My year in preview

I’ve stumbled upon a habit that I really like, and was reminded of it this weekend when the Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race was on. No, not the habit of shouting partisan abuse at the TV whilst drinking G&T and wondering how the spin a 15 minute race into a 2 hour programme. Although I do that too.

The habit is one that happens each new year, when H and I sit down and look back at that year’s calendar. We look at the events we went to, or thought about going to, and find the dates for those events in the coming year. As well as being a review of the year we’ve just had, it starts us thinking about what we want to make an effort to do in the New Year. There are always more events in the new calendar than we would go to, but I really enjoy thinking about what things it might be good to keep in mind. Even if we are not going to make a special effort to go to all of the events (I have no desire to actually go to the boat race, and wouldn’t really mind if I was not able to watch it), I like being able to keep them in mind when planning the other things we want to use our weekends for, like camping, walking and family stuff.

The list we added this year gives you a good overview of what our priorities are:

  • Anniversaries
  • Burns night – just a reminder to eat haggis some time around then.
  • Geek nights – that’s mine. I go sporadically depending on the line-up.
  • Red Box – monthly women’s night that I co-organise.
  • Childish Things – comedy fundraiser for Helen & Douglas House.
  • Oxford / Cambridge Boat Race.
  • Cambridge Beer Festival – a fine, fine beer festival with a great cheese and pie stand. We go to this if we possibly can.
  • Eurovision Song Contest – we take it year about with a friend to host a party for the final, but the semi-finals are also compulsory viewing.
  • Oxford Pride – can’t miss this, given that we’re both involved in organising.
  • Oxford Race for Life – H runs this whilst I hold the picnic.
  • Cowley Rd Carnival – a local street party.
  • Cambridge Folk Festival – we went once, and will probably go again some time when the line-up appeals.
  • Erewash Triathlon – more of H’s sportiness whilst I whoop and cheer.
  • Oxford Beer Festival – a long-standing tradition, but there’s a rumour it’s moving venue this year so we’ll need to see how that affects the habit.
  • Winter Lights Festival – street entertainment and the museums open late for torch-lit tours.

Some of them are the events that make Oxford Oxford for me, and some are the things we both enjoy and want to make the most of.

You might notice some conspicuous absences. There’s no World Cup of anything, no Glastonbury, no WImbledon. In fact, the only reason I pay attention to the football season is to judge when might be a good day for trip to Ikea.

Each year, some things get added and some fall off. Does anyone else have a similar habit, and what are the markers for your year?

Goals as journeys, not destinations

I’ve avoided making resolutions this year, but that doesn’t mean that there are not things I want to do differently or better. I am mulling over some goals that I want to be explicit about and track my progress against, but I know that I will find some of them difficult to persevere with. There is a lot of information available at this time of year about goal-setting and resolutions. A couple of people whose approaches I admire are Chris Guillebeau at The Art of Nonconformity and Leo Babauta at Zen Habits. This recent Zen Habit post struck a chord.The philosphy is one I already apply:

Stop waiting for happiness. Happiness is right here, right now.

Unfortuantely, I can sometimes use this as an excuse the maintain the status quo. Instead, I should see it as a reason to make the most of changes I am making to achieve my goals. They are not chores – they are new experiences.

Learning a new skill. Whether you want to learn French, or to play the trombone, or to master Jeet Kune Do, will you only be happy once you’ve learned the skill? No! Learn to love the learning process! It’s an exploration not only of new territory, but of yourself. It’s wonderful.

So by all means, I can make a new resolution or take on a new goal, but I need to make sure I am enjoying the journey as well as anticipating the destination.