Looking forward to 2017

As the year has almost come to an end, and after having looked back to 2016, it’s time to plan for next year in terms of bucket list items I want to complete or make progress at. Here goes!

#91 – Complete a Coursera course
I didn’t manage to complete this one this year, but for next year it’s definitely on the list. I’ve selected my course already, got enrolled, and with the first class starting January 9th I should be able to complete this one this time. Maybe it’ll be a one time thing, maybe I like it so much I’m going to do it more often. We’ll see..

#100 – Visit at least three other countries in Europe
As a self-proclaimed traveler, I’d love to visit at least a couple of countries I didn’t visit after including this item on the list. One country has already been scheduled and booked for May, so I’ve got two more to arrange. There are a couple of easy countries left (Belgium, Luxembourg and France aren’t too far away), but I’m open to less easy ones too, of course. Again, I didn’t expect to visit Lithuania last year, so who knows what this year will bring!

#73 – Pay off 20k of our mortgage
Now that we have bought our new home and sold the existing one, it’s time to make serious work of paying off our mortgage again. Saving and dedicating 20k to mortgage payoff will not be that easy with the increased cost of living (higher mortgage, family of four instead of three), but I really don’t like being in debt and will do everything I can to make it.

#16 – See Andrea Bocelli perform live
This one should be very well doable too, especially given the fact I’ve already secured tickets. The concert’s not on until October, though, so it’ll mostly take patience, but this one IS going to happen next year.

#33 – Run at least one half marathon
With me having gotten back into semi-regular running again (finally!), and having rediscovered the joy of distance running, I’d like to schedule, run and complete another half marathon somewhere next year. At least one, that is..

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Looking back to 2016

So, again, the year’s almost over. Time has been flying! Time to see how I did this year with regards to the bucket list items I planned to complete. Again, it has been a bit of a mixed bag..

#20 – Have and raise children
To start with the biggest item of the year, by far: done! Last January, my wife gave birth to our second child, and much of this year’s time and energy has gone to raising him and his older brother. It has been an interesting and sometimes exhausting journey, but a wonderful one nonetheless.

#81 – Run a 5.59 mile
Not completed. I realized two things this year: I’m NOT a fast runner and being parent of a young child is NOT compatible with a lot of training. I’ll solve the first issue by removing this item from the list as soon as I think of a worthy alternative. I don’t find joy in running fast, and life’s too short to try and achieve things that don’t bring me joy. The second thing will solve itself, hopefully, as our children grow up and become more independent. The last couple of weeks have seen me get back into running on a somewhat regular basis, so that’s promising for next year.

#91 – Complete a Coursera course
Also not completed. Not trying to use our child as an excuse, but this just wasn’t a priority this year. I’ve done quite a bit of interesting stuff though (more on some of that later), and I actually do have a course planned that starts in January of next year, so it’s not all bad. I’ll just transfer this item to the 2017 to do list.

#100 – Visit at least two other countries in Europe
Done! I’ve managed to visit three, even. One very easy (Germany), another quite common (Spain) and one that I never expected to visit this soon at the beginning of this year (Lithuania). I’ll definitely include this item again for next year.

#73 – Pay off another 20k of the mortgage (if we don’t move)
We made the decision to move house this year. In fact, we bought a new house (with a substantially higher mortgage) and sold our existing home, so paying off our mortgage has been put on hold for this year. Again, this is something I’d like to pick up again next year, so expect this one to feature on the 2017 forecast too..

Apart from these items, I managed to complete one more this year. That’s not much in terms of item count, but it was quite a bit of work to get it done!

So, that’s it for another year. In another post I’ll take a quick look forward to next year.. For now, I wish you happy holidays and a great start to 2017!

Bring on the speed work!

Today is a good day! For the first time in what seems like eons, I’ve been able to run more than 10k consecutively and comfortably. Last Thursday I somehow wasn’t even able to run 6k without stopping (twice!), but today I did over 11k without any problem. Strange…

This means that I can finally start doing some speed work to work towards running a 5:59 mile, since I promised myself I wouldn’t start speed work until I’d reached the 10k mark without too much trouble. This to prevent injuries from doing speed work without a decent aerobic base. I’m looking forward to it! I will definitely keep the long and easy runs in my schedule as well though, I’m still a long distance runner by heart so I wouldn’t want to miss the feeling today’s run gave me for the world.

Also, I just love the feeling of being able to get out for a run on a Tuesday morning. This time it was a coincidence, I quit my previous project last week and my next one doesn’t start until tomorrow, but this is yet another reminder for me to work towards a professional career where I don’t have to trade time for money (i.e., move away from billing by the hour). I love my freedom!

Progress on other list items has been slow since we’ve got our hands full raising our two sons. I expected that though, so it’s not that bad, plus, things are definitely getting better compared to the first two-three months of this year.

More progress next time!

Long-Distance-Running

Looking forward to 2016

After having looked back on the year that’s almost behind me in my previous post, it’s time to make plans for next year.. Here’s what I want to achieve from my list in 2016. There are less items on it compared to last year, but that’s to make sure that more will be achieved. To quote one of the few truly helpful personal development books I’ve read: less but better!

#20 – Have and raise children
As we’re expecting our second child mid January, most of my time and energy will probably be dedicated towards caring for and raising him, next to taking care of his older brother and my wife, of course! This is another reason there aren’t any other truly big things planned for next year, I just don’t think I will have the time and energy for it!

#81 – Run a 5.59 mile
The only sports-related item on my planning for next year. Even though I’ll be busy with family life and work, like every year I do want to have a fitness goal to work towards. Since running and especially shorter distance running will cost me relatively little time, I think this is a very suitable goal for 2016. If all goes well I can always strive for more after this one’s ticked off..

#91 – Complete a Coursera course
Since my field of work (IT) requires me to constantly keep myself up to date and learning, a personal education item is a good fit for next year. Also, the Coursera format allows me to invest time and effort whenever I want to, so again, this will fit perfectly given my situation the coming year.

#100 – Visit at least two other countries in Europe
Even though I don’t think we’ll be traveling much this year, I do want to tick off at least two European countries from the list. Even if it’s ‘only’ Belgium and Germany, for example. They’re close to where I live, so it shouldn’t be too hard. Now to find a good reason to visit either one (or any other European country, for that matter..).

#73 – Pay off another 20k of the mortgage (if we don’t move)
Last year was very successful with regards to lowering our mortgage, and we would like to keep chipping away at it this coming year. 20k seems a very feasible amount to pay off, if we don’t move house. That’s also a (not yet very concrete) plan for the near future.. If we do move house, we’ll probably end up with a higher mortgage as we would like to move into a bigger house, so in that case we’ll have to start over again from scratch.

We’ll see what the next year brings. Have a great NYE and I hope to post a lot of progress in 2016!

2015-2016

Looking back on 2015

As the year nears its end, it’s again time for the annual end-of-year review based on my plans as presented in this post. Let’s see how I did!

Cycle to my parents’ house (#6)
Yeah.. Let’s get the most disappointing part of 2015 out of the way.. Fitness-wise, it wasn’t nearly as good a year as I hoped it would be. I did a bit of running, a bit of cycling and I also started a new sport (more on that later), but no big goals either running- or cycling-related have been met. I hope 2016 will be much better, although it won’t be easy for reasons I’ll explain when I look forward to next year.

Visit Italy (#78)
Done! We made a trip to Tuscany in June, so the first of twenty provinces of Italy has been visited. Only 19 more to go!

Visit another continent (#43)
As I predicted, this would probably be the hardest item to complete, and indeed I didn’t manage to go outside Europe. No worries though, I’m sure this will happen in a couple of years. It’s not on the list for next year, though.

Be regarded as an expert in my field (#57)
Done! Albeit in a different way than expected. I have been asked to give a course on software testing at a university here in the Netherlands, and as we speak most of the lectures have been delivered. I also published an article on a renowned international website related to the software testing field, which also generated some interesting feedback and reactions.

Run another half marathon (#33)
See the first point. I don’t think I’ve done any run longer than 10k this year, so no way I would have been able to complete a half marathon (and be even remotely happy with the outcome).

Stay active throughout the year
This item I somewhat managed to complete. I did some running, some cycling and I started pilates lessons, but I can’t say I’m terribly happy with my current fitness level. Let’s see what next year will bring…

Put another 10k payment towards our mortgage (#73)
We aced this. Starting freelancing has done wonders for our financial situation, so instead of paying off 10k, we managed to lower our mortgage by no less than 30k. This will surely come in handy if we decide to move house next year, which is a realistic option.

Pass the PLIDA B1 exam in Italian (#3)
I decided to quit studying Italian for a while, since I don’t feel I got the most out of it by only following a single 1,5 hour class a week, and I didn’t know how to motivate myself to do more studying. I’ll probably pick it up again in the future as I still love the language.

Add another five items to the list
Done as well! Even better, I added 12. This brought the list to exactly 100 items and I decided that was enough for the moment. So from then on I’m focusing on completing items rather than adding new ones, as that’s what having a bucket list is all about!

Other completed items
Apart from the items mentioned above, I managed to complete a couple more this year:

Conclusion
Bucket list-wise, the year has been so-so.. I completed a couple of items, but not as many as I’d hoped, probably because work and family life have taken up most of my time and energy. I can’t wait to see if next year will be better, but more on that in my next post, where I’ll look forward to 2016!

2015 review

A long overdue update

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted something on this blog.. Mainly because there hasn’t been too much progress to post on. And now that my list is complete – at least for the foreseeable future – I can’t give an update simply by adding something to the list. It’ll all come down to hard work towards completing the list from now on.. And as work and life have gotten in the way a bit over the past couple of months, there simply hasn’t been too much time to work on list items. But alas, there is progress to be reported!

#20 – Have and raise children
First of all, the most important one by far! We’re expecting our second child in January! So that’ll mean another new life to take care of, care for and raise as a responsible and fun adult. Although I can’t say I’m looking forward to the restless nights, I am stoked to become a father again!

#57 – Be recognized as an expert in my field
I think I can offically tick this one off in the coming week, as I’ve been asked to become a lecturer for a Dutch university. And not just to deliver a guest lecture, but to deliver a full-blown course, including lectures and a practical assignment. I’ll be doing this together with a good friend who recommended me for the course and I’m very excited (and a bit nervous) to get going this coming Tuesday!

#73 – Pay off our mortgage
As our income has increased significantly after I’ve started working as a freelancer, thanks to the booming IT market, we’ve really accelerated paying off our mortgage. Just yesterday we put another 15.000 towards the mortgage, so we’re officially under 200k now. I foresee an increase again in the future as we’re going to look for a new and somewhat larger house in the future, but living mortgage-free will remain an important goal to me. We’ll just have to work a bit harder to get there..

That’s it for now, hopefully there will be more to report in the nearby future. I promise it won’t take another two months before the next post, because at this speed I won’t get to the end of the list before I’m two hundred years old..

Visiting all countries in Europe – progress

Here is the list marking the progress of me visiting all countries in Europe. Plus an interactive map. There are a lot left to go!

Country Visited
Albania
Andorra
Armenia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Belarus
Belgium
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany August 2016
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Kazakhstan
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania October 2016
Luxembourg
Republic of Macedonia
Malta
Moldova
Monaco
Montenegro
Netherlands I live here, so yes
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Romania May 2017
Russia
San Marino
Serbia
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain November 2016
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey
Ukraine
United Kingdom
Vatican City