So, a year in review. (Or 3 months, anyway…) Its 2015 now, and time to look back on the 52 challenges I set myself in 2014. First, let’s have another look at the list, here, and now below, in an updated form. I have commented on the challenges after each section, but suffice to say I failed the majority.
1. Put one pound away each day of the year, ten pound every week of the year, and twenty pounds every month of the year
2. Complete the 52 Week Money Challenge
3. Save all coins over £2 and under 5p for 52 weeks.
4. Pay all my debt
Not a bad start, in all respects, 2/4 is a good beginning! If I had just saved money with these goals and not repaid any of my debt, or spent any of my savings for holidays, or Christmas, then I would have around £2,500 saved up – as it is I have about half this, but, crucially have paid for a holiday, and repaid the majority of my debt. I finally threw off the curse of my overdraft around June, however quickly replaced that debt with new debt from a credit card! I have never maxed it out, but have about 600 pounds on there to pay – not bad seeing as how before Christmas it stood at over double that – thank you Christmas parties and tips! I’m not overly worried about the credit card debt seeing as its Interest free through to December – I intend to pay the majority long before then! Saving coins and the like never really happened, I meant to get one of those money pots which need a tin opener to open, but never got round to it.
So like I say, 2/4 in regards to the saving goals, not a bad start.
5. Read one book every week for 52 weeks (37/52)
Read the following: Pwned, The Villain’s Sidekick, Fool’s Assassin, The Expanse quadrilogy, Two Brothers, Star Wars: Scoundrels, The Maze Runner trilogy + prequel, The Divergent Trilogy, The Harry Potter series (Books 1-7,) Lightbringer Book 3: The Broken Eye, Now is Good, The Fault in our Stars, With the Old Breed, CHERUB: Lone Wolf, Ready Player One, The Walking Dead Volume 21 & 22, Saga Volume 3 & 4, Sex Criminals Volume 1, Manhattan Projects Vol 1, Kick Ass 3 and The Wicked and The Divine vol 1.
- Before buying any new books, Finish all of the following books that I have bought but am yet to read or finish: (0/7)
– The Nights Dawn Trilogy Books 2 and 3 – The Neutronium Alchemist and The Naked God – and the associated short story collection ‘A Second Chance at Eden’ all by Peter F Hamilton
– Ancillary Justice by Ann Lecke
– The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
– The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams
– The Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erickson
7. Write a short review of each finished book.(2/52)
8. Read at least one non-fiction book a month (1/12)
9. Re-read A Song of Ice and Fire from the beginning to refresh my memory for the Winds of Winter (0/7)
10. Actually try and do NaNoWriMo this year didn’t happen
I did better than I thought in regards to #5, having read the following between January and December. I had hoped to do better, and had I stuck to shorter books, I am sure I could have met the target – however I read the books I wanted to. I have included several graphic novels below, which boost my total slightly – but these are all adult orientated, not the Beano! I probably read more books than those I have listed – these are simply the ones I can remember, and found on my bookshelves!
After #5 however, my reading goals go seriously downhill…. #6 was a complete write off, I don’t think I even picked up any of these books again – however I do intend to actually read at least one of these after finishing my current book (Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey) at which point I intend to begin Ancillary Justice. As with my film reviews (see below) #7 again never really occurred – as you can see by the measly 2 book reviews written out of a total of 37 read! I read one non-fiction book, Eugene Ledge’s ‘With the Old Breed’ (One of two memoirs on which the HBO miniseries ‘The Pacific’ was based) and began, but never finished, ‘Helmet for my Pillow,’ by Robert Leckie, the other. I never did get round to re-reading ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ and while unfortunate as I fully intend to reread them at some point –preferably before ‘Winds of Winter’ is released –they would have taken up a lot of time to read.
As for NaNoWriMo, it never happened – I always intend to begin this, but given that planning really has to be started months in advance, none of which I began. November came and went way too quickly, regardless of having a writing challenge to complete as well!
So from the books section I have completed a grand total of… 0. No challenges, leaving me with a running total of 2/10 – that number looked a lot better as 2/4, but regardless, onto section three, Video Games:
11. Complete all video games bought in 2014 (15/?)
12. Complete at least 20 of the 68 games in my Steam Library (13/20)
Completed 13 – Borderlands 2, Game Dev Tycoon, Injustice, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Mass Effect, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Saints Row IV, Civilization: Beyond Earth, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Walking Dead Season 1, Wolfenstein: The New Order, X-Com, Plague Inc
13. Finish at least 3 of the following games started in 2013 (0/3) 2/5
– GTA V
– Lego Marvel Super Heroes
– Lego Lord of the Rings
– Sonic Generations
– The Walking Dead Season 1
The one category I really didn’t think I would have any issues with, is one of the worse – I didn’t finish any of the challenges! I am not sure on how many games I truly completed that I purchased this year, but from memory I can recall 14, but I am unsure of how many I have bought that I have yet to finish or play – Far Cry 4, Lego Batman 3, Endless Legend, and Borderlands: The Pre-sequel are just a few I’m either playing or have recently purchased in the steam sale and are next in the list. Either way, I definitely haven’t completed all of the games I purchased in 2014, so that’s a fail.
I completed 13 games from my Steam Library, however some of these were bought this year, so I am unsure if I can really count them… again, another fail. Just look at my SteamCalculator results:
‘Games Owned: 98 Games unplayed: 52 (53%)’ I hope to get this number down in future, but some of these are games I got as part of the Humble bundle and have already played, such as the Arkham games, or games that I seem to have acquired from somewhere and don’t think I’ll ever play – I’m looking at you Sacred 2, The Bard’s Tale, and Eets. (Saying that, a quick google shows reasonable reviews, so maybe I will check them out!) Either way, 13 out of 20 doesn’t cut it, so another fail.
As for the games bought in 2013 and never finished, I think 2 of 3 (Lego Marvel Super Heroes, and the Walking Dead Season 1) isn’t bad – I always intended to go back and play/finish all of these, and am sure I will with at least one more on this list this year – GTA V after its PC release. Either way 2/3 is a fail.
So that brings me to a grand total of…. 2/13. Excellent so far, eh! Hopefully Films will bring me up a little further…
14. Make the most of my Cineworld unlimited card by seeing at least 30 films in the cinema this year (31/30)
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, The Inbetweeners 2, Guardians of the Galaxy x3, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Wolf of Wall Street, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Lone Survivor, Robocop, Lego Movie x2, The Monuments Men, Non Stop, Captain America: The Winter Soldier x2/3, Amazing Spiderman 2 x2, Godzilla x2, X-Men Days of Future Past x2, Edge of Tomorrow, 22 Jump Street x 2, How 2 Train Your Dragon 2, Lucy, Dracula Untold, The Maze Runner, Interstellar, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay and Transformers: Age of Extinction
- Watch 12 Non-English language films. (0/12)
- Watch 12 2014 Oscar or Bafta nominated films (8/12)
12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, Gravity, The Wolf of Wall Street, Her, Frozen, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Butler, Despicable Me 2, Before Midnight, The Book Thief, Saving Mr Banks, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, Monsters University and Rush
17. Watch at least 100 of the 600 films in my collection. (115/100)
18. Review each of these films in at least a single paragraph (16/?) Life overtook
So film, a category in which I finally have a successful challenge! #13 Use my Unlimited Card 30 times. Throughout the year, I used it 31 times, to watch 24 films. (I watched some several times. So sue me, I still used my card, so it counts :P) After challenge 13, it soon goes down hill… I didn’t watch any foreign language films, despite finding several with high acclaim, I never got round to watching them. As for Oscar/BAFTA nominated films, technically I watched 16, completing the challenge – however I only watched 8 of these in 2014, so another fail.
#17 brings another success however – just going through the new additions to my collection over the year, not the pre-existing films, and going through the reviews, I count 115 films. If I spent the time going through every film in my collection, I am sure it would be more than this, but either way – a success!
#18 on the other hand – was a failure. I could probably spend sometime now writing single paragraph reviews for the 24 films I saw at the cinema, and maybe a few lines for each of the 115 films from my collection, or that I’ve streamed from Iplayer/4OD etc – but it’s too late. I intended to write a review for every film I watched, and kind of wished I had. I have lists of my Best and Worst films of 2014, and only two of these have a full review written out (Spoiler: Her and Lone Survivor) Why did I stop? Life got in the way, basically… bit of a cop out excuse, but each review took in the region of 1-2 hours to write, plus editing (which, upon rereading, I should have spent more time on,) and ultimately other things took priority. For my top films I’ll write short paragraph recap/reviews, but that’s about it – the problem with this task was my underestimating the amount of time required – in order to review all 150 or so films I have watched this year I would have needed 2-300 hours, between 8-12 days… So yeah, that didn’t happen.
So at the end of the film section, I finally have some more successes! Two more in fact, for a grand total of *drum roll please* 4… 4 out of 18. *ahem… looks at floor* Moving on…
19. Watch the first series of the following: (2/5)
– Young Justice
– Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
– The Wire
– Hell on Wheels
20. Finish watching at least three of the following previously started TV shows: (0/3)
– Boardwalk Empire
– Eastbound and Down
– The Borgias
21. Rewatch all series and specials of ‘NuWho’ (7/7)
You would have thought that watching 78 episodes of television throughout the year is no big ask… but it would appear otherwise, judging by the lack of progress in #19. Of the 5 Television show I tasked myself to watch the first season of, I only watched Young Justice, and Rome (Incidentally both brilliant shows! Young Justice is one of the best animated shows I’ve ever watched, tied only with Avatar and Korra – all shows I discovered in 2014 but am 100% going to rewatch in the future.) Either way, #19 is a failure.
#20, Finish three of the six listed television shows I previously started and never finished, again ends in failure – even with Eastbound and Down, of which I have only 9 or so episodes to finish, I did not. I did finish Bones (All 9 seasons) however, that was the only one of the six in challenge 20. A success is found, however in #21 – rewatch all series and specials of ‘NuWho’ (Dr Who, since the 2005 relaunch) I finished watching these early this year, and watched the new series and Christmas special last year, (although only once, so not technically a rewatch…)
So at the end of the TV section, and nearly halfway through, I have progressed to a 5 out of 20 completed challenges – a 25% success rate, so not overly bad I guess? I did intend to watch all of the TV above, but got distracted watching new series, and re-watching old ones, just some of what I watched instead:
Misfits Series 1-3, Dead Like Me (Complete) Californication (Complete,) Band of Brothers/The Pacific, Justified Season 1+2, Avatar: The Last Airbender & Legend of Korra, Happy Endings Season 1-2, House Season 1-6, Stargate: Atlantis (Complete)
22. Go skiing
23. Go diving
24. Go to Amsterdam
25. Go somewhere I’ve never been in the UK
26. Go somewhere I’ve never been overseas
I’m not sure how many of these I can really count. We booked Skiing in 2014, but we’re leaving in a few weeks, at the end of January in fact, so I don’t think I can really count it. Diving was again something we talked about, but even then it was discussed into going this year, in either March or September, not last – so those we can write off.
As for #24, Amsterdam – this shouldn’t have been a problem. It was all booked, I had the time off all ready, had my euros nearly all sorted, and was all ready to go – what I wasn’t counting on was coming down with Glandular fever, which involved hot and cold sweats, no sleep, ‘The worst case of tonsillitis’ the Nurse had seen out of hospital, an ear infection, and feeling the weakest I’ve ever felt. So not nice – and crappy timing, as it was just a few days before I was due to go that I came down with the symptoms. So #24 never happened.
#25 – I am not sure if I did this or not, I know for a fact I went places I had never been in the UK, but I am unsure if they truly count, as I am sure I intended more than going to a new persons house, or a venue I hadn’t been to, and the like. I did go to HevyFest, where I had never been, and featured a zoo, so I think that may count… and as such consider it a success! #26, on the other hand definitely doesn’t count – I didn’t leave the country all year!
So the running total at the half way mark? 6/26… or 23.07% – dropping steadily!
27. Run 10 Miles a Week to make 520 Miles this year (150/520) and Run 10 Miles in a Single Run/ (0/1)
28. Swim 25 Miles this year (0/25)
29. Fix my bike/get a new bike and cycle 750 miles this year (?/750)
30. Run Tough Mudder in under 2 Hours and a Quarter
31. Do 15 Sit Ups and 15 Press Ups a night for 52 weeks (?/10920)
32. Win at least one game of Squash against Rob, Ben, and Alex (0/3)
33. Climb a 6b route clean
34. Go climbing outdoors at least three times (0/3)
Exercise… I get the feeling this is another example of a category with zero successes…. Let’s start with number 27 – Run 10 Miles a Week, to make 520 miles, and run 10 miles in a single run. I know I failed this one. I fully intended to run every week at the start of the year, however things get in the way – namely illnesses, which wrote me off for about six weeks of anything overly physical (thank you Dr’s orders!) various injuries to my ankles, and legs, and the lack of a head torch and darkness at the end of the year. Still I am pretty happy with what I managed, over the space of 43 runs, from the 11th January through to the 9th of November, I ran 43 times, a total of 133.27 miles, and a total time of 23.50.43 – nearly 24 hours running! And that is just the stats I tracked from the ZombiesRun! App (find my profile here.) This doesn’t include times not using the app, or the Obstacle courses which I ran, The Nuts Challenge in March (14k) and Tough Mudder in October (12 miles, give or take.) Counting these, and the runs which didn’t track, or are tracked on other apps, I estimate somewhere around the 150 mile mark. Nowhere near my initial target, but still not bad. I even got a pace of under 8 minutes a mile, at one point – that I was really happy with, although it didn’t track as I didn’t stop the tracker quickly enough after stopping! (8.0.2 or similar is the recorded pace… I’m counting that as under 8 minutes!) I suppose I can technically count Tough Mudder as a run off over 10 miles, but that was the only half the challenge – so a fail regardless!
The rest of the challenges in this category really do not hold up that well… I didn’t go swimming once, so #28 is a definite write off. I did fix my bike for #27 – well bought a new one for a very good price – and then used it once, before getting a puncture that I never repaired… so #27 is another failure!
#30 – Run Tough Mudder in under 2hrs 15 minutes – I think our eventual finish time was somewhere between 3 and 4 hours, we were slowed down, and unfortunately had to leave a few team members behind due to injury and lack of training. I was quite pleased with my performance however- I found it so much easier than the year before, and didn’t struggle nearly as much. Despite being shocked several times, the only real annoying thing was Alex beating me over the finish line by a hair, when I had been beating him since around the 8-9 mile mark!
#31 never happened. It started off well, but lack of space in my room, combined with varying bed times, varying sleeping places, and other factors, effectively failed this one. I think it was abandoned somewhere around March, after realizing I would never hit the initial target.
#32-4 can be summed up pretty easily as a group of failures, for one main reason – we only played squash a few times in 2014, the courts being closed for half the year for redevelopment being one of the major reasons why, everyone finding a day that we could all play on was another reason we failed. 33 and 34 failed for similar reasons, although these are completely due to our own fault – we didn’t climb at all in 2014, indoors or out!
So after the exercise category I am still looking at a total of 6 challenges complete of 34 – but in this category I don’t mind so much. I’m happy with my running progress, and whilst I’m disappointed in the lack of progress in the other challenges, after seeing the improvements running alone made to my Tough Mudder progress, I am definitely ready to start again for 2015… The fact I’m running Nuts again, and 2 Tough Mudders this year is not nearly as scary thanks to what I accomplished last year – and an unexpected bonus, I know have some targets for 2015, that I really want to beat!
35. Reach my target weight of 12 stone (6/35 pounds lost) got to 13.5, hovered between there and 14 since then
36. Go to sleep before midnight for a week straight (0/7) Didn’t happen
37. Go to the Dentist for a checkup every 6 months (0/2) Didn’t happen
Health… 35 I definitely didn’t succeed in. I lost a lot of weight – I was down to below 12 stone briefly, when I was ill, but this was soon put back on. I am pretty certain I have lost several pounds since last year, so a success in that respect – even if the challenge itself was failed. 36 and 37 I 100% failed – I know I didn’t spend an entire week sleeping before midnight – even if I did I have such disjointed sleep these days I wonder if it would have helped at all! I still need to register at a dentist as well, so 37 is again, a failure.
Health then is three for three…. Well three for three failures, keeping my total at 6/37. Let’s move onto Food and Drink!
Food and Drink
38. Go one month without each of the following
– Fizzy Drink
39. Drink no more than 1 Fizzy drink a week
40. Eat at least two pieces of fruit or veg with each meal
41. Cook one new recipe every month (0/12)
42. Eat one new food item every month (?/12)
A mixed bag here – I know I definitely went without Fizzy drink for a month, and through till at least March had only two fizzy drinks since the New Year – something I am reasonably proud on. Everything else listed in #38, I am also certain I failed. I am equally sure that after April I had more than one fizzy drink a week, particularly when working two shifts in a week at the pub! I like to think that I completed number 40, but its pretty hard to judge! I cannot be sure, so it’s a fail. As for 40, a definite failure, I don’t think I cooked anything more complex than cake or freezer food really – and as for new foods, in #42, I honestly don’t know. I am sure I tried somewhere in the region of 6-12 new things, at the very least… but without any real figure, it’s a failure… leaving me, again, with no successes… and a running total of 6/42
Happiness, Well Being and Social
43. Do not be in this job at the end of the year.
44. Find a date for the weddings (0/2)
45. Go on at least 5 dates this year (?/5)
46. Take one selfie every week, in effort to reinforce need for neat and tidy hair and beard. (9/52)
47. Go out socially with friends at least once a month
48. Go to the West End and see a show
49. Eat at Dans Le Noir
Happiness, Well being and social… an interesting name for a category, and the first in a while to have a successfully completed challenge – two in fact! But we’ll get to those… Firstly #42 – this didn’t happen, I applied for various jobs, and had an interview in March that I hoped was going somewhere –but it never happened. Hence I am sat at my desk at work, typing this up! A kind of promotion I guess, in that I moved onto office work, finding stock and dealing with purchases, not that it involved any pay rise! This is one challenge I’m definitely going to continue into this year!
#44 and #45 are somewhat linked… #44 is a definite failure, as I didn’t have a date to Rachel and Adam’s wedding, unless you count Alex. Prior to this however, I did meet a friend of a friend, who I went out with a few times. I did not have a date for Alice’s wedding either – although I did meet a young lady there who I would then go on a few dates with, ultimately leading to nothing – but bringing the number of dates to over 5, I don’t know the exact amount, but am sure it was more than this. So #44 is a failure, but 45 is a success!
#46 was well-intentioned, and in addition to enforcing the need for tidiness was intended to give me a series of pictures to edit into a time-lapse type video to show how I aged over the year. Great theory, didn’t really take into account losing my phone, how unphotogenic I am, or one crucial thing in video time lapses of that sort – taking a photo in the same position each day. Great if you have a webcam or other stationary camera… not if you’re using a phone. So a failure, both for a timelapse video thing, and as a challenge.
in #47 – even if we were only going to the pub, I am almost certain I met with my friends socially at least once a month! Maybe not all of them, and different groups – but another successful challenge, huzzah! #48 and #49 definitely didn’t happen – perhaps if more luck was had in the dating department they may of – but there’s always next year! *cue All by Myself*
We finally have a few successes! Huzzah! However they are still outweighed by failures, the running total now up to 8/49… a total that doesn’t look to increase!
Language and Skills
50. Learn to play one song in full on the guitar (0/1)
51. Learn to speak one foreign language at a conversational level using this guide (0/1)
To be honest, with the Languages and Skills challenges I ran out of free time, and ended up putting these back as other priorities took over. I was doing reasonably well with the French using an app and e-book on my phone – until it was stolen and I was left without for a few weeks, never picking it up again to continue. The learning method itself, using flashcards and the like, was very useful, and I intend to take it up again over the next week in the hope I may be able to get a basic knowledge for going to France at the end of the month! It will be interesting to see what I remember. Either way #50 and #51 are both failures, so the running total is 8/51
52. Update at least once a week with progress reports, book and movie reviews, and selfies per #7, #18, and #46 (9/52)
Updating a blog once a week is hard work. You don’t really know what you’re letting yourself in for, especially when you’re including book and film reviews. I regret not updating this nearly as much, but it changed from something I actively looked forward to writing, to a chore, and as such definitely failed. 9/52 is still one more weekly update then challenges completed – so that’s something… but still a failure.
Running total 8/52
This one didn’t quite fit, but is here in spirit:
- Write a new list of 52 in 15.15 in 15 instead – less work!
And so we get to the last item, #53… even something this simple I have stilled failed! But a lesson has been learnt… at the start of the year I set myself 53 challenges. I completed 8 of them. That’s about 15% – A pretty poor success rate. But what I have accomplished, I am happy with, and I’ve definitely learned a few lessons… Namely keeping a blog is hard work. Keeping it updated whilst simultaneously attempting 52 varying challenges is even harder, particularly when they involve writing even more – setting aside two or three hours each week shouldn’t be that big an ask, but life has a habit of getting in the way sometimes. The truth is, I bit off way more than I could chew. I’m glad that I attempted this whole thing though, even if I overwhelmingly failed. I have a new-found appreciation for all those who actually succeeded in there challenges, or the majority of them! I have realistic targets to set myself for this year, as you can see in the new list…. 15 for 15.