31 December 2020 | 8 mins

For the first few years of writing this blog, every New Year I wrote a fairly honest and accurate account of how I’d fared with my goals for the previous year, and wrote down what I wanted to achieve in the upcoming 12 months. For the last couple of years though, I’ve completely neglected to maintain this tradition. So, this is the first post of Part Two in the New Year New Me series.

Taking a step back

Before I dive headfirst into my plans for 2021, I think I need to look at what happened over the past few years. In January 2018, I met Danny, my now future wife. We entered into what I guess you would describe as a “whirlwind romance”, everything moved really fast and we were living together within months - everything seemed great. And it felt great, at the time, but in retrospect we were both in really bad places mentally. Now, luckily, we’re both in a much better place together, thanks in no small part (in my opinion) to the fact that we’ve had regular therapy sessions since pretty much day one of the relationship. We have the tools to help each other, and I am so glad we are where we are today.

However, a few years back, I was actually pretty lost. I felt like I’d lost a big part of my identity after Sasha and I split, and I think I handled that by accepting pretty much everything-Danny as my personality for a while. This included stopping doing a bunch of things that I liked that she didn’t, and for no real reason either. She never asked me to stop doing anything I liked, and actively encourages me now to do my own things (probably to get me out of her way for a bit). One of those things was writing; I had stopped really writing much several months before we met, but after we got together I unconsciously added it to the list of things I didn’t do anymore. And that sucked really; but now that I’ve identified this as a thing I shouldn’t have done, I’m wanting to correct it.

Plans for 2021

So, with that in mind, I’ve spent some time thinking about the little improvements I want to make, and I’m listing them all here. I’m not really one for self-flagellation, so if I don’t manage them all this year, it’s not a huge deal to me, but I think it’s important to write them all down.

Physical Health

Zero cigarettes

Ah yes. The ever-present goal. I’ve not really smoked that much this year (especially considering what a fucking year it’s been for everybody), but I have started vaping instead. I am aware I look like a bellend, you don’t need to tell me. The vape hasn’t really had a noticeable effect on my running though (unlike cigarettes, where I’d be hacking up black lung-pieces if I ran after a heavy night), so I’m okay with this habit for now.

Go back to doing yoga at least once a week

Over the summer I picked up yoga as part of my weekly routine; I’ve fallen out of practice since then, but I really did enjoy it (although I did not enjoy the realisation of how inflexible I am), so I’d like to go back to doing a once-weekly session.

Manage alcohol

At the start of lockdown back in March, I had a slight concern about my alcohol intake. I suspect this aligned with a large portion of the general population, but it was still something I wanted to look at. I’ve recorded (although not really tried to curtail) my consumption for the past several months, and I’m averaging about 30 units of alcohol a week, or about twice the recommended amount according to drinkaware. This is, well, too much, although sadly not wildly out of line with the general public in this country. My plan for 2021 is to reduce this, and have a lot more alcohol-free days. I don’t think I have a problem yet, but I think I could have one in future.

Strength train once a week

This is one I will likely struggle with, mainly because it’s something I that always feels like a chore to me, like brushing my teeth, rather than something I actively enjoy. If I can manage once a week for the year then I’ll be happy.

Running, specifically

Get a new PB

I’m not actually putting a distance on this goal; I just want one new PB this year. I think I’ll be targeting a new 5k time (currently a pretty pedestrian 19:29), as I ran a 19:34 earlier this month so it’s likely the most achievable, and also my favourite distance. I would like to get back to speed at the half-marathon distance too, but I think for that I’ll need to wait until organised races are normalised again.

Run at least one marathon

Since I ran my first one, I’ve wanted to try and run at least one marathon a year. I don’t expect to push for a PB at this distance in 2021, although if I can keep injury-free it’s not an impossibility. Probably this will be an autumn one though, if races are back on then.

Mental Health

Write once a month

That means here, on my blog. I do find it very cathartic to sit and think and write (even just for myself), and I feel better for having done so, but like so many things I just don’t put the time in to do it. Once a month is definitely manageable.

Meditate daily

Meditation is something that I’ve dabbled in from time to time, but never really given it an honest go. This is part of an overarching theme of “spending more time on myself”, and it’s a fairly low-barrier-of-entry starting point.

Read two books a month

I’ve read a lot more this year than I have in previous years, but “a lot more” is really only about 15 books. Two books a month is an easily-achievable goal, I just need to spend less time on my phone. Wait, maybe it’s not so easily-achievable.

Watch more sport

This is maybe a weird one to put under “mental health”, but watching sport is one of the things I stopped doing when I met Danny. In 2020, I watched more sport than in 2018/2019 combined, and I’d like to keep it that way. At least, assuming that sport continues unhindered by the pandemic that is.


Update my now page monthly

This is just something I want to do. I’m something of a social media pariah, using only Strava and the dogs’ Instagram accounts at all, so this is to replace those outlets.

Speak more German

I’ve continued to slowly practice German myself, but really I need to speak a lot more with Danny. Sentence structure and grammar is coming a lot more naturally now, but my vocabulary is very poor. Needs practice!

Use my 10% time

I’m fortunate enough at work to be given a 10% day once a fortnight to work on technical skills outwith my day-to-day job. However this year I’ve used maybe four or five of these, sacrificing them to pressing deadlines. This year, I’m going to be better at saying “no” to giving up what is effectively a major perk of my job.

Redo my personal website

It’s looking dated, and I could do with refreshing my frontend skills given that I live entirely in the backend in my professional life. Is jQuery still a thing guys?

Spend more time with Danny and the dogs

This one is pretty vague, but one overwhelming positive of the enforced-stay-at-home measures during the coronavirus pandemic has been the opportunity to spend more time with Danny and our three dogs. I’d like this to continue, even if/when life gets back to normal.

Don’t reduce savings

This one may be a little difficult. The new flat I’m buying is considerably more expensive to maintain than the one I’m selling, and there’s going to be a gap where I’m paying for both our current flat and the new flat simultaneously. Combined with losing my existing rental income, I think I may end up needing to dip into savings a little. As long as I finish the year with as much as I’m starting with, I’ll be happy.

This actually looks like a lot, but a bunch are just “hey man, just keep on keeping on”, so in terms of actual change there’s not really a great deal. This is more about increasing accountability rather than setting myself an unrealistic challenge.

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