Staying On Track

It’s so easy to say you’re going to do something at some obscure moment in your life, somewhere down the line, and then simply let the idea fade into the recesses of your mind.  I’ve had dozens of ideas that have never come to fruition for the simple fact that I never set an end date.  Sure, I’ve said things like, “in a few years,” or even, “by the time I’m xx years old,” but these aren’t quite specific enough.  Well, perhaps they are specific, but to make it work, one needs closer, more precise goals.

My trip to Spain has been all the talk, at least for me, for the last several weeks, but as each day slips by, I fear it becomes more of a fantasy than a reality that’s likely to happen.  Now, before you jump ship and stop reading right now, I will spoil the ending for you and tell you this is the entry meant to keep me going despite my doubts.  So read on.

I floated through the last few weeks on a high of excitement for this adventure of mine.  I fell asleep each night fantasizing about the places I would visit, the people I would meet, and even new opportunities that may present themselves to me while in Europe.  I was fully confident that for the first time in my life my crazy idea was going to become my crazy reality.  I hung my Spain flag in my kitchen and readied myself for the trip.  Of course, then, as the minutes ticked slowly by, thoughts of more present day realities began creeping back to the forefront of my brain.  I knew this would happen, as it always does, but this time, I need to force out the doubts with the confidence I can do this.  In order to do that, I think I need to set some timely goals for the things I need to have done in order to make this trip happen in just about 420 days.

First things first, I need a passport.  I keep saying I will get a passport around my birthday.  Great.  I need a specific day.  So let’s look at the calendar.  Here’ s an idea.  How about May 1, 2014, exactly one year prior to my trip?  Done.  We’re adding this to my schedule right now.  Ok, now that I have that, the other major expense is going to be plane tickets.  I have done some research and found the ideal time to buy plane tickets is 8 weeks, or about 54 days in advance of the trip.  As this is a bit far off still I fear I may lose sight of this one, but I have also marked the date, March 7, 2015 on my calendar.  Now we’re moving.  Next, I need to determine where I am staying.  I have talked about spending some time in Madrid and the bulk of my time in Valencia, but I need to narrow that down.  I think I would like to spend May 1-3 in Madrid, May 4-27 in Valencia, then return to Madrid May 28-30 for the final leg of the trip.  The tricky part to all of this is finding precisely where I will stay.  I am willing to do a hotel in Madrid, however I would like to sublet a place in Valencia for the month if I can.  Since my goal is to speak as much Spanish as possible and avoid English speaking tourists I wanted to avoid hotels, but since I plan only two brief stays in Madrid, it may work out cheaper to simply stay in a hotel while there.

Obviously monetary goals are a big issue for this trip.  I am not rich, I don’t earn a huge amount of money every week, and I don’t plan on winning the lottery in the next few months.  Right now, I am doing my best to put aside as much cash as I can, but again, day to day life events sometimes super-cede my dreams.  Initially, my plan called for me to save for two years, not one, in order to be able to pay for this journey.  After talking with Pattie, however, I was convinced I could do it in one year.  Of course she had offered me a chance to make a little extra money by having me help her with the Ronald McDonald shows she runs but then we hit our first roadblock along the way.  I was supposed to work my first show a week from today, but unfortunately the shows for the remainder of the month have been cancelled.  There is still plenty of time before next May for me to work enough shows to put aside the extra money I had been budgeting for, but I may have to wait until this May to start.  Really, this is no reason to panic, but obviously any hitch in the plan makes me doubt if I can do this or not.  I have to simply stay confident and say I can do this.

Beyond planning for the trip itself, something very crucial to this whole event has managed to slip to the back of my mind at times.  The whole purpose for going on this trip is to improve my Spanish, but my intention all along was to be as close to fluent prior to going as possible.  I feel almost as if my Spanish goals have taken a back seat to the planning goals, which ultimately don’t necessarily include speaking Spanish at all.  That being said, I have been trying to get back on track, but these goals too need to be more specific.  I have been writing in my Spanish blog often, but not daily as I had wanted.  I need to get back on track with that.  I know sometimes I make the excuse I have nothing to say whether in English or in Spanish, but I am sure I can find something to go on about for 300-500 words a day.  In addition to that, I have started meagerly using my camera to record myself reading things in Spanish.  I’m glad to have finally overcome that fear, but I need to use it more often.  I will say I need to record at least 3-5 minutes a day to go along with my daily blog entries.  I’ve started reviewing my old programs to review the basics of the language.  I know by now I should be able to converse with just about anyone, but it would be quite awkward to introduce myself to someone and find I had forgotten the best way to go about it.  I have started going over the basic vocabulary from my Visual Link Spanish courses and I plan on going through all three levels as well as practicing the vocabulary drills in my car while driving.  I may not need to know how to say goat in Spanish, but you never know.

In any case, now I’m off to post in Spanish to keep myself on target.  We’ll talk more soon.

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~ by James on March 5, 2014.

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