Summer Update #3

Summer is finally over. The weather is turning, kids are heading back to school, and I’m going to be back off to uni in a week.

For a final summer update, I’m going to reflect on what I had intended to achieve at the start of summer, and compare those goals to where I am now, and what I’m planning for the future.

Driving Lessons

One of my main goals this summer was to pass my driving test. After I failed my theory test the first time around, I managed to pass it easily the second time – all that’s left to do now is take my practical test this Thursday!

I feel as though my confidence with driving has increased by a huge amount. I used to be incredibly nervous every time I had a driving lesson, however recently I’ve actually started to enjoy it. All it required was putting myself in a variety of driving situations over and over again, and getting more experience behind the wheel.

Freelance Work 

My original aim was to make money over summer by learning web design, and reaching out to clients who needed websites building.

However, I realised that designing a website would require much more knowledge than just a basic grasp of CSS and HTML, and I started to look for other ways of making money.

After plenty of research, I am now offering my skills managing people’s Google AdWords campaigns, as well as consulting clients with regards to their Google Analytics and SEO.

I landed my second job yesterday optimising a client’s website so that it was more SEO-friendly, and I think that with positive referrals from clients it will be much easier for me to land clients in the future.

I actually feel like I’m helping people so much more than I was when I was freelancing doing simple office tasks online like transcription before I settled on AdWords, etc.

Hopefully as my skills grow, so will my online business, and I will be able to support myself this way throughout the next year of university.

Master’s Degree

I am moving to a new city next week to start my Audio Engineering Master’s course. It’s incredibly exciting (and, at the same time, nerve-wracking), but I am really looking forward to learning about something I am passionate about and looking towards the future to see where I will end up a year from now.

Exercise 

In my last update, I said I had been keeping a regular exercise schedule, and this month has been no exception. I have been exercising every day (apart from when I literally couldn’t fit in a workout), and I have been increasing my sets/reps when doing kettlebell and bodyweight workouts.

I am seeing more improvements in my overall strength and stamina, and when I miss a workout I feel bad that I don’t get a chance to move about my body and be active that day.

In the new house I am going to implement a room specifically for doing work, as well as doing exercise and meditation. I think having a dedicated space free from distractions is key.

Anyways, that’s all for this month (and the whole summer!). Overall, I think the summer has been a lot more successful than I anticipated. I have found a decent way to make money without getting a full-time job (especially essential when I have a master’s to focus on), I have pursued creative interests (DJing, piano), and I have done some travelling!

Have you achieved anything big this summer? I’d love to hear it below in the comments!

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Summer Update #2

One month down. 2 to go. Here’s the list of things I achieved in July, and what I’m hoping to achieve in August.

DJ Desk

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One of the coolest projects I’ve completed in a long time. I’ve wanted a specific place to listen to music, store all my records and DJ at for ages now, but moving around every year at university meant that it was really hard to set up something permanent.

Originally following Scott Donovan’s guide, I had to make a few adjustments (the main one being that IKEA don’t sell the brackets shown in that link anymore), however I think the desk is sturdy and completely adequate for DJing at. It’s worked out very successfully, if I do say so myself.

Web Design

My original plan at the start of summer was to learn HTML and CSS (check) and a bit about web design (check) and then start looking for clients to design for (… the hard part).

I feel like I’ve successfully learned all the theory of web design, however actually putting it into practice is proving to be quite a challenge. There is so much more to learn, and so many better people out there with years of experience, that I’d feel bad charging someone for a basic website, especially when I’ve only been doing this for a month.

I realised that I really wasn’t looking to become a professional web designer, in reality I was just looking to make a bit of money over summer. So instead I’m going to look into something a bit simpler. Perhaps social media management for people, search engine optimisation (SEO) or anything else I can think of. Hopefully I’ll have some success to report on in the next update!

Driving Lessons

These are actually going really well. I’m 4 lessons in (each lesson is 2 hours long) and I have 3 lessons lined up over the next week.

failed my theory test by 1 mark (!!!), but I am resitting that on Thursday and I should ace it without any problems.

My current aim is to have my practical test passed before the end of September.

Exercise

In the last update, I wanted to keep up a regular exercise schedule. Once I realised the positive benefits of daily exercise, I made a conscious effort to do some form of exercise every day. I have been completing a bodyweight fitness routine daily, and I am already noticing great results a month in.

My goals for this month are to look more into diet, and figure out what it is best for me to eat in order to ensure I am getting to correct amount of calories and nutrients. This is something I especially need to pay attention to as I am on a vegetarian diet.

DJing and Music

I haven’t landed any gigs back home, but I have recorded a new DJ mix, which I think is one of my best.

There are a few bars in town which I have reached out to, but have not heard anything back from. So this week I am going to get back in touch with them and see if they are still interested.

Additional Hobbies and Goals

  • I have been playing piano pretty much every day, and I am noticing an improvement in my skills
  • I am going on holiday to Portugal towards the end of this month, which should be fun
  • I am preparing my move to a new city for my Masters in Audio Engineering, which is incredibly exciting

That’s all for my month! Are there any goals that you managed to achieve or have planned to achieve this summer? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

 

 

Summer Update #1

Summer is here, which means I have copious amounts of time to spend on personal projects. Without further ado, here’s a list of everything I’m trying to achieve this summer!

Web Design

With the help of YouTube tutorials, websites and e-books, I am trying my hand at learning HTML and CSS so that I can become a competent web designer. I already have experience with C++ from my third-year engineering project, and HTML and CSS are much simpler than C++, so I am picking up the languages quite easily.

My eventual aim is to become good enough so that I can start designing websites for friends, family and local businesses, in order to make some money over summer, and gain some experience in working for myself. Hopefully this will lead to me being able to reach out to better-paying clients as time goes on, but before that is the case, I need to build up my skills!

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One of my first websites!

Above is a picture of a simple website I designed today. It’s heavily based on a YouTube tutorial I followed, however as I learn more skills I will be able to make more impressive, custom websites.

Driving Lessons

I had a number of driving lessons before I went to university, however I did not gain enough experience to pass my test before then.

This summer, I am determined to pass my driving test. I have booked my theory test and I am doing plenty of practice tests, and I am in contact with a driving instructor so lessons should begin soon! As soon as I have passed my test I won’t have to worry about it when doing my masters or any other time in the future.

Exercise

One habit I felt was slipping towards the end of last term was keeping a regular exercise schedule. I am not a member of any gym and I don’t do any sport, so it is entirely up to me to find ways of keeping my body active.

Two daily habits I have implemented are:

  • Walking my dog
  • 20-minute bodyweight workout
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The most adorable form of exercise

Walking Lola every day means I get to listen to a podcast, which is something I rarely do at home because normally I listen to podcasts when on the bus to/from university, and bodyweight exercise every day means that I am improving my strength and stamina.

DJing and Music

By some rather nice circumstances, I have found myself setting up and maintaining  the Twitter for a local record store which is currently undergoing rejuvenation. I have always had the dream of working in a record store, so to be able to be involved with the revitalising of a fantastic old record store is proving to be very interesting.

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Halfway there!

I am also building a DJ desk so that I have somewhere more attractive to mix my records. The desk is about halfway done, the final steps include sourcing some brackets so that a shelf can be attached above the decks for my laptop (for control vinyl) and speakers.

Additional Hobbies

There are several habits which were too small to require their own section. These include:

  • Playing piano – The piano has been moved into my bedroom, so I am playing it much more often than I did when it was downstairs
  • Meeting up with friends – Although most of my uni friends live the other side of the country, I am still making a conscious effort to meet up with friends back home so that I am socialising regularly and speaking to people
  • Podcast – My music-based podcast has been put on the back burner for the time being while I focus on more pressing issues such as learning HTML/CSS and driving lessons, but I hope to continue working on it soon
  • Rubik’s cube – My brother has one of these in his bedroom, and I am hoping I can learn how to solve it before the end of summer

So that’s my summer in a nutshell (along with a few holidays and graduating). Do you have anything interesting you’re planning over the summer months? Let me know in the comments below!

Tom’s Travels: Spa Day In Ulverston

Since this is a travel blog, and I’m finally starting to do some travelling now that exams are out they way, I thought I’d write a quick post about my latest little trip.

As a graduation present, my mum booked my girlfriend and I into the Whitewater Hotel in Ulverston for a night. While there we explored the local scenery (even if it was in the middle of nowhere), ate some delicious food, and gave ourselves time for some much-needed relaxation.

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Continue reading “Tom’s Travels: Spa Day In Ulverston”

Overcoming Resistance To Work

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Now that exams are over, I am once again faced with a whole summer in which there is nothing I actually need to do. Already this has been causing a restless, nagging feeling in the back of my mind – a desire to do something big. Something to be proud of.

So I come up with a list of things I want to achieve, tell myself that I’m going to work on at least one of them over the next few days, and when the day comes… I do absolutely nothing.

What’s the issue here? It seems to boil down to the honest fact that:

“I just don’t feel like it”

This mindset is a dangerous one, and it alters my life in several ways, including:

  • Staying in bed all morning rather than waking up early
  • Eating unhealthy, sugary foods instead of healthy ones
  • Sitting in front of my laptop all day instead of being active and exercising
  • Watching pointless YouTube videos instead of doing something productive

When you don’t have anything stopping you from doing these things, they can very easily become habits, and even though we know these things are bad for us, we still end up falling into a vicious cycle.

Continue reading “Overcoming Resistance To Work”

Take One Last Look

I have been living in the small town of Lancaster, England for the past 3 years while I have been at university. At the end of June I will be leaving, so it’s time to sit back, get sentimental, listen to a Tom Waits song and look at photos of some of my favourite things about Lancaster.

I would never have explored the outskirts of Lancaster without my bike. Here are just a few places I discovered while cycling around trying to find somewhere new:

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The path along the canal that leads to university, filled with lovely views, dog walkers and plenty of sheep most mornings. Usually quicker than taking the bus too on days when traffic is bad!

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Another view of the canal path leading to uni

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The result of a cycle down a road I’d never explored before. Flood plains and some very nice views, including this one of the whole of Lancaster, allowing you to see its most famous landmarks from afar.

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A reservoir at Abbeystead, about a 50 minute cycle away. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a nice cycle on a sunny day. I ended up here after a quest to take a very similar picture to one used by a lecturer at the start of a lecture, took a while to find out exactly where it was, but it was well worth it.

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A picture of the path leading up to the reservoir. Absolutely no-one around that day.

Now on to places which don’t require a bike to get to. Above are pictures of the fantastic view from Williamson Park/Ashton Memorial. A must-visit for anyone who finds themselves in Lancaster, even just for the day.

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The view from the 2A bus route on a sunny day always cheered me up. Even if it did take twice as long as a 3 to get into town…

More pictures by the canal, closer to town this time. The canal runs right through the centre of Lancaster, so it’s very handy for getting around.

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Sunset photo from by the castle. Some of the nicest sunsets I’ve ever seen have been during my time at Lancaster.

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The only indoor shot of this post, but it definitely deserves to be here. The Hall is one of my favourite cafes in all of England, and well worth going out of your way to find if you’re visiting Lancaster.

Campus ducks, standard.

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A view of campus taken during my first few weeks at Lancaster.

And that’s it, a brief overview of what I’ve done with my time at Lancaster (apart from a degree) and some of the prettiest place you can find here, you just have to look hard enough.

The Power of Habits

I read a lot of self-improvement, travel and finance blogs, and there’s a major topic that comes up in nearly every post, no matter the content.

It’s HABITS.

The act of setting goals and sticking to those goals. Not getting distracted and moving onto some new diet, workout routine, or to-do list app the moment you get bored.

I think the problem is people feel the need to find the perfect habit before they actually decide to stick to it. I know I’ve been guilty of this, searching around and reading endlessly about habits without actually implementing anything new in my life.

A good habit will change your personality for the better, so don’t expect that your current personality will be too thrilled about waking up at 7am, or getting cold showers, or anything else which takes you out of your comfort zone.

Also, don’t expect results to be immediate. Habits worth keeping will take time to cultivate. Especially things like exercise, meditation and quitting caffeine – these are habits where you’ll notice more results if you stop doing them. They cause subtle changes that most people don’t even realise they need in their lives – which is perhaps why they’re so neglected by lots of people.

Human beings are hard-wired to respond to immediate results, which makes sense when you’re a caveman trying to get food as quickly as possible. But in this age of smartphone distractions and constant sitting, we need to exercise our minds and bodies more than ever.

In my previous (mostly half-arsed) blog, I tried out a number of habits (no coffee for a week, a week of cold showers etc), but rarely did I stick to any of them. This blog is more focused on long-term goals and habits, since I’ve done quite a bit of experimentation these past few years and finally discovered the habits that work for me.

After university I would very much like to work for myself, so I need to put these habits in place beforehand so that I’m not constantly getting distracted and out of routine when I could be a much better version of myself.

What if you keep seeing no results every time you pick up a new habit? Here are some tips:

  • One week is quite a short time to notice improvement for any habit. If the end of the first week comes, tell yourself to try just one more week. If you don’t notice improvements by week 2, then start researching alternatives.
  • Read online forums, blogs and follow Facebook groups focused on your new habits. The more you surround yourself with like-minded people, the quicker you’ll pick up tips regarding your habits and the more motivated you’ll be to keep going with them.
  • Research common pitfalls for newcomers regarding your chosen habits. Perhaps there is something you’re not doing correctly that’s making the habit seem a lot trickier than it needs to be.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be open to change – if you’ve been sticking with a certain exercise program for 3 months and it’s causing you problems and not showing results, move on. Life is a constant process of refinement, you will never reach a point where you no longer have to adapt. With this refinement also comes constant improvement, but you have to be open to change in order for it to happen.

(Image source: https://www.lifefitness.co.uk/sites/g/files/dtv351/f/life-fitness/commercial/cardio/elevation-series/gym-Munich-feat-Elevation-Series-Treadmills-in-DiamondWhite-L.jpg)