We are now approaching the end of 2018 – and I’ve personally found it to be a stimulating year where I was able to do all sorts of interesting things.
- I went to India for the first time.
- I completed a second triathlon, and my first 10K run (not on the same day). Indeed, I’m becoming better and better at running, and enjoying it more and more.
- I got a book review published in an online journal, plus an article on BioWeb. I also got a tweet mentioned in the feedback section of BBC Wildlife Magazine.
- I started learning how to code with Python.
- I went looking for reptiles in some new places in the UK, and found a couple of adders. I also saw living badgers for the first time.
- I gained confidence in my driving, using the motorway more and going further afield, my longest trip being to Chester Zoo and back.
- I got to see Tim Peake’s Soyuz capsule, watch the Space Shambles show hosted by Chris Hadfield and Robin Ince at the Royal Albert Hall, and meet Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise.
Of my fourteen New Year’s resolutions, I have completed or stuck to ten – these included meeting my reading goals, going on another volunteer trip overseas, expanding my computer skills, and trying to do more scicomm; to that latter end, I’ve been sharing more scientific tweets on Twitter, and created a new blog to focus on zoology and experiences in the natural world. A few of my resolutions ended up mutating a little or going in unexpected directions; for example, I wanted to create more opportunities to get out and socialise, and at the moment, a lot of that comes from joining a local running club which was only formed a few months ago.
This year, I’ve also been paying more attention to how my mind works and what motivates me most effectively, as well as re-thinking what I want to achieve right now and what I believe I can feasibly do. In the last month or so, a lot of this has come from reading James Altucher’s book Choose Yourself, which I strongly recommend. Here are some of the things I’ve taken away from this year which I want to carry into 2019.
- When I set myself a goal, it has to be something I really want (as well as appreciating why I want it), not something I have to force myself to do. Lifestyle changes have worked best when I ease into them on my own terms, and persisted for so long that they become the norm. A good example for me has been eating more vegetarian meals each week; more recently, I’ve also been trying to cut beef out of my diet, since beef has a bigger carbon footprint than other types of meat.
- When you have a reason to be truly interested in a subject, even one you might not have paid much attention to before, learning more about it comes naturally. I’ve never been especially invested in politics, but I’ve been gradually absorbing more relevant information while following the progress (or lack thereof) of Brexit and whether there is any chance of it not happening in the end.
- Following more science communicators on social media has also been a great source of knowledge, particularly regarding climate change. That’s the thing about social media: you get out of it as much as you put in.
- You need to accept and embrace how your own mind works in order to use it most effectively. For example, I’ve accepted this year that I function best concentrating on one thing at once, so if I’m listening to a podcast whilst working on the computer, I’m not going to take it all in. Also, for whatever reason, I absorb non-fiction books better when they’re in print than when they’re audiobooks, so I’m going to be sticking to audio-novels in 2019 while reading more non-fiction in printed format.
- There are so many things I want to do and so little time that I need to be selective about what I devote my time to. I’ve recently been participating in a book club but I’m not sure it’s for me; the books are usually selected from the Richard & Judy Book Club and I don’t tend to especially like them, and there are already too many books that I know I want to read.
- More than in 2017, I’ve been finding real pleasure in exercise and keeping my physical body in good shape. The mental rewards of this are really worth it; I’m certain that it has contributed – among other things – to me being generally happier right now than I was two years ago.
Sometimes, looking at the news this year, it’s been feeling like the world is going backwards. The British government is pushing ahead with Brexit despite all the indications that it’s going to turn out poorly, insisting it’s “the will of the people” (or very slightly more than half of them) because apparently there’s no way the people might have changed their minds after two years of being presented with more complete information. Meanwhile, biodiversity continues to fall and the climate change situation continues to worsen, with various examples of extreme weather around the world, and not enough currently being done to prevent a rise in global temperatures of more than 1.5 degrees Centigrade: Brazil alone have elected a new president who wants to increase agricultural usage of Amazon rainforest land.
There are a lot of problems in the world, but there’s no chance at all of things getting better if you just give up and accept it. So that’s one of my aims going into 2019: to continue to expand my knowledge, and think about what kind of contributions I can make to the world, however small they may be.
I will be going over my favourite books, films, etc of 2018 in a later blog post.
What have you achieved in 2018? Are there any particular life lessons you will be taking into 2019? Let me know in the comments!