Personal: 2016 Resolutions Mid-Year Update

Halfway through the year already! I know I harp on about this all the time, but I honestly can’t believe how quickly it is going. It definitely doesn’t feel that long ago that I sat down and wrote my New Year’s Resolutions for 2016, but here we are doing a midyear update.

 photo 2016 Resolutions Mid Year Review_zpsx48ycuzi.jpgWhen I thought up those resolutions I was newly engaged, still high on the buzz. I was scared about the exams that were still five months away, I was stressed about how final year was going. Now I’m sitting (in exactly the same spot in W’s parents house!) a little bored, and trying to make enough plans to fill the summer without spending too much money or wasting the point of my last ever relaxing break!

I set a lot of mini-goals for myself, simply because I find these way more attainable than one or two big resolutions. The worrying thing is that I’ve had to pull up that post to see what they were, so they can’t have been going that well! Let’s see…
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Blogging

So my biggest goal here was deciding what to do with Ninegrandstudent when I graduate. Well, I graduate in five days and I do have a small plan. The only thing to do is start to execute it – so once me and W have a few spare days there will definitely be some changes afoot. My other goal was to really work on my photography, take my camera off auto and actually learn how to use it. Yet again, I’ve failed! Whilst I don’t want to use it as an excuse, I guess I’ve been hugely focused on my degree and so blogging has taken a back seat. I’m excited to get back into it!
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University/Work

This was the big area for me, the area that would shape the rest of my life. My main aim here was to make sure I graduated with a degree I am proud of, and obtain a job that I love. I still can’t actually believe it, but I’m managed to do both. I’m hugely proud of my first class degree, especially as there were a lot of moments in the last few years where I thought it wouldn’t happen. But I’ve perhaps even more proud of the job I’ve managed to obtain, the job that’s in the exact (and extremely specific) field I wanted and will enable me and W to finally live together.

The smaller parts are half done – I definitely managed to keep control of my RSI with only a few evenings where I couldn’t bear to write during the revision period. However time will tell how my jump into professional qualifications will go!
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Cooking

Definitely a mixed bag here! I definitely drank a lot more water whilst I was at university, but I’ve noticed this hasn’t continued upon moving back home. In all honest I can tell how bad this is for me, I’ve even had a migraine lingering for 6 days so I’ve got to kick my arse into gear! My diet is looking pretty good, I’ve stuck mainly to homemade bread, tried a lot of new recipes (post coming soon about this), my main aim for the next few months is to cut down on crisps and processed biscuits.

And the things I want to make? I’m still to make a decent burger, though with W’s meat grinder and Kitchen Aid being closer to a shared possession means this is looking more likely. I’ve realised baking sweet potato fries will never work, and I’m scared of deep-frying, so I doubt that one will be achieved. I’ve also managed to bake my own pitta breads (so, SO good), and I made hobnobs. Which are almost digestives..:? So I guess I’m not doing too badly!
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Lifestyle

The last section (we’ll ignore budgeting until the end of the year as I’ve had no income since!). As ever, it was a resolution of mine to take up running – I did go for a couple of jogs and still developed shin splints. I’m absolutely determined to do it one of these years though! The big one though is keeping the weight off – and I’m pleased to say I managed to do this. I’ve now stopped weighing myself at all and will be going on how my clothes fit.

And that bring me onto my next point! I have finally, finally gone through ALL my clothes and really sorted them out. The result was an embarrassing four bin-bags of bits to a charity shop, 1 bin-bag which is waiting to be Ebay-ed (it’s all unworn bits and bobs), and a plan to get rid of another load once summer is over. I decided to keep the most well-fitting bits (that are only 1 size too big!) of my summer wardrobe and then ditch that on moving to London – though I have treated myself to a few bits recently.

My most important resolution was that I try to remain positive at all times, try to concentrate on the good things, remember the parts of my days that made my smile. I personally (and I think W would agree) that I failed. I was not in a good way throughout a good few months of this year. I was struggling with rejections from job interviews, I was terrified about exams. There were definitely nights where I couldn’t remember a single positive thing about my day. And so this is my resolution for the last half of 2016 – I’ll be concentrating on writing in my line-a-day diary, talking over the good bits of my day with my fiance and making the effort to smile just that bit more. Because so far 2016 has been a good year, so I’m determined to make the most of it!

How has the first half of 2016 treated you? How are you getting on with your resolutions?

Lifestyle: 2016 Resolutions

It feels like only yesterday that I was coming up with my 2015 resolutions; I can’t believe it has come round so quickly! Last year ended with some of the best moments of my life, but it was also the year I felt the happiest about myself, felt more comfortable in my own skin and really started to make sense of where I want to be several years down the line. 2016 is a big year for me; I’m due to graduate, we’re planning to start planning the wedding later in the year (eek!), I’ll be making a start on my career and professional studying, and (fingers crossed!) me and W will be moving in together for good.

 photo 2016 Resolutions_zpslklgaszz.jpgLike last year, I have a lot of goals that I want to work on over the year. I like to set myself a large amount of smaller things to work on, over all aspects of my life, rather than just one or two big aims. I find it more attainable that way, though I’ve already admitted that this strategy didn’t quite go to plan last year!

This year I’ve set myself resolutions relating to blogging, university/work, lifestyle, cooking and I’ve added in a budgeting section too…so here goes!
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Blogging

I couldn’t set myself some resolutions without challenging to push myself further with this blog. I guess the biggest challenge for me in 2016 will be deciding what I want to do with the blog long-term – after this summer I will no longer be a traditional student so am looking at a bit of a name-change, a slight revamp and a possible change in focus. Who knows?! What I do know is that I’d love to start making my blog a bit more topical, taking inspiration from the news and magazines, not scheduling so far in advance.

More immediately I really want to start working on my photography. Whilst I think my eye for a good shot has certainly improved and I have been really proud of some of my images, it’s now time to start making the most of my camera – stop using pre-set modes and take it into manual. I haven’t had it set to complete auto for a while, but I’m determined to take the plunge and do it properly!
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University/Work

Ah, the big one! I guess the main aim here is to graduate with a degree I am proud of, and obtain a job that I love. I don’t want to end up settling for a job, just because I’ma graduate and I need one, I really want to be able to use my degree and my experience. Fingers crossed!

Smaller goals I have set myself include to keep on top of my physio exercises (long-term readers will know I suffered from RSI in my writing arm during second year exams – I’m now battling to keep this at bay until June!), and just make the most of my final year. I’d also like to kick off studying for the rest of my professional qualification with a bang – but we’ve got to get a job first!
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Cooking

I think cooking was the area where I had most success last year – I pretty much succeeded with all my goals. This year I want to make sure I drink a lot more water than I have been doing, continue experimenting with new recipes (I definitely have enough cookbooks!), and perhaps cut down on more processed and refined foods. My diet is pretty good, but I could perhaps clean it up a tad!

Things I want to make include: a homemade from-scratch burger, perfect sweet potato fries, pitta breads, and proper digestive biscuits. So much for healthy eating…

Budgeting

A new one this year, but one that’s beginning to be quite important! I’m possibly a bit unusual (at least with respect to my friends) in that I’m not too fussed about saving to own a house/flat – I want to live in London, and realistically it’s going to be a long time before I could pull together that kind of deposit, so I’m more than happy to rent. Instead I’m saving towards the wedding, towards having nice holidays with W, and to do that I need to put together some kind of savings plan. Over the next few months I doubt I’ll be able to save much (if any!) however as soon as I start working I want to shove as much as possible away. As long as my laptop survives (I may have split a glass of water a few days ago, it’s been a bit temperamental since!) I should be able to at least save a good chunk of an academic scholarship I receive, and all of my long-awaiting tax return. Any saving tips will be gratefully received!
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Lifestyle

Here we go, the mish-mash of goals. As ever, it’s a resolution of mine to take up running. I’m absolutely determined to do it one of these years! In a pretty similar vein I also want to make sure I stay as healthy as possible, keep the weight I lost off, and generally just stay happy with my body.

I want to learn to knit (I really should crack on with this!), properly clear out my wardrobe and have a good sort-and-sell of all my old things. I want to make sure I take time to relax and not burn myself out. But most importantly I want to make the resolution that I try to remain positive at all times, try to concentrate on the good things, remember the parts of my days that made my smile. Here’s to 2016 being a good year!

Do you set New Year’s Resolutions? What are you hoping to achieve in 2016?

Lifestyle: 2014 Resolutions Update

In one of my university interviews I was asked to give an immediate answer as to what the exact mid-point of the year is, and explain it. Not as easy as it sounds (and made harder by suffering from the flu at the time), but it means that, if I remember correctly, today is the right day to be posting this! Way back in January I wrote a post about my New Year’s Resolutions, and now here I am updating you all on my progress. Here goes…

Academic
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Take better notes.
Come up with a better revision plan.
Use my Filofax.
Self-teach Excel.

My notes definitely improved after setting myself the goal – especially ones in the subjects I was less enamoured with! In fact I was really proud of some of my notes, and I definitely found myself remembering more in my exams…maybe I am more of a visual learner than I thought.

I can’t say I came up with a brilliant revision plan, but I did find a few ways of revising that really worked for me. The first was keeping better notes throughout the year, so I just needed to read what was there instead of rewrite. Quite glad of this as even with reduced writing I somehow ended up with quite severe repetitive strain injury which I’m worried affect my exams (I actually find out my results today, so fingers crossed!). At home during my Easter break, I used to go to the local library for 9am. I’d have roughly an hour’s break for lunch at a nearby park, then I’d work until closing time (6pm) before doing another hour in Costa going over what I’d learnt. I stuck to a module a day rather than having to carry a ridiculous amount around, and found this really productive. On a general day I’d go through two or three more difficult topics, and do at least one exam paper, marking and making model solutions. As I say, soon we’ll be able to see whether it worked!

Using my Filofax more is a resolution that so far I have failed miserably at! Neither of my Filofaxes have received much use at all this year, but I’m determined that’s going to change. I’m currently sorting out the best combination of inserts etc for my Industrial Placement, so I shall be using it more in a few weeks.

Finally my last academic resolution was to self-teach Excel. I can’t say I feel I have done this as I’m not at all confident on it, but I have got better and did actually achieve 88% on the piece of coursework using it – so clearly I can do it! I’d like to polish up my skills a little more before starting work though…

Blogging
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Commenting daily.
Keeping to a schedule.
Improve photography.
Developing the blog.

I’m proud to say that commenting on other blogs daily is something I’ve managed to achieve and keep up! Apart from when I was on holiday or stuck revising for exams I know I’ve definitely left a couple of comments each day. As well as it benefitting my own page views, I’d discovered some amazing blogs through reading other’s comments, and also enjoyed getting to know more bloggers!

I’ve also definitely kept to more of a schedule. My What’s Cooking Wednesday post carried on for a while, it did disappear during revision time though – I’ll definitely look to revive it when I’m out on placement but it may be in a slightly different form. In case you haven’t noticed, I try to blog on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays, and my posts are almost always scheduled to go live first thing in the morning.

Photography is something of an ongoing improvement – though I can definitely see that my photos are getting better. I’m also really proud of a couple (yet to be published) so its getting there! I’m asking for a decent (possibly SLR) camera for my twenty-first, so I’d love any recommendations you have!

Developing the blog is something I can say I’ve done – I’m now the owner of ninegrandstudent.co.uk, and between me and my boyfriend we’re working on a custom design. No idea when that will be live, but I’m pleased with the tweaks I’ve made to this new theme at the moment – my blog definitely looks better than it did at the start of the year!

Cooking/Baking
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Save money.
Experiment with tomato-free recipes.
Buy joints of meat.
Expand baking knowledge.

I definitely saved a bit of money in my later weeks at university. I didn’t quite get my weekly budget down to what I wanted (including my start-of-term shops it averaged at £12.72, which was slightly above my £10 target!) but it definitely started going down significantly so I plan to continue this next year even though I’ll be earning. I’m hoping to save a significant amount over my Year in Industry – my rent/bills/travel is so far only working out at £25 a month more, I’ll be earning a monthly salary, have a small amount of student loan coming in and I’ll still be receiving my academic scholarship so fingers crossed!

My experimentation of tomato-free recipes has really kicked off this year, though admittedly only a few have made it to the blog. My Vegetarian Chilli went down very well, as did my Chicken Khari Curry. I want to experiment with a few more curry recipes, and also work on a meaty chilli. By biggest aim – a tomato free BBQ sauce!

The next two resolutions haven’t gone so well. I confess I haven’t bought any joints of meat – although I have been working with cheaper chicken thighs lately and have a fabulous recipe scheduled! I’ve also not done that much baking, certainly no bread making (check out my always crispy Pizza Dough though!). I’m freeing up a little money over my Industrial Placement to do more baking so fingers crossed this will be achieved by the end of the year!

Beauty
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Find the perfect foundation.
Clean makeup brushes.
Try Pixi Glow Tonic
Remove makeup every night.

I’m keeping silent on the foundation front – I’ve recently been trialling a couple of new foundations and there will be a post soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Makeup brushes are getting cleaned slightly more often, although not as often as they should. My main aim for the next few months is to clean my foundation brush every week – although I do wipe it with micellar water after ever use!

You may have noticed from my recent Holiday Makeup post that there is a (half empty) bottle of Pixi Glow Tonic in my possession. I’ve been using this since Valentine’s Day, so it seriously lasts for ages, and I’ve noticed a huge improvement in my skin. Blemishes heal quicker and don’t scar, my skin is brighter, and my moisturisers seem to work an awful lot better. Plus the smell is so relaxing at night!

As for removing makeup, generally this is done every night. Apart from the odd night where I was absolutely exhausted or ill (and then I’d hardly be wearing makeup anyway!) my face has been washed with these products. I’ve recently invested in the Camomile Oil from The Bodyshop to do a pre-cleanse with (I plan to be wearing makeup more often when working – air conditioned offices do not agree with my skin!) so I’ll update with my progress on that soon.

Personal

Exercise more.
Learn to knit.

Both of these I can’t say I’ve achieved. I’d like to think I’m slightly fitter than I was in January – I did manage to climb Arthur’s Seat two weeks ago! I’m planning on relearning how to ride a bike over the next month, and soon I will be a year post-op and so able to start swimming again. I can’t explain how excited I am to get back in the pool! As for knitting, I just can’t seem to get the hang of it – if anyone knows of any good books or teachers please do recommend them!

Before I wrote this post I was rather disappointed in myself, but having gone through things I’ve actually achieved quite a lot, considering I’m studying a demanding degree full-time, and travelling to see my boyfriend every other weekend. There’s still quite a bit I want to achieve before the end of the year, but I reckon I’ll get there!

How are your New Year’s Resolutions going?