2018: The year of craftsmanship

Anyone who spends more than an hour in my company gets a sense of how varied my interests and activities are. I often run out of time to do things that I’ve planned in advance, I’ve often double-booked myself and it’s often happened that I have to go to 3/4 different places in different parts of London in one day. I play badminton and football with regularity. I’ve also got various side-hustles. It often feels like I’m doing too much and spread rather thin. It also sometimes feels like I’m only delivering at a level that is a little shy of my full potential.


So what am I broadly aiming for?

I want to focus on being better at very specific things. I get by on natural ability and “winging it” for many things. If I don’t leave enough time to prepare for a presentation, then I do a good job but not a great one. I want to bring intentionality to my interests, tasks and relationships. I want to go from being a generalist to a craftsman. I want to pay attention to details instead of just the big picture.

  1. I want to practise the basics of sport more. I play badminton once a week (roughly) and football should also be at least once a week. This year I want to put in hours of practice – not game time – towards sport. This could be an hour of practising my smash in badminton or an hour of practising my distribution in football.
  2. I want to focus on habits as opposed to targets. Every year since I was about 26, I’ve had a plan at least once a year to lose rather significant amounts of weight. Sometimes it’s 10 pounds. Sometimes 22. This year, I could stand to lose about 36 pounds at the minimum. Clearly I’m able to meet this target but then I relax the methods again and pile on the pounds. This year I’m going to turn my attention to building habits that become part of my nature, so that I can attain and carry on living life at a sensible weight as opposed to the ‘yo-yoing’ that I’ve become accustomed to.
  3. I want to refine my professional skills. Last year I set goals around becoming a go-to person at my organisation and to do something about my interest in teaching. I met both of these. This year I’d like to take things further and really fine-tune the skills that I have. I also want my work to have a positive impact on one of the less experienced members of the team.
  4. I want to invest in Vanguard Index funds by the end of this year. Last year I got good at basic finances. I mostly tracked my spending. I got a pension. I automated some savings and debt payoffs. I didn’t meet all my goals but I’d say I got the basics of finances sorted. Investing is still a rather gray area to me. This year I need to arm myself with enough knowledge and money to make an investment.

How am I going to tackle these intentions?

I’ve just listed some intentions that I have. None of those things up there qualifies as a SMART goal. Here are the goals I’m going to be tackling.

  1. Achieve 52 hours of practice across my various sports by the end of the year. Focus on drills and honing specific skills.
  2. Ensure that I am eating a home-cooked or free meal 80% of the time. This should be measured across the whole year with a deadline at the end of the year. When I am travelling – and thus not always in control of my situation – this can be lower / excluded.
  3. Do some exercise – even if it’s only 5 minutes – at least 6 days a week. Exercises can range from bodyweight exercises at home to a decision to walk to the tube station instead of getting the bus to a dedicated sporting activity such as football. The only caveat is that it must be intentional.
  4. Find a mentee and provide 26 hours of mentoring to them within the first 6 months of 2018. I read somewhere that there are three things that one needs to grow in any area – a peer, mentor and mentee. I’ll focus on the mentee this year. The hours I spend with them should be for encouragement and imparting some practical advice to them. I’d also like to help them complete a goal of theirs if possible.
  5. Teach 6 courses / workshops / learning sessions. I have a workshop that I’m getting paid to deliver this month. It’s a sort of audition. If I did a good job then I’d be hired to do a few more courses possibly. I also have an opportunity at work to give some learning sessions – we have 24 slots through the year.
  6. Save £3, 000 in Vanguard’s index funds by the start of December. I wanted to invest this money last year but didn’t quite make my savings target and didn’t read enough about the process to make an investment.
  7. Take part in 12 challenges in 2018. I’d like to further emphasise intentionality and change by focusing on one area every month. It doesn’t matter in advance what the challenge is but ideally it should be related to one of my four areas – saving/investing, improving professionally, forming new habits or getting better at a sport. The idea is that I am able to hone in on an aspect of my life for one whole month and hopefully I’ll be able to make significant impact in that area.

What’s January’s challenge?

This month I have decided to join the masses and do Drynuary. For anyone who doesn’t know what that is, I will not have any alcohol for 31 days. I did a lot of drinking over Christmas. It was not only bad for my health, albeit very enjoyable, it also had an impact on my wallet. Hopefully, this challenge will help me detox and rein in the excessive spending that I did in the last two months of 2017. It will also help me get back to a baseline of not associating alcohol with celebratory, positive or social experiences.

What about you? How are you tackling your goals for 2018?


One thought on “2018: The year of craftsmanship

  1. Pingback: January spending & goal review | Diary of a reforming spendthrift

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