A Short Review of 2019

At the start of this year I set myself four goals:

Read 12 Books

I read 20 books! This is twice as many as 2018

Make a 5% return on savings and investments

I made a 5.2% average return (unweighted, includes investments held for less than 6 months) on my investments. Savings accounts much less as repeated rate cuts hurt my savings growth.

Travel to USA or Singapore/Asia

I went to Japan!

Buy a Mazda 3

I paid for my own wedding instead!

Like most years, what was expected at the start of the year and what transpired was very different. That said, 2019, despite a number of stressors, was a great year. Bring on the next decade and new adventures in marital bliss!

2018 – The Year of Personal Development

2018 has been a great year. I left academia, started working in the financial industry, set up a new apartment, and celebrated good times with friends.

I have also posted very few blog posts (only 4!), I’m well over a year behind in editing photos from trips. However, life has been busy and I’m being slightly more restrained in what I chose to post online.

Some of the highlights from the year are shown below.

Continue reading “2018 – The Year of Personal Development”

2017 – The Roller Coaster Year

2017 has been a roller coaster of a year, there have been some big highs but also some huge lows. At the start of this year I set myself some goals which I mostly achieved:

  • Continue to build savings through regular contributions
    • This I achieved, and then spent on a laptop and a holiday. Unfortunately Sydney house prices continued to increase by far more than I can possibly ever save.
  • Halve the amount remaining on my student loan
    • I paid off 47% of the loan, before interest was applied and 45% if you include the interest accumulated across the year.
  • Read 18 books
    • I read 14 books, which is fewer, much fewer than previous years.
  • Travel to the USA/Canada or Europe or Both
    • I went to the USA twice (once leisure, once business), Canada, Singapore, and New Zealand

In short 2017 has been a year where I found love, lost love, lost loved ones, got glasses, wrote, had papers rejected, hiked, travelled, saved, spent, read, and watched. I’m still a bit behind in writing blog posts on some of these events but they will come over the next few weeks.

Overall, this year has had some very rough low patches and was a roller coaster of emotion. Rather than doing a month by month highlights, I’m happy to say that at the end of this year I’m happy, I have some new things happening in my life and further new things to come in early 2018.

2016 – The Year of Change… Kinda

2016 has been a strange year, it has gone by very quickly, and has been full of change.

At the start of 2016 I set a small number of goals, while I only completely achieved two of them I feel I made progress towards all of them:

  • Get a stable job (this may involve leaving academia)
    • The first half the year saw more of the casual work and weeks without income that I had experienced in 2015
    • However, by the end of 2016 I have a full time job and it is in academia! While I continue to look for further opportunities it has been good in the second half the year to have some stability in life.
  • Continue learning German
    • During the first half of the year I continued well along this goal, however, by the end of the year any practice has fallen by the wayside.
  • Travel and/or move to Europe or Singapore
    • I spent a month travelling around Europe in February and tried for a job in Germany but was unsuccessful.
  • Read 30 books
    • I completed 27 books, which is fewer than the previous two years, however, after moving house I have a shorter commute to work which is where I do the majority of my reading. Below are some of the books I read this year.

Every month had its highlights:  Continue reading “2016 – The Year of Change… Kinda”

2015 – The Year of Challenges and Opportunities

(Note: this was posted in February but backdated to December).

At the end of my 2014 goal review I wrote:

“Bring on new challenges and opportunities in 2015.”

Challenging would be a word that aptly sums up my 2015. From holding none to multiple jobs, changing churches, and teaching hundreds of students, 2015 presented plenty of challenges and also plenty of opportunities.

At the start of the year I set some goals which I subsequently completely forgot about, but looking back now I achieved four out of five of them. They were:

  • Get a stable job
    • Work life in 2015 was anything but stable, I went for months at a time without work or pay and then at other times I was holding five contracts at a time. Despite these ups and downs I was presented with the opportunity to lecture a whole course of my own. This was a great personal development opportunity coming less than two years after completing my PhD.
  • Continue learning German
    • This goal ebbed and flowed, but in the later part of the year I completed around 90 days of continuous practice on Duolingo.com
  • Learn python
    • I completed multiple Coursera courses on python and had to crash course myself through it to work on a Baxter robot in the middle of the year.
  • Go to Europe
    • I went in February on a whim after finding myself out of work.
  • Read 20 books
    • I read 33! (Below are some of the covers as shown by goodreads.com)

Some of the books read in 2015
Some of the books read in 2015

Continue reading “2015 – The Year of Challenges and Opportunities”

The best of years and the worst of years

2009 has been a very odd year for me, a year of many highs and extreme lows. Of trials and triumph, of hurt and pain, of joy and euphoria, of sorrow and misery, and of anticipation and expectation. And while the fifty words I have written as an introduction may be nothing more than cliché they compactly summarise my feelings at the end of one of the most dramatic years of my short life.

My year started in January (as all years do in the Gregorian calendar); at the time I was exhausted after a year of intense stress serving as President of the Students’ Association at University. The experience of student politics had left me very bitter and in a way messed up. I was in a state where I wanted to be left alone to my own devices and at the time I was actively working to avoid people and block out the year before. I managed to find some space and time to myself in the middle of Parachute music festival in late January. It is ironic that I can find solace in the middle of 30,000 people but sometimes being around people but not knowing people can be a good form of rehabilitation.

February was a much more exciting month. I spent a number of afternoons and evenings perched on the top of North Head watching America’s Cup Class yachts race in the Auckland Harbour for the first time in more than five years. Later in the month I left NZ for the first time in my life to spend two days holidaying in Melbourne. While I was over there I set myself a goal of moving to Australia to study in 2010 (a goal that I am pleased to have achieved). However, February was also the start of an intense drama in my life that carried on as a drawn out and ridiculous soap opera until mid December. For the last two years I have been going out with on and off with Malaysian Girl. However, I was not comfortable with this and after picking Malaysian Girl up from Auckland Airport at 5am one morning after flying back from holiday I explained that I was sick of the games and I wanted things to either be going out or not going out. Unfortunately for me I was not firm enough and the games continued for another 11 months.

The memories of March, April, and May are all lost in a blur. In March I started my honours degree and for the semester I put my head down and didn’t lift it to breathe again until June.

June will be remembered most for the marks that I achieved on my first semester papers. Although I have always been relatively smart and typically get good grades I have never been a straight A student, however, this changed in June when my marks for my first semester came back with 2 A+ and 1 A grade. To celebrate I went skiing at my happy place, Mt Ruapehu. The first day of skiing was in typical Whakapapa misty shit, but the second day was a beautiful bluebird day on the slopes of Turoa after 10cm of overnight snow fell.

July saw university restart for Semester Two and the rest is a blur.

August was the beginning of the end for any friendship or future with Malaysian Girl. As mentioned I was not firm enough with stopping the game playing back in February and by August it got to the ridiculous situation where I was being played off against someone else of closer ethnicity. I didn’t have a hope and within two weeks of being told that Chinese Boy was on the radar I was flicked off like an ant that tried to follow the wrong pheromone trail for far too long. This left me in a state of intense distress and the pain of how I was treated by someone who I really cared about still leaves a bitter aftertaste even now. August also saw a nice weekend away in Christchurch skiing at Porters Ski Area where I rocketed down a 400m vertical double black diamond run, not once, but twice, it is an awesome way to get the adrenaline pumping and one of the absolute highlights of my year.

In comparison to the hell of August, September was like being in another world. Early in the month I was successful in being awarded a travel grant to fly to Sydney to visit University New South Wales (UNSW). Having spent the last five years studying at the awesome but tiny Albany campus of Massey University the experience was eye opening. I also began an ill-fated relationship with West Auckland Girl.

October was a month where the hell of August began to set back in. As the end of the semester and exams drew near I began to have nasty panic attacks (something I have been fighting for two years). In an urgent bid to get my head back I decided at 2am one morning to drive to my happy place, Mt Ruapehu for a day of skiing, this was great until a) I hurt my leg and b) four days later the panic attacks were back with a vengeance. October also opened my eyes to just how bad an employer can treat a staff member and after my workplace fired a staff member and close friend on the basis of unsubstantiated and circumstantial claims shit really hit the fan. On the morning before one of my final exams I had a massive panic attack which spelt the end of my part time work, but fortunately for me I somehow aced the test.

If there was one month that was a bellweather indicator of the rest of the year it would be November. The main stress of the month was getting my thesis complete and handed in on time. No easy task when your supervisor is on the other side of the world and because of all the dramas of August and October in particular there had been little progress on it since July. In the midst of the stress was the ending of my relationship with West Auckland Girl – the second breakup in 4 months, and when I have had less than 5 serious relationships in my life it was quite a blow. However, the good thing to come from the month was starting to play summer Hockey. I am completely useless at team sports – especially ones that involve hand and eye coordination so I was stoked to score a goal in my second ever game (and since then have only scored one more).

The final month of the year, December was by far the best, all because of a few simple words: “first class honours” and “full PhD scholarship”. Despite all the trials, challenges, pain, and torment the year had thrown at me I had made it through with a few battle scars and a massive piece of treasure at the end. In hindsight there are things that I would have done differently, there are still many things that I am very bitter about, and there are things that I am sorry about, however, in saying that you cannot celebrate the good times until you have first felt the pain and suffering of the bad times. Now the question is what does the new start in life hold?