Self-Motivation #selfmotivation #newyearsresolution @resolutions #SMART

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Here’s the private note I wrote myself in January 2016 to keep focused. Spelling and formatting as in the actual note. Never looked at it till now, so kinda defeats the purpose. Anyway, in red ink (‘cos red = emergency and thus unforgettable, so went my thinking) it reads:

If I want to achieve my creative and linguistic goals, I need to dedicate SUFFICIENT time EVERY DAY.

But …..

…… I don’t have the time. Therefore, I need to think how to filter this time throughout the day, e.g., vocab. cards on the train.

So ….. Come up with a daily plan that gives me …..

* 2-3.5 hrs of screenwriting/novels/etc (=BIG creative works) per day

* Vocab cards + listening/speaking of 30′ + Memrise

= 1 hr / day per language

–> Swedish, Spanish, and….. Other langs = only Memrise. But langs I am serious about, do above.

* Blogging = 1 hour

* 21CLF — sth, even a subsection 30′ per day

Think about how to thoroly embed my serious langs into my life in order to speed up my learning

Can’t say I disagree with my own conclusions. But I’ve been very inconsistent.

  1. “Big” creative works, e.g., screenplays and novels. FAIL! Well… definitely haven’t done any work at all on these for several months, and very little in any case in 2016.
  2. Language stuff. SUCCESS! I have been doing, more-or-less fairly consistently, flashcards, reading, speaking, listening, and so on, in both Spanish and Swedish. At least half an hour each language a day; very often, an hour or so.
  3. Blogging. More-or-less SUCCESS! I haven’t been doing an hour every day, but I work on my blog (behind the scenes) almost every single day, and throughout the week, I easily tot up an average of one hour a day.
  4. “21CLF” is one book I am writing. FAIL! I have actually done a lot on this during 2016. However, it has been in fits and starts. Mainly, other stuff periodically take precedence and this book gets sidelined. But I was right: I’ve gotta at least look at this project on a daily basis or it’ll never come off.
  5. Thinking how to embed my languages in my life. MIXED! I’ve done this somewhat, but not extensively. But then I didn’t set myself a SMART goal. That is, no specific, measureable, broken-down targets; therefore, how can I judge my success?

Conclusions?

I need to start setting myself SMART Goals for 2017. That is, goals which has are distinct and definite parts so I can measure my success, and a predetermined timeline to do them by. All of my above goals, despite specified time to be spent, are still a tad vague.

Also, speaking for myself, I find I work very well when I have a series of deadlines stacked up and am forced into planning more. Hence why I tend to do well on courses and in work-based assignments. Hmm, maybe there’s a lesson there for 2017…

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

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5 Year Plan: Update #newyearsresolution @resolutions

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I decided in 2013 to set a five year plan for myself during this cross-roads period of my life (ages 28-33). Well, 2016 is the forelast year, so I thought I would look over my goals to see what I have achieved and where I haven’t quite lived up to my own hopes. Click on the picture above for an enlarged version. With one year to go, there’s everything to play for.

Sometimes goals change. That’s good and fine. But we can’t lie to ourselves and say that our failed goals were things that were no longer relevant.

I’ll talk about both personal and professional goals (often, they are mixed: learning Spanish, for example, involves both), what went right or wrong, and how should I take things forward now. Who knows, maybe you’ll get something out of this exercise in self-analysis, too. (key stuff I’ve highlighted with red text colour).

1. Have achieved C1 level (lower advanced) of Spanish and be going for the C1 DELE certificate.

Fail

I started out as A2~B1, and four years later I am… B1. Albeit, more solidly. Was my initial goal realistic? Yes, it was. Around three hours a day, every day, for around six months would have got me to C1. Around an hour a day would have got me there by around two years ago. So why have I failed?

Partly, I have been inconsistent. There are been large chunks of the last four years where I haven’t studied Spanish at all. Likewise, I have reassessed my goals. My thinking has shifted to this: when me and my wife finally decide to go and live in Spain (she is Spanish), if indeed we ever do, then and only then will I dedicate myself to hardcore studying.

2. To have achieved the levels and qualifications in Swedish B2 and Ancient Greek A-Level

Fail

I wanted to also get to B2 or above in Swedish, with the qualification to prove it. And have carried on with my ancient Greek and have an A-level in it to my name. Both have fallen by the wayside. Mainly because they aren’t essential to my life, they have been squeezed out. But I still desperately want these things and plod away, sporadically, at trying to achieve these goals. Yet: if I cannot commit 100%, that includes regularly, to these goals, perhaps I should ditch them totally, no matter how much I want them…

3. Have finished a few particular screenwriting projects I had in mind and have sent scripts off to companies.

Fail

The worst of all my goals. I am exactly where I was four years ago. Although I am at least regularly blogging, so I’m getting some writing practice. However, I set up this blog mainly so I could warm up each day before getting on with the “real” writing: my books and screenplays. The blog was meant to be the starter before the main course!

My failure to move forward on the writing front is gutting. I had a plan, though: write this one particular short book, then rework one particular screenplay, then turn back to this other specific book, and then get back to this other screenplay. So two specific books and two specific screenplays. Not unrealistic at all given that none of these projects would have been from scratch. All I have done is a bit of work on book one, and virtually nothing on any of the other projects.

The main reason for the failure isn’t that I lack the desire. And it isn’t that this goal is not very important to me. Rather, the goal requires serious dedication day-in, day-out over a period of months and months. Yet real life keeps getting in the way.

4. Have a car

?Fail?Success?

I originally thought that I would learn to drive in the second half of 2015 and have a car by 2015. I actually started learning to drive this year, 2016, and am about to do my theory test. So, I missed my deadline, but I am in the process of doing it now. Delayed almost success? Let’s call this a one-quarter success; when I pass my tests and get a full licence, that’ll be half success; and the car ownership part would be the full deal.

5. Get married

Success!

Some success at last! Despite various hardships that we were subjected to, happening at the worst time, we managed to put on the wedding of our dreams in 2013. And still married after three years. Wahey! We simply said, “We do not care what the world throws at us! We’re doing this and that’s that, no matter what sacrifices need to be made!

See here and here for some wedding vids!

6. Save up and buy a house

Success!

Me and my wife cracked it and bought the house last year. It’s going well. We saved, saved, saved, and then, guess what? We saved a bit more. We rented cheap, shared flats. We didn’t spend as much on takeaways and Gucci Hyratchis

7. Finish writing a particular book

Fail

This is a case where I completely underestimated the enormity of the project. So I switched to another more manageable book project to work on first. But sadly, I have not quite sorted that one either. Mainly, I have had to keep sidelining the project due to other more pressing day-to-day priorities.

8. Do an MA in English Linguistics at UCL: 2014-2016

N/A

This one was always dependent solely on finding the right time to finance this. I started the MA a few months ago. It’s going very well. But there is still a long road ahead. Will I succeed to the level I want? Only time will tell. I’ll chalk this up as a half-success right now. I’m due to finish in 2018.

9. Build a career in politics

?Fail

I wanted to build a career in politics. Not because I like that seedy world, but because I have strong beliefs and think that getting elected is the best way to get my views implemented. I ran for local council and, whilst I didn’t get elected, I did quite well. The plan was to then have a tilt at the General Election in 2015 and all other upcoming elections. Sadly, I was simply not able to sacrifice enough time to make this happen and decided to knock it on the head for the meantime. I mean, 40 hours unpaid a week was already too much!

10. Freelance more

Fail

I still do freelance language lessons and editing and proofreading. However, the percentage of my income coming from this has more-or-less stayed the same. I was hoping to significantly increase my earning power. However, I’m not too disappointed about this as I had intentionally, deliberately prioritised other aspects of my work and life. This goal is important to me, however, so I need to formulate a new long-term strategy.

11. There were various other goals I have had which didn’t feature on the above list…

11a. Become a member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders and improve my standing within it and the profession.

Success

This goal is on-going as I haven’t yet reached the top of my potential. However, I did indeed join the SfEP and keep working away.

11b. Join on a full honeymoon to Thailand

Fail/Change of Goal

We went on a mini-honeymoon which I have termed a “snackimoon”. It was brilliant. But we still had designs on Thailand. However, over the last three years, whilst we both still want to go to Thailand, it’s not actually that important to us anymore. At least, not compared to what it was.

11c. Get into and stay in shape

Fail

I got into shape for my wedding and stayed in shape for a while afterwards. But bad habits reasserted themselves. Maybe I need to renew my vows every twelve to eighteen months!

SUMMARY

13 key life goals. A five year period. Four years down, one to go. My current score? 3.75/13. That can definitely be improved upon.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

Project Polyglot Parry V: September 2016 Update @irishpolyglot #newyearsresolution @resolutions @duolingo #duoling

 

I’m learning two main languages, Spanish and Swedish. I’ve been using Duolingo to learn them of late (in fact, I’m more-or-less relying on Duolingo at the moment, which isn’t good; you should use more than one resource to give you good variation). I’ve been doing around 30 minutes a day for each language, which is the bare minimum you should do.

If you know how Duolingo works, I’ve just managed to fully regild my completed Spanish tree. Which is great news. Next steps:

  1. Keep the tree gold.
  2. Work on and complete the “reverse tree”; that is, the English for Spanish speakers course (which is a learnsome challenge). Then keep that gold.
  3. Start the online virtual Spanish classroom from the Cervantes Institute, probably at B1 level.
  4. Go and sit a B1 level DELE.

This will make me firmly intermediate in level. I should have started step 3 by Summer 2017, and maybe completed step 4 by the following summer. When Finish step 4, I’ll work out the best way to keep that level and build on it. The ultimate goal is to be C2, of course.

I was stuck on Swedish for a long time. I kept mucking up infinitives and this sapped my energy. But I’ve been powering on lately. Moving onto new topics has got me pretty excited. In particular, I have loved getting to grips with the kommer att future form and the håller på present continuous. There’s a lesson for you: don’t get bogged down on troublesome topics, as it will kill it for you. Just keep moving.

I hope to have finished the tree by 30th November. So my middle-term plan is thus:

  1. Finish and keep the Swedish for English speakers tree golden.
  2. There is no English for Swedish speakers course, so I need to start a distance / online / self-learning course at B1 level (I am, more-or-less A2 right now).

2016 actually marks ten years of learning Swedish(!) I’m pretty sure I should be fluent right now. Cambridge recommends 1000-1200 hours to be fluent (C2); so, studying an hour a day, I should have been at C2 level by 2010. But more on that next time!

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

New Year’s Resolutions 2016: Half Year Update

LIFE PLANS & RESOLUTIONS

Six months of 2016 have gone. So it is time to review my goals for 2016. How much have I achieved? How much am I likely to achieve? Where am I going right? Where am I going awry? And where did I have my goals and priorities messed up? NOTE: This post is probably more for me than you guys!

GOALS FOR 2016

  1. Do something, at least half an hour, from each [CATEGORY] on this list, every day. MORE-OR-LESS
  2. [LANG] 30′ minimum every day each for Swedish and Spanish using Memrise and Duolingo. MORE-OR-LESS
  3. [LANG] Work towards B1 level in Spanish and aim to sign up for a course in the last quarter of 2016. MORE-OR-LESS
  4. [LANG] Do an A2 Swedex. MORE-OR-LESS
  5. [LANG] Complete Duff’s The Elements of New Testament Greek, and then Taylor GCSE 1, again. One chapter a fortnight. Upon completion, look into doing GCSEs in Ancient Greek again. NOT HAPPENING: other things are taking priority (see below).
  6. [ART] Continue updating The Doggerelizer weekly, Wrixlings monthly, start updating YouTube twice monthly. BLOGS YES, Y/T NOT HAPPENING
  7. [ART] Do one cartoon per six weeks; begin to upload them and/or other artwork online. NOT HAPPENING
  8. [ART] Get the first draft of Part II of a book I’m writing, code name 21CLF, finished in a “polished draft”. MORE-OR-LESS: I have switched to a new even shorter rewrite which I will release first, hopefully very soon, with the full Part II released by year’s end.
  9. [ART] Get the first draft of Part III of “21CLF” finished. NOT HAPPENING
  10. [ART] Get one feature length script up to 2nd/3rd draft stage. NOT HAPPENING: currently focusing on getting the even shorter rewrite and Part II of “21CLF” out; will refocus on screenplays when this happens.
  11. [ART] Send off the pilot of one of my sitcom series ideas to a producer. NOT HAPPENING: see point 10.
  12. [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. NOT HAPPENING: see point 10.
  13. [LIFE] My weight has ballooned again: cut myself down to a healthy BMI & weight (around 13st; a pound loss a week for 52 weeks) 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. NOT HAPPENING: see point 10.
  14. [LIFE] Pass my driving theory test and begin lessons. MORE-OR-LESS: I have been reading DVLA materials and studying for the theory.
  15. [LIFE] Get out and stay out of my overdraft. ACHIEVING.
  16. [WORK] Sit and pass the International Phonetics Association exam. NOT HAPPENING: They only run it twice a year, and then they often cancel. Last year there was no exam, for example. Therefore, I joined the International Phonetics Association and have applied for an MA (see point 17 below).
  17. [WORK] Research and apply to do an MA/MPhil in an area of Linguistics. MORE-OR-LESS: I have applied; I need to see if I have been accepted. And if I am, I need to actually do it!
  18. [WORK] Begin a DELTA to improve my ESOL career. NOT HAPPENING: I have indeed looked into this. However, I have put it on the backburner in order to focus on an MA which, at this present moment, seems more immediately fruitful.
  19. [WORK] Do the first two editing courses, set up as an official business, network and set up online media relating to the business. ACHIEVING: on course 1, hopefully successfully, with course 2 to come soon.
  20. [WORK] Get a better paid job. NOT HAPPENING: I am in the process of bettering myself and improving prospects through training.
  21. [GEN] Go to Thailand with the Missus. [during Thai dry season] NOT HAPPENING: seems unlikely, to be honest.
  22. [GEN] Finish reading the Koran. NOT HAPPENING.

All in all, things aren’t going 100% perfectly, but they are hardly off the rails as they arguably were this time last year. I’ll try to update again at the three-quarters mark.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

Project Polyglot Parry IV: Reborn! / New Year’s Resolutions 2016 @irishpolyglot #newyearsresolution @resolutions

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New Year’s Resolution 2016: An Update

Project Polyglot Parry: my personal quest to turn myself into a multilingual maestro. But I haven’t really applied myself to the task well of late. So one of my major new year’s resolutions for 2016 is to get back on track with my language learning. Part one of which is to start regularly doing Duolingo in Spanish and Swedish again. Well, I have now started.

One of the best ways of sticking to personal goals is to tell everyone. This way, social stigma forces you to see it through. Consider yourselves told.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions 2016 #newyearsresolution @resolutions

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Being creatively fulfilled, healthy, learning languages, and sorting my career out is what I want most (along with maintaining and/or strengthening healthy relationships with the people I care about). 2015 Began with plenty of hope, but kind of fizzled out. And so unlike this time last year, I feel rather down about my chances of achieving my Resolutions for 2016. But I’ve got to give it a go. So without further ado, I present BRYAN PARRY’S 2016 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS.

GOALS FOR 2016

  1. Do something, at least half an hour, from each [CATEGORY] on this list, every day.
  2. [LANG] 30′ minimum every day each for Swedish and Spanish using Memrise and Duolingo.
  3. [LANG] Work towards B1 level in Spanish and aim to sign up for a course in the last quarter of 2016.
  4. [LANG] Do an A2 Swedex.
  5. [LANG] Complete Duff’s The Elements of New Testament Greek, and then Taylor GCSE 1, again. One chapter a fortnight. Upon completion, look into doing GCSEs in Ancient Greek again.
  6. [ART] Continue updating The Doggerelizer weekly, Wrixlings monthly, start updating YouTube twice monthly.
  7. [ART] Do one cartoon per six weeks; begin to upload them and/or other artwork online.
  8. [ART] Get the first draft of Part II of a book I’m writing, code name 21CLF, finished in a “polished draft”.
  9. [ART] Get the first draft of Part III of “21CLF” finished.
  10. [ART] Get one feature length script up to 2nd/3rd draft stage.
  11. [ART] Send off the pilot of one of my sitcom series ideas to a producer.
  12. [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.
  13. [LIFE] My weight has ballooned again: cut myself down to a healthy BMI & weight (around 13st; a pound loss a week for 52 weeks) 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.
  14. [LIFE] Pass my driving theory test and begin lessons.
  15. [LIFE] Get out and stay out of my overdraft.
  16. [WORK] Sit and pass the International Phonetics Association exam.
  17. [WORK] Research and apply to do an MA/MPhil in an area of Linguistics.
  18. [WORK] Begin a DELTA to improve my ESOL career.
  19. [WORK] Do the first two editing courses, set up as an official business, network and set up online media relating to the business.
  20. [WORK] Get a better paid job.
  21. [GEN] Go to Thailand with the Missus. [during Thai dry season]
  22. [GEN] Finish reading the Koran.

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

 

New Year’s Resolutions 2015: Update #newyearsresolution @resolutions

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It’s thoroughly December. So with a matter of weeks left of 2015, I’m going to review / update my 2015 New Year’s Resolutions.

Warning: this post is more for my benefit than for you guys.

IF YOU WANT TO SKIP THE SELF-INDULGENT WAFFLE AND REFLECTION AND HEAD STRAIGHT FOR MY MAIN CONCLUSIONS, CLICK HERE.

GOALS FOR 2015 & (previously) EXPECTED DATES

  1. [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]
  2. [LANG] Continue my programme of 30′ minimum every day each for Swedish and Spanish using Memrise and Duolingo. [Effective immediate]
  3. [LANG] Do an A2 DELE and at least begin the course which leads to a B1 DELE. [JUL-DEC]
  4. [LANG] Do an A2 Swedex and at least begin working towards B1. [JUL-DEC]
  5. [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]
  6. [ART] Do one cartoon per six weeks; begin to upload them and/or other artwork online. [Begin Jan]
  7. [ART] Get the first draft of Part II of a book I’m writing, code name 21CLF, finished in a “polished draft”. [JUN]
  8. [ART] Get the first draft of Part III of “21CLF” finished. [DEC]
  9. [ART] Get one feature length script up to 2nd/3rd draft stage.
  10. [ART] Send off the pilot of one of my sitcom series ideas to a producer. [MAR]
  11. [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.
  12. [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]
  13. [LIFE] Finish buying the/a house. [FEB]
  14. [LIFE] Pass my driving theory test and begin lessons.
  15. [LIFE] Save ideally a minimum 20% of my post-tax income (or minimum £300, ideally £600, per month). [Begin 27th JAN]
  16. [WORK] Sit and pass the International Phonetics Association exam. [JUN/DEC depending on when they run it this year]
  17. [WORK] Research and apply to do an MA/MPhil in an area of Linguistics. [JAN/FEB]
  18. [WORK] Begin a DELTA to improve my ESOL career. [ASAP]
  19. [WORK] Do the first two editing courses, set up as an official business, network and set up online media relating to the business. [ASAP]
  20. [WORK] Get a better paid job. [ASAP]
  21. [GEN] Go to Thailand with the Missus. [during Thai dry season]
  22. [GEN] Finish reading the Koran. [DEC]

GOALS FOR 2015: PROGRESS

  1. FAILED. No. I keep doing my daily “to do” lists. This might have something to do with the lack of progress all round…
  2. FAILING. Stopped Memrise, CatSpanish, and since my Summer holidays, I aven’t picked up Duolingo at all. Till June, I was succeeding 100%; since July, failing 100%. Very disappointing.
  3. FAILED.
  4. FAILED.
  5. FAILED. Big time. Haven’t even opened the book. Keep going to Greece on holiday, though; Modern Greek’s appeal is growing by the day…
  6. FAILING. But I am trying. I am consistently working on and thinking about cartoons, but it is genuinely more like one per six months. Need to be more consistent!
  7. FAILED. Started well. But got side-tracked a few months ago (Summer holidays again!), so close to the finishing line. I need to set aside like a full day soon and just go for it!
  8. FAILED. Nowhere near. This is dependent on getting Goal 7 done first (see previous note).
  9. FAILED. Nowhere near. Very disappointed. Creative stuff is very important to me, and I am failing dismally. I have been putting this off so as to focus all effort on Goals 7 & 8…
  10. FAILED. Have not gone back to redraft an episode, so clearly haven’t sent one off.
  11. FAILED. Wow, was I optimistic…
  12. FAILED. I got my weight down a little, then it shot up, then it went down a bit again, and now it’s right back up again… It’s around 16st 3lbs / 227lbs now. Pathetic. Being a healthy weight is a simple as not eating too much crap and exercising regularly.
  13. SUCCEEDED!! My proudest achievement this year, I’ve gotta say. The only thing I desperately wanted to do which I’ve done in 2015.
  14. FAILED. Not even started…
  15. FAILED/N.A. Savings are highly variable. Plus, I’ve re-evaluated my financial plan so this may no longer be relevant. Unsure.
  16. FAILED. Haven’t even begun revising.
  17. FAILED. See Goal 14’s Progress for in depth coverage.
  18. FAILED. No money, no time, not emotionally ready.
  19. FAILED. But not for lack of trying. No money, no time are the main problems here.
  20. FAILED. I’m earning more dough through various avenues, but I haven’t yet found the standard higher paid job.
  21. N/A. Not happening, but it isn’t the time. Who knows…
  22. FAILING. I’m reading it, but I’m behind my schedule.

So, that’s ONE SUCCEEDED out of 22, the rest have FAILED already or are FAILING fast… not a fantastic hit rate, I’ve got to say. I had a very busy Summer with several holidays — mostly friends’ weddings. Kind of derailed me a bit.

2015 can be characterised thus. Great first quarter, followed by stagnation in Q2, then total chaos and shambling along in Q3 and 4. The things most important to me — getting a better paid and more fulfilling job / furthering my career, learning languages, and creative / artistic endeavours — have all fallen on their arse.

But I think this looking over my goals is the shot in the bum I need!

THE WAY FORWARD?

I think the key to my failures in 2015 has been, as usual, LACK OF CONSISTENCY. I’ve done a lot this year, a lot of good stuff. But I’ve not managed to be consistent. I’ve had strong bursts and relapses. It’s been stop-start. Yet most successful endeavours in life require non-stop toil for an indefinite / never-ending period.

For 2016, I think I need to focus on how to maintain consistency especially in my routine. Whenever I have had successful periods in my life, it has been down to a consistent routine religiously followed (and sleep deprivation!).

Filing my goals away in nice folders maybe hasn’t kept me on my toes enough. I should print out copies of my goals, keep them in my wallet, and look at them daily; as the lists get crumpled and decay by overuse,  this will stand as a reminder and prompt to make sure my dreams aren’t also decaying.

Right now I know I’m not doing everything I can to succeed. I’m missing one key element at least: consistency. Let’s see if I can get a grip here and start 2016 the way I mean to carry on.

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

 

2014 Reviewed & New Year’s Resolutions 2015

 

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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!

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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

  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. Start a GCSE in Ancient Greek. (See below for rationale).
  4. Join a Swedish class and sit and pass a low level Swedex (Swedish language qualification). (I’ve always loved Swedish).
  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).
  6. Continue with my campaign to become a local elected councillor… and to actually get elected to the chamber!
  7. Go to Thailand with the missus, probably in the Spring. (We were supposed to go for our honeymoon).
  8. Sit and pass the International Phonetics Association exam in the Summer.
  9. 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).
  10. Get one feature length script up to 2nd/3rd draft stage.
  11. Send off the pilot of one of my sitcom series ideas to a producer.
  12. 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.
  13. Start learning to drive; particularly, do the theory test and pass.
  14. Get a better paid job.
  15. Start up a proofreading and editing business.

GOALS FOR 2014: REVIEW

1. Continue attending El Instituto Cervantes in order to learn Spanish.

HALF-SUCCESSFUL

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

FAILED

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

FAILED

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)

FAILED

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).

HALF-SUCCESSFUL

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.

FAILED

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.

FAILED

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.

FAILED

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.

FAILED (abysmally)

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.

FAILED

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.

FAILED

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.

10-12. Addendum

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.

FAILED

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.

FAILED

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.

HALF-SUCCESSFUL

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:

  1. Do two courses with the SfEP that I’ve ear-marked.
  2. Further develop my website including regular articles.
  3. Research setting up a business (I’ve begun this already).
  4. 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:

  1. 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.).
  2. 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.
  3. No real money.
  4. 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

  1. [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]
  2. [LANG] Continue my programme of 30′ minimum every day each for Swedish and Spanish using Memrise and Duolingo. [Effective immediate]
  3. [LANG] Do an A2 DELE and at least begin the course which leads to a B1 DELE. [JUL-DEC]
  4. [LANG] Do an A2 Swedex and at least begin working towards B1. [JUL-DEC]
  5. [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]
  6. [ART] Do one cartoon per six weeks; begin to upload them and/or other artwork online. [Begin Jan]
  7. [ART] Get the first draft of Part II of a book I’m writing, code name 21CLF, finished in a “polished draft”. [JUN]
  8. [ART] Get the first draft of Part III of “21CLF” finished. [DEC]
  9. [ART] Get one feature length script up to 2nd/3rd draft stage.
  10. [ART] Send off the pilot of one of my sitcom series ideas to a producer. [MAR]
  11. [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.
  12. [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]
  13. [LIFE] Finish buying the/a house. [FEB]
  14. [LIFE] Pass my driving theory test and begin lessons.
  15. [LIFE] Save ideally a minimum 20% of my post-tax income (or minimum £300, ideally £600, per month). [Begin 27th JAN]
  16. [WORK] Sit and pass the International Phonetics Association exam. [JUN/DEC depending on when they run it this year]
  17. [WORK] Research and apply to do an MA/MPhil in an area of Linguistics. [JAN/FEB]
  18. [WORK] Begin a DELTA to improve my ESOL career. [ASAP]
  19. [WORK] Do the first two editing courses, set up as an official business, network and set up online media relating to the business. [ASAP]
  20. [WORK] Get a better paid job. [ASAP]
  21. [GEN] Go to Thailand with the Missus. [during Thai dry season]
  22. [GEN] Finish reading the Koran. [DEC]

FINAL WORD

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