2019 - New Years Resolutions

New Years Resolutions 2019

1) Financial Stability
Last year I spent a lot of money...not just on the wedding and honeymoon, but I also refreshed nearly all my tech (new laptop, phone, tablet, headphones...). I had some impulse purchases that haven't seen much use (a drone, some cameras). I did keep a reasonable eye on my spending, recording about 200 items (above and beyond cost-of-living stuff like mortgage and utility bills), and that made me realise that while I live within my means, I could definitely save more with a little bit of discipline. For 2019 I'd like to have a strong handle on exactly where my money goes, so I'm going to implement a number of goals around this.

...a) Record every purchase
Last year I recorded "most" non-cost of living purchases, but the main focus was on making sure that my savings accounts kept above a certain level. For 2019 I shall attempt to capture everything, including cost-of-living stuff (by which I mean food, essential transport and healthcare etc). House bills are covered under a separate joint account, however I will track payments into that account. In addition, I'll capture the category (I've already identified 12 general categories) of the purchase, and how I paid (as I suspect that methods like Paypal and Contactless payments lead to low-value impulse purchases). This will all be captured in a Google Form/Spreadsheet that I've already set up and linked on my phone.

...b) Implement a "2-week wait" rule for all non-essential purchases
For anything that is non-essential (food, essential transport etc) I shall wait 2 weeks before purchasing it. If I still think it's worth it (and within budget) after that, then I can proceed. My plan is to put the item in my calendar for 2-weeks time. I suspect for a lot of items that by the time I get back to it, the initial _desire_ will have waned. I will need to be careful about stuff like Kindle books, as I don't have much of a pipeline, and I could be stuck without anything to read.

I did have a last minute splurge in 2018, picking up a monitor for my "home office" area of my room (which is now a big sit/stand desk)...turns out a 35" ultrawide monitor looks pimp on it!.

...c) Save at least £10,000
I was going to put this at £12,000, however I don't want to screw myself over when I'm still partially broken, and find myself needing something big in order to keep myself moving. I don't have any "big ticket" items that I can think of this year, but 2018 has made me very aware that shit can happen very quickly. A sort of sub-section of this is to save efficiently. Generally speaking, savings do not get much reward at the moment, however I've opened a 12-month fixed saver at 5%, and I'll be using an ISA as my main savings location. If I don't hit this goal, then I will definitely have the information and reasons why I failed from the spreadsheet above!

2) Re-build my fitness
2018 has not been kind to me physically. Starting with a prolapsed disc in my back, and then with complications during surgery, I'm going into 2019 very de-trained, and with some ongoing issues. If I have a good run from January (which will require some luck...right now I have an infected surgical incision, and orders to not train while I'm on antibiotics) then I reckon it will take ~6 months to get myself back to a level of fitness that I would be halfway happy with. I can't set a deadline for this yet, as there is an outside chance I'll need additional surgery which will...complicate...matters, however at some point this year I need to be at the following numbers;
20 Minute Power > 320w
Weight Weekly training time > 10 hours
I also need to be able to ride on the drops for over an hour, which will need some back flexibility (currently lacking).

I'm doing some ground work for this...I'm currently working with a nutritionist, with an aim to reduce my sugar addiction and stabilise my blood sugar levels. Once I'm cleared for training, I'll be working with my coach to plan a return to competition in late summer. I've already had some physio sessions around protecting core flexibility and strength (I'll also be adding some core gear into the Wattbike room, as one of the best things I can do to help my back is a good core routine). I think setting a goal of holding my 2nd cat license would be dangerous, the key for this year is fitness and stability, not risking going too hard too soon.

Update 31/12/2018 - I will have to wait on this one...over Christmas my back has gotten progressively worse, and I have a bad feeling that more surgery is on the way. I'll defer any fitness plans until I know my long term prognosis. I have a consultant meeting on the 7th January, and I suspect an MRI will follow...

I also need to adapt to having a poor back. Again, some work has already occurred here. I have a sit/stand desk adaptor at work, and I have a full sit/stand desk at home. Sitting for long periods of time is no longer an option, so I need to get in the habit of working and living a different way.

3) Use what you've got
This goes back somewhat to the impulse purchases stuff earlier. I have a fair amount of stuff and unfinished projects lying around, and I should revisit and complete them. Films I've not watched, games I haven't finished, projects I haven't completed...in fact the only area where there is no "pipeline" is books. If I'm genuinely not going to use something (and I'm looking at you, PS4), then consider selling it and clearing junk out.

Stuff that I definitely want to get working (or fail trying) this year is;

  • The strawberry NFT hydroponics system
  • Some Switch games
  • Finish getting my laptop gaming working*
  • Decide what to do with the garden (and its lack of lawn)

* Actually got somewhere with this between christmas and new year with a last-minute purchase in the sales, so I now have a full gaming desk setup

4) Discover 4 new authors
Back again, and it's (still) working well. I'll need to plan a little harder this year, as I'll need to be buying books 2 weeks before I start reading them. Ideally the books will be non-series books (if there is one thing I get really irritated by it's new authors immediately launching into a 15-book series, it's a real scourge of fantasy/sci-fi. By all means write a long-running series, however you should also demonstrate your ability to write a story as a standalone entity). I've become big on "readability" in books, and also get frustrated by poorly written stories. This is mainly noticable from reading speed, when a story lacks flow you get quickly bogged down in ill-structured text.

5) Complete 2 games of reasonable size
I managed this quite well last year. I've now realised that this target doesn't really fit well with some games (Dead Cells, Diablo 3 and Stardew Valley did not have traditional ends, however they all gave some enjoyable playtime). I should expect a non-ending game to provide a good 10-15 hours of entertainment, though I prefer to work on a value based on cost-per-hour. At the least, I should get an hour of entertainment per £1 cost of the game...if you consider a cinema trip is approximately £5/hour, I think this is reasonable (once you factor in the hardware costs of the console/PC itself). As a slight addendum to this, I've been casually watching League of Legends pro-play for a while, and over Christmas decided to finally try and learn it. I've quickly discovered that it's bloody hard! I'll see how the next month or so goes, but I might add in a "be not shit" at LOL.


...and finally getting this posted has reminded me to get the next few books in the series I'm reading purchased, as I only have about 2-3 hours left in the current one!

babychaos's picture

This is one of those reads that's "yay! Pete's got his resolutions up!" and "shit, poor fucker". There's fuck all any of us can do to help except to say that we feel for you and your back and hope it's resolved quickly.

I don't blame you for splurging last year; wedding was fabulous and a one off; same for honeymoon and the tech purchases helped keep you sane (ish) when your health went sideways.

"be not shit" at LOL.

I thought this was gamerspeak that I didn't understand... I had to read it several times. How could you be shit at laughing out loud.

I'm going to finish mine off!

brainwipe's picture

LOL = League of Legends. It's a game of TLA's that is virtually incomprehensible unless you either have a translator to hand, or you happen to have been incapacitated for several months, and resorted to watching pro-gaming to pass the time.

babychaos's picture

One quarter of the year gone...to be honest, it's not gone great in terms of health, though hopefully the end is in sight.

1) Financial Stability
a) Record Every Purchase
This is going well, with currently over 150 logs in my spreadsheet. I'm now in the habit of filling the form in every time I spend money, with a weekly check against my online bank statement. I'm finding the entire process stops a lot of ad-hoc spending as well, which is pretty much the purpose of it.

b) Implement a 2-week wait for non-essential purchases
This has gone slightly less well, mainly as I've been house-bound a lot, so I've been ploughing through lots of consumable media (books, films, games etc). I've had no big purchases this year...the biggest unexpected spend was a last minute trip upto Manchester last weekend, when I was offered free tickets to watch the Manchester 6-Day, which was an excellently timed opportunity to go something (funny story, since I've gotten back off honeymoon the furthest away from the house I've been is hospital). Flights and hotels add up (though with flights being only £20 more than the train, that was a no-brainer).

c) Save at least £10,000
On track. Currently squirelled away £3,800 into savings...there have been a couple of minor speed boosts (a refund on the training camp deposit I missed in February, and a tax rebate), but still well ahead of target. I had a sort-of un-official target to save £100 in interest as well (interest rates are bollocks)...thats currently at about £16, however I'll get a big lump sum in December (got a 5% fixed rate saver that matures then which will give about £60 by itself), so the ISA in on-track to provide the rest, so long as I can keep the balance up.

2) Rebuild my fitness
Gone badly. I never really recovered from the infection that settled onto my spine in December, and after several MRI's and blood tests, as well as a prolonged series of antibiotics I was eventually re-admitted to hospital at the beginning of March for what I can only describe as a scrubbing brush and Domestos procedure to my lower back. They discovered that the internal infection was a completely separate bug to the one that had infected the surface wound (hence why the antibiotics were not working). I'm now on a different flavour of drug, and showing signs of improvement. I was banned from travel in February, so missed a 2-week training camp. Currently I have a treatment timeline that hopefully gets Gill and I away for Easter, which is currently looking positive. I'm still banned from any exercise or physio, but next week I have yet more blood tests and another MRI to see progression of the treatment. I've been on antibiotics continuously since the beginning of December (so 4 months), and also had a couple of doses intravenously during the hospital stay. If there is one positive thing, I haven't had any nausea or sickness...so if nothing else I have a cast-iron digestive system!

In fitness terms, this year is now a write-off, so if/when I get back to training, the goal will be to get a good start to the 2020 season. I'll have lost my 2nd cat license, so regaining that will be the priority.

3) Use What you've got
Middling. The prolonged period of being crippled has limited a lot of what I can do. The Switch and laptop have provided a lot of the entertainment. I dabbled in some "free-to-play" competitive games, before realising that I simply don't have the reaction speed to keep up these days (League of Legends and Apex Legends...both require regular play to have any hope of competitiveness, and I noticed I hit a plateau pretty quickly on both). I've just started FFVII on the Switch (a game I played years ago when I lived on Lorne Street), so that will be a nostalgia trip and a half.

We have decided on what to do with the garden. We had a gardener come round...he looked at the lawn and said "I can't rescue this". We have booked in some work for the lawn to be replaced (as well as levelled, and better prepared than it was as a new build), and also add in some raised beds to improve the structure of the garden. That will hopefully be done by summer.

4) Discover 4 new authors
I have read a lot in the last 3 months (I'm on book 15 of the year currently)...I've had a lot of time to kill. After polishing off the Gary Gibson Shoal Series (started in December), I've read the Bobiverse series by Dennis Taylor (a series of books about a human-sentient Von-Neumann machine) and the Newbury and Hobbes Investigation series by George Mann (basically a steampunk variant of Sherlock Holmes). Both were excellent, enjoyable reading, and exactly what I needed. I'm now on a slightly more serious book called Six Wakes (by Mur Lafferty) concerning clones murdering each other.

In a rather large departure for me, I also did my first ever binge-watch of a TV series...the Expanse (based on the books of James S.A. Corey, which I've been reading on release for a few years). It was decent...I thought they handled some part of the books really well (the look and speech of the Belters, some of the more claustrophobic environments, and they didn't shy away from the sheer fuck-upedness of the Protomolecule, as well as handling the juxtaposition of human politics vs insane alien shit). I think the early seasons maybe didn't convey the vastness of space the same way as the books, and how long travel took (this is a pretty major theme, as the progression of the books is in many ways about the effective decrease in size of the universe. When the series is called "The Expanse", I think you have to make sure it feels big!). Generally thought the characters were OK, if too young (and this may again be related to the pace/time shrinkage...Holden visibly ages throughout the books, and is always shown as a middle-aged guy with great charisma, not a pretty boy with a tortured soul so much). The guy who played Joe Miller (Thomas Jane) was superb, as is the actress playing Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo). I'dd definitely watch series 4, and be interested to see how they handle the next step in the story (which is effectively the colonisation of the gateway hub).

5) Complete 2 games of reasonable size
I've been grazing, and dipping in and out of games generally. I spent a bit of time with LOL and Apex, but have decided that they are not really for me, so moving back towards single-player. FFVII is now on the cards, which will be probably 80-100 hours of play to do it properly.

babychaos's picture