Not In The Past

Looking forward from 30

Archive for the tag “goals”

Ten Goals for 2013

As I mentioned in my last post, there are a few things I’m hoping to work on for the coming year.  I have a feeling the list will grow and evolve as the year goes on, but for now here are ten things I want to focus on:

  1. Write every day.  One thing I’m going to do to acheive this goal is to participate in #365poems, where I write a poem every day for a whole year.  They probably will not be great works of art, but the point is to discipline myself into producing every day.
  2. Submit work for publication.  Keep doing it until I get published, which may not happen this year.
  3. Get a new wardrobe.  I really feel like my clothing doesn’t really “fit” me in several different meanings of the word, and I want to get a few more nicer outfits for job interviews or more formal occasions. 
  4. Try a new bar or restaurant every month this year.
  5. Finally get my passport.  I put it by the wayside when I was unemployed and looking to finally get out of Miramichi, but now that I’m here in Halifax, it’s time to finally get it.
  6. Go to New York City.  My sisters are already planning a trip and they want me to come.
  7. Start doing volunteer work with a local organization.
  8. Cook two new dishes per month.
  9. Sell one of my photographs.
  10. Begin to make significant progress on reducing my personal debt.

I have a number of sillier, more trivial goals that aren’t really tied into what I want out of life, but I figure I wouldn’t include any of those as they would be a distraction.



I’ve been terrible about blogging lately, and to be honest, I’ve hit another block of dissatisfaction when it comes to this and the other blogs I keep in my name.  I’m wondering if this is too much of a diversion from keeping an “official” web presence under my real name, but I realize doing that has implications on my professional image.  I like having the potential for wider audience than a friends-only Livejournal post, but don’t feel as free to write about more negative emotional states or sexuality here than I would there.  This space is supposed to keep me writing, but I find the block is coming at me again when I’m here.

I was glad to see 2012 off: there were a few highlights, and an important life change, but I also had another bout of illness (whooping cough in August/September), my parents’ dog died in Novemberand the whole spell of unemployment I went through until I did get work took its toll on me.  It really did not help that I was living at home in an atmosphere that seemed to enable pessimism and reclusiveness, and the combination of it all brought me the biggest crisis in self-confidence I suffered in about 7 years.  I’m glad to be in my own space again, and working at a steady job for now (even if it is a term position that may not last too much longer): I feel a bit more in control of my life and my destiny, and that helps.

But what of the new year? Where do I want to be at years’ end?  Grand pronouncements that a year is going to be better than the last tend to blow up in the face of the person that make them, as do promises of lofty goals.  I tried doing 30 before 30 last year.  Didn’t exactly get everything done, but it was worth a try.  I thought I would try to get another list of goals posted sometime by the end of the week, which I’m still trying to winnow down.

I think it’s time to think about what I really want out of life again, though.  I’m so used to practicality and trying to be satisfied with the low-hanging fruit, and I really need a little more inspiration this time around.  If you have a suggestion for something to get out of this year, I would really love to hear it.

Know Thyself

It hasn’t been a month since coming back from Toronto, but I feel like it was ages ago; too many late nights spent on pointless personal projects.   It doesn’t seem likely that the rest of my 30 before 30 is going to be fulfilled by my extended deadline of July 2.  Not that some of these goals matter much, but it just makes me feel like I really don’t have the discipline to keep at even the most trivial personal goal.  I had a job interview this week (don’t want to jinx it by talking about where it was), but I could not sleep the night before.  I’ll hear by the end of the week.

I actually have considered selling my camera from time to time.  For someone who calls himself a photographer, I really don’t take a whole lot of pictures.  I’m beginning to think that I got the SLR more to say I have one than for any potential photographic career I may have.  I feel pushed into molds sometimes, and while “photographer” was more appealing than some of the other ones I’ve found myself slotted into, I’m having doubts that it really is my calling.  I don’t know: maybe it’s another case of me knowing myself.  I feel like the two lessons I’ve been raised with are “settle for what you’re given” and “don’t do anything unless you’re obligated to do it”.

I’ve acquired so much junk in the last few years that I’m tethered to it.  I need to make massive changes, but I don’t have the means to do it.

Forgive my sour tone.

More short-term planning

I’d been feeling a little down, discouraged and distracted lately, but a few things have been helping my disposition lately.  A drive to the Blackville Municipal Park, some time to walk in French Fort Cove, and a meetup with old friends at O’Donaghue’s in Chatham.

As much as I’m trying to go with the flow a bit more, I need to have the little goals each week to point me in the right direction.  I don’t mean anything big enough to leave a void if I somehow can’t do it, but I tend to have all this stuff I want to accomplish and get overwhelmed with how much there is.

I’m going to work on my resume for this weekend.  If anyone has any advice for someone who’s making a career change, or is willing to critique my resume, please let me know.


I feel myself wasting a lot of time online these days; perhaps it is time for another internet-free weekend (or longer).  I do need to hunt for work but I feel a little disorganized and scattered these days.  It’s as if I have too much on my table, and I’m wasting time deciding what to tackle first.  Sometimes when I do start something, I think I should be focusing on something a little more important and I feel guilty.  Or I start something more important, and then get this mental block, but I’m unwilling to do something else that’s on my “to-do” list because I feel that I should be getting that one thing done first.

I’ve been trying to get a lot of e-mail sent out.  I finished a number of letters that had been sitting in my draft folder; I have about seven left, plus one more that I’ve started in the last few days.   I’m also trying to see what I can get done in terms of starting a new writing project.

35 before 35

  1. Complete all of the goals on my “30 Before 30” that I haven’t completed by the original deadline within the next three months (Deadline: July 2, 2012).
  2. Move to Halifax.
  3. Turn off the television for an entire month.
  4. Completely eliminate my backlog of unwatched movies and unread books to the point where I don’t buy anything new until I have everything watched.
  5. Pay off a substantial amount off my debt, if not all of it.
  6. Complete a collaborative artistic project with someone.
  7. Complete a novel.
  8. Complete a screenplay.
  9. Take more active involvement in a cause or group I support.
  10. Visit Alberta, Newfoundland and British Columbia for the first time.
  11. Buy a new bed.
  12. Visit New York City.
  13. Take a great self-portrait.
  14. Complete a full 365-day photo project.
  15. Become functional (if not fluent) in another language.
  16. Have a piece of writing published.
  17. Sell a photograph.
  18. Find a fashion style that works for me.
  19. Lose and keep off 50 lbs.
  20. Start saving for retirement.
  21. Buy Photoshop.
  22. Have my full driver’s license.
  23. Complete my professional website.
  24. Buy a really nice coat.
  25. Host a party.
  26. Travel to Europe.
  27. Learn to play the guitar.
  28. Write a song.
  29. Buy a record player (and start a collection of vinyl).
  30. Get back on a bike.
  31. Read 50 books I have always wanted to read (list coming soon).
  32. Learn to paint.
  33. Visit 10 national parks in Canada.
  34. Cut soft drinks from my diet.
  35. If all 34 other goals have been met before age 35, add 10 new goals for each year remaining until 35.

I decided to give myself that extension on those unmet 30 before 30 goals because I didn’t exactly want to give up on what I hadn’t achieved.  I’m still 30.  I will probably give an update on July 2nd for that particular goal, but I think I’ll save the progress reports on this list for my birthday each year.

I had an excellent birthday, by the way.  I’ll write more at length about my time in Halifax and Moncton later, but the opportunity time with people I don’t get to see too often was a birthday present in itself.

30 Before 30 List: Update four

As scheduled, it’s time for my latest update on my 30 before 30 list:


  • I stayed offline for a whole weekend, and didn’t go crazy.  I’m actually considering doing it every so often.
  • I chose a new layout for the blog.  I think this one works for me more than the other one did.
  • I set up some tentative meetings for portrait sessions.
  • Not one DVD, book, or CD bought still..
  • Seven reviews of SNL 1980-81 down, six to go.
  • Tossed a handful of clothes I know aren’t in any condition to be worn by anyone.
  • Went one whole month without fast food.  Even now, I don’t really have much of an appetite for it.
  • Went to a restaurant I had not been to: The City Square.  Ordered the Chicken Tikka…thought it was pretty good.
  • I have six people who are getting snail mail letters from me in the coming weeks.  (If you’re interested in receiving one, please let me know)

Needs work:

  • I did call the driver examiner, set up an appointment and took the test, but I definitely was not prepared for it and failed.  My own fault, though.  Right afterward I scheduled another test for the next week, and now that I know what to prepare for, my goal is to pass it by a wide margin.  I don’t really think I want to be in control of any car unless I’m sure I have an idea what I’m doing.
  • I said I was going to turn off the computer earlier and try to get to bed.  Didn’t work out that way.
  • I have a feeling some of my do “x” so many times goals aren’t going to be met.  I’m trying to figure out if I should revise my number, or do a small penalty for each unmet goal, or something or other.
  • I have to still schedule a full week of meals.
  • Schedule a set time of day to do each goal but allow for wiggle room for errands, outings and so forth.
  • I need to make plans to get out of town around my birthday (either the weekend before or the day of).

It’s been a productive two weeks, but I can see the deadline looming and I know I have so much left to go.

Goals and strategies

One thing I’m gaining from doing this 30 before 30 project is the importance of setting achievable goals.  Setting goals is a good thing to do, but more important is actually committing to them.  Once I actually fully commit to achieving the goal, I seem to do a lot better at getting things accomplished.

I touched on this before when I talked about shutting the computer off for the weekend: when I don’t have anything to do, I just wait around and kill time.  I’m fighting this more and more these days, trying to find little projects to occupy the time and get me closer towards a better state.  I hate being in limbo, but I realize that the best way to get out of it is to be the one looking for an exit.  Kaitlyn Hatch, a life coach, wrote a post recently that seemed to sync up with what I’ve discovered over the course of the last month and a half: if you want to achieve something, it’s up to you to go for it.

I’m thinking a bit about some of the goals I have in the near future thanks to this project.  Some of these goals are goals in themselves, and others are incremental steps towards achieving other aims of mine.  I also find that posting some of these goals in a public space like this blog is a way to hold myself accountable.  There are a few things I want to keep as a priority this week that I’ve already posted about, but I’m also working on developing strategies towards keeping on task.

What I want to start doing this week is actually work on the whole internal-clock issue.  I propose that I’m going to start turning off the computer at midnight every night, starting tonight.    The iPod will go off an hour later.  I’m thinking gradual is the best strategy here.

What are some of your strategies for achieving goals?

Career tracks and callings

Thank you to everyone who offered me encouragement about my photography so far.  I’ve long mulled over whether I should take the leap and actually commit to a career in photography. I suppose putting together a portfolio is a step towards doing that.  I also think about seriously pursuing writing as well.  On my Twitter profile, I identify myself first as a writer and photographer.  Technically, it is true.

I still have lingering doubts as to whether it’s realistic for me to actually consider either of those as my vocation.  People tell me I’m good at both, but I still wonder if I’m one of the people for whom “do what you love” is not particularly good advice to give.  It’s not hard work alone that gets success in the world: talent, skill, opportunity, connections and circumstance cannot be ignored.   Some people can only do what they must, whether they like it or not.

It’s not just the ultra-competitive fields where this is true.  There are people who do pretty well at call centre work, but others, despite their best efforts and developed skills, still don’t have the natural talent for that occupation and end up either getting fired or burning out.  But it’s easier and less risky to look for work in a call centre than try to eke out a living doing what you love.  I’ve done the call centre route.  I did alright: in retrospect, I did better than I would have imagined and learned a good deal, but the longer I stayed there, the more I realized that I was never going to be completely happy in that setting.  I felt that even if I were to come to love it, it didn’t really come naturally to me.  It was also exhausting me to the point where my time off was spent on recovering for the next shift instead of putting words together or going out with my camera.

Photography and writing are more than just hobbies to me.  They’re urges that the way I see the world is inevitably filtered through.

I’m at the point where I know I have to ask myself whether it’s worth the effort of pursuing what I want to do, or if I should just keep practicality in mind and keep my interests on the back burner.  What does it mean to be realistic?   Does that not sometimes include accepting that the best you can ever hope for is cleaning toilets?

I’m thinking it’s time to actually subject myself to a bigger test of my abilities.  I’m thinking about the 35 before 35 list these days.  I’m considering making it a goal of mine to sell some of my work in the next five years…

More navel-gazing

I get the feeling from time to time that the universe is sending me signals.  I don’t really know whether it’s an omnipotent and interventionist deity or just trillions of small little chain reactions and coincidences that manage to come together in a certain way, but it always seems that I get the same kind of message from different sources at the same time.  It’s not a case of me consciously seeking the message out either: it just so happens that I randomly come across it.

About two years ago, I took a trip to Ontario to visit family and see “Rent” in Toronto.  On the Go Transit, there was a guy and a girl having this conversation about goals and working hard toward them.  The details of the conversation get fuzzier with each passing month, but for some reason it struck a chord with me at the time.  I found one of my old blog entries about that (already written so long afterwards that the details were lost in my head) where I likened it to Conan O’Brien’s “never be cynical” speech from his last Tonight Show (which I remember watching there).  The reason those words spoke to me was that at the time, I was in a pretty bad spot with work: it wasn’t that I wasn’t good at it, but I was at a point where I would be filled with so much dread every time I walked into the place.  At the time, I took those messages to be signs that waiting for something to get better will not necessarily accomplish anything.  I do have a little trouble actually jumping out of the ruts I dig myself into, though.

Just recently, I kept coming across a lot of similar thinking about casting aside fear and actually no longer holding your own life hostage to what other people think.  Or coming across all this encouragement to keep writing.  This has to be a sign.  Maybe I’m just reading validation of my own desires and impulses into things.  There’s something about being able to write about a memory so vividly that just impresses me.  Being able to build an entire reality out of words put together is just an amazing skill to master.

Anyone who knows me well knows I watch SNL a lot.  Funny thing is, as much as I love the show and finding out these details about its history, or who wrote what sketch, I never actually see myself as one of the performers, and I honestly don’t know if I would want to even write in such a pressure-cooker environment.  I have high admiration for the cast and writers being able to pull together a show in less than a week, even if there are weeks when the inspiration isn’t there, or they get stuck trying to carry a weak host.   I think, though, I would prefer to work on the kind of show not so bogged down with its legacy: with SNL, it’s become this institution and I find a lot of the writing seems to be “that’s what’s expected of us”.  Sometimes they pull off a classic political cold opening, but I wonder how many Obama “in-ones” are done out of an obligation to be this topical show that its reputation makes it out to be?

Writing here helps a lot, even if it is only to sort out the cacophony all these thoughts make in my mind.

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