Here We Go Again

In sixteen hours, we will once again gather to say goodbye to the passing year.  2014 is coming to a close and once again I find myself sitting here, mulling over potential “New Year’s Resolutions” that I tell myself every year I won’t make.  That being said, we’re going to call them goals, not resolutions, and since they are goals, they must contain specific attainable endpoints.  I actually sat down last night and hammered a few out, but I thought I would come here and sort them out in English just so they are clear in my mind.  Obviously, with my trip to Spain looming, they are mostly language related goals, but they will all serve to make me feel a little better about myself in the end.  I hope.  Anyway, here they are.

My Goals for the Year 2015

  • The first, and most important goal to me is one I have always sort of harbored in the back of my mind but never really spelled out in detail.  Europe gauges ones knowledge of a particular language on a scale.  A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2.  Way back in 2008 when I really began focusing on learning Spanish, I was probably at the A2/B1 level.  Since then, I have taken a few online assessment tests which usually place me in the B2 range.  Any self-taught individual who can place themselves at a B2 level without taking high school or college level classes should be proud of themselves, and I am, don’t get me wrong.  Given how much time and effort I have put into teaching myself, however, I feel it is finally time to push myself to the C1 level.  C2 would probably be a little unrealistic as that is as close to a native speaker as you can get.  In fact, aside from those who study language or have an extremely high level of education beyond that of college, I would say most native Spanish speakers are only at a C1 level.  Now, as I said, I have always wanted to achieve this level of fluency, but I have never actually worked out a plan.  So, this year, I have a plan.  The most important part of this goal will be attaining new vocabulary, which I will do by reading with a pen in hand.  I will be taking notes on words and phrases I want to learn and I will add them to my Anki deck which I hope to study daily, or at the very least, several times per week.  My level of reading comprehension is good, but this is a good way to improve upon it.  Now, how will I track my progress?  Good question.  As I said, I have taken several online assessment tests.  I plan on taking these tests once every three months until October, when I hope to finally have achieved my goal.  Taking the test on the first of April, July, and October gives me definitive endpoints to guide me.  Hopefully this will keep me on track, and, in addition to spending a month in Spain, I will be able to use this as my method to gaining a C1 level of fluency in Spanish.  Believe me, if I am that good, I can impress a lot of people!
  • The next goal fits with the first, as any additional knowledge of the language is going to propel me forward.  I plan on reading at least one book per month in Spanish.  Now, I have lots of books already in Spanish, some of which I have read in their entirety, some which I am about halfway through, and some I have not started at at all.  Any book that I have started but not finished will only count as a half, therefore The Hobbit and The Book Thief will count as one.  I think those will be my January goal and then I think I will return to Harry Potter which should cover February and March.  Given how long they are, the final two may take more than a month, but if not, for April, I have Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and in May, I have a book actually originally written in Spanish, El Heroe Discreto which I plan to read while in Spain.  I may count Cien Años De Soledad as two as well and use that to cover June and July.  I may start the second part of The Hunger Games over and read that in its entirety in August or September and while I have several other books I could use, I may look into getting The Lord Of The Rings trilogy in Spanish.  That would finish off the year pretty well.  Like I said, in addition to just reading these books for enjoyment, I am hopefully going to be able to develop a much broader vocabulary by taking note and studying new phrases, not just glossing over the words I don’t know.
  • Of course writing in my Spanish blog everyday is crucial.  I had a streak in which I wrote for over 400 consecutive days, but since that streak ended, I have rarely been able to write more than one or two entries a week.  I am determined to get back to that, even if the entries are only a few hundred words.  A little practice everyday is a critical point of my goals.
  • In addition to my written blog, I really want to start focusing on my video blog.  I mustered up the courage to record a few basic entries this past week, but the goal for 2015 is to have at least 100 five minute videos by the end of the year.  I would like to have at least 30 before I head to Spain, one for everyday I am in Spain, and 30 to 50 completed once I return.  There is no reason I can’t do this, and honestly, along with increasing my reading comprehension, this should help my verbal communication immensely.  While there is no online assessment of my verbal ability, making these videos should help me greatly.
  • My next goal is health related, but is connected to Spain.  I would like to be 160 lbs. or less (no less than 150) by April 24th, my birthday.  Currently, although I have been avoiding the scale, I estimate I am around 180 lbs., which, while not obese, is more than I should weigh.  I plan on achieving this goal by going to the gym Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday each week and doing at least an hour of exercise.  Moderate cardio exercise four times a week should get me to where I want to be, provided I am a little more cautious about what I eat.  I need to space out my meals throughout the day and only eat reasonable portions.  I would like to cut out as much fast food as I can, although I know that is a little unrealistic given my life style, but I have gotten myself in great shape in the past, and I know I can do it again.  The underlying goal here is to be in good shape when I am in Spain as I do not want the Spaniards to think Americans are all fat.
  • My final goal is the crazy one.  This is the goal that, while yes, I want to do it, it may be the toughest and most ridiculous.  Here it goes.  First of all, you should note that I am one of the shyest, most reclusive people in existence.  I don’t sing, I don’t dance, I don’t perform (which is why my video blog has been causing me so much trouble) and I don’t like the spotlight.  I am quiet and prefer to stay away from the big crowds.  That being said, the idea of being able to dance, even if just to impress a woman, has been floating in the back of my mind for some time now.  All the ladies I work with tell me one sure way to a woman’s heart is through dancing.  OK, well, aside from slow dancing, which I think anyone can do, I have absolutely no experience.  I certainly am not about to start dancing salsa and some of the other Latino based dances are nearly pornographic which I want to stay away from.  So what interests me?  As far back as the late 90’s, I have been intrigued by swing dancing.  When I was in high school, there was a bit of a swing dance revival and a lot of my friends got into it.  They didn’t join any clubs or anything like that, but it was a hit at the prom and things like that.  Of course I never got into it, but I did enjoy the music.  The other day, I heard a few of the old songs that my friends danced to and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could all go out and do that?”  Now, I can’t afford to spend any money on dance lessons, but there are plenty of beginner videos on YouTube.  I’d probably feel silly dancing around my apartment by myself, but I thought if I could at least figure out the very basics, maybe,just maybe, while I am pretending to be a different person in Spain, I could find a venue where I could actually learn and even dance with a partner.  I know, it’s crazy and it probably won’t happen, but I do know there are dance schools in Madrid.  I’m certainly not going to enroll in something if I am only there for a month, bu maybe they offer some cheap intro classes.  Who knows?  In any case, we’ll see what happens.  Granted, this goal is the most obscure and is not specifically time bound, but I want to give it a shot and see how I do.

So these are the six goals I have for the year 2015.  I think six is a good number.  Ten would have been too many, but five seems too basic.  I need to challenge myself.  I think mashing all six together will make me feel like a better person this year.  I don’t think any of them are unattainable nor are they so difficult or complicated that they will be too hard to work on daily and weekly.  I’m proud I came up with them, and now it’s time to get to work on them, although technically I don’t start until tomorrow.  All right, that’s all for now.  See you in 2015.

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~ by James on December 31, 2014.

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