New Year, More Goals

Happy New Year! (As long as it’s January I think it’s still acceptable to say this! >_< ) . At the start of every year, I like to think about what I want to achieve in the year ahead. I don’t set myself ‘resolutions’ per say – I try wherever possible to set myself some clear, actionable goals. I always find that by taking this approach, I am more likely to achieve them, and if not, subconsciously work towards them in some capacity nonetheless. I’ve been doing this ever since I was about 11 or 12 years old, and as of recent years, writing and sharing my goals and intentions with my social sphere (both online and offline).

I’m the type of person who is motivated by working towards or striving for something, regardless of how challenging it is – in fact, I sometimes find the more challenging the better. I like to push myself and develop myself across the board, and this year will not be any different. I’ve mentioned this before, but 2017 threw a number of hurdles at me, and it’s difficult not to be hard on myself because of it, but 2018 is already proving to be significantly better and I’m already starting to feel like my old, ambitious self again. I’m focusing on the fact that I’ve accomplished many of the goals I’ve set myself over the past few years, from losing weight and passing my driving test, to completing my CIM course and ticking off some places at the top of my travel wish list (Rome ❤ ).

As I move into my late 20’s (scary!), I’ve found that my goals fall into more or less two categories – the pragmatic, as I start to look ahead and contemplate securing the best position for myself in the near future, and the things that I am passionate aboutthe things that I love to do and explore.

Pragmatic

Piggy Bank Goals

I am not the best person when it comes to finance. I didn’t really grow up with my pockets full of gold, but at the same time I’ve never felt like I’ve struggled with money. I would say my Dad was relatively frugal and I have grown up to be the complete opposite. On a personal level, I am just clueless when it comes to basic money management – I avoid looking at my bank accounts or statements if I can (denial is a great strategy woo), and spend far too much money on non-essentials such as coffee, as though it’s some sort of necessary life source like water. If I have any savings – which fortunately I do – it’s been at best unintentional and accidental.

This is why I have decided to make saving and getting to grips with my personal finance this year a key goal of mine, especially as I plan to continue to invest in property, pensions and potentially start my own business at some point down the line. All this means that I need to be on top of my finances, learn how to budget effectively and save smartly. I am very lucky to have sisters and friends who are really good with money, so I have been seeking their advice, as well as buying some books (surprise surprise) to help me get in the right mindset. I’ve also started reading a lot of stuff online, and there are a number of new apps – Monzo for one – to help people manage their finances, so I shall definitely be looking into those. No more avoidance strategies for me!

I want to start with small steps, such as reducing spending money on clothes/non-essentials and setting myself a monthly budget regarding food and going out. I got an email this morning from Waitrose saying I’d saved £65 on coffee in the past three months! I’ve been buying my breakfast and getting a free coffee to go (part of being a Waitrose member) in the mornings in an attempt to reduce how much I spend on coffee daily. This was really shocking for me to see and just made me realise how small changes can lead to better financial management. Before I started doing this I was buying coffee from Costa 1-2 times a day due to sheer convenience! There’s a Costa where I work and it just became my go to.

I also really want to buy a car! Hopefully this will motivate me, humph!

(P. S. The books are ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ by Robert Kiyosaki and ‘Mrs Moneypenny’s Financial Advice for Independent Women’ by Heather McGregor & Mrs Moneypenny.)

Career Growth

This year I plan to put the spotlight in advancing my career again. It’s not a secret anymore, but I am moving onto a new role in the next few months. I am very excited about my new position in local government, and can’t wait to get started.

I plan to continue to develop myself as much as possible professionally in the coming months: this includes undertaking new courses to upskill – some of which I have started already – such as the Advanced Social Media Strategy course with Hootsuite; applying for MCIM status with the Chartered Institute of Marketing so I can start working towards achieving Chartered Marketer status; polishing up on Google Analytics; refreshing and advancing my coding knowledge, and even take on some interesting projects and clients in my spare time via freelancing if I can manage it. I also want to try and find a career mentor this year.

I’ve been very lucky that every career move I’ve made to date has been of my own choice, and I’ve always gone into roles where I was able to use my skills to make a difference to the organisation by optimising their use of digital channels in line with their business goals. This is what I love to do and count myself among the lucky that I love my profession!

More Sleep

I am in a huge sleep deficit, to the point that I have lost count. I am actually writing this post at 2.30am. This year I really want to overcome my poor sleeping habits. I want to go to bed at a normal time and sleep throughout the night like a normal person. It doesn’t help that I am a complete night owl and have been struggling to get my body clock to match human functioning hours for the past 6 months and completely failing at it. If I don’t sort my sleep patterns out soon I do worry I’ll turn into a walking zombie. In fact, I spent the better half of yesterday morning trying to open a door that wasn’t a door! A guy watched me struggle for a good five minutes before he decided to say something -_- . #notamorningperson #millennial

Cooking Ambitions

I am not the best cook. This is pretty much a fact. I’ve never really had to cook for myself up until about 2016, so it’s a life skill that went wholly neglected. Growing up, either my Mother, Stepmother or Dad cooked for the family; at University I ate at Halls mostly or bought my lunches, and then when I moved to work in London, my housemate happily cooked food for me when she made her meals! Only very recently have I realised the importance of having the ability to whip up a good meal when required (food is the way to my heart peeps). Yes I still burn stuff on the regular – a potato burning incident being the most recent -_- – but the thing to note is that I am trying to learn! I may have to look up every little detail e.g. ‘how long does it take for chicken to cook through’ or things like ‘how long can I store chicken in the fridge and eat it without dying’ or ‘how do I avoid making an omelette explode in a pan?’ etc. etc. but I have learnt a lot in the process of doing so (thanks Google 🙂 ) and just by making more effort to cook things from scratch and start with simple recipes with five ingredients or less (woo!).

So one of my goals this year is to keep going ahead with this, and to try new recipes wherever possible to improve my culinary skills in the kitchen and develop those ‘wifey skillz’ as my sister put it.

The New Vegan Aine Carlin
A thoughtful gift from my niece who knows I am aspiring to the flexitarian lifestyle (someone who is trying to reduce their meat consumpton).

Passions

Start a New Lifestyle Blog

You’re reading it! This was one of the first things I wanted to do this year, having been inspired to make the decision to embark in this new direction with my writing and content whilst on a trip in Copenhagen in December 2017. The main goal for me is to keep writing regularly – I am going to try and aim for at least one new blog post a week this year – and up my game when it comes to spending more time on my photography and working on developing thought-provoking, interesting or insightful pieces for my readers.

Cloud Cafe and Coffee
Launched on January 19th 2018 🙂

Travel Wish List

I got on the travel bandwagon a bit late and so have been trying to make up for it ever since 2012, at the end of which I made a promise to myself that I would try and travel abroad at least twice a year. I have been able to stick to this commitment (some years travelling abroad multiple times!), and it will be no different this year, no matter how frugal my financial goals! The top two destinations this year for me are Lisbon and going back to Edinburgh in the summer to attend The Fringe. I went to Edinburgh last summer and I absolutely fell in love with the city and Scotland. I went for 3-4 days before The Fringe started however, and only managed to catch a preview show before having to return to Southampton. So this year I want to go and attend as much of The Fringe as possible – I mean it’s the largest arts festival in the world – it’s just silly that I hardly knew anything about it or haven’t attended it to date. So I am going to start planning this soon and am really lucky that I have a friend who lives in Edinburgh who is willing to let me crash!

In the latter half of 2017 I got lucky and managed to visit five places in six months! Budapest, Edinburgh, Dublin, Tenerife and Copenhagen.

Copenhagen
Absolutely loved the fact that this shopping mall was decorated to reflect an Advent Calendar! #ChristmasinCopenhagen

I’m not sure I will be able to accomplish such a feat this year, but the longer wish list of destinations for 2018 – if I can manage it/afford it – includes: Stockholm, Croatia (this was supposed to happen last year but got cancelled because Monarch airlines went under), Wales, Japan and Botswana.

Honestly, I’m no travel fiend – I actually really dislike the travel part of travelling – but I’m all gooey eyes and photos, food and filters when I’m at the place in question. Being the foodie that I am, trying new food stuffs is by far the best part of going on holiday for me.

Physical and Mental Health

This is key for me as one affects the other, and vice versa. Focusing on these two aspects is especially important in a world where the day-to-day environment is not necessarily conducive to promoting the best physical and mental well-being for people; in fact, it can be incredibly detrimental to it – from factors such as device usage and social media addiction to the fact that food availability is in abundance, and we live in a service industry which means that we are glued to a chair for the most of the day. Our health is increasingly at risk.

For me, working on my physical and mental health means eating a good balanced diet, rich in wholesome foods, exercising regularly, being a healthy weight/BMI for my height and age, and taking regular time out to relax and recover. I really want to pick up a new activity or two that facilities this, from hiking or something else that gets me some fresh air, to volunteering at the General Hospital or a local group or shop, so I can make sure that I am meeting new people and giving back in some capacity.

I also really want to get a fat cat. It’s research-proven that pets make people happy and I deserve a pet since 2012 was the last time I/my family had one (our rabbit Arthur died that year and we have decided against getting another pet since). It’s been six years and after seeing my friend’s dog Merlin yesterday and taking him for a walk around Angel in London, I am really missing having a pet!

Reading and Writing Goals

Last, but not least, my annual reading and writing goals. I’ve mentioned that I want to aim to write one blog post a week on here. In addition to this, I want to finish the first draft of a novel I’ve been working on on and off over the past few years. I signed up to the fantastic Curtis Brown Creative ‘Start Writing Your Novel’ course at the start of this year in a serious attempt to move this along. I also have a mini-writing goal for myself, which is to write at least one poem a week in my poetry book (with a drawing too if I can manage it!), so by the end of this year, I will have a collection of 52 poems, in the hopes of submitting it for publication somewhere!

My reading goal this year is the same as 2017 – which was to read one fiction and one non-fiction book a month. I loved this goal, as it meant that the books I read were from a boarder scope than they might normally have been. Although I didn’t always manage it every month, I managed to read a lot more books last year than I had since University, so I was really happy with that. I still tend to buy more books than I have space for, but once I move to my new place I plan to build my dream mini-library, so they shall all have the lovely shelf space they deserve!

thumb_IMG_4692_1024
Me seeking inspiration at Waterstones Bookstore.

That’s a wrap! And some final parting words, for myself and you reader, is to stay positive, focused and determined. Being focused in a world full of distractions is an amazing thing xxx

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