Well hello again! What’s that you say – February already??  Man, I guess I’d better put all those vaguely anxious feelings and thoughts into a brand spankin’ new set of New Year’s Resolutions!

In America it is traditional to make promises to yourself on the occasion of the New Year. To me, this symbolizes the endless, circular nature of time, encouraging us to renew our commitments to ourselves and our world as we celebrate another year of not being drowned, electrocuted (well, not to death, at any rate), crushed, stabbed, dismembered, or plowed down by a bus.

(If, perchance, you find yourself in one of the aforementioned situations, my condolences. I hope you’re reading this post in a hospital somewhere.)

Where I come from, resolutions can also act as a mental defense against the soul-ravaging bleakness of January and February, giving us some kind of vision or goal to strive for and negating, as much as possible, how truly shitty those months are (especially in those northern states, it’s just gawdawful. Stay strong, friends).

And so, keeping in mind the massive scale of the goals I have for my future (however far that might be) here I am once again. The goal this year is to take small, constant steps toward a future I create for myself without letting myself lie fallow. My dreams are much to big to take in one year, or even two. But five years? That suddenly sounds sorta, kinda doable!

Last year was an eye-opener. I learned a ton about myself and my environment, and I’m carrying that momentum into 2015 with me. This season also marks the halfway point until I leave SE Asia, so these goals are a little bigger in order to take me through ~May 2016. I’m worried I’ll leave having unanswered questions (that is probably inevitable, actually… let’s say no BIG questions) behind me when I go.

I’m gonna go Full Vietnam on this one and say that my Resolutions are actually EARLY, because the Lunar New Year doesn’t fall until mid-February this year, much later than normal. Cheating? It’s all relative! (What a Vietnamese answer!)

1. Professionalize This Blog

I want to step up my game. I’ve got the desire and the ideas, and now I need to solidify them and start producing. This means consistency, promotion, a new domain name, upgrading to WordPress, outreach and engagement with my audience/peers, and more focused posts. oof. Writing all that down makes me wonder if I really need the following 7 goals… this might be enough! Ha. Just kidding. There’s a lot of work to be done. It also means being more current! No more of this “last season , I visited such-n-such with blah blah…” because THAT IS LAME. Upping my game means being ON TOP of the game.

2. Self-Promotion and Networking

I’m already dreading the work this resolution is going to take. Sure, the blog needs it (it is NOT ENOUGH to write consistent content: you gotta promote. It IS social media, after all… blech), but my (current/future) professional life does, too. I’ve got to figure out how to articulate my strengths, and I need to network with other professional people and my blogging peers. Big goal… I hate doing that stuff. Here goes nothin’. Second, more minor Resolution… do not put this task off!!

3. Be Fluent Enough in Vietnamese to Navigate my Summer Bike Trip

TAKE THREE! Yes, folks. The third time I’m sitting down to attempt Vietnamese, it is finally sticking. I’m two weeks into my lessons now and I’m talking to everrrrryyyyyyone. It’s so much fun… being in the culture for almost two years has had a huge help in hearing and speaking. This is great news, because I’ll be taking a 7-day motorbike trip in North Vietnam with my cousin in June – without a guide. GERONIMO!

4. Educate myself in the field of sustainable urbanism

I’ve got to start reading the literature, both new and old (it helps that this is a fairly modern discipline, but there is a fair amount of disagreement and competing visions/theories among professionals, and the history of cities themselves go wayyyyyyy back). My goal is to read 6-8 books and discuss them in a Vietnamese context on this blog. This should be super interesting!

[On a related note… I’m a little sad I haven’t had more to say about the many, many science fiction books I inhale, but, honestly, they only speak to these relevant interests once in a while. Don’t worry, though… I’m currently working up an outline for a review of Octavia E. Butler’s Lilith’s Brood trilogy, but I’m lucky – not every book has such a clear-cut theme that I can latch onto!]

5. Be the Change I Wish to See in Others

It’s not really fair of me to criticize Vietnamese or other foreigners without demonstrating that these are also values that I hold in high regard. To be fair, I don’t do this often, but it’s a big enough problem that I fear becoming a hypocrite, which is really the last impression I want to give SE Asia as an American. Our country already practices enough hypocrisy around the world, people don’t need to get it from me, too. *WOMPWOOOOMMP* #saddesttrombone

But seriously folks, tip your barber (as for tipping waiters and taxi drivers, no need, unless you love them! You’re adding to the confusion when you do!). I’ll be here all week!

6. Spend Time in Rural Vietnam

Before I leave this magical sub-continent, I also want to spend 2-3 months living and working/volunteering in rural Vietnam. This is a nebulous dream as of yet (I mean, I got nothin’, really), but NOW IT’S OFFICIAL because I wrote it down and showed you!

Currently, the things I don’t know:

  1. Am I physically and mentally tough enough to thrive village life?
  2. Will there be internet?
  3. HOW do I find a place/job?
  4. But no, seriously, CAN I EVEN DO THIS THIS IS CRAZY.
  5. How much Vietnamese home cooking can I stomach in one go? I’m not gonna get a lot of options…
  6. OMG I don’t even speak Vietnamese yet, what am I thinking, I can never do this.
  7. Where will I live? Wait, am I going to live with Vietnamese for longer than a weekend? What am I setting up for myself here?
  8. How hot is it going to be?
  9. Reaffirm to myself that I DO want, and I CAN do! And all the rest is just DETAILS!

Let’s pay special attention to point 2. I could probably do it, but doing it without Instagram?? This task will take some serious planning and thought… but I really think it’s necessary to expand my mind (yes, this project is definitely undertaken because I think it’ll help me in the future, no lie).

7. Become More Involved in Volunteering

I like my volunteering job [I know, I know, I still haven’t posted about it yet, it’s coming!] , and I want to get more involved. Whether it’s with the same group or a different one I don’t mind, but I do like the organization that I’m with and I’m QUITE happy with the job I have there (it’s not English teaching, for example!!), so I’ll try and develop it a bit.

8. The Long View

I think it bears repeating (for myself, I don’t know about you) that I DO have long-term goals, and I DO NOT plan to be “drowned, electrocuted (well, not to death, at any rate), crushed, stabbed, dismembered, or plowed down by a bus.” And even if I am unfortunate to find myself in one of those situations, I want to go down knowing that I died with a head full of dreams and my eyes on the prize. It’s so easy to get distracted, either by shiny things in your path or mutineering trains of thought in your head. This is so important to me, in fact, I wrote a blog post to help myself remember!

This year I will take time to continually nourish the dreams and long-term goals that I have for myself, and make myself and them stronger in the process. Yo!

Theme of the year: Take responsibility for my happiness, and take everyday steps to my goals while being my authentic self.

Minor and continuing resolutions include:

  • Keep checking off that SE Asia Bucket List… 

Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Burma, Indonesia, Australia… If I could get everywhere, I’d be a damn happy camper. I don’t think that’s possible, but I’ve got about 16 months… here goes nothing! I’ll see if I can get to the places I’m most interested in in the time I’ve got left, with a minimum of expenses. This includes big undertakings like hiking/camping and any moves to foreign countries (yes, I love Vietnam, but I haven’t ruled out spending time in another nearby country! My skill set is very portable).

  • Continue my more Active Lifestyle

I’m doing yoga several mornings a week, opposite my mornings at Vietnamese class, and it’s been an invigorating practice, for both my mind and body. I want to keep it up, and live a healthier life (this means no more late night cooking… as much as my brain so totally loves doing that! Groans. Many groans but they’re accepting). If I get back into running (I’ve moved completely over to yoga for my exercise now) I’d also like to find a race, whether in Vietnam or Cambodia.

Soooo… Broad and foundational are my keywords! How will I do? Keep your eyes peeled for resolution updates throughout 2015 – we’ll find out together!
Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions for the year? How are they coming?