Happy New Year!
It’s that time for reviewing last year’s resolutions, checking progress and renewing the challenges for the coming year. Looking forward with vigour to the next year offsets the feeling of anti-climax now our sons have returned to their homes, the holiday season parties are over, and the leftovers from big festive, family meals are almost gone. So how did I do in my third retirement year and what should I be setting as targets for next year?
Well, the past year – the last six months, anyway – have been coloured by Middle Son’s accident and my Mum’s increasing debilitation that has led to her taking up residence in a home. It’s not been a great year and the time focused on these events has deflected me from some of the more challenging of my new year resolutions set this time last year. Excuses, excuses!
On the positive side, I have again exceeded my target of average number of steps per day (15,000). I have managed an average of 16,054 per day and exceeded a daily average of 15,000 steps almost every week during the year.
Views From Our New Year’s Day Walk
Unfortunately, this has become almost my only exercise as gardening has taken a back seat this year. My overall fitness has probably declined and my weight target of getting down to 11 stone (70kg) has again just been missed. I was on target to meet that weight target in November but Christmas excess put paid to achieving the objective. That’s annoying since disappointment here was avoidable and I will retain the weight target for 2020 while trying to step up other core-strength exercises.
My best achievement of the year was that I did exceed my target of no alcohol days. I beat the target of 140 by 4 and that made it my best year since measurement began (and, frankly, since I was a teenager). Also frankly, and a little embarrassingly, it felt like hard work achieving this.
This year I have also been tracking the number of alcohol units I have each day using the Drinkaware app. I now have a baseline against I can record what I hope will be future reduction but it has been a scary exercise. I consume an average of 35 alcohol units per week. That is more than double the recommended weekly average. I must therefore look for a significant improvement next year – I’ll try an initial 10% – but know that also will be tough given habits that have built up over decades.
I did plan to create a plan for volunteering during this year. I haven’t really done that but I have stepped up involvement in the construction of the local Neighbourhood Plan and that did consume a lot of time at various times of the year. I am also a core member of the local Carbon Neutral Horsley group that is encouraging moves towards carbon neutrality by 2030 in the Parish. Both these local initiatives are going to be a continuing focus in 2020.
I failed on all my other 2019 resolutions despite the freedom and flexibility retirement offers. The compost bins near the vegetable patch are in reasonable shape but have not been redeveloped as planned. I’m dropping that resolution since it is replaced by a wider plan to decide on what to do with our nearby and gradually crumbling stables.
Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) and I also failed, after a bright start, to engineer significantly more trips out to see parts of the UK this year. We’ll carry that resolution forward though because we have enjoyed the trips we did make, such trips will be more climate-friendly than air trips abroad now we have our electric car, and I still feel that my knowledge of the UK countryside needs renewal.
I will also carry forward the resolution I had to listen to less news and more music. LSW and I both palpably failed on this. We listened to the BBC on the radio morning, noon and night as the Brexit and other debates unfolded. LSW and I both spent hours ranting at what we heard and my only comfort is that when I have stayed with my parents this year, I heard my Dad doing exactly the same; ranting at the radio must be a genetic trait!
One resolution I will add this year is to read more books. In 2018, I read a number of what I thought were excellent books: The Milkman by Anna Burns, Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves, Before The Fall by Noah Hawley, The Dry by Jane Harper (very relevant with Australia on fire at the moment) and, most of all, A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles.
During 2019, I didn’t read anything I considered as good as these. Nonetheless I loved the reading process, the thinking involved and the relaxation (sometimes too much, as I often slipped into ‘siesta’). Given my enjoyment of reading I really should find time for more. I plan to read at least 20 books this year thereby beating my record of 17 in 2018 and 16 in 2019. I hope to find some more great books among these.
So, onwards to 2020! I am rather despondent about several aspects of the world and the current political situation in the UK. However, I think that 2020 is going to be a far better year than 2019 and I’m going to aim to meet my resolutions for the new year with a spring in my step – all 192,648 of them!