End of March Goals Check

Wow, so another month as flown by! Before long it will be Christmas again (my least favorite holiday actually) and I’ll look back on these posts and think… well, I have no Idea what I’ll think.  Hopefully I won’t look back and say “man I kicked ass!”  but rather I’m hoping I’ll look to the month of March with a twinge of regret and realize “I should have been kicking more ass by that point.”

For now, I’m pretty happy with how March turned out. So let’s take a look at my progress and I hope you’ll take a look at yours.  If you haven’t started yet, make sure you build your goal list today and start taking tiny steps to making them happen.

First, the thing I’m most proud of is that none of my goals were left completely stagnate this month.  The goal that got the least direct attention was my travel around the world goal.  Of course the next immediate sentence wants to start with the word “but that’s because,” so I’ll try to fight that excuse as best I can.  I didn’t focus on that goal directly because 1) I cannot book my ticket until late April to May, and 2) my other goals are preparing me for it indirectly (controlling my spending and saving for the trip, as well as preparing for my survival/leadership training expedition).  Luckily, it looks like my weakest area this month wasn’t too bad since I made indirect positive movement towards achieving it.

So let’s take a gander at my individual goals and steps taken this month:

Read More

I’ve mostly finished my first book of the year, The Leadership Moment by Michael Useem.  Though truth be told, I haven’t picked it up in the last week of March.  I generally read a little here and there when I ride the train to work, but it’s such a short ride that I found myself not getting very far unless I happen to just barely miss the train.  It also doesn’t help that I completed the stories that I was looking most forward to, so I lost a bit of motivation there.  Also I kind of broke out the NES emulator this week and am now on level 3 of the Japanese version of Zelda (The Hyrule Fantasy).

… I know what your thinking.  DON’T JUDGE ME!  It falls under the Learn Japanese goal! Right? 😛

Win a game of Go

Damnit.  I’ve been playing a lot of go when I get bored.  And I feel no closer to winning my first game against the computer.  I went to the library the other day and looked for a book on go strategy but apparently timeless games that require of cunning and genius to win are of no interest to my local community.  Bleh. I may finally just give in and buy Go for Beginners by Mr. Iwamoto.  This damn computer is so hard to beat! But what fun would it be if I was winning right away, right?

Who am I kidding, it would be a lot of fun to win a game already!!

Take 30 cold showers

This month I missed a few cold showers unfortunately.  But each time I do, a strange feeling creeps up more and more.  When I finally cave to the excuses and nagging of my brain for a hot shower, I initially LOVE it! Until I climb out.  When I get out of the boiling hot shower, I become cold, and suddenly regretful when I look in the mirror.  Because to me, in that mirror is someone that doesn’t have control over his life. Someone who takes the easy route so that he can be comfortable.  Someone who will cling to comfort so that he can arrive at death safely.

My first attempt at snowshoeing in the rockies.  Not quite as dangerous as the quote would have you believe, but most people would think a weekend trip to snow shoe to not be worth it.  It is!

Snowshoeing in the rockies, Feb. 2014. Not quite as dangerous as the quote would have you believe, but most people would think a weekend trip to Colorado wouldn’t be worth it. It is!  Also that’s a lake we’re standing on.  Us Georgians find this terrifying!

When I get out of a cold shower however, I’m actually much more warm and confident.  When I stand there and look in the mirror I see someone who is better than they were the day before.  Someone who can do whatever he wants, and doesn’t succumb to the allure of comfort.  Did I quit my job and chase my passion? No. Did I wake up and walk into the wilderness with just a pocket knife? No.  But these small wins empower me to see life differently.  To be more confident in my decisions.  And to be more comfortable not being comfortable.

Bike to and from work

As I posted last week, I made huge progress in my goal to ride to the nearest MARTA train station!  The ride home was a surprise however as I realized the majority of it was uphill followed by plateaus! My first 24mile day was a great feeling, but this week due to the sudden return of winter I haven’t ridden since Sunday’s ride to the grocery store.

I think I may be finishing up at this current client office soon, so I might miss my chance to bike all the way (32 miles) from house to office, but we’ll see.  I already feel like I accomplished so much of this goal that I’m not to worried about it.

Don’t come in last in two 5k’s

Next Saturday marks my first 5k this year, and they just announced a doozy of an obstacle!  The sweeper looks a little intimidating but a lot of fun!  Unfortunately I haven’t started running yet in preparation due to a pain in my foot that I think may be tendinitis.  I’m trying to stay off it as much as possible, and luckily cycling doesn’t hurt at all.  But a month ago a light run nearly brought me to my knees.  If I have too, I might just walk through this first 5k.  Hopefully the sweeper will set someones grandmother back a few yards, leaving me to claim second to last!

Learn to read and write basic Japanese

This month marked my 100th kanji! And sense then I’ve taken one commenters advice to heart and have been picking up a few more opportunities of exposure.  And a few nights ago my wife went on a Lion King nostalgia ride by pulling up youtube clips of her favorite songs.  Accidentally, she pulled up the Japanese version of Can You Feel the Love Tonight, and I was surprised at how much I understood (albeit I kind of knew a lot of it before hand, but still!).  I also attended a Japanese meetup last week with plans for another tomorrow, both of which focus on playing fun studying games like a Japanese spin off of ‘Never have I ever” where we practice our past perfective sentence forming and pretending to drink if you haven’t done it before!

トトロドールは買ったごとがある。東京からだ! It's nice being the only one to have such an awesome toy! (FYI, I bought it as a gift for my kid one day :P)

トトロドールは買ったごとがある。東京からだ! It’s nice being the only one to have such an awesome toy! (FYI, I bought it as a gift for my kid one day :P)

Learn to lead Alaskan glacier expeditions

Finally got all of my paperwork, medical requirements, and down payment out of the way! It’s much more official than it was at the beginning of the month, but I won’t say it’s a sure thing until I land on that glacier!  But as far as I can tell, this is definitely happening, and I CAN’T WAIT!

I’ve been working out 6 days a week now, and each time I catch myself trying to sneak by on some excuse to be lazy, I remember that in just 3 months I’ll be carrying a 60lb pack over snowy mountains, and if I don’t want to die then, I better get off my ass now :).

Increase social opportunities

This goal was the one I was most worried wouldn’t happen, but I have actually made the most progress in!  Since setting this goal I’ve become an admin over at the Reddit Atlanta Facebook Group and we are up to 400 members as of today!  I also helped plan and orchestrate our first official meetup (will post about soon) where we played Mario Kart in real life in the park and had beers at a kind redditors nearby home!

We had a huge turnout, with lots of bystanders stopping by just to watch!

We had a huge turnout, with lots of bystanders stopping by just to watch!

I’ve also established an Anime night for this Friday at my place, and attended 3 other meetups this month! On top of that I’m working to increase my exposure with coworkers closer to my age group do things that closer friends would do.  Being more sociable has turned out to be the easiest goal yet so long as I’m not afraid of a little initial chance of rejection!

Lose weight/save money for RTW

In an effort to save money for the RTW trip, I’ve really hit the home made food plan hard! I’ve also decided to shrink my portion size so that it won’t be such as surprise to my system when I start traveling longer term (or say, live on a glacier for 2 weeks) and won’t have access to the typical American portion sizes I’m so accustom to.  As a result of not eating out every day (I’m down to about 2-3 times a week) and the smaller portions, I’ve both saved money and according to my wife lost a lot of weight.  I also find myself becoming OK with being a little hungry now and then, and I think this will be a huge benefit when I’m traveling and have to wait a little longer than expected to my next meal.

Here’s a look at my current meal plan.  I spend about 25-35 dollars a week when shopping at the international farmers market (which is WAY cheaper than Walmart and Kroger for fresh food):

  •   A 5$ pack of ground beef. This has yielded a ton of hamburgers that I pre-patty out with salt, pepper, and garlic and then freeze.  Cook the night before for lunches to take to work (the trick is to pack the meat, bread, and salad separately and assemble at lunch time)
  • For $3.99 I get a box of beef or pork bugolgi and cook all of it and portion out with a side of jasime rice (12$ for 3 months worth) for 3 meals to either take to work or eat for dinner
  • 7$ get’s me 3 medium size ribeye’s (I’m telling you, MUCH cheaper than Kroger!) that I can cut in half and for other dishes like steak and egg burritos and steak and cheese fajita’s
  • Tomato’s, apples, onions, lettuce, eggs, milk, bread (good bread, like fresh uncut rolls for hamburgers), tortilla shells etc usually make up the rest of the costs.  I’ve also been trying different sweets for snacks like granola and honey.

Remember, my portions are purposefully smaller than usual.  I’ll typically eat a hamburger for lunch very slowly with an apple a few hours before or after.  Then have half a steak or some bugolgi for dinner with rice and a green of some sort.  It’s not for everyone, but I’ve both saved money and lost weight doing it :).

Travel around the world for 2 months

As mentioned above, I’m working on this- just indirectly :).

Have more Weekend vacations

I pulled off another weekend vacation this month!  I had some residual points built up on my Chase credit card so I transferred them over to Southwest and paid for only half my airfare  by scheduling two one way tickets: one to Boston and one from.  This allowed me to get up to see some friends for only $177 + the cost of beer and eats (and one Uber ride since I paid for more beer than expected).  I left friday after work and got home mid day sunday, and never once felt rushed!  It was great seeing old friends, having a TON of fun, and not using up any vacation days.

During a trip to the loo in downtown Boston, I came across a bit of pub stall motivation!

During a trip to the loo in downtown Boston, I came across a bit of pub stall motivation!

Next month is my 2 year anniversary, so my wife and I are off to Florida for another weekend vacation in the sun!

Learn Mindfulness Meditation

I haven’t posted much anything about it yet, since I’m still trying to figure out where I stand on the topic.  But every few days I take a couple of moments to stop and practice.  Sometimes its only for 5 minutes, other times it’s closer to 20.  I think I’ve learned a lot, but I’ll need more practice before I feel like I have anything to offer on the subject.

One thing I can say is that my mind is a very strange place.  When practicing I find the oddest memories surfacing just to give me something to think/worry/stress about.  Practicing pushing these aside has helped in a lot of area’s already :).

Phew! So that’s March 2014 from my point of view! How was yours?

Learn Japanese, My 100th Kanji

The fact that people can communicate in multiple languages has always left me with a sense of awe.  But once I started traveling internationally, I felt quite lazy when I realized how many other people had taken on the huge challenge or learning English as a second language, while I was just sat around butchering it; much less learning any other language. 

To top it off where I’m from (southern US), our culture resists language learning of any kind, and immigrants are expected to “learn the language before they come here.”  Often times these comments go so far as to imply that someone who doesn’t speak perfect English must be unintelligent.  Needless to say I was never a part of this camp, but now that I’ve learned some Japanese I realize just how bright and dedicated a person has to be in order to convey any thought, no matter how small or broken, in another language.

Unfortunately for myself however, I choose the language that interested me most, but was also ranked 5th hardest language to learn for native English speakers.  I would be venturing into a realm where neither letters nor spaces between words existed.  A place where I would have to learn not just another alphabet, but two plus a pictorial one with thousands of unique characters and conjugations. 

And that third one is pretty scary.  Take for instance the word for “today”, “kyou” pronounce “key-yo” and looks like 今日.  You can write this word correctly in 2 different ways, one with kanji as shown, and one with hiragana as such きょう.  In kanji form however, the word is the summation of two separate characters that when used separately sound neither like “key” or “yo” but instead are “ima” 今 and “nichi” 日 (“nichi” can also be pronouced “hee”).  To illustrate, imagine if the word “homeland” when split apart was pronounced “origin place” but was still spelled as “home land.” Yeah, this goal is going to be a hard one, but arn’t they all?

But I’m making progress.  I started getting pretty serious with Rosetta Stone in January of last year, while I prepared for my trip to Tokyo.  I studied using RS and made friends online to practice language exchange as well.  This got my through Tokyo with ease (but wasn’t actually needed to be honest), and after just three months, and armed with a dictonary app on my phone, I was conversing over dinner with a friends cousin who didn’t speak English short of a few words.  Upon returning home however, I promptly abandoned my studies.

Then several months later, I decided to finally tackle what I had been avoiding: kanji, the pictorial alphabet that has thousands of symbols and at least two different ways to read/say each one.  So I bought a book on November 11th, 2013 entitled “Reading Japanese,” and published by Yale back in the 70’s.  Since then every day I’ve been making slow progress through the book, and now, over 3 months later I hit a big milestone.  I can not only fluently read and write both syllabic alphabets (hiragana and katakana) but also 100 kanji! 

As of 3/13/14 I've copied by hand about 168 pages of 546 page text book!

As of 3/13/14 I’ve copied by hand about 168 pages of 546 page text book! Also, if you notice, there’s another goal lurking in the background 😀

Yes, this is only a small, miniscule step in the process.  I have a very long way to go (1900 more to be specific).  But with 100 kanji under my belt, I’m immensely excited, and have a huge boost in confidence that I can actually achieve this goal.  My newly formed routine is practically set in stone at this point.  Every morning I arrive at work an hour early and copy new kanji, example sentences and reading drills.  I haven’t missed a day where I don’t write something or read something in Japanese and as such, I look very forward to it each morning.  I doubt I’d ever be successful if I didn’t.

In the next few weeks I’ll start posting entries of my individual study sessions, realizations, and milestones!  Any motivation or words of wisdom will be greatly appreciated :D.