Today is Day Zero. It’s October 28th 2017 and I’ve woken up one day older than when I went to bed. It’s also now 29 years to the day that I entered the world and so, if #project20nine is going to get off to its right and proper start, it’s time to get down to business.
Say hello to…
Twenty-nine goals is a lot. Even across the year that averages one for every 12.55 days, supposing that they can be completed in that time. The approach I took when considering what these goals might look like was to define a handful of categories that, when taken together, might look like a fuller representation of life.
As such, those categories are:
- Physical [health, exercise, nutrition, physical skills]
- Experiential/ Pleasure [the simple joy of doing something new/novel i.e. the things that I’d want to do for the thrill of it]
- Financial [money driven; job/career related]
- Developmental [the things that can better help push/challenge/encourage a broader perspective and self-awareness; outward appearance]
- Educational [general learning/self-study, qualifications, languages, certificates]
- Emotional/Spiritual [mindset; emotional well-being and satisfaction]
I chose to omit specifically categorising things like Love & Relationships [family and friends], Character, Public Service/Charity, Artistic and Quality of Life as these are things that flow through all of the above as well as remain consistent considerations irrespective of goal-setting. Most will be observable in one, or more, of the goals outlined below in any case.
Our bodies are a gift and, treated well, they’re a gift that will keep on giving. It can be so, so easy to take the for granted or be afraid to putting in the hard work to make them even stronger. It is a zero-sum game: if we work hard for our bodies, our bodies will work hard for us.
|1||Squat 2x bodyweight, bench 1.5x bodyweight and and deadlift 2x bodyweight||Video evidence.|
|2||Complete a series of sporting events:||The medal for each event.|
|Tough Mudder [April]|
|Survival of the Fittest [June, London]|
|Red Bull 400|
|Nordic Run [September]|
|Colour Run [June, London]|
|Spartan Race [May]|
|Bonus: 7th race in another country|
|3||Experience a flotation tank||Vlog.|
|4||Have regular, i.e. monthly or more, deep tissue massages||Vlog.|
|5||Go for a manicure and/or pedicure.||Photo evidence.|
|6||Reach 90kg with 8% body fat||Photo evidence. Digital body analysis.|
|7||Remove the subway from the equation: use underground public transport only when absolutely necessary||Monthly Oyster Card report.|
|8||Be able to hold a 20 second handstand.||Video evidence.|
|9||Master the muscle up.||Video evidence. Fluid movement from the hang the to press. 5 or more reps to qualify.|
|10||Have full blood work analysis done for:
The Blood Work
To begin, I want to know what exactly is going on inside me at a cellular level and my baseline questions are: What are my testosterone levels looking like and how can I use a reading of them to push them higher? And, does my cholesterol sit at the lower end of the spectrum, and if not, how can I get it there and how quickly can I do it? For health in general, but particularly for male health, these two are key. There are a number of additional readings that can be taken from blood tests (FBC, blood sugar, electrolytes etc.) that will likely also be explored.
Lifting double (and 1.5x for the bench press) one’s bodyweight is not particularly unusual or attention-grabbing, and I don’t desire being able to do so for social credits or bragging rights. It’s generally considered above average, but if I was looking for that kind of attention, I’d be shooting for a much larger ratio than this. For me, the ability to squat, press and deadlift these weights is a realistic, targeted and practical ambition. For one, developing that strength will be a safety net: I will be better protected, and better able to protect myself, should I fall. It will also make daily functionality that much easier and efficient. Training with goals is also a form of meditation for me. I feel good when I see progress and in terms of bang for buck the overall benefits of becoming stronger at these compound exercises has many practical applications. Not least of which includes helping me more quickly work towards the muscle up and handstand, and all of the other awesome calisthenics exercises. Both of these abilities are supremely impressive and both indicate a genuine mastery of one’s bodyweight which, in turn, offers further, significant functionality. Even though I’ve listed the muscle up as an achievement already, I want to master it. Simply getting above the bar was one of last year’s goals. It wasn’t a pretty sight. In fact, I’m pretty sure I caught a couple of people recoiling at it. But heck, I got up there!
The desire to reach 90kg bodyweight at 8% body fat is on here because I’m an ectomorph and historically putting on lean mass (any kind of mass, really) has proven very slow and difficult for me. This goal is 10kg above my current weight and about 4-5% below my body fat today. This goal is here to force me to train differently and to push me further outside my comfort zone. It’s also a bit of an experiment for me in terms of exploring perceptions of masculinity and physicality, especially in an age where physical aesthetics amongst all of us who are not elite athletes appears to be so much more of a concern.
The Sporting Events
Running sporting events such as those listed above is a little bit of an antidote to my desk-bound lifestyle at present. Typically, my day jobs keeps me sat at a desk, over a computer, for 8-9 hours a day so whilst these endurance, obstacle races may seem like an extreme antithesis to this, I enjoy the challenge and thrill of pushing myself in as many ways as possible. More curious is the number of races I’ve outlined for the year and the reason for this is simple: the value of consistency. Training for a single event that will occur on one day of one year is reductive. I want to establish a new, higher baseline for my fitness and so signing up for multiple events that are regularly spaced out throughout the year will provide great motivation to keep working hard. It’s also a socially and financially incentivised decision. If I don’t train well or fail to attend and give it a shot, not only will it be public knowledge I’ll have also wasted the entry fees.
- Tough Mudder [April]
- Survival of the Fittest [June, London]
- Red Bull 400
- Nordic Run [September]**
- Colour Run [June, London]
- Spartan Race [May]
**subject to availabilty
I’ve set myself a number of physically demanding challenges but I’m a great believer in balance and so to offset the physical stresses are a number of recovery/rebalance items. Sensory deprivation has been an interest of mine for some time but I’ve yet to experience the flotation tank. Likewise, the effects regular deep tissue massage has never been in dispute and, in keeping with the outlined approach to training, would be hugely beneficial to my goals.
Removing the Subway from the Equation
Currently I still live in London and the air up here, it ain’t fine. As a cyclist I tend to avoid public transport in general, but sometimes I’ll whip on the tube if it’s more convenient, if I have a class to attend/teach and/or the airport to get to. Of all the times that I might resort to using the London Underground, I expect only about 75% of that time is truly essential. A small goal for this year to is to bring that figure up to 100%. I only want to use the tube, which is not only filled with polluted air but super expensive for the pleasure of breathing it in, when absolutely necessary.
Life is for living and even though all twenty-nine goals are personal, a lot of them are result driven. That’s all well and good, but simply joys and the fun stuff (however we want to define these terms) should feature in all of our lives. The items below are here for their visceral thrill as well as to provide me with opportunities to test my mettle and understand how I might respond to new and potentially (to me at least) scary situations. They’re also, absolutely, about the simple joy of just going for it.
|11||Write a new song and record it||An audio upload.|
|12||Drive a Mustang||Photos/vlog.|
|13||Fly a plane||Photos/vlog.|
|14||Fire a handgun||Photos/vlog.|
|15||Get professional headshots done, submit to an agent and get an audition for a film or TV drama||The photos and a vlog.|
|16||Eat in a Michelin-starred restaurant||Photo|
The last song I recorded sounds like this: It’s just been a few years since I sat down and put the time into this channel of creativity. This year I’d like that to change. I love making music but somehow, and somewhere along the line, it became less of a priority.
Flying and Driving and Skydiving
Let’s not dwell on the why’s and wherefores just yet, suffice to ask: how can flying, driving and gliding through the sky be anything other than thrilling?
Firing off a Round
…specifically from a handgun. Firing handguns, or any firearms in fact, in the UK is not a common experience. We don’t have firing ranges in abundance and owning and using personal firearms is a long, long series of bureaucracy and assessment. I don’t contest this for a second and wholly support it – I would feel very uncomfortably should this ever change. However, it does make the idea of handing a handgun that much more novel and appealing, especially for someone who grew up making his sister play Cowboys and Indians with him.
Headshots and Auditions
I’m a cineaste through and through and would love to try my hand at acting for the screen. I live in one of the most opportune places to do just that and all I need is a picture and bit of wherewithal to at least be in the race. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? But to be clear, I’m not in this for anything other than the experience of stepping behind the curtain.
Another joy of being in a city like London is the access to world-class dining. Sure, there is a smorgasbord of countries on another of my lists I’d love to have more dining experiences in but there is a lot on offer in London too: Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, Brett Graham at The Ledbury, Dinner By Heston… There is also a lot going on outside of the city too.
|18||Reinvent my image||Before and after photos|
|19||Read 2 books per month (and put together a reading list)||Brief account/overview/discussion of the books in the blog|
|20||Take a photo of life everyday||Digital record: Instagram a/c|
|21||Take a self-portrait everyday||Digital record: Instagram a/c|
|22||Take a camera everywhere||The above evidence|
Our image, our outward appearance, is intrinsic to our identity. I definitely feel that I’ve not put as much effort into my image as I once did. With the exception of being focussed on my health and the inevitable effects on my body physically, my wardrobe, hair, shoes etc. have grown tired and neglected. This is undoubtedly the most superficial item on the list, but how we appear is a reflection of how we feel, our sense of identity and our personality. In the coming year it is my intention to sharped up, and have fun doing it.
As part of the emphasis on self-development I mentioned above, reading books is a cornerstone of this ideology. I’ve loved books and loved reading forever so putting this into the project might seem a little wasteful of any entry, but there’s a reason for it. Lately, I just haven’t been doing a whole lot of reading because time is being used up on a lot of other things in the day. I wonder if I can take a leaf out of someone else’s book. I’m fascinated by the influencers (Tai Lopez, here’s looking at you) who claim to read a book a day/ every other day etc. because to me and, I suspect, anyone with their foot in reality, doing so seems infeasible, unenjoyable and, frankly, illogical. Think about it. If I’m reading a book a day, there’s only a few things that can mean:
- I don’t have anything else to do in the day (Even at a page every 30 seconds, which is roughly double the average speed of 200-314 words per minute, a 300-page novel will take 2.5 hours. Which isn’t so long, until we factor in the rest of our average-person’s day: sleep for 7.5 hours, wash, cook and eat for two hours, work for 8 hours, gym for another 1.5 hours, socialise/evening class/play with kids/walk the dog etc. for 2 more, travel and commute for the other 2. That’s 24 hours for most of us. Maybe the commute and lunch breaks will afford those 2.5 hours of intense reading time, but then again maybe not.)
- The books I’m reading are either novellas of about 100 pages, or kid’s books,
- I’m turning the pages but not really engaging with, or savouring, the content or, if I am, I’m not really retaining it,
- I’m using book summaries/book overviews, and mistakenly calling it ‘reading a book’, or listening to audiobooks in the background,
- I’m not being entirely honest because I want to look cool/sell a product
Of course, that’s a pretty cynical way to look at it, especially given how I’ve not yet tried to read a book a day for any prolonged period of time. It may well be completely possible for an average Joe such as myself. So, 2 books a month is a book a fortnight. For the first month this is my first step. If at the end of that month I’m two books down and feeling like I can push it further, I’ll recalibrate and go for 3 in the following month, 4 the following and so on. At that rate, by the end of the year I should be flipping through a book every other day, or more accurately, 13 books a month! The only rule: the reading experience must always be enjoyable.
The photography element of this section is twofold. It will mean that I can visually document the year and record the changes that occur to my body over 364 days of aging. Coupled with this a catalogue of every day images and I’ll have a pretty well-rounded image of the year. Plus, I think this will be a lot of fun. I’ve never subjected myself to this kind of thorough examination. Looking in the mirror briefly each day reminds me that I’ve not changed a single bit in the last 10 years, but every new passport photo and driver’s license reissue abruptly tells me otherwise.
|23||Attain a L4 Diploma in Pre & Ante-natal Exercise||The certificate|
|24||Apply for funding for NFTS Diploma in Script Development||Notice of application|
|25||Learn 10 Lithuanian words per day||Weekly examination results/vlog|
I’m a complete advocate for learning. This isn’t just an advocacy for qualifications, because we learn by doing, talking, reading irrespective of whether we get to sit an exam somewhere down the line to prove we learned something. However, in this instance goals 23-25 are qualifications that, regarding #23 and #25, do not require much time and #24 is intrinsically tied to my current, primary career focus. The Level 4 diploma is, effectively, building my skillset and evidence of it for any prospective employer/client, whilst the Celta qualification will help facilitate English tutoring opportunities in foreign-speaking countries. This is another experience I would very much enjoy having and also provide me with a fall back option should I be looking for work should I find myself in, say, Lithuania learning Lithuanian for a spell.
Learning 10 Lithuanian words per day is for my own benefit and as my partner, Vita, is Lithuanian, for the benefit of my Lithuanian family and friends too. I want to be able to talk with them in their own language. Simple as that. 10 words a day is a small, attainable goal that, with consistently, will provide me with an even larger word base than I have today. In fact, 10 words a day is low-end in terms of practical quantities (Gabriel Wyner suggests 30 words as a starting point, Benny Lewis suggests 400 hours/1-2 hours a day as an alternative measure) and using an app like Anki*, where I can build my own flashcard catalogue, will make the learning convenient and involving. Learning languages is also hugely fun and rewarding. Even just swapping out mindless scrolling through Facebook and Instagram feeds for the same amount of time with a language learning app, phrasebook or study guide, will take you places. This is possibly the most exciting item on the list for me, because I know that it will deepen my relationships so much more.
*not an affiliate link, it just happens to be the app that I use.
|26||Contact a new hero/inspiration every month||Blog post about that person|
|27||Move out of London to somewhere completely new||Proof of relocation: image/video|
Heroes and Inspirations
I think reaching out to an inspiring person, whoever they are and for whatever reason, is a great thing to do and something that I want to do much more of. The last person I reached out to was Paul Katis, director of the incredible Kajaki, simply to thank him for such a powerful, respectful and remarkable film. Reaching out is not a self-serving goal. It’s not about brown-nosing or sucking up to someone in the hopes that they can do something for you. The chief aim is simply an act of gratitude: to give thanks for the effects that their work or actions have had on you.
Moving out of London is absolutely something that I now feel will be a huge benefit to me. I’ve been here for nearly 3 years but it takes a toll. Physically, spiritually, emotionally and, unquestionably, financially. London is a fantastic place. It’s full of life, opportunity, things to do and culture. Coming from a small town in England, London is the centre of the universe, and there’s no escaping just how important it is on a global scale. BUT, it’s not the only place in the world and, in terms of what I want and how I want to live, London doesn’t have longevity written all over it for me. I’m appalled and terrified of the air pollution in equal measure, feel exactly the same about the cost of living and most days find myself consciously fighting not to slip into the same, rushed and frenzied mindset of most of its population. I’ve lived it, and now want to experience life in a new place, a new country and a new culture.
|28||Generate a larger profile for TwoFit||Social media audience|
|29||Write the outline for my first book||A draft|
TwoFit is one of my proudest accomplishments and most personal endeavours of the last 12 months. As a business it reflects a significant part of my identity and also provides a platform through which likeminded people can interact with us. It is, however, still a new venture and there are many things in store for it over the next 12 months. As a place for channelling passion, it is deeply rewarding.
Writing a book, whilst at first glance would seem to belong to the Developmental/Education categories, is here to further incentivise me produce something I am proud of. There’s a book, or two, in all of us but to be able to make money from it/them…that’s another level. I owe it to myself to shoot for the stars.
For the next 364 days, those are the things that I’d like to spend my time on but…
…I also want a Plan B! Not as an alternative, as an addition if possible:
The Additional List
If it’s not already obvious, I’m a bit of a dreamer. But ask yourself this, if we don’t have our dreams, what do we have? Once I began really thinking about the size of the coming year, suddenly twenty-nine items seemed quite restricted. All things considered, the following will ideally take place throughout the coming year too. Strictly speaking these are not definitive items on the agenda but are nevertheless a handful of things I’d like to experience and/or achieve. They’re not off the team, they’re just on the bench:
- Apply for funding for a L4 qualification in Strength and Conditioning
- Build a computer
- Go for a whiskey tasting evening and/or try a new whiskey every month
- Attend a book carving class
- See a basketball game
- Go swimming twice a month
- Visit Porchester Spa
- Learn how to professionally use a chef knife
- Say no more often [yes, it’s a hard one to measure/quantify; no, I’m not going to take it off]
- Immersive Lithuanian – live in Vilnius for a month, enhance my language ability.
- Embrace digital detoxes by following a few guidelines:
- Phone out of the bedroom at night/phone on aeroplane mode if the phone is needed as an alarm
- Do not use a computer/laptop/internet device on Friday nights after work
- Do something uncomfortable every month…
- that is to say, express eustress — stress that is healthful and the stimulus for growth – on a regular basis
- Start a blog and commit to it
- Provide someone in need with a hot drink and a hot meal
- Take my partner, Vita, for a Sunday morning coffee at least once a month.
- Meditate daily
- Save £XXk
- Speed friending: find a meet up/language swap/sports class twice month
- Complete a coffee training course
So, on the edge of 29 as I peer up at 30, looming over me as it is, I make the following pledge:
I, Taylor Boxall, will live the year to the fullest, make bold decisions, do incredible, exciting and memorable things and, when it’s done, I’ll look back with joy and satisfaction, safe in the knowledge that I spent the last year of my 20’s making the most of it.
Perhaps life does begin at 30, but I’ve long suspected life starts precisely when you choose it to. Life, I’m inclined to believe, doesn’t begin at 30, it just gets bigger and better but before that, there’s a whole year to enjoy.