Every year on my birthday I like to create a list of things I want to achieve over the course of that year, in various different areas of my life. Some big, some small. I usually achieve most of them, and it’s a good way to try to direct my energy flow over the course of the year. I spend most of February thinking about these things every year, so it is usually quite a good glimpse into my personality.
Read a short story every morning.
I did this over my university years and it’s a good way to wake up into the day and provides a nice amount of food for thought for the rest of it. It also exposed me to loads of writers I might not have encountered otherwise, and was a good way to squeeze more perspective into my jam-packed reading schedule. It’s a habit I intend to get back into.
Complete at least four knitting/crochet projects.
That’s one a season, I don’t think it is too big of an ask. It’s something I tend to let fall by the wayside when I’m busy, and honestly I shouldn’t, as I find it so relaxing and satisfying to handmake something over the course of a week or so.
Plant at least one fruit tree.
Last year the garden all died over the course of a very busy summer at work, and this year I refuse to let that happen. Nothing makes me feel like I’ve got more security in life than tending to edibles and flowers every morning, and nothing suggests longevity and stability of residence more than commiting to planting fruits. I’m thinking a nice variety of cherry.
Get back to baking at least once a week.
Really it doesn’t take long to make cakes, or a couple of loaves of bread, and this past year my routine has been so up in the air I’ve neglected opportunities to do so. Not this year. I am going to get back into spending time in the kitchen creating food for myself and my housemates, and using the time to think over things in the way I find so satisfying.
Notice and commemorate the festivities
This past year I ignored almost every holiday except Christmas, when they’re actually quite fun ways to mark the passing of the seasons. I think this year I am going to try to celebrate the passing holidays, even in small ways, to make my year feel richer and more full.
Make a bigger commitment to recycling.
I am going to enquire with Haringey council about recycling schemes, and implement them at home. I am also going to try and repurpose as much as possible (glass jars for storage and DIY projects, tins for plants, etc.)
Have friends over for dinner at least once every two months.
Last year I only cooked for a handful of people. I think this year I want to make the kitchen more of a focal point for community and friendship. Besides, cooking for one person just isn’t as fun, is it?
Have two booze free nights a week
I have already been doing this (actually, the norm lately has been more like three or four). But I want to make it a public commitment because come summer everything seems to get just that bit more social and I don’t want to get too carried away with things. I have been enjoying how much more well rested I feel, and how much time I feel like I have in the mornings when I don’t drink.
Complete four sewing projects.
I didn’t use my sewing machine at ALL last year. isn’t that embarrassing?
Donate to the charity shop at least once a month
I figure making a commitment to visit regularly over the course of the year with things to get rid of will actually keep me on top of decluttering more than doing it all in one go.
Finally try homebrew
I have been meaning to do this for the longest time. And I know enough people who are full of brewing expertise to help me make it happen. I think this should be the year I finally take the plunge and try making my own hooch.
Invest in some good kitchen knives.
I have been meaning to do this since I moved in here. And there is an excellent kitchen shop in Muswell Hill so I’ve really got no excuse. If I build up a set over time and sharpen them regularly then I will be back to the fully-kitchen-stocked situation I was in at University.
Go to at least one exhibition a month.
I always put off seeing exhibitions until it’s too late, which is silly as I have odd midweek days off which make seeing them at my leisure entirely viable. I swore to myself when seeing the Lichtenstein exhibit in February that this year I wouldn’t miss any that I wanted to see, and I meant it. The next on the agenda is Bowie at the V&A, for sure.
Register my Oyster card.
The amount of losses and thefts I have suffered should have meant I’d do this sooner. All it’s done is made me put it on the to-do-tomorrow list, which is as good as doing nothing. I will do this, and save myself a lot of stress and hassle.
Anywhere, I don’t mind. But it’s been such a long time since I have seen a new city, and I have spent the last year or so talking to Americans who rightly think I am lucky to have Europe on my doorstep. I need to use my time off work, and I need to use it trying to see new things.
Go for two walks a week
I used to walk a lot more when I lived by the sea and in the country. They were functional walks, but they were longer, and far more scenic, and I had time to think things over a lot more thoroughly on them. I think London’s public transport is great, but provides me with a lot more distraction opportunities and I never have that daydreamy, reflection time that a good, long, walk provides these days. I think incorporating walking back into my routine will be good for my mind and probably my health.
Properly master homemade pizza.
I make pretty good homemade pizza. But I want to make amazing home made pizza. I think I need to explore different dough recipes until I find the perfect one, and I haven’t set myself an obsessive food challenge like this in a while. This will be one I will be looking for friends, housemates and lovers to be guinea pigs for, so brace yourselves guys, there’s going to be a lot of feeding going on.
Buy less disposable items.
From ditching facewipes for hot cloth cleansing to investing in shoes that won’t wear out every few months, I want to reduce my waste output this year, bigstyle. Environmentalism governs almost all my politics and I want to make serious changes to ensure my impact gets lower the older I get.
I have a few cocktails that I default to in my repertoire, but I am going to pick a spirit each month and try out different cocktails with it, to find favourites and try and get myself a go-to list of things I can knock up without thinking about it. I will be looking for guinea pigs so don’t be surprised if you get invited round for drinks.
Learn to take excellent photos.
I really feel like my photography skills are diabolical, I want to teach myself how to capture moments in my life in brilliant technicolour, which is how I feel and see them. I am fixated by all the pretty things I see and I am desperate to be able to share them the way I see them. I’m going to practice a lot, try and teach myself a few things, and perhaps take a photography course or two to get it down.
Really try to get to know my city better.
I feel like there’s still so much I haven’t done here. I’m going to try and figure out one new thing a fortnight to do, to try and get out of my routine before it becomes a rut. There is always so much going on in London that I honestly cannot believe I do the same things in the same places all the time.
Get into the habit of responding to communications immediately.
I am so crap with emails, texts, followups, and other such things. I really and truly need to start responding to people’s communications quicker, as a sign of respect and a way to stay on top of things and not miss out. Going to try and dedicate 20 minutes every morning to doing exactly that.
Have One day a week of not spending a single penny.
Spending money is such a quick, unsatisfying fix to beat boredom. I want to have at least one day a week where I spend nothing and focus on doing things instead of going out and buying a new book, say, and calling that an achievement. I think that way I will end up getting round to things I have been putting off and spend more time doing than buying.
Learn at least two new things for work every month.
Work is a bigger part of my life than I could ever have foreseen, and I really dedicate myself to being the best I can be there. I am going to try and develop myself career wise, be that educating myself more about beer or learning a new skill that will help me on the job. Work is so much about what you make it; and I have not been putting as much time in as I could be lately. If you invest in the parts of your job that you feel you need to strengthen yourself in, you get so much more out of it, and since I spend five days a week, minimum there, it may as well make me as happy as is physically possible.
Really consolidate my social circle.
It’s easy to end up feeling completely alone in London sometimes, even when it’s not the case. Everybody lives in such a range of places, and I think feeling more connected is something I need to focus on this year. I will start saying yes to more social invitations, and make attempts myself at organizing to spend more time with people I want to get to know better. Making friends as an adult is a lot harder than say, university years, but it’s necessary and pleasant to spend time with other people and I feel like that was missing in my life for a lot of my 24th year.
So, quite a list! I am hoping my 25th year will be as good as last year was; and my focuses are mainly on living a more varied and interesting life. It’s so easy to end up bored and upset for no reason other than not doing anything new that I hope the framework I have set myself will help me to enjoy what is already quite an exciting life. Happy birthday to me!