2014 was to be the year in which I’d turn 30, and so it had to be the year. Y’know: the year when I pull my finger out, get some focus, and start to achieve my goals in life — or, as my wife puts it in her hilarious pidgin English, ‘stop living with the butterflies all around’. It was serious: I made a five year plan with charts and everything!
You’ll even have seen a glimpse of that determination to make 2014 the year from my post Project Polyglot Parry.
Unfortunately, 2014 didn’t go quite to plan. In fact, 2014’s been a bit shit, really. Various things have just kept popping up and it’s kind of stalled our progress. Although you can’t blame sweet and innocent 2014 himself; the malaise already began in early 2013 with a delightful family disaster and us being made homeless.
But you can’t make excuses; life is never going to be perfect. I’m quite a neurotic person who also loves a good moan. Whenever something good happens, I don’t get too happy; I expect that it’s just a precursor to an even bigger fall. And I recognise this fact about myself. So to counteract my natural negativity, I try to live my life according to the old Stoic maxim that
nothing is really good or bad, but it is our reaction to the thing which makes it so. You just have to soldier on: if you wait to feel perfect and for everything to be fine before you ever do anything, then you’ll never do anything (which is pretty much how I’ve spent most of the last thirty years, to be honest). So we’ve pushed on this year, albeit frustratingly and in fits and starts.
In this post, I want to take stock and go over my goals for the year that was and set myself goals for 2015 (let’s not call them resolutions, because that inevitably curses them to not be fulfilled).
My goals relate to personal development: improving my mind and my skills, being creatively fulfilled, and sorting my life out — including finances.
And lest this list seem like a random collection, there is a logic and an urgency behind it. You see, I am now thirty, my wife, thirty-two. We got married last year. We’re going to need to start thinking about kids and houses and stuff like that — before our nether-bits dry up and drop off. So I really need to get a grip of my finances and career, and I really need to get a grip of my creative endeavours before I end up like my Mum — put them off off off, have kids, never achieve anything artistically at all, ever. The life of the frustrated artist may sound alluring, but it really ain’t.
One last warning: This post is more for me than for you. Like when you tell everyone you’re quitting smoking, the idea is to engineer a situation where societal pressure will apply and you will be spurred on by the fear of public failure resulting in impending castigation, ostracisation, and shame. So this post won’t be a witty review, but a disappointingly (for you, I bet) po-faced look into what I was supposed to do, what I have done, and what I will definitely surely no doubt do next year (touch wood).
GOALS FOR 2014: SUMMARY
- Continue attending El Instituto Cervantes in order to learn Spanish. (I’ve always wanted to be fluent in a foreign language, and being the proud owner of a Spanish wife means that one day we’re likely to move to Spain; therefore, I probably need to learn the lingo).
- Sit and successfully pass A2 and B1 levels of the DELE (Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera: the Spanish language qualification that you simply must have if you want to get on in Spain).
- Start a GCSE in Ancient Greek. (See below for rationale).
- Join a Swedish class and sit and pass a low level Swedex (Swedish language qualification). (I’ve always loved Swedish).
- In order to help us buy a house and generally get a life, save 20% of my post-tax income (P.S. I’m a terrible saver).
- Continue with my campaign to become a local elected councillor… and to actually get elected to the chamber!
- Go to Thailand with the missus, probably in the Spring. (We were supposed to go for our honeymoon).
- Sit and pass the International Phonetics Association exam in the Summer.
- Research and apply to do an MA/MPhil in an area of Linguistics. (This is part of an ultimate bid to teach undergraduates at University).
- Get one feature length script up to 2nd/3rd draft stage.
- Send off the pilot of one of my sitcom series ideas to a producer.
- Over the course of a year, do an average of one 30′ sitcom script per month — total redrafts of scripts are counted towards this goal.
- Start learning to drive; particularly, do the theory test and pass.
- Get a better paid job.
- Start up a proofreading and editing business.
GOALS FOR 2014: REVIEW
1. Continue attending El Instituto Cervantes in order to learn Spanish.
I continued going to the Institute but by around April I had begun to struggle. I had to take full days off in holiday from my job in order to attend class; my job doesn’t let you take a few hours only. I ran out of holiday. I ended up spending two-thirds of the year with no holiday time to take for myself(!) and no time to take for further studies. So I missed half my classes. So I got behind in class. So I dropped out.
Yes, I did try to attend. Yes, I dropped out. I tried to restart classes again in the autumn, but I have been so financially hard up that I haven’t been able to. I thought I would do the Institute’s AVE scheme: study online and at home. But in the last few months, I haven’t had money even for that!
On the up side, I have tried to make up for this by not only carrying on with Memrise, but also starting CatSpanish and Duolingo. I’ve been doing quite well.
So… not a successfully achieved goal. But not a total failure, either.
2. Sit and successfully pass A2 and B1 levels of the DELE
As I said above, I became overwhelmed for various reasons and had to drop out of the Institute. I do actually already have A2 / B1 level of proficiency, anyway, but not the papers to prove it… But again: I could not afford to do the exams! Great…
3. Start a GCSE in Ancient Greek
I finished an MA in Christian Theology in 2013. I quite enjoyed the course. But it was a waste of time. I was a fool. I made a big mistake doing the course: I should have focused on stuff directly related to my goals. The only thing I have salvaged, psychologically, from the course, is that at least I learnt Greek! And so I need to keep up my Greek by studying and getting qualifications in it.
…But I haven’t. Haven’t kept up studying Taylor or Duff. Haven’t signed up for a GCSE. I have tried, though, but no schools want to take me on(!) Perhaps they thought I was a prankster or worse…
4. Join a Swedish class and sit and pass an A2/B1 Swedex (Swedish language qualification)
This one wasn’t my fault. The best, perhaps only, Swedish school in London has constantly cock-blocked me. Kinda not their fault, either; but they simply haven’t been able to find a timetable which meets my work needs. And in the last half of the year, as I said earlier, I have become seriously skint.
To try to make up for this, I have not only kept up with Swedish on Memrise, but I’ve also been working on Duolingo. Still, I need those Swedexes, though…
5. In order to help us buy a house and generally get a life, save 20% of my post-tax income (P.S. I’m a terrible saver).
I did save some money, though not 20%! But between us, we have scrimped and saved and are on the verge (touch wood!) of buying a house in my wife’s home city. This could be my sole greatest accomplishment of the year.
We’ve been handicapped in our attempts to do this, however, by lack of jobs, lack of better paid jobs, and a London-sized rent on a London-sized gaff (that is, grotesquely dear for absurdly small).
But even though it’s been frustrating, being on the brink of buying a gaff and saving a few quid cannot count as a failure. But it ain’t “SUCCESSFUL” until we’ve signed the papers and got the keys…
7. Go to Thailand with the missus, probably in the Spring.
Why didn’t we go? In a word: money. That’s becoming a somewhat familiar theme, isn’t it? To kind of make up for it, we did go mental in the third quarter of the year: Corfu in August, followed by Edinburgh and Budapest in October.
Next year, maybe…
8. Sit and pass the International Phonetics Association exam in the Summer.
Basically, I was not able to make it due to work commitments (which I could not get out of due to lack of holiday time; see point 1) and lack of money.
Again, there’s always next year…
9. Research and apply to do an MA/MPhil in an area of Linguistics.
I’ve made some half-arsed attempts at research. I’ve written some stuff down somewhere. I even sent a few emails off — no response though, and I never chased it up. In short: I have not applied for an MA or MPhil. I can’t even write “half-successful”, as I am frankly skint and so need to win a grant or other funding, and I haven’t researched how to.
10. Over the course of a year, do an average of one 30′ sitcom script per month — total redrafts of scripts are counted towards this goal.
Whoops. Nowhere close.
I’ve put a lot of effort into other stuff — especially language learning, politics, and trying to sort my housing and job situation out — and I haven’t even managed to finish an overhaul of one episode. Not a single one. This is the failure of the year which really grates the most. Made me wince just writing it down. I failed to do a single episode. What a sap. How am I ever going to be a writer when I carry on like that?
My intention and desire is there, but there’s never any follow-through. Scripts take concerted effort, and I’m just struggling.
11. Send off the pilot of one of my sitcom series ideas to a producer.
Well, I haven’t even managed a successful redraft or new script. Not one. So there’s clearly no way I would have sent anything off. What a loser.
12. Get one feature length script up to 2nd/3rd draft stage.
Yeah, like I said in points 10 and 11, I haven’t even managed to (re)draft a single 30′ sitcom episode. That’s like 40 pages, maximum. How the hell would I have got around to doing a feature length screenplay (that is, 100+ pages)?
Plenty of ideas. Quite a few notes. Some pretty original ideas and some others where I really think, yeah, that idea was meant to be written by me. Yet nothing has materialised. I really cannot abide my creative failure this year. Unacceptable.
Despite my horrific failures on the creative writing front, I did commit to certain blogging goals. And I have thus far stuck to them. Four blog posts a month, generally every Monday, has basically been upheld for around six months now. And I’m rather pleased with that. I managed to keep up my blog goal on my blog Wrixlings for about five months. Unfortunately, I’ve currently run out of stuff to say for the moment and so I’ve dropped back from two monthly Wrixlings posts to one. Bear in mind that the subject matter of Wrixlings is rather niche and therefore there’s a limit to what can be said on the subject.
But the blogging never was supposed to take the place of my actual writing. The blogging was and is meant as a light snack, an hors d’oevre, to the main event of writing scripts and performing comedy — none of which has happened.
13. Start learning to drive; particularly, do the theory test and pass.
Yeah… I haven’t done this. No excuses. My idea was to get cracking in the Autumn. Just basically being worn down by life has kinda killed my zest right now.
14. Get a better paid job.
So, this hasn’t happened. Up until about June I had a lot of juice and submitted a lot of applications. I completely overhauled my CVs and covering letters. I even got some interest — but only for jobs that were lower paid than my current one! I seem doomed to not get anything better because “you don’t have the experience”, despite the fact that I’ve got the transferrable skills and experience.
Genuinely not sure what I’m supposed to do about this. In the last few months, I’ve tried to aggressively self-promote to my managers due to management positions opening up. But I got less than nothing for it. I do a lot of good work and have a lot of skills, but maybe I’m not promoting or marketing myself well enough. I’ve begun to try to show my worth in a more see-through fashion in the hope that I might get promoted eventually at work.
I think I also need to do what my missus always does: actually cold call and go to people’s offices, try to go direct to the boss. All this online stuff just isn’t working out for me.
15. Start up a proofreading and editing business.
I got the software and hardware. I’ve done some jobs, paid and unpaid, and have done some studying. I’ve approached the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) about local meet-ups and training. Were it not for a lack of cash, I would’ve done a course in November. I’ve set up a website and generally got the ball rolling. I still need to take it to the next level:
- Do two courses with the SfEP that I’ve ear-marked.
- Further develop my website including regular articles.
- Research setting up a business (I’ve begun this already).
- Stop mucking around with odd-jobs and unpaid work, and set myself up as a pukka business with the government and thereby actually be able to do this properly.
GOALS FOR 2014: ANALYSIS
In 2014, I was SUCCESSFUL in 0 of my 15 goals, HALF-SUCCESSFUL (i.e. not successful, but achieved something approximating my goal) in 3 goals, and outright FAILED in 12.
That is not an acceptable tally.
The main factors holding me back have been:
- Lack of sustained motivation and a regular routine (e.g. calling one company regarding job positions every morning, starting every morning with a gym session, setting aside 10pm-midnight every day as my screewriting slot, etc.).
- No free time to achieve goals due to long working hours, partly caused by making up work days I missed in order to attend classes.
- No real money.
- Constantly waking up late on my days off, e.g., at lunchtime.
Clearly, I need to get a grip and (i) achieve a regular routine including waking up early on my days off, and involving making slots/times for my various activities, and (ii) find ways to earn more money including cutting down our outgoings. I also find that I have so much that I’m interested in and that I want to do that nothing ever gets done; solutin: focus on one or to things at a time, with great intensity, until completed? Apart, that is, from longer-term projects which require daily input, e.g., learning foreign languages.
Before I go on to my goals for 2015, I need to think about whether my goals are that important or worth getting hyped up about. I mean, ‘Learn Swedish’ — really!? But the thing is, I really don’t want to end up like most grown-ups I saw when I was a kid. That is, I’m an artistic person and a smart person, and I don’t therefore want to end up creatively frustrated, my passions denied, and myself in a living situation which I am not happy with. My goals can be classified as GEN[eral], LANG[uage], ART[istic], future LIFE stuff, and WORK related.
GOALS FOR 2015 & EXPECTED DATES
- [GEN/KEY] Create a timetable with slots, just like at school, and fill that timetable intelligently with all I need to achieve… and STICK TO IT!!!! [JAN]
- [LANG] Continue my programme of 30′ minimum every day each for Swedish and Spanish using Memrise and Duolingo. [Effective immediate]
- [LANG] Do an A2 DELE and at least begin the course which leads to a B1 DELE. [JUL-DEC]
- [LANG] Do an A2 Swedex and at least begin working towards B1. [JUL-DEC]
- [LANG] Complete Duff and Taylor GCSE 1 again. Upon completion, look into doing GCSEs in Ancient Greek again. [Begin JAN; one Chapter per fortnight, expected finish date NOV/DEC]
- [ART] Do one cartoon per six weeks; begin to upload them and/or other artwork online. [Begin Jan]
- [ART] Get the first draft of Part II of a book I’m writing, code name 21CLF, finished in a “polished draft”. [JUN]
- [ART] Get the first draft of Part III of “21CLF” finished. [DEC]
- [ART] Get one feature length script up to 2nd/3rd draft stage.
- [ART] Send off the pilot of one of my sitcom series ideas to a producer. [MAR]
- [ART] Over the course of a year, do an average of one 30′ sitcom script per six weeks — total redrafts of scripts are counted towards this goal.
- [LIFE] My weight has ballooned again: cut myself down to a healthy BMI & weight (around 13st) and stay there through healthy changes of diet and exercise regime, specifically, a minimum of three days going to the gym, daily use of the work gym for 30′ intense sessions, and less snacks. [Begin JAN]
- [LIFE] Finish buying the/a house. [FEB]
- [LIFE] Pass my driving theory test and begin lessons.
- [LIFE] Save ideally a minimum 20% of my post-tax income (or minimum £300, ideally £600, per month). [Begin 27th JAN]
- [WORK] Sit and pass the International Phonetics Association exam. [JUN/DEC depending on when they run it this year]
- [WORK] Research and apply to do an MA/MPhil in an area of Linguistics. [JAN/FEB]
- [WORK] Begin a DELTA to improve my ESOL career. [ASAP]
- [WORK] Do the first two editing courses, set up as an official business, network and set up online media relating to the business. [ASAP]
- [WORK] Get a better paid job. [ASAP]
- [GEN] Go to Thailand with the Missus. [during Thai dry season]
- [GEN] Finish reading the Koran. [DEC]
I’ll try to post an update at the end of each quarter in order to try to keep me on the straight and narrow.
featured image from http://www.getalifeman.com/jenkins.jpg
© 2014 – 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry