Since my application to join Kent Police was terminated, I have been doing a lot of thinking. For the last two-and-a-half years, my life has been in limbo as I waited (mostly in vain) for news, and hopefully a start date. For most of my waiting time, I have been working part-time, and not undertaking any commitments that could potentially be affected by the Police contacting me with the eight-weeks’ notice period they assured me I would get. Now, I’ve been freed to do whatever I want to do (or should that be, whatever I can afford to do?) as soon as I want to and also make plans for the medium and long term.
Therefore, I’ve been taking stock of where I am right now. (Before I go much further, please forgive the slightly New Age air to some of these sentences; I’m not turning into a hippie, I promise!) I’m evaluating every aspect of my existence, deciding what I’m happy with and what I’m not, and then making a plan for those areas which I feel need improving.
To start with, I am looking for a new job. I’ve been stacking shelves for three years now since I left university, and this really isn’t where I saw myself as I closed in on the age of 25. The people I work with are great, and if, when I find a new job, my new colleagues are half as nice I will consider myself very lucky. However, that isn’t enough. The work is mind-numbingly repetitive, and the promotion prospects are limited and not particularly appealing. Finally, work is currently about a hundred miles away from Emma. The main criteria for any new position are: (in no particular order) better paid, better prospects, more intellectual stimulation and closer to Emma.
Secondly, I need to have a clear-up. A rolling stone gathers no moss, so goes the saying. Unfortunately, my static situation has led to me gathering a lot of moss. I have lots of paper everywhere, most of it either recyclable, reusable, or entirely unnecessary. Then I have things like half-used pens, cans of shaving foam and gadgets I’ve never employed for their intended purpose. Added to all that are piles of logo t-shirts that are a relic of my teenage and university years, many of which are half a size too small and, I feel, I am too old for. I should be wearing grown-up things like shirts. With collars! Everything needs a thorough, unsentimental and ruthless sort out. This will even extend to uninstalling applications I don’t use from my laptop, and deleting files I haven’t opened for months.
Then, I need to do more to occupy my free time. Many of my school friends are scattered around the country, and I see very little of them as a result. However, I can’t claim to see much more of those left in and around Folkestone. This really should change. I also want to be more productive outside of work. As much as I enjoy it, perhaps Football Manager isn’t the best way to spend my weekends. I’ve picked up my paintbrushes in recent weeks, and produced two paintings I’m quite proud of, and I would like to do more. At the moment, I am restricting myself to copying images downloaded from the internet (not that sort of image!) using a limited palette, but I want to expand my scope in the months and years to come. On top of that, I harbour vague dreams of writing something more relevant and less personal than the occasional blog entry. Perhaps an insightful, socially aware graphic novel would kill two birds with one stone?
I would also like to do something that I feel develops me in some way. To that end, I have signed up to a taster course in Japanese. I am considering refreshing and improving my German too, both of which are linked to another aspect of my mini-reinvention. I want to go travelling. Not in the predictable “look-at-me,-I-spent-six-months-travelling-round-Thailand,-Singapore,-Australia-and-New-Zealand-getting-drunk-with-loads-of-other-British-backpackers” way, but I genuinely want to go to another country and spend a couple of weeks, maybe longer visiting areas I’ve heard about and learning about the country as a whole: soaking up the atmosphere, doing things I wouldn’t otherwise do, seeing things I wouldn’t otherwise see and generally experiencing another culture, even if it isn’t all that far removed from my own.
Finally, combining the last two points, I want to get fitter, and stay fitter. Last October, I ran 10k for Cancer Research. I trained fairly hard for about six weeks to get fit enough to complete the course, and then, once it was over, I gave up. I found excuse after excuse. The weather wasn’t very nice; I was too tired; I had other plans. A couple of days of lax behaviour turned into a week, a week into a month, and now, ten months later, I must confess I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve been out running since I crossed the finish line.
Over the coming weeks, I will attempt to capture an impression of myself as I am now, in August 2010, so that I can clearly measure my progress over the coming months and years. These snapshots will be anything from my favourite activities, books, music and films, to aims and plans, so that I can publicly tick things off my list and perhaps obtain a greater sense of achievement from doing so.