Before looking forward to the coming year, it is of course important to look back. This might be boring for you, in which case skip this post, but for me it’s a useful exercise to reflect on my 2014 resolutions to see how I did.
The short round-up, posted as a comment on Facebook, runs as follows:
#my2014 The joys and sorrows of a birth (daughter), a death (father) and a wedding (brother). Travel to Afghanistan (2 weeks), Jordan (1 week), UK (3×1 week) and Ivory Coast (3×1 week). Changed job, organisation, profession and continent. Moved house twice. Finished reading the Bible, the Qu’ran and the Symposium. Ran a marathon. Didn’t write fiction, learn Arabic, master Lightroom & FCPX, lose weight or pray enough.
I started the year with the growing stress of facing unemployment at the end of the year when my department’s future looked uncertain. But in the end things worked out almost perfectly (both for me and my department). It’s important at this time to look back with gratitude at how worst fears weren’t realised (I guess they almost never are). There were significant amounts of travel, though not much within the Middle East patch, and a lot more time spent in Africa than envisaged.
If you went back through the past years you’d see that some resolutions are definitely easier than others. For instance, I’ve consistently met goals for saving and giving. Same for fitness/exercise, reading, academic study and blogging. But other elements appear in the resolutions list year-on-year without any progress being made – notably fiction/book writing, increased prayer times, writing music and improving my photo/video skills.
Less seriously I always seem to have ‘play Volleyball’ in there somewhere, which never happens. I even once gave my best friend a volleyball for Christmas but nothing came of it. Is there any reason to believe things will be different in future? Certainly blogging, reading and exercise have started well in Freetown. I think there are reasons for confidence that my photo/video skills will improve significantly this year, as I’m doing a lot more of it, making some investments in equipment, and using more of my free time for photo/video activities. I am writing more than usual (especially blogging) though whether this will ever translate to a book, I don’t know. I’m beginning to think I should stop stressing out about book writing.
Will 2015 be the year things finally settle down? Sadly this is unlikely at least in the first six months. My wife and new daughter are unlikely to be living with me in Freetown before the summer – perhaps they will never see the current home I have rented for us. At least work wise, I am on pretty safe ground now in terms of job security – I’m likely to grow a lot professionally and enjoy my time here. I’m a bit worried that the church I’m going to is not as good as previous ones, but the important thing I guess is that I can contribute. Exercise wise, I had thought of 2015 as a year to work on being stronger and slimmer, but I was recently attracted to the rather different goal of doing a triathlon in Assinie (Cote d’Ivoire) which would be fun for a number of reasons – jogging-wise I can already do the running section (10km) reasonably comfortably, and the swimming is fortunately only half of the usual Olympic distance (it’s 800m rather than 1.6km). The off-road cycling will be new, but that’s actually something I’m getting excited about. Cycling might be a good way to go – something one can do in later years, and a good way to see a lot of scenery. In my early teens I used to pour over Mountain Biking UK magazines, and now finally I could conceivably get a decent bike providing I can find a way to ship it out here. On the overall objectives, this year I’m trying to bring greater focus to my resolutions which come in five priority areas: CHURCH – WRITING – EXERCISE – PHOTO/VIDEO – FRIENDS.