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

When does a hobby become something more?

When does a hobby become something more? A look at trying to become a professional photographer

There are some lucky people out there. Lucky people who have a day job which is something they truly enjoy and fulfils them. For the rest of us, that is but a dream. I think most of us have had thoughts about turning a hobby into a stream of income. Perhaps even had lofty goals of this income replacing our day jobs. To be able to do something that we wake up excited to do every day would be bliss. But at what point does a hobby become something more? Here is a look at my thoughts about this and trying to become a professional photographer.

I believe that almost any hobby can be turned into something to make money. Whether it can be enough to support you solely can vary greatly depending on the hobby – and how good you are at it. There are ways to make money with almost any hobby or activity. On a very basic level, you can talk or write about the hobby and generate money from advertisements on a blog or service like YouTube. You can also get sponsorship for posts or videos this way, or use affiliate links for a small kickback. Starting a revenue stream this way is very popular at the moment!

Doing the hobby itself to create income is another option. If you are a great painter of miniature models you could consider doing commission work or entering competitions with prizes. If you enjoy dress making it might be worthwhile selling some of the dresses you make. Graphic designers can create bespoke logos and other graphics for people. For almost any hobby I can think of it would be possible to monetize it somehow. If you have a hobby you make money from, why not share it below in the comments section?

For the past few months, I have had the desire to take my photography further. I want to be able to make money from what I enjoy doing, and perhaps at some point in the future even have it replace my job.

There is a lot I still have to learn, however.

I have been putting together a list of things I will need to move forward with my plan. At the top of the list, as I would imagine would be at the top of any similar list, is doing more of the hobby. Taking more pictures. I can have all of the fancy websites, invoicing systems, and contract templates I like. Without the ability to take good photographs they will be useless. Without a stunning portfolio and the ability to draw potential clients in, I don’t have a business.

But that is not a problem. That is because this is a hobby first, and taking pictures is what I enjoy.

When does a hobby become something more?

Developing your hobby

Recently I have been trying new ideas and having a go at different types of photography. Specifically, I have been focusing on city photography over the past few months and I have been quite happy with the results. I have also been looking at black and white photography. You can see some of these photographs as the accompanying images to this post.

I want to move on to trying out portrait photography next. I’ve had a little success with this in the past, and want to experiment and learn more about this form of photography. I have already begun asking friends to strike a pose for me, and hopefully will have some lovely results soon!

Developing your hobby is key to making an income from it, and this process should never stop. There are always new things to learn and new techniques to experiment with. Even if you decide not to adopt these ways of working going forward, the experience they give can be invaluable to you and your audience.

Chances are that you will consume some content from other people who are making money from the same hobby as you want to. Whether that be a blog like this one or a YouTube channel, you will get the opportunity to learn from their experiences. Whatever that post or video talks about, you might go on to try and thus giving you another – perhaps unique – perspective on it. Share that perspective with the world!

Not only will sharing what you learn to help other aspiring hobbyists (whether they seek to make a profit or not), but will show to the world that you are serious about refining your craft. This can have huge benefits, not least of which is attracting potential clients!

When does a hobby become something more?

Consistency and Set Backs

It is cliché and often repeated, but, indeed, you can only develop your craft, build a brand and a following, and start to create an income from your hobby with consistency. Consistency is the key to success and often one of the hardest parts of, well, basically anything.

Being consistent means that people know what to expect from you. They will enjoy seeing your regular posts, and they will know what service to expect from you when making a purchase. Only focusing on trying to turn your hobby into a moneymaker for a few days each month will never work.

This is a huge reason why some people will not succeed in their plans. They will suffer burnout from trying to do too much at once, or they will get distracted by something else. If this happens to you, the important thing is to remember that setbacks happen. You just need to make sure you get back to it as soon as you can. You certainly should not feel that all is lost just because it has been a few weeks since you last updated your Instagram account, or made a sale, or made any hobby progress. Do not forget to make use of hobby projects to keep you engaged in the process. They still work even when you are trying to make money!

I have certainly struggled with consistency with just about all of my hobbies over my life. And even now, knowing that I want to move forward with my photography, I sometimes struggle to find the motivation to remain consistent. It is natural, however, to sometimes falter and I know I have what it takes to make the dream a reality.

When does a hobby become something more?

Make a Plan

If I can give you one tip, it is to make a plan. With a plan and vision, you’ll be able to clearly set down the path to turning your hobby into something more, something you can make some money from. The focus you gain from a good list is enough to keep you consistent and prevent distractions and burnouts!

A key reason to make a plan is to ensure you do not forget to do anything at the start of your enterprise. If you will be making money, there are all sorts of legal things to consider. Even when creating a website, there is much to be done. Missing any part of these could cause problems further down the line.

A good plan will be created over time, as you research more about your hobby and how you could make money from it. I have been looking in to become a professional photographer for a few weeks now. I have a list which is continuing to grow as I work on some things and discover other areas which need attention.

I would certainly advise, however, that you should not procrastinate by doing nonstop research! You must, as some point, start the business! And start to make money from your hobby.

Even once you have gotten underway, you can still implement to-do lists. They could be incredibly useful in some situations. For photographers, for example, you might have a list of shots you should take for each session. Maybe a list of things to do before or after taking the photos. These don’t need to be one-time activities but things you do every time. This list will continue to grow as you learn more and more about your hobby and refine your craft. And as you do, your potential to earn will increase.

When does a hobby become something more?

Turning your hobby into something more where you can generate a little bit (or a lot) of money from it is certainly something I would advise everyone to try at some point in their life. You don’t necessarily need to invest huge amounts of time into it, just so long as you do consistently work on it. A little each week is all you need to get started.

Over time, by sticking with it, you will find it easier to devote more time to the hobby and the business side of it as your reach grows and sales increase.

You will also be able to learn so much from the experience. Whether that be about running a small business, new ways to experience your hobby, or meeting new people. There are so many opportunities that open themselves up to you when you invest some time in something you love.

Even if you aren’t concerned about making money from the hobby, there is still a lot of growth to be had by pushing the boundaries of your hobby and exporting it to other people in some way and fashion.

There is a lot to gain by working on your hobby to turn it into a small business, regardless of whether that means leaving your current job or not. Particularly in these uncertain economic times, having another stream of income is not a bad thing.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any experience of turning your hobby into a small or large business, successful or not. Don’t forget to like and share this post with your friends too, to ignite the spark of hobby growth in them too!

Michael is Amazing
Michael is Amazing
Can Hobby Projects keep you motivated all year?

Can Hobby Projects keep you motivated all year?

When thinking about goals and resolutions for the new year you might be reminded of all of the times you didn’t quite make it. All the times you started a new hobby, started doing something repetitively, just to end up stopping after a while due to burning out or mere forgetfulness. When thinking about these times that things didn’t go so well, you might stop to think about how you could improve in the future. How next time can be different. Luckily for you, I have the solution. You can keep up with a new hobby by adding some structure to it and setting some hobby projects for yourself to work on.

Can Hobby Projects keep you motivated all year?

Whilst this post is geared at hobbies, you can apply it to any area of your life where you find you are unable to keep things going.

Using projects to maintain your motivation for your hobbies is an excellent idea but not a new one. It is based on the premise of working towards smaller goals. You’re just dressing it up in a different way and, hopefully, receiving tangible results each step of the way when completing your projects. An example of what I mean could be learning photography. Your overarching goal is to become a good photographer (let’s ignore the subjective nature of that for now). You might have smaller goals on the path to meeting that primary goal such as visiting a photo gallery, and learning how to do portrait photography. The first smaller goal as a project is possible but perhaps not immediately obvious – perhaps you could produce a piece of work on the gallery about what you experienced and learned, or try to mimic what you see there. The second is clearer, however. Why not start a project to do portrait photography of your close friends or family? In the process of doing so, you will learn how to become a good portrait photographer.

Can Hobby Projects keep you motivated all year?

The Benefits of using Projects in your Hobbies

Several benefits come from using projects in your hobbies. Firstly, they provide an excellent way to stay motivated. Using the above example, taking portrait photography of your friends or family gives you a goal to work towards which can keep you engaged in the process. You can stay excited about learning your hobby by moving on to new projects one after the other as you improve your skills. You can look forward to starting, progressing, and completing these tasks. Little boosts of euphoria that can turn a new hobby into a love which you really want to do.

Another benefit is the tangible results you can receive from doing projects. In the portrait photography example, at the end of the project, you will potentially end up with a lovely collection of photos of your friends or family. This is something that you can carry forward and has multiple applications. In my own life, I sometimes print pictures I have taken onto canvas and give them as gifts. A personal and unique gift like a portrait is perhaps one of the best gifts you can give. Further, you’ll be able to look back in the future and have evidence of what you have achieved in your journey. In this example, they can even form part of a portfolio for use in other projects.

Avoiding burnout and recovering from it can be a key benefit of taking up a project in your hobby. You will be able to avoid burnout because you are more engaged in the project, as we talk about above. You can switch things up in your hobby and start a new project to recover from burnout as well. By changing things and starting something new you can reignite the spark of passion you had for the hobby, and hopefully continue to practice the hobby for a long time. Burnouts are common, and can be because of the repetition of a task. Projects (as long as they aren’t too large) avoid this but keep things new and interesting.

Can Hobby Projects keep you motivated all year?

Hobby Project Ideas

The possibilities when it comes to hobby projects are practically endless. Depending on what your hobby is, there is normally no limit but your imagination. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to thinking up hobby projects. Whilst my earlier example about portrait photography was simple enough, they don’t all have to be like that. It is worth noting, however, that making projects too large and complex might cause burnout in itself if there is too much repetition! Projects should be exciting, take less than a month to complete, and help to progress your hobby in some way.

Ideally, your projects should focus on an area of the skill you want to develop.

Here’s a list of some ideas, broken down by hobby, which will hopefully inspire you in your hobby projects:

  • Musical Instrument
    • Learn a particular piece of sheet music which focuses on an aspect of playing you want to develop
    • Perform a series of pieces to a group of friends
    • Write about a performance you have seen using what you know about music theory
    • Record and upload video of yourself playing to the internet
  • Writing
    • Enter a competition
    • Write a short novel based off of a friend or family member
    • Write the same story in different genres
    • Launch a portfolio of works on a website
  • Gardening
    • Plant vegetables that you go on to use in your kitchen
    • Add a water feature
    • Go to a flower/garden show and try to replicate things that interest you
    • Work on someone else’s garden or a community garden (such as at a park or church)
    • Teach someone else how to do particular things in the garden (not too broad)
  • Programming
    • Make an app
    • Learn a new language
    • Streamline a process you regularly use
  • Gym/Fitness
    • Plan your exercise routine
    • Start a home gym
    • Research new exercises that target a certain muscle group
  • Crafting
    • Make a themed collection of items
    • Make a set of items for gifts
    • Learn a new skill by working towards an end product (or multiple products) using mainly that skill
Can Hobby Projects keep you motivated all year?

Hobby Projects to avoid Burnout

Avoiding burnout is something we all want to do. Burnout is where you, essentially, just lose all motivation to continue whatever you were doing. Sometimes you might not even notice it happen at first. Maybe you’ve been learning a language every day and then missed a couple of days. Before you know it you’ve left it weeks since you last practiced. Once you realize you haven’t been doing it you come against the issue of not having the motivation to resume. Maybe that is because now you’ve not done it for a while you feel bad about it, or lost some kind of streak. 

Being able to maintain your hobby in this way is great for you because having a hobby you enjoy and are motivated in can increase your productivity in other areas of your life, such as at work. Some companies like Google mandate that 20% of employees’ time at work should be spent pursuing activities they find fun, like hobbies. (https://lifehacker.com/why-creative-side-projects-are-good-for-you-1612792201) We can take from this that suffering from burnout, and not engaging with your hobbies, will lower your productivity. That’s not something that most people aspire to and should be avoided where possible!

There are many ways that you can help to avoid burnout, and one of those ways is with projects. The idea is that instead of something being open-ended, like learning a language every day, you have set end dates and goals. For example, you might aim to be able to go to a restaurant and order in French. This can be a project as it is made up of smaller steps, such as learning what you need to say, working on the pronunciation, practicing with it altogether, finding a suitable restaurant, and actually doing it. You might even want to find someone to go with you. 

Because you stay focused on this project with smaller goals, you forget about the vastness of the primary goal which is learning French. This enables you to stay focused and motivated to complete the project. Once done, your next project and adventure awaits you.

Getting into the habit of creating projects for your hobbies to stay engaged and motivated means that you’ll not even need to think about keeping up with your hobbies. The only thing you’ll need to consider is what your project will be. Concepts like burnout will almost be a thing of the past, and occur much, much less. You’ll enjoy your hobbies and your life much more, and the bonuses to other areas of your life through increased productivity will be a boon to yourself.

Can Hobby Projects keep you motivated all year?

To conclude…

Something that must not be ignored when looking at hobby projects is that they are fun. Ultimately it is this that helps reduce the likelihood of burnout and keeps you engaged with your hobby of choice. Your productivity will benefit and you may well end up with tangible results from your hobby project as well. I’m hopeful that you will be able to start a hobby project now and you’ll experience the benefits of them first hand. I know I personally love them!

Do you already have hobby projects on the go? Let me know what they are in the comments below!

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
Living my best life in 2019 – Setting goals for the New Year

Living my best life in 2019 – Setting goals for the New Year

It is that glorious time of year when (some) people make resolutions about how they are going to change their life’s over the coming year. Often related to fitness, and often failed within the first few months, resolutions and goals are often unattainable.

There are many reasons people fail. Making large fundamental changes, such as starting to go to the gym 3 times a week when you currently never go, are just too hard to stick with. People also forget what their resolutions are. Without thinking about them regularly they can easily fall by the wayside and in particular they can seem a lot less important several months down the line.

This might be because your situation changes a few months into the New Year. Suddenly saving those few hundred pounds a month may no longer be possible. This is why it is important to make your goals flexible. Breaking it down monthly is still a good idea, but maybe plan to save a little bit more each month then you would have to in order to reach the goal for the year. For example if you wanted to save £1,200 over the year then maybe it is worth saving £110~£120 a month so that if one month you can’t save as much it doesn’t put the entire year in jeopardy. Being able to reach goals early also feels amazing!

Something else to avoid is picking resolutions that you simply fail time and time again to accomplish. I really want to learn more French but realistically it just isn’t happening in my life right now, despite making it a goal for the past few years. And you know what? That’s ok. Accept the things that aren’t going to happen so you can focus on the things that will happen.

Let’s talk about my goals for 2019!

art-artist-arts-and-crafts-1559046.jpg

Starting with my hobby goals let’s talk quickly about Warhammer (40,000 specifically). I haven’t had a chance to talk about this hobby yet but you can expect me to mention it a bit more as I become more involved in the hobby as a whole. My goals here are to have a fully painted terrain set, finishing painting my Tau army, and to sort out a gaming mat or board to play on. All of these things are easily achievable as long as I put aside some time to work on them.

Other hobby goals include practicing on the piano at least once a week. I really enjoy playing the piano but just often don’t get around to it for all sorts of reasons. I want to make an effort to put time aside each week to play. The last hobby goal is reading 6 books over the year. This should be doable and I want to read more. Originally I had opted for more books but decided to go with the realistic choice. I don’t want to aim too high and give up by the spring!

Living my best life in 2019 – Setting goals for the New Year

Moving on to lifestyle goals I have chosen three fundamental goals, two of which are ongoing with no set end. The first of these is to meditate at least twice weekly. Another activity which I enjoy and want to do but somehow never seem to get around to doing. I also want to walk to work at least twice a week. I work further from where I live than I used to so have gotten in to a habit of paying for public transportation which is bad for my bank balance and my waistline. Hopefully by walking at least twice a week I will be able to help myself in both these areas.

Speaking of my waistline, my third lifestyle goal is to get down to a 36” waist and weigh around 15 stone. I’ve been at this level around two years ago and I managed to maintain it for an entire year before the pounds started to creep back on. Ideally I want to lose this weight in time for my holiday in April so I’m going to be hitting it hard for the next 3 months and hopefully make some decent headway towards this goal. I’ll keep you updated on this on as time goes on.

accounting-budget-calculate-3305

Lastly we have my money goals for 2019. The holiday I am going on in April (for my anniversary and birthday) needs to be financed so one goal is to save for this and another is to have saved around £350 by the end of the year to go towards a 2020 holiday.

For the last several months I have been building up an emergency fund, for those just in case situations. Currently I save £50 a month (which is the minimum in order to receive the juicy interest rates) but I want to up this to £70 a month for 2019 in order to make sure it really is a nice sum I can rely on if the need should ever arise – which hopefully it won’t! Despite only being an extra £240 over the year I wanted to make sure that this goal was easily achievable. If I end up putting more than this into my emergency fund I certainly won’t cry about it.

In general savings I also want to build up £400 which I will be able to use in 2020 to help reach the goals for that year. Again not a massive figure but one I know I will be able to meet over the year without much hassle.

My final goal for 2019 is to find a full-time and well paid job. This will undoubtedly be the hardest goal of the year as it involves actual effort to achieve! That almost sounds silly but given my bad luck at finding new jobs I’d imagine I will need to put in a lot of hours to achieve this one. Admittedly, a lot of hours is not something I’m used to doing when job searching. Seems like the instant gratification life might not be a good thing after all? I want to put real effort into the job search this year and assuming I get a new job my other financial goals will be far easier as well.

Those are my goals for 2019. What are your goals and resolutions for 2019? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading and a Happy New Year to you!

Michael