The New Year is approaching and I’m the kind of person who loves to use that as a fresh start, a blank slate. Yippee!
As a small business owner and sole mortgage-payer, it’s easy to make life all about the work – especially because I love the work I do. Between work and a seven-year-old, I rarely do enough of anything else, but having made a better effort at a well-rounded life in 2017, I can see how doing all kinds of stuff actually makes the work go better!
I know not everyone likes resolutions, and this year I’m not exactly writing resolutions, but, inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s podcast on 18 things in 2018, I’ve created a list of 18 things to tick off by the end of 2018. They are seemingly random, some are small and some are big, some work-related and many not, but I’m excited by them. I brainstormed at my kitchen table with a cup of green tea to create this list, and kept my big Evernote list of life goals (yes, I have one of them!) next to me, so I feel like they tie in to bigger things but on their own are mostly fun and inspiring. (Mostly.)
What gets measured gets done, as they say, so I’ve decided to put them online and track my progress throughout the year.
18 things to do in 2018
1. Get new glasses (which fit, and I like)
This may seem a no-brainer but it is a constant struggle! Don’t look at me too closely next time you see me, but on one side of my face, the gap between my eye and eyebrow is significantly less than the other, so it’s difficult to get glasses that don’t end up looking (and feeling) crooked. I usually wear contacts if I’m running a course or giving a talk, but when I’m at my desk with a computer they don’t seem to give me optimal vision.
2. Make a photo book of Legoland trips
My son has been lucky enough to visit Legoland in Germany (2015) and Malaysia (2017) and we are planning to visit the new one in Japan next year. We have photos on the wall from these trips but they’re very special and I’d like to have a photo book – I’ve made them for other trips, and advocate them in my Travel Journal School course – for him about his Legoland fun.
3. Sort out my mortgage
A boring administrative problem, but has to be done and it’s so easy for me to put this off because there is nothing fun about it, but I will feel much better when it’s all sorted out.
4. Get a necklace/chain I love
I don’t wear a tonne of jewellery, but for many years I had a gorgeous chain with a four-leaf clover on it, bought by my dear (now lost) friend in Japan, Yuko. Somehow I lost it a while back – when I moved house, I think, so I keep thinking it will show up – but even if it does turn up, I’d like to have something else too. The problem with me is I like these things to be super-meaningful, so I want to buy it when I’m travelling somewhere, for example.
5. Learn to cook a new Japanese dish
I recently added Nasu-dengaku (an amazing eggplant dish) to the Japanese foods I can cook decently, but that’s inspired me to learn more – and I’m sure our trip there in March will give me some more ideas for this one.
6. Swim 50km
Not all at once! I used to swim laps at the local pool twice a week, until work made it hard to fit in, but I know it’s very good for me, and that I always get great ideas in the pool (it’s a bit like being in the shower!). Swimming 50km in 2018 just means a bit less than one session a week – one kilometre is 20 laps, which I can manage without drama – so I think this is reasonable and very, very good for me.
7. Get a beautiful new logo for NotABallerina.com
Yes, a work one. My travel blog has had the same lovely logo for … hmm five or six years now? … and it no longer reflects the core of the blog. I have been talking with my friend, artist Aggie Lim, about doing this for a couple of years, but I’m going to make it happen in 2018!
8. Make a Thanksgiving meal for friends
Here in Australia, I feel like we’ve been unreasonably resistant about what we see as American culture – even though we happily jump on board with celebrating Chinese New Year, for example. In 2017 I had this idea of celebrating Thanksgiving – which, after all, sounds like a really cool thing to do, and gratitude is all the rage – but it clashed with a really busy time of year and some already-planned social events. But I’m putting it on the calendar for 2018.
9. Buy a snuggly dressing gown
I’m fussy about this. I still use one that – this is the truth – my mother made me a couple of decades ago! It was in storage for a lot of that time, to be fair, but time has worn it somewhat and it’s time to upgrade.
10. Stay overnight on Rottnest Island
This gorgeous island off our coast here in Perth is one of my favourite places, and on my travel blog I insist that the best way to visit Rottnest is to stay overnight, and yet my poor son has only ever been there on day trips. Time to fix that! (Preferably for several nights, I think.)
11. Keep a list of the books I read
I love reading and I’ve just managed in the past year or so to really steal time back for it, especially in the evenings before I go to sleep – instead of staying up late at my desk doing work (ineffectively, because I’m not a night owl at all). Keeping track of what I read encourages me to do more of it, and is just interesting to me in general!
12. Have a monthly solo fun day out
As a self-employed person who works from home, I have a very flexible lifestyle but this means I usually do some work (whether it’s a couple of hours or a whole heap of hours) every single day, including weekends. In fact, Sunday mornings, when I’m home alone, are one of my most productive time slots, so I’m not giving up working on weekends. But recently I’ve started booking a whole day (well, a whole school-hours-day) to do something different and on my own. For example, I went to a movie and lunch one time, and the other time, I attempted to go to a museum exhibition I wanted to see – until my son ended up home sick from school! But the first time was amazing, and I came home with all these new ideas for work, as well as the feeling of having had a proper break.
13. Learn to use my DSLR camera properly
I need to get off automatic! Simple as that! I’m not stupid, so I’m sure I can learn, I just need to take them time to do it and practice.
14. Submit a short story to a contest
I have always loved writing fiction (I have two unpublished novel manuscripts in my metaphorical bottom drawer) but haven’t done it really at all since my son was born. I’m not ready to really dive back into it deeply, but I think it would be fun to get creative again and this is a not-too-time-consuming way to do it.
15. Pursue my love of intricate patterns
I don’t have any idea what this will mean yet, but I adore the intricate patterns you see from the arts and crafts of various cultures and I want to do more with that feeling!
16. Try a new food every week
This one struck me at the supermarket yesterday. Even just in the fruit and vegetable section, there are numerous foods I’ve never tried. Trying new foods seems like a simple way to be a little more adventurous every week.
17. Keep a great travel journal on each trip
I have a couple of weeks in Japan planned, plus a week in Kuala Lumpur. Since I preach about doing these well on Travel Journal School, I need to practice this more consistently myself.
18. Do a digital declutter and organise photos
Self-explanatory I think, and a task I have been putting off for years. Now that I have faster internet, I have made headway with organising all my old digital photos this year, but it’s an unfinished job plus I want to organise all my data a bit better. Not a particularly fun task but a necessary and useful one.