2020 – Plans out of the window & 2021 Goals

I always like looking back at the year and seeing if I have managed to hit the targets I set myself. Having been doing it a few years, I always find I have hit quite a few, missing the odd one, but this year, I knew it was going to make for grim reading.

I was feeling pretty good at the end of 2019, I was as fit as ever and gunning for my first full marathon. I had continued travelling, got a new job and had grand plans to continue with what I love most by hitting 7 new countries in 2020. I’ll reflect on what I was intending to do in 2020 and how it panned out before I launch into 2021 goals.

Back to my running, I had smashed all PB’s in 2019 and was aiming high for 2020 in addition to looking to completing my first marathon in April 2020 (Manchester). I had hoped to complete a 1000 miles in 2020, new PB’s at all distances and hit 60 parkruns by the end of 2020. I had started 2020 well, Lucy Ring and I were putting in the grim miles to train for the marathon, every time we were doing evening miles it just seemed to piss down. I was finding it enjoyable though, even if Lucy was trialling fuelling with little edible rice papers and was wondering why she was almost flaking out by the end of the run. Still, the training was being put in and I felt good and ready. I did manage to fit in the Freethorpe 10 miler and my first ever 20 miler at Tarpley where I felt amazingly comfortable. The only other running I managed before Rona struck was the Whitlingham Loop Relay handcuffed to Dave Thomas for Debs and Stacey’s charity run. I have an enormous respect for those who have kept motivated during Rona times in 2020. I have found no motivation whatsoever to get out despite the odd run, bike-ride and session with Lingwood (after I moved in May). I’ve disappointed myself really, but I never really pretended to love running, I love racing, medals and being part of a running club, I was never in any doubt about my ability to motivate myself to solo run day in day out. So, here I am, 1.5 stone heavier than February 2020 and desperate to get back into it for 2021.

Work wise, 2020 was going to be a big year and to be fair, it has been. It’s been different but really the only area where I think fair play 2020 has been alright! I’m 12 months into the new job and now taking on new staff and feel very settled in. The only downside has been I have not yet been to the US, India or even Europe to meet some colleagues or customers. I had trips to Chennai, India and Westminster, Colorado, US pencilled in, all scuppered by Rona. The other side of work is the volunteering work I was training for in 2019/2020 and having completed that in March 2020, I clocked up nearly 700 hours volunteering in 2020 which quite frankly has kept me sane. I cannot imagine what 2020 would have been like if I didn’t have the interaction that volunteering has brought this year. I’m settled in that also and excited for 2021.

In terms of health, I had grand plans for a final 6lbs which would have left me at ideal weight since the hypothyroidism nightmare of 2020. One thing which has been great is after that diagnoses in 2019, my thyroxine levels are spot on and now it’s up to me a. to not return to that disgusting sumo level of 2019 and b. to really push for that ideal weight I was after going into 2020 with high hopes at the start of the year. On the topic of health, I also wanted to try and move to a Plant Based Diet during the week, something that I did manage for the first 3 months pre-Rona. Despite falling completely off that wagon, there are small choices I now make and some PBD items are pretty much my standard shop (Almond milk for example).

I think it’s pretty clear that travel is my favourite thing in the world, and I always feel my best when travelling. I had 7 countries planned for this year with a bumper Africa trip for September. Not only did I miss my bumper trip, but I made it to 0 new countries this year, something I don’t think has happened since 2012 which is super depressing. I have not been to the US to see the Islanders of course and Euro 2020 was postponed so no trip to Rome to see Wales. I think it’s fair to say out of all the carnage with 2020, this has been what’s hit me hardest, in that when I am taking work holiday, it’s having to be for nonsense here in the house where I struggle to shut off from work. I am praying for a better 2021 so I can pack the bag again and get back to doing what I love most. All in all the trips that were in by cancelled were Africa (4 countries), Turkey and North Macedonia – I hadn’t booked the final country before the pandemic began.

In my 2020 goals I had also wanted to get back to the Arsenal away more because in the health kick and running I had tapered off significantly with the football as it isn’t exactly conducive to a healthy lifestyle. This of course did not happen, but we did win the FA Cup, and community shield even if the new season has been a disaster for us thus far, I have faith in Mickey Tets and there will be brighter days again for The Gunners! I did manage to see Olympiakos at Home in 2020 but not a lot else. As I sit here and realised how long it’s been since I’ve seen some of the Arsenal lot, it’s crazy to think, thankfully a sneaky trip to see Big Weng doing a book tour in London did give me a chance to see the GOAT Arsene as well as the decent but not as great Jonny, Dee, Ellis, Stu and others!

After getting Killers tickets @ The Emirates for my Mother and Father, this naturally never happened in June 2020. but whenever it does, it’ll be epic! The only other goal I set was around getting back to reading books, which I failed miserably.

Speaking of how long have seen people, even those who live close-by and used to see all the time, it had been months and months since seen everybody. One good thing we did get going pre-Rona was a little dinner club type thing where we all went once a month to a different restaurant, it’s a shame that stopped but as soon as this shit is over, that will be the first thing back on the cards.

The last night out I had before the pandemic was certainly a rough one. Donkin’s fundraiser in Stevenage with the boys and particularly a place selling J├Ąger for 3 for a fiver was a recipe for a minging hangover. I’d probably have two pints and be in that state now having gone so long without a proper blowout.

Also in 2020, my mate had booked an evening with Joe Calzaghe which I was buzzing for after the Frank Bruno one last year. That was another victim of Covid and on the topic of my mate, his 3rd son was meant to be christened (and I was meant to become a Godfather for the 3rd time) which was obviously scuppered too.

Three more positive things from 2020 were definitely moving out to Blofield Heath in May 2020. Even though I loved it in the city where I was, perfectly quiet cul-de-sac, the place was just too small with no real garden so I needed that push to move further out in the sticks and get a proper sized place. Having been here 7 months now, I still absolutely love it and I cannot wait until post-rona so I can try the pubs and meet more of the village folk! The second was I had changed cards in August, and left Jaguar for the first time since passing my test in 2013, it was weird saying goodbye to my 2nd Jaguar XF but having got a Tesla Model 3 and going electric I have had a lot of fun with the new motor. Finally, I started to learn Welsh with Pembrokeshire college and have completed term 1, I am really enjoying it and determined to see it all through from my current level to fluency, I have always thought I should speak my own language fluently and did make a pretty big effort in school given it’s not compulsory, but now is the time to do it. It will be tough given nobody or nowhere to practice here in Norfolk of course but I will see where it takes me!

On top of Rona, 2020 has been a nightmare year for my apartment in Birmingham. My building does not have the Grenfell cladding but the new regulations have spiralled into a UK-wide crisis with 1000s of buildings now falling out of regulations. It turns out in my building some of the regulations at time of building were breached also but the leaseholders across the UK are having to pay for mistakes made by developers, despite not owning the building (freeholder does). Insurance increases of 500% and remediation costs into the millions have been super stressful and despite being a fairly successful guy, the doom constantly looming on this has been more stressful than anything I’ve ever endured. Once search for Cladding Scandal or #EndOurCladdingScandal now will tell you all you need. Leaseholders cannot afford millions of pounds for repairs and 1000’s of pounds a week for a waking fire watch (a bloke or woman walking around to see if there’s a fire). People are going bankrupt and becoming so ill over stress, so I suspect 2021 will heavily involve that developing further.

With the vaccines in the bag and en-route to the UK to extinguish Rona and this annoying new variant, I think we can look forward to the vast majority of 2021 being positive. So, given that, it’s only right that I give myself some targets, but maybe I should reign them in a little given it’s likely to be Spring before we have any hope of that.

Non-existent social life 2020 and hopes for 2021

I think one thing this year has taught everybody is how much we take for granted social interaction! I will only be doing the things I enjoy and meeting up with people I want to spend time when the world returns. I intend to reconnect with all The Arsenal lot for as many Arsenal away games as possible and the running club folk in Norwich immediately after this has all blown over, getting back to eating @ amazing restaurants (another thing I love blowing money on).

It is fair to say I was up and down with the whole pandemic situation. At first I was not really hindered by it as the weather was amazing and I had this great new garden and surrounding areas are amazing. The fact I work from home a lot anyway meant it didn’t really impact me day-to-day. As trips got cancelled and races got cancelled it did start to chip away at me then and motivation for running went so as you put on some timber and stop doing the things you enjoy then your mood worsens. I was generally OK though I would say until the time when we all came out of lockdown and the graphs were looking great and we were all thinking we were going to be back to normal pretty sharpishly, then the 2nd wave hit. I think when I realised that we could not in fact see the finish line, that was when I had my first real struggle with it all and was really low. Thankfully, I had my family here in August, my mother, father, sister, brother in-law, niece, nephew and the 2 dogs which was brilliant fun and I came out of that time knackered but batteries recharged from a motivation point of view.

The second dip at the end of November was a biggie and was scraping myself off the floor, which made me press the big red button. It had just been so many months since had been away, out, seen people etc I was getting really bad cabin fever and the cancellation email for my Africa trip, despite being inevitable, really got me down. Thankfully the minute lockdown lifted in England and as somebody who lives alone I was able to go back home to Wales and form one of those extended household things. I thankfully spent 4 weeks at home and had a great Christmas with the family and that has really perked me up and now I sit here, back in Norfolk, raring to go for 2021.

  • Get to The Arsenal
  • Arrange social events and catch-up with everybody

Running & Health

If I want to buck the trend of being a disgusting fat git, then I must get back out running and get into these virtual races if that’s all we have to go on for the first quarter of 2021. I have already registered for the Ringland half (virtual) as a friend of mine organises it (and it’s hosted by my running club) but I need more than that to shift this timber. I need regular runs and blend them with the strength classes I’d started up in one of the neighbouring villages (I’d forgotten to mention those). I am not going to put any PB targets because I simply would like to get back to where I was in February, I think that will take me a whole year to be honest.

I also want to paddle-board this year, having never done it as well as attend strength training regularly when they started back up in person.

  • Regain fitness
  • Lose 1.5 stone
  • Run 15 races
  • 60 Parkruns
  • Achieve 1 PB at any distance
  • 1000 Miles
  • Attend strength training regularly
  • Go Paddle-boarding!

Work

I am still loving the new job but have lots to do, I need to ramp up my organisation whilst working from home, I definitely suffer some productivity hit, but I have lots to do and there are more people coming on-board so will have more capacity to do the right things in the right areas. I hope at some point in 2021 I can get out to the US and India but not sure if that is realistic.

On the volunteering side, I would like to hit 1250 hours by December 2021 which I think will be tough, especially if races and travelling sneak back into my life but I will give it a good go.

On the Welsh front, I want to complete Entry level, smash the exam and enrolled for the next stage in 2021.

  • Hit Work Goals – achieve excellent rating
  • 1250 Hours volunteering (currently 700ish)
  • Pass Welsh exam/enrol on next

Travel

Africa 2021 is booked for September so I pray I can go there. That would mean 4 countries – South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe. I also want to finally do Istanbul Turkey and try and hit 10 new countries this year. I also want to go and see the Islanders if possible, but that may need to be January 2022 given the NHL schedule is condensed for 2021.

  • 10 new countries
  • US for Islanders
  • Work trips if possible (India, US)

Other

I think other key goals for 2021 are

  • Campaign against Cladding Scandal/Sort out Birmingham apartment ready to sell in 2022
  • Read more frequently again (6 books MINIMUM this year)
  • Drive and visit 20 new places of interest in the UK (outside Norfolk) – castles, national parks etc

The Sasco planner was bare last year, but after I type this I will go upstairs and put the new one up and hope that I can fill it with much more than 2020s.

I hope everybody has a great 2021 and makes up for the shit 2020. Anybody who has put off something or never managed to push themselves to strive for a particular goal, if you’re not going to do it when the world returns to normal, then you never will, go and make it an epic year!