Getting Back on Track: Fitness & Weight Loss

Getting Back on Track: Fitness & Weight Loss

This year has not been good for the fitness side of my life. At least, not yet it hasn’t. The Coronavirus caused gyms to shut and bad habits to be formed whilst working from home – if you were lucky enough to be able to. For many people, this has meant that waistlines have expanded as exercise levels plummet. I am certainly one of those people. In the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to get a greater handle on my fitness now that the gyms have reopened. This will be a short post about what I’m up to and what I hope to achieve with my fitness and weight loss journey.

Getting Back on Track: Fitness & Weight Loss

2020 So Far

My fitness has seen a steady decline since the start of the year. Even before lockdown began, I was well on the way to being the heaviest I have ever been. Lockdown made the issues worse by cutting off access to the racket sports I had started to play again with friends. As time went on, and I was moved to working from home, my exercise levels became non-existent.

It is not like I did not try at all. I made a weekly plan, doing yoga on some days and others a workout with my kettlebell. This did not last, however, as I think I lacked the commitment at the time to continue with the practice. I would never turn away from doing physical things and even started to do the Couch to 5k running plan. This went very well and I was making good progress. Unfortunately, a family tragedy paused my taking part in the running and it never resumed.

This has led to 2020 being a very bad year for my fitness. That is, so far at least. I now want to take back control and assume responsibility for my fitness journey, and hopefully, drop a few stones at the same time!

Getting Back on Track: Fitness & Weight Loss

What’s Going On Now?

A couple of months ago I started a new challenge, the 500k Steps in 50 Days Challenge. You can find out more about it here and how I did but generally speaking I crushed it! I ended up well over my step target and I was thrilled with that. Over the 50 days, I also lost 7lbs as I decided to get back into healthy eating at the same time.

When I say get into healthy eating, what I mean is simply stop snacking so much. Where before I would consume a lot of food outside of my three meals a day, I stopped snacking almost completely. Being more reasonable about the amount of food I ate didn’t mean I ever felt like I was depriving myself though. It was almost liberating.

Thanks to all of the steps and the reduction in calorie intake, my weight dropped. At the end of my challenge, I knew I wanted to keep it up. I’ve stuck with the lower calories and started attending the gym again thanks to them reopening.

Because I had to return to the office, the gym time slots do not work very well for me. Especially as there is no facility to change or get showered at the gym I go to currently. Going after work would mean waiting around for almost an hour, and having to carry my stuff with me whilst I workout.

I still make a point of going at least once a week though, normally at the weekend. During the week, I am currently doing a session at home with my kettlebell. I found it a challenge to get back into weight lifting after so many months of doing none, but now I am getting back into the swing of it. That is a kettlebell pun, by the way.

The gym is also very quiet at the moment. For the most part, because of the layout over many floors, I rarely see another person aside from the receptionist. It helps me go first thing in the morning too! This certainly makes me more comfortable as I get used to it again.

Thanks to being back at work, I am also getting a lot of steps in naturally, just by walking to and from work. We are very busy at work at the moment, which means I’m not getting a lot of steps in whilst at work as I’m glued to the emails or phone. Despite this, I am often hitting my daily 12k step target.

Update: I wrote this before Lockdown 2.0 was a thing. Now it is a thing, so the gym is a no go for the time being. However, still doing workouts at home, but not as many as I would like to. Hopefully will bounce back to it properly once the gym reopens.

Getting Back on Track: Fitness & Weight Loss

Looking Forward

Whilst things are quiet and I cannot be embarrassed by messing up, I am hoping to increase the weights I can lift at the gym. Hopefully, I will then also branch out into other exercises and workouts. Although I am looking to keep it simple to make sure I stick to any schedule for the duration. This is not my first attempt at maintaining a program by any means and they normally fail because I expect too much – whether that be time spent exercising or too much variation.

I am going to look into doing RED January at the start of 2021. This is an event where you do something active every single day of the month. I think this will be both a good challenge and a decent way to build my fitness further. I’m hoping to mix in a variety of activities: long walks, weightlifting, running, and anything else that the Coronavirus might allow!

Once I set up my page, I will be raising money so I will share links to this. Money raised for RED January goes towards an excellent mental health charity, Sport in Mind.

Given how mentally taxing 2020 has been and (I am sure) 2021 will be, I am pleased to be supporting a mental health charity. Charities, like Sport in Mind, can be a lifeline to those struggling with not just Coronavirus fall out but any number of issues.

I will be doing another fitness-based blog post at the end of January to talk about how things went.

Aside from this, I am looking forward to making 2021 the most physically active of my life! All I need to do is be consistent, so it should not be too hard… right!?

Getting Back on Track: Fitness & Weight Loss

Thank you for reading this update on my fitness journey and I hope it has given you something to think about for your journey! I know many of my friends are looking to get in shape, lose weight, and become fitter in the New Year and I will be right there with them cheering them on as they cheer me on!

What are your thoughts about your current fitness condition and journey? Let me know your next steps in the comments below!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing
My Photography Journey

My Photography Journey: From Amateur to Hopeful Professional

It has been a long time since I first picked up a camera and it has been quite the journey. From point and shoots to DSLRs and now mirrorless cameras, my passion for photography began in earnest in my university undergraduate days, although I did not realise it at the time. Now I am taking my first steps as a professional photographer and earning money from what once was a hobby. Here is my photography journey so far, from amateur to hopeful professional.

My Photography Journey

The Early Days

Some of the earliest memories of taking photos I have are during a school trip to Portchester Castle with what I believe was a disposable camera. I still have the photo album in the attic which has the pictures in it. I must have been around 9 years old at the time. The pictures might not to a gallery standard, but they are important to me. Digital cameras were only just becoming a thing back then, and I remember growing up as the technology continuously improved.

Move forward a decade to when I started at university and I now had a point and shoot compact digital camera I was incredibly pleased with. I took thousands of pictures during my university days and they were mostly of my drunk friends. Even now, the photo albums remain visible on my Facebook page.

At the time, I do not think I was considering doing anything with my photography. It was not until a year after I finished university and I used some of my first paychecks to buy a DSLR camera. It was a Nikon D3100. An entry-level camera, even for the time, but I am happy I did not spend any more money. My knowledge of photography was, at best, limited and a fancy camera would have been wasted on me.

I did love this camera, however. I used it quite often but primarily at special events, such as festivals and family gatherings. At Christmas in particular, I would be running around the family party to get pictures of people. Eventually, I got a tripod and group shoots became more of a thing. I also fondly remember going to the local Christmas Festival and walking around with my camera to take pictures of all the wondrous things going on.

Unlike now, however, I would not go out to “casually” take photos. And despite having a book giving me the low down on my DSLR and all its capabilities, I would not use the camera enough to retain more than a general understanding of what it could do. I almost lamented this fact, as I did with a lot of things at the time. I felt like I did not progress a lot in this period with my hobbies, or, indeed, my life.

My use of the D3100 camera reached a peak during a 2015 visit to Amsterdam. Some of the pictures I took of the city and my friends are ones that I love and ended up being used in later years on cavasses as gifts to family and friends at Christmas. That Christmas I also got my first subscription to Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

My Photography Journey

By late 2016 my passion for photography was rapidly growing, however, I found my current DSLR to be too big and bulky to carry around with me on a day to day basis. I was often seeing things whilst I was out that I wanted to photograph but the effort of having to carry a large DSLR with me put me off taking it. I decided to upgrade my camera to something more compact but still powerful, and this started my ongoing love affair with Olympus.

The EM10 Days

My Olympus OM-D EM10 Mark III was a fantastic little camera. Not only was it better in every way than my previous D3100, but it was much easier to carry with me and stylish too! I even had a couple of lenses for it which was a first for me. This was the point I decided I wanted to go professional, although I did not know how to accomplish this. What I did realise was before I could go professional, I would have to learn more about photography and my camera.

The first true test of the EM10 came the Summer of 2017 when I went to the French Riviera. Aside from being a glorious location which I thoroughly enjoyed (and had wanted to visit since university), there were many photo opportunities. The lightweight nature of the camera really helped. I could not imagine carrying my older camera around in that heat all day. I got some excellent pictures on this trip and it cemented my love of the EM10.

My Photography Journey

I started to use my camera a lot more at this point. Being able to carry it about much easier – it could comfortably fit into any bag I was carrying – allowed me to increase the amount of time I was getting to shoot. I enjoyed taking the camera with me to many places including country parks, events, and on other international holidays such as Lisbon.

Despite the growth in my usage of my camera and the increase in my skills, I still felt not ready to push forward with anything “professional”. I continued to gift the occasional print or canvas, but my life was mostly occupied in other areas meaning that looking to develop my photography into a money-maker was not a priority.

When it came time to plan my goals for 2020, I know I wanted to make a concerted effort to push my photography further. I committed to going on at least on a monthly trip with my friend with the purpose of capturing great photos. It was going well for the first couple of months, but unfortunately, the year took a bit of a turn when the Coronavirus took hold and lockdown began.

For the first few weeks of lockdown, I am not sure I even touched my camera. But by May I had decided to take it with me on my walks to continue with my goal. As the lockdown eased, I and my friend resumed our photography trips.

My Photography Journey

The Start of the EM1 Days and Going Professional

I put off trying to sell my prints for a long time because I was worried about what people might think of them. Despite praise from others, I had my doubts. I knew I had to take the leap, however, and made the decision to start selling my prints. That being said, I could immediately start selling them. One thing I was sure of, I knew I needed a plan.

I did my research and after a few weeks had a decent plan of action moving forward. I had investigated how I wanted to sell the prints, what platforms to use, if I would need to register as self-employed, and all manner of things that come with the creation of a small business.

One thing I knew I wanted to do was upgrade my camera to a professional level one. I was not sure about this at first, as it was a considerable financial outlay. But, I surmised, even if I were unsuccessful at selling prints and what followed, I would still enjoy the act of photography and that meant I should get the camera.

I decided to stick with a brand I knew and opted for the Olympus OM-D EM1 Mark II camera. Whilst the Mark III is out and (technically at least) a better camera body, Olympus had a special offer on to get a free lens if you brought the Mark II. I could not pass up a free £1099 lens, especially considering the benefits of a second lens for my hopeful photography career.

Aside from a few hiccups in the camera when I first got it – which you can read about in my Instagram Story Highlights – I have to say I am really enjoying the EM1. I am looking forward to getting out with it a lot more and getting some amazing shots.

With a new camera in tow, it was time to launch my new print shop alongside my revamped website. To much thunderous support (from my sister who was incredibly happy for me) my print shop opened on Saturday 7th November 2020.

This year has not been good in so many ways, but I am hoping this can mark a changing point in the year.

I will not stop at just a print shop, of course. I also want to expand into other areas of photography, doing work professionally in some capacity. Going forward, I want to experiment with my portrait photography. I also want to expand my reach on social media which is going well at the moment.

My Photography Journey

I did want to talk about how to know you are ready to go professional in this post, but I think it has already reached a decent length. This is something I will be talking about when to know you are ready to go professional, and what my next steps in photography journey will be, in my next photography blog post. I am hoping to do monthly posts on photography, so watch this space!

In the meantime, thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this insight into my photography life thus far. Leave a like if you did, and please comment below if you have any thoughts or want to share your own journey in photography!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

As is ever the case, the year of 2019 seemed to fly by! I know that in my own life so much happened last year, and I’m sure you have had a lot happen to you too. Hopefully what happened to you fell in line with what you wanted to happen in 2019. Your goals, aspirations, and Resolutions for the year. I know mine did (for the most part!) and, hopefully, you also had a successful year of getting things done! In this post, I will talk about why goals are important and how I stay motivated with my goals. I’ll do a Roundup of how my 2019 goals went (original 2019 goal post here) and what I have planned for 2020. I’ll also discuss how I plan to keep and achieve these goals and some tips you can apply in your own life!

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

Why Set Goals

I find that anything you want to do in life can be put into one of four categories depending on the size of it: action, task, goal, and resolution. Goals and Resolutions are similar but provide different context, with resolutions typically spanning a single year (and normally not more, unless it is repeated). Goals can, essentially, be over any time period whether a few days or a few years. Perhaps the main point of using the word resolution is that it becomes clear to others that this is a goal, often lofty in its nature, which is current for that year. Aside from those points, however, goals and Resolutions are very similar.

Tasks make up the things you have to do to reach the goal, and actions are the things you have to do as part of the task. There could be different levels of tasks, however, as actions, in my world at least, are typically very small and not worthy of recording in their own right, unlike tasks and goals that tend to be written to paper (or digital white space).

People, just like you, strive for goals every day. It could be as simple as making a meal or as complex as becoming a famous astronaut. We then fulfil tasks and actions in order to attempt to reach those goals. My point here is that even if you consider yourself as a person who does not set yourself goals or resolutions, you actually do without realising it. Not writing it down doesn’t make it not a goal!

To cut to the chase, as it were, we set goals to give our life’s purpose. Want a baby at some point during your life? That’s a goal. Want to find the right partner? It’s a goal. Want to move out of your parent’s house into one you own? Goal!

Fulfilling goals makes us feel good about ourselves. Often our achievements completely pass us by as we move on to the next thing. I’ve witnessed this first hand in one of my past roles as a manager. When talking to my team and asking what they had achieved, they looked at me blankly. They couldn’t recall any of their accomplishments despite them normally being numerous – they had forgotten about them!

To help avoid this, thinking about what your goals are and writing them down gives something tangible for you to aim towards and reflect upon once complete (reflection is a very important part of the process!). Setting your goals like this can help you stay focused on them and make credible steps towards completing them.

Get clear about what you want to achieve in your life, this year, this month, this week, and even this day, and you’ll find yourself with some goals ready to go. Some big, some small. All achievable.

How I stay motivated with my Goals

The act of recording my goals is one of the key ways I stay motivated to complete them. Breaking down those goals into the different tasks I need to complete to reach my goal is incredibly useful. It gives me a visual representation of how things are going and allows me to feel a spark of achievement each time I tick off one of the tasks as done.

As you’ll probably be told by just about anyone, breaking down your goals into small sections makes them easier to achieve. Smaller tasks are easier and faster to achieve and mean that even if you end up failing to reach your goal (if, for example, there is a time limit) you can still see that you made progress and achieved something of worth. You’ll be able to reflect upon the tasks to see what went well, or poorly, and use this information to inform future endeavours. This will make your next goals easier to achieve as you work smarter to achieve them. I talk about my 2020 goals a bit later on in this post I’ll discuss how I am tracking these goals, and the tasks that make them up, to make sure they aren’t just floating ideals instead of grounded goals.

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

2019 Goal Roundup

2019 was a good year for me in terms of achieving my goals and Resolutions set at the start of the year. I will reflect on some of them now, and talk about what went well and what didn’t, and what I’ve learnt this year about goal setting. Hopefully, you’ll be able to take some of this knowledge forward into your own goal setting, and I’ll provide examples of how I have in the next section where I talk about my 2020 goals.

Let’s start with the goals for one of my hobbies that most people have probably never heard of, Warhammer! For those not in the know, it’s miniature wargaming where you have to build and paint miniatures to then use in glorious battle, involving lots of dice. Last year in 2019 I had big dreams for this hobby and I’m glad to say I’ve come far in it. My collection has expanded greatly, although storage has starting to become a bit of a problem! I had 3 primary goals that I set for 2019.

The first of these was to finish paining my terrain. I’m happy to report this was done by around August. I have more terrain to be painted now, but everything I had at the time is done. Secondly, I wanted to finish painting my Tau army (a faction within the Warhammer universe). This I did not do. In fact, I think I only painted one Tau model the entire year, instead focusing on painting my Black Templars (another faction). Despite making essentially no progress on my Tau, I am happy with the progress I made in painting other armies so do not mind so much. I plan to refocus on painting my Tau in the coming year. Lastly, I was aiming to sort out a gaming mat for me and my friends to play on. This was an easy one as it was a single purchase, and I’m happy to report that it is done and improving the calibre of all my games now!

I had goals surrounding my other hobbies as well. Namely, these were piano and reading books. The piano goal I completely failed. I was looking to play twice a week all year and I’m not sure I did even once! I think I lacked the motivation to get this one done as if I wasn’t really interested in it. Luckily, my book reading went very well as I discovered audiobooks which I could listen to on the way to work and at the gym. The inclusion of audiobooks (I did also read physical books) was a massive boon and I ended up getting through about 14 books. A huge success! I think there is a lesson to be learned here about looking for alternative ways to achieve goals where possible. Any help is always good!

Next up are my lifestyle goals, which are probably where I have done the worst. I wanted to meditate twice weekly. I did not. I wanted to walk to work every day. I did sometimes (at best). I wanted to reduce my weight and get to a 36” waist. My attempt at this was laughable! I think I think I am larger now than I was before. I think the problem with these goals is that they were almost abstract in nature. I did not set up any tangible way for me to track progress or even entice progress. I want to find new ways in 2020 to keep engaged with these kinds of goals, and I’ll talk more about this later.

Lastly, we have my financial goals. These were all successful I’m happy to declare! I managed to save money for my holiday to Lisbon and put money aside for a 2020 holiday. I was able to put £70 into my emergency savings account each month. Also, I managed to save up over my goal of £400 which is for use for my 2020 goals. Finally, I was able to secure a full-time job which I started mid-December, making the deadline only just (after 5 days at my new job we had a break for Christmas and the New Year)!

I would consider these financial goals all very successful. I think the success can be partly put down to being able to “see” the money in my accounts and move it around. It was easy to see exactly what was where and what else I needed. I was very lucky not to have any large unexpected expenditures which I couldn’t find the funds for elsewhere.

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

2020 Goals

When setting my 2020 goals I wanted to be careful and measured in my approach. I wanted to make sure I could be flexible with my goals (like I talk about here). This way I could easily add to or adapt my goals, especially if some take on new life and split to become two, or more, unique goals.

Another challenge of goal setting that needs to be accounted for is that you can’t decide what all your goals and aspirations for the coming year are in a short timeframe. I can’t have the entire year being dictated by my whims one particular evening when jotting some ideas down. We need to be able to add to our goals for the year, our Resolutions, later on, as I have already done with some. I guess there would be a point in the year when they are just normal goals and not really resolutions, but that would depend on who you are as a person.

I have a couple of “Life Skill” goals this year. Goals that will, basically, add good skills to my repertoire for use in my life! I only have two of these goals (so far), both language orientated. The first one is to practice French at least twice weekly. This can be achieved for me using the Duolingo app, or perhaps by using one of my language books. Last year I excluded this goal because I’ve had such mixed (read: bad) results in the previous years. This year I want to find a way to keep myself motivated through it so I’ll be trying different ways to stay engaged with my French learning. I plan to do a post on this in the future to keep you updated. The second goal in this area is to learn basic Spanish for my trip to Majorca. This is in July so after that point, I probably won’t continue with Spanish but we will see how much I am enjoying it and if it has any potential future use. It would certainly be nice to be able to speak a little of the native language when visiting Majorca, if for no other reason than to ensure I’m not ordering the wrong food!

Travel wise, I want to book a holiday for myself and my partner to go on, and I also want to book a group holiday for myself, my partner, and a couple of our friends. Travelling is always exciting and I’ll be going on holiday three times this year (along with Majorca) if they all go ahead! That’s a record for me! Once the trips are concluded I’ll be sure to write a post about them.

I only have two financial goals this year, partly down to the success of last year. I want to put £50 into each of my savings accounts each month, and I also want to place £75 into my emergency savings fund each month (an increase of five pounds on last year). I don’t mind if I spend the money in my savings accounts as that is what it is there for, as long as it is on important expenditure, such as moving or going on holiday. The emergency savings fund is, of course, for emergency use only! Hopefully, I won’t need it.

My health and exercise goals will be familiar to you. Firstly, I want to meditate twice weekly. I failed at this last year and I’ll have to find a way to remind myself to do this one. I’m hoping a regular reminder will be enough, but I don’t want to have to commit myself to a particular time of the day so we will see. My second goal is to lose weight. You saw this one coming didn’t you? Again another goal that didn’t go well last year but I think that with my new job enabling me to walk to work much easier than previously, and the lack of the ability to eat chocolate at my desk, I will be successful! The third goal, walking to work unless the weather absolutely prevents it, is closely tied to this. I’m wanting to lose the weight by the time I go to Majorca which will probably be the first holiday of the year.

My fourth and final goal in the health and exercise field is to do an event for charity. I’m not sure what shape this will take yet but I believe it is important to give back when you can. Instead of just donating money I want to take part in some activity to help raise the money, like I have done in the past. I am surrounded by inspiration here, with many close friends and my partner often doing charitable activities like races, and I am sure this is a goal I will easily achieve. I’m going to start to look into what I could do by the end of January.

Next up we have my fun goals! Yay for fun! In particular, I have set a goal to read (or listen) to 12 books this year which is double what I set for myself last year. I crushed this last year and I’m quietly confident that I can manage the one book a month goal. The second goal is to get back into my photography in a big way by going on monthly photography trips with one of my friends (also a keen photographer). I love to take pictures but I just didn’t do enough last year. I want to develop my skills and become a great photographer and that journey starts here. We’ve already been on our first adventure, even if it was only to the beach. Hopefully, we will see exciting things over the year whilst being healthy and active! The final fun goal is to post 24 blog posts over the year on this site (starting with this one). I did not post enough last year and I really enjoy writing. Using new tools to keep track of my work, I’m re-engaging this year and really trying to get out some quality content! I already have a dozen ideas for things I could write about which all fit with the theme of my blog (being amazing!). Here’s to a glorious future for Michael is Amazing!

Lastly, we have my Warhammer goals. Both are centred on painting but I may look to add another later on, like going to a tournament during the year or something similar. I already have a few exciting things planned in this area. As for the goals themselves, the first is to finish painting my Black Templar models and the second is to finish painting all the Tau models I currently have. This equates to a lot of models and my turnover rate is not the best. I won’t say that I am worried at this point but this will certainly be a challenge. A lot of my goals will regularly consume my free time and I’m worried that something might give in the end. Hopefully, however, I’ll just end up with two fully Painted armies by the end of the year!

How to be Successful with your 2020 Goals (& 2019 Goal Roundup)

Useable tips to help you achieve your goals and resolutions!

This has been quite a long post! But before I sign off, I wanted to drop some knowledge on you. This knowledge comes in the form of two primary tips which I am finding helpful right now and that I know you will find helpful too!

Firstly, you absolutely must have a way to keep track of all of your goals and the tasks that make up those goals. Bullet journaling is all the craze at the moment and with good reason. Visual representation of your goals helps you keep motivated and organised. Aside from the host of other benefits that journaling provides, being able to quickly flip to the appropriate page with all your goals and how you are going to meet them means you are never too far from thinking about what you want to get done with your year.

Want to make it even easier and digitise the process at the same time? Use Notion. I discovered it a few months ago and now I basically have my second brain on it. Not only that, I can easily link my tasks to my goals and make all kinds of different views on how I see the information. Colourful highlights are optional! I swear by Notion – I used it for planning and road mapping blog posts, for Warhammer painting progress, for planning trips, for keeping all my tasks in one place and easy to view, for keeping a photography journal – and the possibilities with it are practically endless thanks to the way it works. I’m not being sponsored to say this by the way, I just really love it!

The second big tip is to always break down your goals into more manageable tasks. I hinted at this earlier and I’m sure you’ve probably heard this advice before. The trick here is to break it down in such a way that you can get quick wins, which we all love, and keep yourself motivated to reach the final goal.

For example, one of my Resolutions is to have a fully Painted Black Templar (Warhammer) army. I’ve broken this one down by listing each individual model that needs to be painted. I’ve added a further level by producing a road map of the progress (on Notion) of each model. Completing a model is satisfying, but so is moving a model from the Not Started to the Built column, from there to the Painting column. In many ways, the columns represent the actions that need to be done which make up the task. Completing the tasks means we move closer to completing the overall goal!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing
How to maintain your resolutions and stay on top in 2019

How to maintain your resolutions and stay on top in 2019

Can you believe that we are already half way through 2019? It has gone simultaneously very fast and at a snail’s pace. So much has happened, yet more still could have. That we are half way into 2019 is a big deal: you have even less time to work on those New Year’s Resolutions now! I’m sure you’ve been working on them, right? Let’s take a look at how to maintain your resolutions and stay on top in 2019, and have a look at how I am doing with mine!

How to maintain your resolutions and stay on top in 2019

Only 1 in 10 feel their resolutions are successful by the end of the year

That’s a crazy statistic! Only 1 in 10 of us, who actually make resolutions, will think themselves successful in accomplishing them. Looking back on my personal experience, I’m surprised it is even that high. I’m not sure I’ve ever been successful with my resolutions!

It’s not all bad news though, as apparently the mere act of setting resolutions is positive. Indeed, those that do set resolutions at the New Year are ten times more likely to actually change their behaviour compared to those that set no resolutions!

What that tells us is that even if you aren’t doing very well at the moment with your resolutions, you still doing better than those that didn’t set any. You should congratulate yourself for that, and hopefully, you can see small changes to your lifestyle brought about by what your resolutions and goals are even if you aren’t close to completing them yet.

Go over your resolutions and fine-tune them

It is always worth looking back over your resolutions and seeing if you were a bit outlandish with any of them. If so, perhaps dial it back a bit. There’s nothing wrong with changing a resolution slightly. It is better to achieve something than feel like you have failed.

The opposite is equally true. If you said you would read a book a month and you have been reading two a month, maybe it is worth upping the goal just as you would a daily step goal once it becomes too easy.

If you are certain you will not be able to complete a resolution by the year-end, or whatever date you had set for it, perhaps it is worth cutting your losses early. If you can make the resolution easier I would recommend that first and foremost. But if, for example, buying a new house this year just isn’t going to happen then you should accept this and move on. You can always replace it with a different, but connected, resolution, such as saving X amount of money for a deposit.

It might even be worth creating an entirely new resolution. People’s life’s change all the time and new priorities and wishes are always cropping up. Resolutions certainly don’t have to be refined to the start of a New Year. In order to have robust growth, we must always be looking to set new goals and resolutions to match our ambitions. If you’ve got something you want to try, need to sort out, or something else time sensitive, halfway through the year is a good a time as any to set a new resolution!

How to maintain your resolutions and stay on top in 2019

My progress

Tackling this all in the same order as my original post about my New Year’s resolutions, let’s start with my hobby goals!

I had three goals relating to Warhammer 40,000: firstly to have a fully painted set of terrain, secondly to finish painting my Tau army, and thirdly to sort out a gaming mat or board to play on. I am on my last piece of the terrain set which should be finished by mid-next week, commitment depending, so this will be completed soon. I have about 4 units left to paint for my Tau as well so hopefully, this will also be completed by year-end. I have picked up a game mat last month so that’s the first goal completed!

For my other hobby goals, I am having more mixed results. I’m not sure I’ve played the piano in months and that is something I wanted to do weekly. I keep my keyboard stored away to allow me more space but it has been detrimental to me actually using it. In the second half of this year, I want to really try to get it out at least weekly! Reading books is something it turns out I can do, and I have read 4 books so far this year – 6 if we include audiobooks, which we will. That means I have accomplished this resolution as well! Two down!

Hitting lifestyle goals, my first one was to meditate at least twice weekly. This goal has been a bit hit and miss, as sometimes I go weeks without doing any and other times I will do it daily for a period. I need to get more habitual in the practice. Walking to work twice to week is a similar story: I will sometimes walk every day for a week, and then get public transport the next week. I’ve taken to walking one way and getting a train the other recently, which is helping (and means I can use my railcard to get a discount in the evening!).

My third lifestyle goal was to get down to a 36” waist and weigh around 15 stone. This one hasn’t gone well and I’m sitting happily where I was at the onset of the year. It is still more than possible for me to meet this goal by the year’s end, however, and I intend to do so! In the past few weeks, I’ve been more “on it” and a couple of months ago I joined a new gym I am regularly going to.

Finally, financial goals. I went on our holiday to Lisbon in April which I saved for in advance so that is completed. I wanted to have saved £350 for a 2020 holiday by the end of the year, and I am well on the way to that sum although I did use some for a recently Nottingham visit.

For my emergency fund, I wanted to put away at least £70 a month and so far I am meeting that easily. I may consider raising it further by the end of the year. I wanted to build up a small sum of £400 in general savings as well to put towards 2020 goals. That amount is coming along nicely too.

The last goal was to find a full-time and well-paid job. I knew it would be the hardest of the year and it is yet to be achieved. I haven’t put the effort into finding one that I would have perhaps liked. Hopefully, by the end of the year, I will have found the perfect job for me!

How to maintain your resolutions and stay on top in 2019

In summary…

I feel like I am doing pretty well with my 2019 goals so far. If I managed to complete the last one, for a full-time job, I think I would have been successful. It would certainly also be nice to drop a couple of stone to a 36” waist size as well! Both of these are more than achievable in the remaining time.

All said I don’t think there are any resolutions that I need to drop for being too unrealistic. Everything I haven’t achieved can still be achieved with a certain degree of comfort which is a nice place to be in at the half-way mark.

I don’t feel the need for any new goals to these at this time either. I believe I have enough to be working with for the time being. I am already starting to think about what I might be about to achieve in 2020 though, especially thanks to the 2019 goals if completed.

How are your goals going in 2019? Picked any resolutions you are regretting now or need to rework? Let me know in the comments below or on social!

Strong Foundations: ensuring a resilient starting point for your goals

Strong Foundation: ensuring a resilient starting point for your goals

When I think back to all of the times I have failed to reach my goals, targets, and ambitions – and there are many such occasions – I can see one reoccurring problem. The lack of a strong foundation from which to springboard to achievement.

Often we embark upon a task without first doing the necessary groundwork in order to increase our chances of success. It is these tasks which fail 9 out of 10 times. What we must do is learn, gather information, and perform prerequisite tasks to provide the strong foundations we can then lean on to reach our goals.

Strong Foundations: ensuring a resilient starting point for your goals

When I recently built my own strong foundation

An example we can use to illustrate this point is this very website! As ever, things sometimes change over time including what our plans are. This site – originally planned as just a blog where I can talk about myself and what interests me – has now evolved into more of a “self-help” blog. A site where people can come to learn about mindfulness, ways to be happy, and general lifestyle tips. That isn’t to say I don’t still talk about myself. I do – a lot.

But when thinking about the new direction of this website I must pause to reflect on what this means. If I aim to help people with what I write, not only must the information I pass on be of quality but I must actually know it! This site cannot last long if I run out topics to discuss. But more importantly, it cannot last if I do not have a solid understanding of what I speak about. Who am I to try and impart such advice anyway?

Without securing the strong foundation of knowledge necessary to allow this site to prosper, it will instead flounder.

That is why I have to go back to basics and educate myself. In fact, I have just enrolled in 3 different courses to help not only improve my knowledge base but to also add credence to what I write with qualifications that can back it up.

The new courses I have embarked on are (accredited) diplomas in Mindfulness, Life Coaching, and Yoga!

The last one, yoga, is particularly useful as it is something I want to do a lot more of. If you read a previous post of mine you’ll know I’m now getting back into it. I’m actually doing a 30-day yoga challenge at the moment – I finished day two earlier, but I can’t fit it in daily so I’ll just do it as I can.

With the backing of these three diplomas, I will build a stronger foundation which this website can sit on.

There is of course more to building a successful website then just these three courses. I will endeavour to continuously develop my knowledge across the relevant fields and also learn more about running and maintaining a flourishing website. I actually have a couple of guests who will be posting articles soon on this site which I am really excited about! In turn, I’ll be sharing some of my work with them for their sites.

Strong Foundations: ensuring a resilient starting point for your goals

Build a strong foundation to match your ambition

Motivational quotes and songs can only get you so far. To reach your goals you must put in the graft and get work done.

Depending on what your goal or target is, this may mean different things. But it always involves making steps towards the end goal!

Consider what you might need to help ensure you manage to reach your goal. If you are looking to lose weight there might be several things you should consider:

  • Target weight
  • Support groups
  • Pre-planned meals
  • The kind of food you should be eating
  • What you shouldn’t be eating
  • Different diets you can follow
  • Informative resources – like books by leading authors
  • Environmental factors
  • Gym membership

Generally speaking, the more effort you put in at the start to secure this strong foundation the easier it will be further down the line and less likely you will be to give up and fail.

Think of a strong foundation as the steps you need to take to ensure you can’t fail.

It is worth making a list of all the steps you might take to secure this strong foundation. Do this alone or collaboratively with a trusted friend or family member. If you are getting help then pick someone who has done something similar and learn from their success and mistakes. In fact, I would thoroughly recommend finding someone who you can discuss your goal with who has achieved something similar or is on the way to that achievement.

Go really out of your way to ensure you know everything you need to in order to make an informed and powerful start to reaching your goal. Generally, the bigger your goal and the longer it will take to reach, the more preparation you should do.

After all, failing to plan is planning to fail!

Just because you’ve already started your journey towards your goal doesn’t mean you can’t pause to reflect, like I did with my website, and build a stronger foundation to help propel you onwards.

You should consider, for longer tasks and goals such as weight loss, occasionally returning to your foundation to see if you can add anything else to it. It might be the inspiring kick you need to jettison yourself over any plateaus.

Strong Foundations: ensuring a resilient starting point for your goals

What work have you done to build yourself a strong foundation for your aspirations? How often have you failed in your goals because you didn’t do the necessary prep work? Let me know in the comments below and add your knowledge to mine and other readers!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing
My experience with interviews and tips to answer 4 basic questions you almost always get

My experiences with interviews and tips to answer 4 basic questions you almost always get

I have some interview tips for you today, although my own interview experience has not always been brilliant. For the most part, my stories involving interviews are tales of woe. I’m am known to be bad at interviews! Even with confidence before going in I still suddenly have issues when answering questions. A change in the tone or pitch of my voice or abrupt memory loss is a common problem I have. Luckily it isn’t normally an issue that goes past the first interview question once I’ve settled in.

Still, first impressions and all that.

My Experience with Interviews

Whilst I have yet to meet someone who declares they are good at interviews those people are out there. Meanwhile, I’m towards the bottom of the list when it comes to how articulate people are during interviews.

Planned answers often go astray for me, as I will accidentally skip ahead, panic, and then mess up the weird loop back I try to make to clear up the holes in my storied examples. That’s if I even remember the planned answer.

My experience with interviews and tips to answer 4 basic questions you almost always get

I’m sure you’ve had it too where you have sudden onset amnesia after being asked a question. Often times making it look like you have nothing to say whilst you sit there, sipping on the glass of water provided in an attempt to buy some time, and the interviewers stare on.

Sometimes the interviewers themselves might be the problem. People you know? You become too comfortable and skip saying the bits they need to hear! People you don’t know? Those people are scary.

On the subject of interviewers, I will interject with a tip/statement on them: they often don’t really know what to expect and they are interviewing you because they have a vacancy to fill. They need someone. They are also human. It’s easy to forget they are flawed beings when they sit opposite you whilst you’re being interviewed. I probably wouldn’t tell them that though!

Recently I attended an interview and in my preparation for it, I looked at a lot of information on answering questions. The best ways to do it, tips and tricks, even example answers.

With all this knowledge still swirling around in my brain, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share it with you! I have a few posts planned but this will be the first which will look at what I found in my experience to be the 4 most commonly asked (in some variation or another) questions.

My experience with interviews and tips to answer 4 basic questions you almost always get

Tips to answer 4 interview questions

1) Tell me about yourself?

This is almost a trick question. They don’t want to know about you as such, just about your life at work. Most importantly they want to know about your work-related skills which can be transferred into the role you’re applying for.

Make sure you study the skills and requirements of the role and talk about your job history whilst highlighting the same skills. Remember to use those cheesy words which interviewers eat up, such as loyal, flexible, adaptable, hard-working, etc.

Remember you must positively reflect on your working life even if that time in your life was not a positive one. Being negative in an interview is a sure way to not get the job. Companies are looking for happy people!

2) Why do you want to work here?

We all know what the real answer to this question is in 9 out of 10 situations: it pays better than my current job and is a step up. However, you already know you shouldn’t say that.

This is actually an ideal time to make them aware of how much preparation you have done for the interview. Link why you want to work for them to things you know about them, such as their excellent customer service. Praising them at this stage can pay dividends. If you know some big changes are coming up then use that as a reason too.

Don’t forget to focus on the skills and requirements of the role, the job description, and anything you have learnt about the company. If you manage to speak to anyone who works at the company that’s even better! Just don’t mention their names.

Also, if they mention in the job description that there are opportunities for training or progression within the role then citing these can be a boon.

3) What are your strengths?

It’s always good to throw out the usual buzzwords at this stage. Start by saying you have many positive qualities and list a few. End on one you can cite an example for. Better yet, give two examples!

With any interview question, you really need to crank out the examples if you want to “score the big marks” and actually get the job. In my experience of interviewing people, those who failed to give good examples did not get the job.

A great example of the strengths question would involve firstly a challenge – ideally set by a manager perhaps during an appraisal – a learning process, and lastly a resolution.

For example: “I feel I stand out particularly due to my strong innovative skills. For example, in an appraisal I had last year my line manager asked me to look at ways that the company could appeal to a larger audience.

I went away from this and gave the topic some deep consideration. I realised an easy way to expand the appeal of the company, as a tourist attraction, would be to make as much as possible available in other languages.

Using my own foreign language skills, as well as those of my teammates, I produced a series of documents, such as price lists and fact sheets about what was on display, which I made available to our international visitors.

Once completed I felt a personal satisfaction from completing such a task but, also, both myself and my line manager noticed improved feedback from international visitors and even some correlating sales in our shop.”

See what I did there? It’s a journey that you need to take your interviewers on!

4) What are your weaknesses?

First and foremost you do have weaknesses so don’t dare go telling anyone you don’t. Especially the interviewers, they won’t be impressed.

The trick here is to provide a weakness that is framed in such a way as to show a learning curve and an attempt to turn the weakness into something positive. Becoming irritated by a certain thing that is out of your control is a good example to give.

This can be framed to suggest you firstly got over it by focusing on your own job/working around the problem. Then you can go on to state that you are actively trying to improve the irritating thing, perhaps by assisting a colleague, taking matters into your own hands to fix something, etc.

Don’t forget to say how that benefits the company too!

Pro-tip: having too much of a positive trait is not a weakness. i.e. your weakness is not that you work too hard or always arrive too early.

My experience with interviews and tips to answer 4 basic questions you almost always get

I’ll probably revisit interview questions in the future. There is always more to learn and better ways to do things and that is reflected in interview techniques as much as it is in any field. For now, I hope you found some good tips here.

As a final tip I must urge you to always do your research and properly prepare for interviews. I know you are because you are reading this, but make sure you are doing all you can do so you can have a strong foundation to rest on for all of your job interviews. I write about this more in this article, so check it out!

I’m interested to know what tips you have that you want to share with us? Any valuable insights you can provide for those getting ready for a big interview? Share it in the comments!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing