Looking Back at 2015
Sometimes, you have to agree with your reader comments. Sometimes, you need to admit that you maybe overstretched a bit. I had the best of intentions for 2015 and I detailed all of them in my 11 Month of Focused Learning plan. In general, I fell short, ha.
But as I always like to remind people, setting a goal and making any sort of progress toward it is its own sort of success. It’s progress that you may not have otherwise made at all. I don’t like to waste time beating myself up about what I didn’t do, as long as there was a lot of good stuff that did get done.
Despite not meeting many of my goals, I still find it useful to look back and compare how I made out in comparison to the goals I set. Here’s a quick breakdown of how I met/didn’t meet my learning goals last year.
Learn more about Canada, Vancouver, and British Columbia
Well, I certainly did, though much of this was through the sort of geographical intellectual osmosis that occurs while you’re living in a place. Earlier in the year, I read a couple great books about Canadian history, which always came in handy when people assumed I knew nothing about it. Still, I definitely meant to learn more about the province than I did. Compared to the time I spent in Quebec or Tennessee or Maryland learning about my new homes, I haven’t put in the time here.
Here’s my biggest failing. Practicing the harmonica in our tiny, thin-walled apartment wasn’t the best idea. As for the guitar, I never made this happen either. I did work my way through a classical music class on Coursera. Jazz, nope. I do really mean to focus on this more in 2017, but 2016 will not be the year of music for me either.
Here, I actually stuck really close to my learning goals. My sourdough starter has died and been reborn a few times throughout the year and between teaching and working at the shop and some other projects, I didn’t do quite as much bread-baking as I’d have liked, but I still make a couple loaves a month. Is my sourdough loaf perfected? No, but I’ve definitely continued to learn about yeasts and flours through making cakes and loaves.
Pearl Project 2.0 (a month-by-month exploration of selected cuisines around the world) was pretty well followed, actually! From January through August, I stuck to my schedule, learning a ton about food. The job which I started in January last year has helped with this immensely.
I didn’t get as deep into Moroccan cuisine as I had hoped, but still managed to make a few dishes during the month. I got back into the swing of things for October and November, but then December was a bit lost, as I concentrated more on Christmas cookies, fudge, and things to take to Christmas parties 🙂 My favorite months were Thai month and Mexican month, which probably comes as no surprise to those of you who hear me talk about food regularly. We also have made Korean-style stir-fries regulars in our kitchen.
I was a little relieved looking back my reading goals. All year, I thought that my reading goal was one book per week for a total of 52 books. I ended the year with 42 completed books, so sure, I didn’t meet either of these goals, but in the end was only 3 short of the goal I originally set. If you’ve got a loose definition of a classic and include “new classics” in my count, I did have 20 on my reading list. Oddly, enough, none of the three classics I mentioned in last year’s post made their way onto the actual list.
My foreign language reading list goals were attained in French, and I was half a book short in Spanish (so, okay, one short). German, well, that leads me into the next section.
Hmm, I think that I probably held strong in French comprehension and well, we did have a nice boost of Spanish in the summer during our two-on-one Spanish classes. I could still use a solid boost in French to feel as comfortable speaking as I did when we left Quebec.
As for German, well, for a couple months I was DuoLingoing pretty regularly. After that, well, somehow things got away from me and my German has been all but forgotten. Mandarin? Yeah, that didn’t happen either, but…more on that in the future goals.
I kept my usual pace on projects. A couple finished, but no real pickup.
Mine crashed. I’m waiting on buying another. Even finding time to get a post up is a real challenge.
Pretty good on these. I did sneak in the Coursera curriculum. And we did make a point to get into nature regularly 🙂 That said, my birdwatching skills pretty much stalled out.
2016 Learning Resolutions
After reading all my resolutions for last year and considering that this year will be much more hectic than 2015 (I’m sooo excited to update on what’s in store for us this year!), I decided I needed to keep things a bit simpler. Well, rather, a lot simpler.
Starting May 6, my sourdough starter will be no more. I’ll not be around long enough to water any patio garden herbs and tomatoes. I won’t have enough regularity in my life to set geographical food themes for the month. You get the idea. Alas, here are my pared down learning resolutions.
Read an Average of 1 Book per Week | This is my big goal for the year. I will hit 52 this year. Classics or restrictions on this? None at all. I did participate in a cross-continental book club at the end of the year and am hoping to do so again in 2016, but that’s about all for the planning.
I’m still hoping to/working to maintain French and Spanish at their currentish levels. I do hope to write more about how to maintain current language skills later.
Back to that Mandarin business. I have some China travel plans coming up this year, so this is going to happen. I am planning to take the Coursera Mandarin course in June, and maybe do a couple language exchanges in the month of July, just to make the travel a little more manageable. At least I hope it will help a bit!
My main goal is to get into greenspaces/beaches two times per week. This includes our Stanley Park excursions and bike rides along the seawall or picnics at city parks. Even being in nature this little bit helps me note the changes in the seasons.
My food goals are three-fold.
From January through May 6 this year, and then again in July and early August, my goal is to purposefully make a point to continue to challenge myself in the kitchen. When I stumble upon new ingredients, I intend to try to make a dish with them. I try to add at least one new technique/recipe/etc. into my weekly routine.
Eat new stuff. Because we’ll be doing a bit of traveling, I’m allowing myself an out. I know I won’t be cooking regularly for a few stretches this year, so I’m just want to eat new things that can give me ideas to squirrel away for later in the year.
Cook my way through Europe! From May 6 to June 6, the mister and I will be traveling. And because I suffer from want-to-see-it-all travel tendencies, we’ll be hitting about seven different regions of Europe in the month. In all but two stops on the trip, we’ll be staying in apartments with at least small kitchens, so I intend to spend much of my time going to markets in the morning, grabbing a lunch/coffee/going to museums in the afternoon, and then cooking in the apartments in the evening. Silly, maybe, but cooking while on vacation is one of my favorite activities. Eek! So excited!
Here’s kind of a weird one: I want to start purposefully curating my knickknacks. I think I am a natural-born knickknack collector. I just like them, okay? Buuuut, I would like to make some sort of effort to “curate” my collection of oddities. This plan needs to go into effect as of May 6.
In the fall of 2015, I started taking classes to receive my TESOL Certification. And though I don’t know my exact end date yet, this is something I most definitely will finish!
That’s it! That’s all I’ve got!
It feels like a freeing list compared to last year. And it feels much more manageable. So far, I’m nearly on track with all and don’t see anything in the future that would prevent these from progressing.
How did you manage with your learning resolutions for last year? Did you make any for this year?