Yeah, I know it’s a little late to be posting articles on New Year plans and resolutions. What can I say, I’ve been busy! (And that itself is something I want to change… on which more later.)
This is my third and final Annual Review post for this New Year. If you’re just arriving, first check out this post reviewing 2014’s successes and failures, and this post looking at how well I did keeping to last year’s resolutions – plus the effect they’ve had on the various aspects of my life.
In this post, I’m going to take the successes of last year, add in the changes I want to make going forward, and create the new resolutions and goals I’ll be using as guidance during the coming months.
I hope you’ll excuse the rather whimsical, personal nature of this process, and enjoy following it in the spirit of personal growth and betterment. It only happens once a year, after all…
Travel & Adventure
Last year was a fulfilling one in terms of new places, new experiences and meaningful journeys. I spent almost 4 months on the road on a big variety of travels and adventures.
This year is going to be a little different.
In 2015 I will spend the entire year with no fixed abode. This year of travel and itinerancy will include at least one bicycle adventure, and at least one adventure by a brand new means of transport.
I flew to Australia on New Year’s Day. I’ll be here until the start of March, then in London temporarily, and then… well, the options remain open!
Within this general lifestyle shift, I’ll continue going on short, spontaneous adventures whenever the opportunity arises – and make more effort to generate such opportunities myself.
This is quite a big deal, of course, and thus worthy of its own blog post. More soon…
In 2014 I published 90,172 words of new content on TomsBikeTrip.com, mainly in the form of how-to and advice posts.
I feel that the site is nearing saturation point when it comes to this kind of content, and so this year my focus will shift towards sharing news and stories from the broader community of bicycle travellers. My hope is that these stories – together with the existing resources – will inspire more people to get out on their bikes and see the world in 2015. Which is, of course, the whole point of this blog!
I’ll also be launching a new website as a hub for my growing number of projects, adventures and writings that are not directly bicycle-related, yet which are in growing need of their own outlet.
In terms of goals and resolutions, then:
In 2015 I will launch a new personal/professional blog by the end of Q1, and publish at least one new article a week on it from that point forth. I will continue to publish at least once a week on TomsBikeTrip.com.
One of the big successes of 2014 was my eBook, Essential Gear, in which I brain-dumped everything I knew on a very specific topic, then rewrote, edited and published the result.
It was hard work. But it turned out lots of people wanted this information, and it turned out I could avoid insolvency by publishing it – thus hitting my main financial goal for the year (i.e. don’t go bankrupt).
It was also a gratifying thing to write in a more timeless form than blog posts. So much blog content is relevant for only a few days or weeks before ‘going under’ and never being seen again.
There are a handful of topics on which I could write similar eBooks, and so – given the investment of a few weeks’ hard graft – it would be silly not to commit to writing another. Yet at the same time, I have missed the creative aspect of long-form travel writing. So while another ‘informational’ eBook is a good idea from a business perspective, from a creative one I would much prefer to be writing another tale of adventure.
One of the most gratifying things about 2014 was working with other people on creative projects, and so this year I’m going to try that style of working with my writing resolutions too.
In 2015 I will publish at least two new eBooks in the field of travel & adventure. At least one will be a collaboration. At least one will be the story of a journey.
Although last year I did manage to produce and direct one film, things were still pretty thin on the ground in terms of actual, tangible results as a filmmaker. There is a short film of the Karun adventure doing the festival rounds this year, but it’s now more than two years since I actually finished making a feature-length adventure film.
It’s been a similar amount of time since I published a travel writing book, and I feel that this is all part of what you might call ‘second album syndrome’.
It seems you can hardly help perceiving your first major creative work as a magnum opus, the thing into which you’ve poured every ounce of expressive energy you’ve been bottling up since you were born.
From there it seems to be a choice between two slippery slopes: a follow-up, in which you try to repeat the formula but it fails because it’s no longer the first time you’ve discovered this form of expression; or withdrawal, in which you spend the rest of your days hiding from the terrible possibility that nothing else you make will ever be quite as sparkling, meaningful and resonant as that first big thing.
I would like to believe that somewhere amid all that murk there is a third path. So my writing and filmmaking resolutions are both aimed at finding it:
In 2015 I will complete and release at least two of the feature-length adventure films sitting on my shelf.
Work & Life
My goals so far have either arisen naturally or been borne out of necessity. It’s the work-life resolutions that have been harder to pin down, as my extended wafflings last week may have demonstrated.
I identified that – as a self-employed person with an inefficient ’employer’ at the helm (i.e. me) – I spend way too much screen time on unproductive ‘work’, and that this lost time could be better spent on the things that I love, that have nothing to do with work, and which have increasingly become sidelined by my rubbish working habits.
To fix this, I’ve decided to try the strategy of actively building non-work into my routine, with the theory that limiting my working time will force me to make it more efficient.
To that end, then, I have created resolutions around the things that matter to me. Broadly this is learning, but specifically reading books and learning new practical skills.
In 2015 I will read one book a week that has nothing to do with work. To hold myself accountable, I will write and publish a review of each of these 52 books.
I will also study one new skill each month that has nothing to do with work.
When I look at this coldly, it seems absurd that someone who loves reading would need to set themselves a target of one book a week. But then I remember that it’s no more or less absurd to set a target of working 40 hours over a 5-day period and then taking 2 days off in order to receive a fixed amount of money once a month.
For billions of people, these invented time structures are entirely normal, and it helps them make sense of what they’ve chosen to spend their time doing. I don’t have that luxury. But why not apply the same concept to the things I’ve chosen to spend my time doing?
That’s it for this year’s Annual Review. Thanks for staying with me! Check back in… ooh, 11 months, say… if you’re interested to see how the year pans out.