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New Year, New New Year Resolutions

It is yet again that time of the year when the Earth has completed its annual cycle of the sun, returning to its original position from when the cycle began, thus ending the period of time that we refer to as a ‘year’. Do people really think about that? We’re on a massive rock that itself is spinning at approximately 1,000 mph, and is rocketing around an immensely hot ball of gas at roughly 67,000 mph and we’re all just blissfully along for the ride. It makes my fear of rollercoasters silly by comparison, but I still won’t get on one.

Sorry for the diversion there, but getting to the topic at hand, it happens every year and yet it is always seems to be a surprise to many. 2020 was certainly an interesting year to say the least; COVID-19 hit the shelves and everyone went wild. Even Boris Johnson and Donald Trump had to get one and they even released a sequel within the same year. Crazy stuff. As usual, the release here in Japan was delayed and it wasn’t quite as popular over here.

Prince Harry decided to quit his day job and defect to Netflix with his wife. Black people across America caused a bit of a ruckus in their fight for equality in the US. Some sex-trafficking nonces got done. Many famous people died (most recently poor old Dame Barbara Windsor). Kim Jon Un went missing, presumed dead. Australia caught fire and Biden won the US election (I think)!

It’s certainly been a whirlwind of a year, but of course what has had the largest impact on everyone is the coronavirus and there’s no sign of it slowing down either, with numbers continuing to increase across the world, it is something that has and will continue to change the way that we live on Earth. My plans to go home this year were floundered and I’m not entirely sure when I’ll be able to go home next. Thank God for Zoom and Facebook video chat!

At a lower level, this year was full of changes for me personally, too! I decided to buy a flat with my girlfriend and we had two new additions to the family in the form of cute little kittens, Charlie and Winston!

Anyway, with all that out of the way, let me get to the point of this blog. I’m terrible at going off on tangents while I write. I’ll get better at avoiding that, I promise! Ahem. Yes, back to… what was it? Oh, yes. New Year resolutions. As many people will inevitably start posting the ‘New Year, New Me’ memes on Facebook (and also the ‘Oh look, time for the “New Year, New Me” memes” meme’. It’s a never ending cycle), I am going to share with you what I plan on working on in the coming solar cycle.

I’m happy to say that last year I did make a bit of an effort to stick to my resolutions. I think I managed to achieve one while positively working towards the others. Some, however, I failed on at a spectacular level. This year I’m going to ramp it up a bit and look back at some of the resolutions that I did not achieve and revisit them with a bit more oomph and by sharing them with everyone, hopefully will give me some more will power to get them done.

Achievement Unlocked: Avid Reader

I like to think of myself as a ‘reader’, but as I’m sure many people will sympathise, finding the time to dedicate to hobbies gets more difficult when you have a full-time job. However, I dedicated some time to reading and was able to reach my goal of one book a month and I was also able surpass it. I’m on my 14th book this year and aim to have it finished by the end of the year. Go me! I’ll continue with this one and aim to still fit in a book a month.

Some books for referential purposes.

NYR 1: Stop Buying and Save More

I’m far from a shopaholic but I do tend to splurge here and there, particularly on a night out. And while I’ve made strides in my saving habits from when I first got off the plane 8 years ago, I’ve become more attentive to spending and how better to save my money. I identified that there are really only three areas in which I regularly spend money and they are: alcohol, video games, and books. Three areas of which I am going to be concentrating on next year.

I’ve said to myself a number of times over the last year to not buy anymore video games until I’ve either completed the ones I have, or at least tried to play them. My Steam backlog may be minute compared to some of my friends, but there are a number of games both on Steam and that I own physical copies (Switch and PS3) that I have not even touched. I will always play games, I just need to stop buying them until I’m done with the ones I have! Thankfully I have enough video games to probably last me until the end of my days, so let’s start with those.

This is true for books also. Thanks to my new year resolutions from last year to read one book a month, my book backlog has naturally decreased, but there are some still some left over that are need of much attention. The books I have are a bit random, as I’ll usually grab anything that looks moderately good in the second hand shop, where options are limited in Japan. That and I got a nice little collection from an ex-colleague who left Japan a few years back that I need to get through.

Here are the books I’ve not touched yet and my to-read list for 2021.

Right now I do feel content enough in my life with what I have, so I think this one is fairly realistic, but it won’t be that easy to achieve. Damn I really want to get Cyberpunk 2077 though, despite it being a big, glitchy mess.

NYR 2: Drink Less

I’ll admit it. I do like my booze. After a long day of work and travelling, a nice, crisp beer is the perfect way to unwind on the train home. I specifically chose ‘drink less’ as opposed to ‘stop drinking’, because I simply don’t want to stop. I’m not an alcoholic and at this point in my life I do not think there are any health issues resulting from alcohol and I, like many others, enjoy the occasional tipple and it is such an important part of socialising that I feel I would have to lock myself in for the entire year if I were to have to stop drinking with my friends and then I’d likely end up drinking as much at home out of boredom!

The problem is, is that it’s not as ‘occasional’ as I would like it to be, and I want to make efforts to decrease my consumption to save money, as well as the other benefits that come with it. My aim is to go out only once a month and otherwise stick to drinking the odd drink at home. Let’s see how that one goes… Conversely I also want to hang out with my friends more, but not in situations that necessarily involves heavy drinking. Maybe just a quiet one over lunch or dinner, instead of spending the equivalent amount on just cheap booze to get pissed. I’ll be trying this with a friend of mine, so hopefully we’ll successfully be able to encourage each other throughout the year in attempt to just change my relationship with alcohol, not sever it entirely.

I’m going to cheat a little with this one as well and tack on ‘Stop Smoking’ here, as the two of them go hand in hand. If I don’t drink, then I will not smoke (which I only do on occasion). I had a four paragraph entry on this one but decided to drop it and throw it in here. Let’s keep it simple.

NYR 3: Write More

In the latter half of this year, I decided that I would finally give writing a go. I’ve always enjoyed writing and have had a interest in words in general for a long time. I’ve just never given myself enough time to dedicate to improving and focusing on putting something together. The ultimate aim is to write a novel, but until I get to that point, a little bit of practice would not go amiss.

This year I was able to write 50 pages (approximately 25,000 words) on my first attempt at writing anything at length. While I have decided to abandon that particular piece, the experience was undeniably an important one to me and I’ll be taking some of the ideas and characters from what I have written to repurpose for my next attempt. I’ve started studying creative writing a little bit on the side as well and am putting together character profiles for my next attempt.

The blog is also an important part of this as it will keep me writing consistently and more often, even if it is in a completely different style. While there may be some aspect of native talent in anything that people do, practice does make perfect, and writing is no exception.

NYR 4: Start a Podcast

This one has kind of come out of nowhere and it’s not particularly high on my priority list. I don’t even really remember when I thought it’d be a good idea to start one, but I think it was an idea that gradually came to me after signing up to Audible and realising again how interesting podcasts can be when they’re done right.

I used to listen to podcasts quite a bit at university and I fell in love with them all over again with Audible. I recently was listening to French and Saunders and it was just one of the best things; just two friends having a laugh and sharing it with people to listen.

This one will unlikely go so far, but who knows? There’s only one way to find out, and I think it might help with filling in some time without alcohol.

NYR 5: Try to be More Positive

There was me thinking that numbers two and three were difficult, but I think this one takes the cake. I like to consider myself as friendly, considerate and sympathetic, but have realised over time that this is not the case in many instances. Sure, I’m not a nasty person by any means, but my lack of sympathy and empathy sometimes has me worried. I’ve noticed that I can be very irritable for no reason. I’m not really sure what the cause could be, but I’ll try my best to change that part of myself in any way I can.

NYR 6: Keep in Touch (Don’t be a Stranger!)

My family will know this more than anyone else, but I am absolutely terrible and keeping in touch with people. I’m not sure of the reason why, but somehow I just fail to stay in contact or make efforts to speak to my old friends and family back in the UK more. This one is a simple but important one. In the past year especially I have missed home more and I think reaching out to people back home is what I need to help me think more positively and keep me happy. Anyone reading this, feel free to help me with this one!

NYR 7: Try Harder with Other Languages

Originally this was going to be to try harder at Japanese. I’ve lived in Japan for years now and I studied the language at university, too. But it’s surprisingly easy to get around without really trying to use the language, which I think is an incredible waste. So next year I’m going to try and get back into studying Japanese when I can and using it more at work.

Now the reason why I decided to go with ‘other languages’ is because I have very recently become interested in the Welsh language.

I could be overestimating my Welshness, but with my deceased father having come from there, I’d like to learn a little bit of the language for my own sake and join an online community to learn and practise.

NYR 8: Focus and Relax!

I’m going to make this my last one. I don’t know if this one really counts as a resolution, but if I’m not able to do this one, then all of the others will crumble before I even try! I get flustered very easily, particularly when I am about to leave my flat (either for work or an appointment with a friend) and I cannot find my wallet, keys, work phone, etc., when I know that if I just focused a little bit more on things like this, I wouldn’t get as stressed or feel so disorganised.

Meditation? Eh… I’ll think about that.

And that’s it for me, I think! I’m sure there may be a few others that could be added to the list and maybe they’ll come to me over the coming days, but for the purpose of getting this blog out in time, I’ll shelve them for now. Although to be honest, I have a strong feeling I’m going to struggle to find the time to achieve the ones I’ve laid out already! I’d love to hear about others’ resolutions if you have any, so do feel free to share.

Well, 2020 is nearly over and I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!

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