to venture into the screaming world of heavy rock music, and enjoy it, helped in no small measure by having my brother there to metaphorically hold my hand. I’d also entirely forgotten how I actually very much enjoy sitting on a hard plastic seat in the cold to watch football. Perhaps ironically, given the amount of time I now spend in the capital, I still haven’t made it to the V&A and I fear that is fast approaching an early entry to the 2015 list.
I have ideas for next year, some that may surprise, and that last year I would never have considered. In 2014 I haven’t lost half a stone (30), I still haven’t seen Lucy (68 – Lucy – if you’re reading this!) and I haven’t entirely stopped swearing (100), although I’ve definitely improved.
But 2014 has changed me, hopefully for the better.
I’ve taken risks, trusted God to have my best at heart and emerged triumphant from some incredibly tough times. Perhaps the best way to sum up my 2014 is in one simple sentence.
I feel alive again.
And I leave you with a few little lists to inspire your own.
5 personal highlights from 2014’s list
– going to the dentist by myself not once, but twice
– praying more and worrying less
– going to Berlin with Emily
– writing again and having the courage to post on this blog (thanks for your support!)
– swimming outdoors under the stars in the middle of the city
5 unexpected things that happened this year that I’ve loved
– visited Buckingham Palace
– got a new job
– wore all my dresses throughout Strictly
– seen Parliamentary debate and Select Committee questioning
– resigned without a job to go to and trusted that God has a plan
– finally shred all the paper from school I don’t need
– explore one new attraction or place each month in London
– have a night in each week
– travel to a foreign country
– go on a plane (while it’s flying, the ones attached to the floor at the Army Air Museum don’t count!)