Gotta have goals

I don’t want to bumble along from year to year, going with the flow, not really moving in any particular direction, just drifting. I feel like I frittered away a good chunk of my 20s doing just that. Now, finally, I can see a clear path in front of me, and the distance between where I am now and where I want to be is still pretty big, but I can see the steps I need to take to get me there.

To that end, I’ve come up with a series of goals for the year that I’ve emblazoned around the edges of my wall planner for 2014. The wall planner allows me to see the whole year on one page, next to which is the calendar which shows each month, next to that is a whiteboard which I draw up each week, and next to that is my diary for the day-to-day stuff; how’s that for organisation? Seeing as we’re already into the second quarter of the year it’s about time I wrote about this. Below are my ten goals for the year, in the approximate order that they came to me.

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Do nutrition coaching course

In the (otherwise awesome) personal training course that I did in 2012 we spent all of half a day talking about nutrition. Since then I’ve completed a short diet and nutrition course by correspondence, but it still wasn’t enough. I have a brain that loves to learn, and I feel it starts to stagnate if I don’t throw new stuff at it on a regular basis.

In the pursuit of health, I believe that the way one eats is a more powerful tool than the way one exercises, and that exercise alone often isn’t enough – the nutrition has to be there as well. I also think that the way that I eat is generally excellent, but that doesn’t give me free license to push my eating habits on others. I want to back myself with science, not “Mum and Dad taught me to eat this way so it must be right”, even though they are both very switched on when it comes to nutrition, for which I am eternally grateful.

So, I’ve enrolled with Precision Nutrition, a Canadian company, to do a nutrition coaching course which is split between the science of nutrition and the art of coaching. My textbook has arrived and I’m keen to get stuck in and do some learning.

Find somewhere to live in Mot

I can tick this one off already as I’ve just moved from the wop wops of Mārahau, where I’ve been for the last year or so, to the big smoke of Motueka (population 7500). All my work is in Motueka, so it makes no sense to have to drive for half an hour to get to it, especially when I often have an hour here and an hour there with down time in between; I was starting to feel like a bit of a hobo.

Increase client base

I’m not putting much energy into this right now, as I’m waiting for a few things to happen first. But once I’m ready to take action I’m confident I’ll get the results I want.

Get a brain job – NO MORE HOSPO!

I could write an entire post on why working in hospitality sucks, but it would be an angry rant filled with bad language, which is not really my thing. Anyone who’s worked in hospitality knows how bad the conditions can be and how demeaning it is, and for someone who has loads of great skills (me) it’s particularly demoralising to not be realising my potential.

Over summer, where I fell into the hospo trap yet again, I reached my limit – I thought I’d already reached it several times, but this time I really reached it – I knew that if I didn’t leave I would break something, or someone, or internally combust. So I left. And as a result it freed up my time to pursue more meaningful work, work that inspires me rather than kills me a little bit more inside each day I do it. I’m currently in the process of securing a contract to do some research and writing for someone who’s writing a book, now that is exciting!

Save money for a house

With all the other things that are going on this year, this goal isn’t a high priority. However, I have finally joined Kiwisaver, so in a way I have started saving by doing that.

Take Christmas and New Year’s off

Over last year’s holiday period I ended up working a lot and only had about two days off in 14, which left me feeling pretty hard done by and like everyone else was having fun except me. I was stoked that my clients wanted to train right through but it occurred to me that I might need to take a break from them. This year I won’t be working in hospitality so it’ll be easier to take a decent break, from everything.

Learn about trigger points

I’m really excited about this goal. I’ve had a few massages from a friend who works with trigger points and have been amazed with the results. The basic premise is that pain is often referred from other muscles, so the place where you feel pain is not necessarily the source of the problem; you need to work backwards to find the muscle that is tight, and release the tension there. I’ve experienced this three times so far: my elbow joint hurt because a forearm muscle was tight, the inside of my knee hurt because a muscle in my inner thigh was tight, and my inner ankle hurt because my calf muscle was tight.

I’m going to write another post soon about these as I think they’re really fascinating, but for now, suffice it to say I’ve bought the trigger point manual and I intend to read it from cover to cover and to learn as much as I can about trigger points because let’s face it, being in pain sucks, and you’ll never alleviate your pain if you’re missing the point, literally.

Make knees less saggy

Yeah, yeah I can hear you all laughing, this is a very shallow and vain goal, but it’s my goal and it’s important to me, nonetheless. I don’t know if it’s from the thousands of knees I’ve thrown with my Muay Thai practice, or if it’s just another sign of aging, along with the grey hairs that I endlessly pull out with tweezers but refuse to cover with dye, but my knees are saggy and I don’t like it. My skin, in general, seems to be eternally dry, so maybe if I make a concerted effort to rehydrate it my knees will hike themselves back up too.

Ditch shampoo

There’s enough pollution all around me that I can’t control, like radiation form cell phones and Wi-Fi, without me consciously putting chemicals on my head. I want to minimise the junk in and around me, but I also want to look good too – what a calamity! On a good hair day (these occurs rarely) my hair forms loose, frizz-free ringlets that look pretty cool. On a bad hair day (these occur frequently) my hair is an unruly mess – greasy at the top, dry at the bottom, and a tangle of frizz in between.

I’m getting married in just under two years and I want to absolutely have a very good hair day on my wedding day, and I want it to be a lot longer than it is now, so about now is the time frame I need to be working at to make sure this happens. Shampoo is shit. It strips all the natural oils out of your hair so that your scalp goes into overdrive creating more, which you then strip off with more shampoo, which you then send down the drain and, eventually, out to sea. Recently I’ve experimented with a rosemary and honey mixture but it was a lot of work and the result was less than ideal. For now, I’m using this product, which works very well, but unfortunately has a long list of dubious ingredients.

Type Mum’s book

This is more of a to-do than a goal, but I am keen to get it done this winter. Mum doesn’t own a cell phone or a computer or even have an email address, so I’m her main link with technology. Her ‘book’ is a thick wad of handwritten pages held together in a ring binder, decorated with arrows and stars and crossed out sentences. It’s the story of her life, from her arrival by boat from London at the age of three, growing up in the 50s and 60s in various parts of New Zealand, deaths, births, living in grass huts in the Hokianga… I’m not born yet so I’m yet to see what she writes about me. Her writing is descriptive and often flowery, and the way she lived is so different from the way people live these days. It’ll make a great read, and we hope to publish it eventually.

Why do the goalposts keep moving?

When I was a kid I always wanted to be an architect. Well, once I realised that being a princess wasn’t an actual job anyway. I used to make Lego houses with flip-top roofs which revealed the layout of the rooms beneath. I took technical drawing as one of my optional classes at high school; I loved the precision of straight lines and perfect curves, of drawing in isometric view with vanishing points, perspective and foreshortening. Somewhere along the way technical drawing morphed into graphic design which I liked less – too much focus on the evolution of a design concept and not enough straight lines. Not clinical enough for me.

I talked to a family friend who’s an architect about what I needed to study to go down this career path. She informed me that maths and physics were integral components of architecture. But I wasn’t interested in maths or physics by then. In my last year at high school I studied English, P.E., graphics, painting, and photography – no maths or science to be seen. I had no intention of going to university after high school, I’d already been at school for 12 years and I wanted a break. When I was awarded runner-up to dux at the prize giving ceremony that I almost didn’t bother attending they announced I was taking a year off before I continued my studies. I never said that! I probably said that I couldn’t wait to be free from the institution of school and all I planned on doing was riding my bike and going to the beach, but that wouldn’t have sounded very good would it?

That’s pretty much what I did though. I relished my freedom and made the most of it. I was still living at home so I had pretty much no expenses, only my car (I learned to drive when I was 15, and have owned a vehicle ever since). In the year after I finished high school I completed a herbalism course, I did shows on the local community radio station, Fresh FM, I worked for my dad and saved enough money to go on a two month holiday to Thailand with a friend, and I attended an outdoor course at Whenua Iti – the local outdoor pursuits centre.

The next year I went to Australia with three friends and we worked and travelled our way around the eastern half of the country, it was great! Then I went back to Whenua Iti and completed a year-long outdoor course where we did almost every outdoor pursuit you could think of – sea kayaking, river kayaking, canoeing, rafting, rock climbing, caving, mountain biking, tramping… I came away from the course knowing that I wanted to work in the outdoors but not in tourism, so working for the Department of Conservation (DoC) seemed like a good avenue to go down. I started by volunteering with DoC to get some experience and to let them know I was keen. The voluntary work took me to some pretty cool places – helicopter rides to the tops of mountains to survey for threatened plant species, or into the remote wilderness of Fiordland to survey for the Fiordland crested penguin.

Eventually the volunteering paid off and I got some paid work, but it was a contract which eventually came to an end. It was around this time that it started to dawn on me that if I wanted to get anywhere in life I may need to get a better education. The people I was working with all had at least one degree, and I kept getting asked if I had one.

Within a few weeks of starting to look into it I was enrolled to study for a Bachelor of Science at the University of Otago in Dunedin. I’d been to Dunedin once before but I essentially knew no one. I chose Otago for its favourable reputation, especially in the sciences, and because I wanted to live in a university town rather than a town that also happened to have a university. I was 23 when I started uni and I’d been out of high school for five years, whereas most of my fellow first-years were fresh out of high school. I felt particularly old and out of place, but I was there to study and I was serious about it. Making friends wasn’t a priority, although I did make some really good friends, and also got my first boyfriend.

I completed my BSc in three years, took a year off, then came back for a Postgraduate Diploma in Science, took a couple of years off, then came back to write a thesis (on the topic of air pollution and climatology), and now have a Master of Science degree. During my studies I wrote two articles that have been published in academic journals, and I managed to make it all the way through university without getting a single C; As and Bs only. I should be more proud of this than I am. I’m almost embarrassed to write about it and I’m not even sure why. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel that I’ve used these qualifications to their full potential. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a 9-5 job with a salary. Maybe it’s because after five years of tertiary study where I worked bloody hard I did an about turn and decided I didn’t want to be chained to a desk for 40 hours a week and that I wanted to be a personal trainer instead.

I’m smart enough that I can do pretty much anything I put my mind to, but I’ve never committed to anything for long enough to really bring it into fruition. I can be so sure about something that I’m willing to devote all my time and energy to pursuing it, then when it’s just within my grasp I lose interest. Why am I like this? Why can’t I just choose one thing and stick with it? Is this the human condition or is it just me? Maybe it’s because I’m Pisces – a fish in water flitting from one interest to another without ever settling on anything. Maybe I’m just good at making excuses.

I’m at a stage in my life now where I’m really starting to wonder what my purpose is. I know it’s not to procreate. All I really want is just to be me. If there was a job titled ‘Being Amber’ I could do that better than anyone, but who would pay me? It’s a bit of a dilemma really; I’m not willing to do a job that’s not fulfilling just so I can have money in the bank. I do want to work, but only if I feel I’m contributing something of value and am able to really help people. Most of the time I just want to be a kept woman, a home maker. I love the idea of staying home most of the time, growing a garden, preparing delicious meals for the people I care about. But I know it won’t be enough on its own, I’ve got a brain that needs to be stimulated, I’ll be doing myself a disservice not to honour that.