Sunday, 6 January 2013

Turning Thirty



Three years ago, I made a list.

It was sweeping and ambitious, and contained far more than three years' worth of stuff. Secretly I kind of knew that. But I also knew that I get easily bored, and that having too many goals to aim for would keep me busy, and mean I was more likely to achieve at least some of them.

Looking back, not everything has turned out exactly as I planned - but when does life ever take the course that you expect? A lot of amazing things have happened in the last three years, including making a start on some things that I had jotted down as ideas for future lists. There are some things I would have really liked to tick off, but haven't yet: they will doubtless reappear on another list at some later date (if nothing else, I've learnt a lot about making lists and setting goals). Other ideas proved unwise for various reasons, or simply stopped being priorities, but I'm okay with that.

I'd like to personally thank everyone who's enquired, goaded, and encouraged me throughout the last three years - and especially those who've given me tips along the way. Every one of you has been a huge help to me when my focus wavers (as it so often does).

Academic Goals

My academic goals were to present at a conference, have a paper published, and complete my PhD. I've succeeded on the publications, but have yet to finish my doctorate. I have, however, recently started writing up my thesis - so at least when I've written up everything I've done so far, I should know roughly where I stand. Of course, changing topic half way through didn't help!

IMG_2760Home Improvements

I wanted to redecorate the house, install a woodburning stove, install solar water heating, and build raised vegetable beds in the garden.

After almost a year of work, the grand redecoration project came to a successful conclusion in mid-2011. Our new woodburning stove was almost our only source of heat last winter, supplemented only occasionally by the boiler.

When we looked into it in more detail, solar water heating was not economical for our house, so that idea was quickly scrapped. I'm still waiting on the vegetable beds, but we've hardly had a dry day this year (or last year, for that matter), so gardening hasn't been at the top of my list.

IMG_5889Travel Plans

My travel wishlist included visiting Greenland (done) and the southern hemisphere (not yet), and to bring my total of countries to a nice round 30 (I got to 29).

Given that this category is less about achievement, and more about just deciding where to go on holiday, it may be surprising that I didn't check every box in this category. However, we try to make sensible travel plans, bringing in a mixture of factors, and we often plan around conferences and other events I need to attend anyway. For example, having the opportunity to take an extended working trip to the US this autumn really prevented us from taking in any extra countries - but we did get to visit half a dozen new states (and many US states are larger than many European countries!)

I'm certainly not unhappy with the amount of travel we've fitted in to the last three years, and I'm confident that my number of countries visited will very soon equal (then exceed) my age!

tedxcheltWriting & Speaking

This was a broad category, spanning everything from blogging to novels, public speaking to radio.

I wanted to average 5,000 hits a month on my blog, which I've rushed passed, now often exceeding 10,000. This was really just a more measurable proxy for keeping blogging and building my audience, something I continue to enjoy. I've also started to make a little unexpected pocket money from occasional advertising and freebies, which I absolutely wasn't expecting.

Regarding fiction, I wanted to finish writing the Charanthe series, get a novel published, and complete a stand-alone novel as well. I've independently published my first two novels (Rebellion & Revolution), and I'm still working on the third. I've got drafts of a couple of other manuscripts that need finishing, and I'm nearly ready to publish my first recipe book (which wasn't on the list at all).

I planned to record and podcast an audiobook, which I still intend to do at some stage - I did a couple of test chapters, but need more work to get to a stage I'm happy with.

I wanted to get travel articles printed in 10 different publications. I've done three, but to be honest, I stopped querying when I realised I could get paid as much via advertising for writing on my own blog as I would get for some magazines! The motivation just evaporated... I might pick this up again some day, but right now, it's not a priority. Similarly, I thought I wanted a slot on the local radio station, and I did enjoy the short course I took on radio production & broadcasting - but I didn't want to have to commit to a live slot every week.

My final goal in this category was to take at least 5 public speaking engagements. Over the last three years I've given three travel talks (this was the kind of thing I was envisioning when I set this goal), presented at a number of conferences, plus speaking at a local TEDx event. I think that totally counts, even if it's not quite how I imagined it.

Nearly there...Crafts & Skills

I wanted to learn embroidery (done), hand-knit a cardigan (done), and sew myself a dress (done - this was a late addition to the list, as I had an occasion in mind). Another success was making all my own Christmas cards in 2010.

Things that fell by the wayside: I had a go at using my camera on manual, but most of the time I don't need to, so my original goal of taking "most" pictures on manual just wasn't worth  pursuing in full. I also wanted to get my Guiding warrant, and had almost completed it when our local village ran out of Brownies - but volunteering further from home proved too much for me at the moment. Making a board game and learning new juggling tricks are both still in progress and not, if I'm honest, a focus of much energy at the moment.

Another subsidiary goal which I added in 2011 was to complete a triathlon. Thanks to persistent knee injuries, I haven't entered one yet, although I would still like to do this eventually. At the moment I'm kept busy trying to keep up with my physio exercises.


17 comments:

Rachel said...

Lists never turn out the way you intend, but it seems you've been making better progress with yours than I usually make with mine!

christine said...

you've achieved so much in three years, and sensibly adapted to suit your life choices - well done:) happy birthday xx

Jacqueline said...

Wow, you are ambitious and here am I quite happily pottering away with work, family time and my blog. you have doe so much Rachel :)

Domestic Executive said...

This is an amazing list of achievements, well done for tackling all that you have. I really admire all that travel, writing and studying that you do. I hope 2013 brings you all you wish for and more :o)

Rebecca Jerdee said...

Have an awesome 30th birthday!!!

BECKY said...

Happy, happy birthday, Rachel! I left you birthday wishes in the comments from your previous post, but wanted to do it today, too, of course! I mentioned you on my Jan 6th blog post, but I haven't gotten it posted yet! I better get busy!! Have a great day and a wonderful year! (P.S. Oh.....to be 30 again! :)

Stephanie V said...

Happy Birthday, Rachel. Setting those goals was a brave thing to do - and look! you've achieved so many. That's success.

Joanne said...

Wow! That was an ambitious list! You put me to shame but I am not a list maker. I did start a business this past year which has been a dream for quite some time but my blogging suffered a bit (really I think I just got lazy). I plan to grow my business and start blogging more regularly again this year.And for fun, either get back into crocheting whicj I learned as a kid or learn to knit, not sure yet. But I am impressed with all you did!

Emma said...

Wow, I feel tired just reading that! Now you need to make a list of things to do before you're forty: that could be a HUGE list, right?

Happy birthday, Rachel, hope you had a lovely day :)

(Exits off to make a list, followed by a bear)

Elizabeth Braun said...

I've been looking forward to seeing this and enjoyed reading it. I see a lot of my own sorts of working methods there, although my tasks/goals are less 'energetic' in a very literal way through force of circumstances.

Wish we could travel as well and that I could plan to increase the number of countries we've visited, but I've had to console myself with some armchair travel (browsing through brochures) and the fact that I've been to a few countries that you haven't!!!=)

Looking forward to your next list. Mine for 2013 is up on FLI already, with the relevant portions reproduced on the textiles and language blogs. What will be your next time period? A year? 3? 45? Age 40??

=)

Pauline Persing said...

Happy Birthday. Tom and I went out to eat with Jeanne and Bill today. She had already seen your birthday blog. I didn't get to it until now. You have been busy. Like Elizabeth, in the comment above mine, I am interested in knowing your next time period. I see that you are good at sticking to what you intend to do.

Tabor said...

Well, pat you on the back for completing the big items and hardest items on the list...and only 30? Gee whiz!

Midnight Cowgirl said...

Happy Birthday!

Anonymous said...

Makes me tired reading all that! Awesome achievements, well done.(Rob B)

Jules said...

Hope you had a great birthday Rachel. You've achieved more than many do in a whole lifetime - but I know you'll do even more in the future, whatever time perod you choose! Congratulationsx

Mike Harvey said...

Happy Birthday Rachel and congratulations on achieving so much. I never really make lists or resolutions because I know that I'm not likely to tick much off.

thefuriouspearpie said...

Congratulations on all of your achievements! I hope you had a suitably excellent birthday.

Reading your thoughts on what you did complete and what you didn't was inspiring. I tend towards excessive self-flagellation and often end up too frightened to do things, so I find it helpful and encouraging to read how other people deal with shifting priorities and expectations in a balanced way. Always a good thing, too, to see how people develop and progress. :-{D

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