Thursday 2 April 2020

April 2020: Moving the Goalposts

Hi everyone, this is my first post of 2020 (better late than never!) Hope you enjoy.

So the first post of the year is usually where I share my goals for the year ahead, here are the ones I set at the end of last year for 2020:

  • Get a full-time job as a marketing specialist
  • Buy a house with Tom
  • Get a dog
  • Reach my target weight
  • Practice using my drawing tablet
  • Make some new pictures
  • Go to weekly Zumba sessions
  • Do strength workouts twice per week
  • Go on regular walks with Leicestershire and Rutland Walking Group (weather permitting)
  • Learn to ride a bike
  • Have a book on my bedside table at all times
  • Complete a crossword puzzle a day
  • Use the calendar on my phone instead of a paper diary

What a mockery these last few weeks have made of my plans for this year (and I’m sure that’s a feeling shared by many!) The current situation with COVID-19 in the UK has changed everything and I’ve had to have a major rethink of what is now realistic for me to achieve in 2020.

I reached the first goal in February when I succeeded in securing a new job as a Marketing Coordinator at Mattioli Woods, a financial services company in Leicester city centre. I was so proud and pleased to have taken the next step in my career, and to have achieved one of my major life goals so early in the year.

Well, things didn’t turn out as planned, sadly. I started my new job just as the Corona virus situation was getting serious, and in the end only worked there for four days before being let go. Being a job seeker in the present situation is disheartening enough, knowing that it will probably be some time before I can find work again as many companies have postponed hiring until life returns to something approaching normality. It also has a knock-on effect for our other goals of buying a house and getting a dog, which likely won’t happen this year. However, I’m determined to use my newly available time productively by working on personal projects and improving my skills.

One exciting development is that the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) have decided to allow Associate members like myself to work towards and eventually achieve Chartered Marketer status – something that previously only Members and Fellows could do. To achieve this, I will need to record and submit evidence that I have completed the requisite amount of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for two consecutive years and then successfully pass an online assessment. I’ve already started logging my CPD and will complete my first year at the end of October this year. Becoming a Chartered Marketer is one of my big long-term goals, so the prospect of being able to achieve that much sooner than I thought I would is very cheering.

Once I found out I was out of a job, I made a veritable laundry list of things I would like to learn and do, including renewing my skills in Adobe Illustrator and InDesign software, studying HTML, CSS and JavaScript, and learning more about Google Analytics, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC). I would also like to undertake a couple of projects: one selling products online (to put my SEM, SEO and PPC learning into practice) and another building a website from scratch (to test my HTML, CSS and JavaScript knowledge). The product-selling project will have a creative aspect, as I’m thinking it would be fun to design some new cards, postcards and prints to offer, which I can use my new tablet to create so I’ll get practice using that too. These kinds of products should also be ideal as they can be sent via post without needing to visit the Post Office (limiting unnecessary human contact).

I do have fun things planned too, such as reading books, doing crossword puzzles, watching films, cooking and baking. I’ll also have more free time to practice self-care: lots of pedicures, face masks and long relaxing baths! I’d like to get the house a bit cleaner and tidier, and have found that migrating from a paper diary to the calendar on my phone has helped me organise myself more effectively.

My health continues to be one of my big priorities, and with all this free time on my hands I’ve been able to really step up my exercise regimen. Earlier this year I started attending a Zumba class each week. Obviously, those had to cease once the lockdown started, but our instructor is a real trooper and has sorted out virtual dance classes several times a week that we can stream live to our living room. So I’ve started doing classes three times a week: Tuesday Clubbercise, Thursday Zumba and Saturday Move2Muscials. It’s a form of exercising I really enjoy – very energetic and even more fun than dancing in a club! The other weekdays (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) I do some weightlifting and a 30-60 minute jog. Sunday, of course, is the day of rest, with just a gentle walk outside in the fresh air. I’m already starting to see improvements to my stamina and muscle tone; I also find that keeping active gives my days structure and lifts my spirits.

Once the weather is nice, I can head out to nearby Watermead Country Park with Tom and hopefully start learning to ride a bike. I think this would make my cardio even more fun as I’d be able to cover longer distances and explore further afield during my daily exercise. Walks with Leicestershire and Rutland Walking Group (our local Ramblers club) have sadly all been cancelled for the foreseeable, which is a shame because I’d been looking forward to enjoying some long walks now that the weather has improved.

Still on the subject of health but focusing on weight loss, I decided to not continue my journey with Slimming World. Despite some early success I found that my weight plateaued, and I couldn’t seem to make any further progress by following that programme. So I decided to try calorie counting using MyFitnessPal, and have been very pleased with the results so far. I managed to lose around half a stone, though I put a few pounds back on when I lost my job and did some ‘oh screw it’ eating (read: pizza, fish and chips and plenty of chocolate). I think such a reaction is understandable in the circumstances! I’m now getting back on an even keel emotionally and mentally so have got my head back in the game and have been on track for a week and a half. I’m taking the advice of a slimming group called Team RH who recommend taking your weight each day and then working out a weekly average as a more accurate way of measuring fat loss, so I still have yet to see if my efforts are bearing fruit. The most important part is that I feel much more energetic, motivated and happier in myself when I am eating well.

Some other nice news is that Tom succeeded in passing his driving text in February; it’s been lovely having someone to share driving duties with (and he’s been very generous offering me lifts and being designated driver if we’re out having drinks!) We won’t be taking that trip up to Scotland to visit my brother and his family that we were looking forward to, but hopefully we’ll be able to go later this year.

So that’s how we’ve been getting on, amazing how much can change in the space of a few weeks! Looking forward to the rest of this year, it looks like career and house/pet ownership goals are on hold for now but achievements for creativity, health and new skills are within reach and seem promising. Either way, I’m determined not to take this setback too hard and carry on working on my personal development. We’re in a much more fortunate position than many and I want to make the wisest use of this gift of time I unexpectedly have.

Thanks for reading everyone, hopefully my next missive will be delivered in more cheerful times! Wishing you all the very best and hoping that we all make it through these challenging circumstances together as best we can.