Friday 13 January 2017

Self-improvement challenge 2017

Never one to rest on my laurels, particularly as I get older and older (38 later this month), I've decided to set some goals for this year to generally improve my life and gain some new skills.

Obviously, as I'm a writer, here are the writing goals first:

Writing Goals

Publish four full length novels (likelihood: easy)
Write 400,000 new words (got 500k in 2016 so should be a breeze)
Make $10,000 in book profit (near impossible; despite my best efforts, I only made about $3k in 2016, of which barely $500 was profit, probably less, but you've gotta dream big, right?)

Outside writing

I'm a new father (eight-month-old daughter) and a teacher in Japan by day, so my free time is limited. However, I still want to make some other small gains to improve myself. Here's what I'm planning to do in 2017:

Jog 200 times

I'm constantly told I'm overweight and have high cholesterol, so its time to do something about it. I actually used to run a lot - seven years ago this April I ran my first and only marathon - so its not so hard to get back into it. To count as a run, it has to be more than 10 minutes. I've actually done seven so far, and we're only two weeks into January. The longest was 32min, although I did a few shorter ones which were hill climbs or sprints. A sub goal is to get my weight under 90kg. It's currently at 94kg or thereabouts.

Learn to play a song on the piano

I have a keyboard that I can't play, but I've always wanted to try. I've decided to choose just one song and learn it well. I've already decided the song, so I'll post a video if I actually succeed.

Learn to draw anime characters 

Okay, this is one to impress my students (I work in Junior High Schools). I love the idea of learning something completely random, so this is it. As with the piano above, Youtube tutorials are my friend on this.

Pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Test 1 kanji section

I live in Japan, but my Japanese is rubbish. However, my favorite section is the characters (kanji), and I can actually read Japanese quite well. The JLPT Level 1 test is rock hard, and is considered native fluency. However, its only multiple choice, so I have a chance with the kanji. I have already passed the 3rd level test, but the first is a massive step up. Note that I'm not expecting to pass the whole test - I have no chance! - just the kanji section. And it will be informal - I'm going to download a practice test and try it, not pay a bunch of money to take the full test.

How am I going to do all these things? Writing is obviously my priority, and jogging is something I'll do at random, but for the others I'm planning to devote roughly an hour per week on each. I would like it to be more, but I get a couple of hours free time per day at best. It will be a challenge to see how much I can cram in.

So, that's me. If you're also doing some kind of self-improvement challenge this year, feel free to let me know in the comments. Good luck!

Chris Ward
January 13th 2017