My 2018 Ambitions

My 2018 Ambitions

‘My personal ambition remains the same – to be creative, to be modern, to stay one step ahead, to enjoy life.’ – Natalie Massenet.

Since 2016, I have written a post to welcome the new year in and outline my ambitions for the coming months. 2018 is no exception, and I have plenty I want to achieve over the next twelve months. In My 2017 Ambitions I outlined several goals I wanted to fulfil. Let’s start with those goals I didn’t manage to accomplish, and the explanations as to why!

So, how did I do in 2017?

First up, buy a new, more powerful laptop and get Photoshop / Adobe Lightroom.

The first goal – buy a new laptop and install Adobe Lightroom. I have failed miserably in getting this done, despite the fact that my own laptop is slowly dying a death. Three days into our trip to Israel, the charger stopped working and I was unable to write or edit photos for the entire trip. Upon our return to the UK, I bought a new charger which worked well for about six months before giving up the ghost. Now, I’ve not switched on my laptop for about three months, choosing instead to rely on my work laptop. This is not the best plan, since I don’t own it…

I definitely need to invest in a new laptop soon. Throwing so much money towards new technology is a big deal for me, and I’ve dithered over what laptop I should buy for the best part of six months. It is time to take the plunge and get something as soon as possible in 2018!

I promised to finally attend a TBEX Conference, after being unable to attend in 2016.

I also planned to finally attend my first ever TBEX Conference in 2017. I even organised an entire trip to Israel and Jordan around the conference that was held in Jerusalem in March. We went to Jerusalem. I didn’t go to the conference.

I could give false reasons as to why I didn’t end up going, but the truth is that when I arrived, I simply didn’t want to attend. When it came to it, I found I wanted to stay with my sisters and spend time exploring Jerusalem with them, rather than go to the conference. By this point, I’d paid for the ticket so long ago that losing the money didn’t even really matter to me.

Since I failed to attend, I’ve grown stronger in my conviction that I did the right thing by not going. TBEX have done several questionable things since the conference in Jerusalem, not least, organising a conference to be held in Zimbabwe in July 2018. Adventurous Kate wrote a really excellent post on the issues surrounding the TBEX Conferences and their controversial decisions over the past few years. Upon reflection it seems rather contentious that they even hosted a conference in Jerusalem, a city at the epicentre of ongoing tensions and violence between Israelis and Palestinians. In her words:

“[Jerusalem is] …a bit of a controversial destination, no matter how you look at it. And while it [TBEX] branded itself as an opportunity to explore both Israeli and Palestinian cultures, the main sponsor was the Israel Ministry of Tourism, which is an organisation that condones the occupation of Palestine.”

So yeah. Although the money was already spent, the more I review my decision the happier I am with the choice I made. And I can safely say I will not be attending any TBEX Conferences in the future either.

jerusalem 2018 ambitions
Western Wall and the Dome on the Rock, Jerusalem

And then there was this… Simply, to write more.

I’ve written and published thirty three posts in 2017, and it would have been more if I hadn’t taken some time out from July to October to focus my attention on coding. I justified my reasons for writing less in this post, and do you know what? I missed writing terribly. Far more than I ever expected I would. Writing is an irresistable urge within me, and it was an utter joy to start telling stories again when I was in Ireland in October.

Before July, and since October, I think I managed to achieve my simple goal to write more. Personally, I also feel that the content I’ve been posting this year is of a higher quality than in previous years, although you may disagree! Ultimately, I think I half managed to achieve this ambition…

I also hoped to increase my Instagram following in 2017.

I definitely managed to do this. My Instagram following currently hovers around the 370 mark, which is much higher than this time last year. I’m still working out the perfect formula for increasing followers without cheating. Posting lots helps. During some months this year I significantly dropped the number of photos I posted and saw a marked decrease in followers whenever this happened.

My content has become largely iPhone images as well – my DSLR usage has dropped way off. I simply don’t carry it around enough, and I’ve been really hating on editing this year. I still have heaps of photos from my trips to Israel, Jordan and Morocco still waiting to be edited. It’s just a lot easier to post the images I’ve taken on my phone. They’re right there, it’s quicker to edit them and the iPhone photo quality, whilst not up to DSLR standards, is still pretty good. Besides, it’s all about the image itself right? The content, the angles, the light, the colours. If a photo is going to be good, it’ll be perfect whether it has been taken on a phone or on a camera.

2018 ambitions
A train passing through the desert near our camp in Wadi Rum, Jordan

And finally, I was aiming to learn how to code.

I gave up writing for three and a half months to dedicate a significant chunk of time to this goal. I went to three expensive courses and learnt beginners JavaScript, HTML and CSS. I picked up responsive design and had friends help me by setting tasks and explaining things to me when I got stuck. For a month, I woke up early every day and spent at least half an hour coding before going to work. I tried really, really hard.

And whilst I feel I picked up HTML and CSS fairly easily, and could quite confidently tackle something using those languages, I got very stuck on JavaScript. I struggled with this language and couldn’t make head nor tail of it. I went back to basics, I tried and tried, going over the same things repeatedly, but for some reason it just wasn’t going in.

To be totally honest, I kind of gave up. I’m a weak willed, easily defeated person, but I really did try to give coding my all for a few months and threw myself into it to see if it was something I wanted to persue longer term. Truthfully? It’s not something I want to make a career out of, although I had hoped this would be the case. However, it’s super useful to have immersed myself in this learning process and I definitely feel glad I gave it a go. I’m now spending some time learning SQL, which will be more useful for my current job role.

So I kind of achieved this goal. At least, I learnt that being a developer full-time is not something I’d like to do. And I can understand the syntax of code and the background to it much better, even if I can’t build a full website as I’d hoped I might be able to. I can mess around and make small changes if I like and that’s super useful. And I really did give it my all for a few months back there. I’m proud of myself for trying really hard, even if the end result wasn’t exactly as I’d hoped.

And the goals for 2018?

I only have a few and they all seem quite manageable right now. I’m excited to get going and see how many I can achieve this year! Hopefully all…

Read more.

Super simple! All great writers are (or should be) great readers. And I’ve kind of let my reading slide over the past couple of years. So I really wanted to rectify this and get more books read in 2018.

To accomplish this goal, I’ve already set myself a reading challenge for the year. Read more about the challenge here!. I’m hoping the books that I’ve been recommended will excite me, and perhaps open my eyes to stories and ideas I may otherwise have ignored in the past. The challenge will also push me out of my reading comfort zone, as I’m sure people have different genres and writing styles they prefer. It’s going to be interesting!

In addition to the twelve books I’ll be reading as part of the challenge, I’ll be aiming to read as many other booksas possible too. I hope to consistently read 2-3 books a month as opposed to the approximately one-zero books I managed on average each month in 2017!

2018 ambitions
Chefchaouen, Morocco

Do something that pushes me right out of my comfort zone.

Last time I pushed myself right out of my comfort zone, I ended up moving to New Zealand for eighteen months.

This time, I won’t be doing anything as drastic as that, but the time has come for me to push my boundaries and test myself again. I need to boost my self-confidence and prove to myself that I can still do things beyond my normal routine and life in London. Beyond just travelling too.

I have something in mind, but I’ll be keeping it to myself for now until I’ve planned the logistics out a little more. All you need to know for now is that it’s something that makes me feel nervous and excited. It will definitely test my mental and physical energy and strength! I’ll keep you posted…

Continue to travel as much as possible.

In 2017, I visited eight countries, four of which were new to me.

In 2018, I’d like to return to some old favourites, as well as check out some new countries. I already have two trips in January and something in the pipeline for March, but beyond that I have no travel plans for 2018 yet! Shocking, I know.

I’ve a list of six key places I’d like to travel to this year, excluding my January trips.

Places I’d love to return to are:

Bath. It’s been over a year since I last visited my favourite city in the world, so a return visit is definitely due! I’m in discussions with my sister around the possibility of going in February, so fingers crossed this happens!

New Zealand. One of my oldest friends is getting married in Auckland at the end of the year, so I’m definitely heading back to my favourite country in the world in 2018! I literally cannot wait to return – I am already getting an excited buzz at the thought, and the trip is still over 11 months away! I’ll post a more detailed itinerary once I’ve finalised my plans, but I’m hoping to make this a pretty epic trip!

Jordan. Yeah, I know I went less than a year ago. But E may be moving to Lebanon for a few months in 2018, and unfortunately the Israeli stamp on my passport makes it impossible for me to visit her there. As such, we’re talking about meeting in Jordan. I loved my first visit to this gorgeous country and will be thrilled if I can return again very soon!

2018 ambitions
Aoraki / Mt Cook, New Zealand

And the new places I’d like to explore?

Northern England. I’ve never really gone much further north than Sheffield, and think that it would be fantastic to spend a long weekend exploring some more of Yorkshire, the Peak District and visiting York. I definitely need to travel more in the UK, so this seems a good place to start.

Austria. This country has been on my horizons for a few years now, but always passed me by. I’d love to finally visit in 2018 and go to Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck, as well as explore the mountains and great outdoors.

Nepal. I already have plans coming together to finally visit Nepal in 2018. It’s been on my wishlist for years and made it into my anti-bucket list way back in 2015. Hopefully, I’ll be going in the spring with a few friends, and we’ll be trekking, exploring Kathmandu and chilling in Pokhura. I’m already excited!

Finally, I need to get my act together and get my Irish passport. 

Britain will be formally leaving the EU in March 2019 if everything goes to plan. Whilst every part of me wishes this wasn’t happening, I suppose I do have to accept the inevitable and acknowledge that my British passport will soon be much less powerful than it was before. Suddenly, I’ll no longer be able to easily live, work and travel in 27 other countries. Here’s to the Leave voters… Thanks for that!

I am fortunate though. I have Irish ancestry and am therefore eligible to apply for a heritage citizenship and therefore, get my golden ticket back into the EU – an Irish passport. I’ve been meaning to apply for my citizenship and passport since I returned from The Long Journey Home in 2016, but have just never gotten around to it. I think 2018 is the year…

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If you’ve made it this far, well done! This has turned out to be an extremely long post!

To finish, I will repeat the ending I wrote in both my 2016 and 2017 Ambition posts. Here’s to a wonderful 2018 – may yours be healthy and full to the brim with fun, laughter, friendships, travel, new experiences and all the other good stuff. I hope you achieve all your ambitions, just as I hope to achieve mine!

2018 ambitions
Main Square, Bruges, Belgium

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