I should probably stop calling these 'New Year Resolution' posts, given that the last few have been closer to the middle of the year.

Looking back on 2019

Goal 1: Japanese - Pass the N2 - Success! I took the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, N2 level at the end of 2019 (the 2 is because it's the second highest level attainable, or maybe because I can speak about as well as a 2 year old child in Japanese).

Goal 2: Read a book per month - Success. Managed to hit this with a mix of roughly half fiction and half non fiction. Managing humans has probably been the most useful and relevant in my working life, and Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive has been the best fiction I read in the last year.

Goal 3: Blog once per month - Unsuccessful. Made it roughly halfway there but didn't manage to keep up a consistent schedule. I put too much time and effort into each post and I think taking a more leisurely approach, writing when I'm in the mood and not treating every post like an essay, will help me be a bit more productive on the blogging front.

Goal 4: Make a plan to leave work and travel - Success! I got a new job in the second half of 2019 and moved to Japan in January. So not only did I make the plan, but I actually put it into action and am writing this from my apartment in Tokyo. Unfortunately COVID-19 made my plans to travel a little bit harder, to slightly understate things, but I'm optimistic that the world will eventually return to normal and I'll be able to take some trips around Japan and Asia.

The road to Japan was almost unintentional, at least it wasn't something I consciously sought out. I just took one logical step after another and ended up finding myself abroad. It started with an innocuous LinkedIn request from a recruiter asking if I was interested in working in Tokyo for Indeed.com. I usually accept invitations to phone screen because my philosophy is that I should be interviewing regularly - ideally once or twice a year - for two reasons. First, so that I keep my interviewing skills fresh; whenever I do really need a new job, I don't want to be nervous because it's the first interview I've had in 5 years. Second, the risk/reward calculation is pretty compelling. There's very little downside (a few hours of my life, at worst) and a lot of potential upside.

So I accepted the interview request, and two phone screens later found myself with an invitation to Tokyo for a day of interviewing, accompanied by flights and hotels that Indeed would pay for. I still didn't intend to take the job, but 8 hours of my life interviewing in exchange for a free 5 day trip to Japan sounded like a pretty good deal to me. That happened around August. I found myself in Tokyo a month later, drinking with another friend of mine who had himself recently moved to Japan for a Masters in Aerospace Engineering at Tokyo University being sold on how great it was to move abroad.

The interview day went great, I had good conversations with all my interviewers. I think the mark of a good interview is when it feels like it was an interesting conversation rather than an interrogation. A few days later I was looking at an offer to move to Japan, relocation expenses covered. I took a few weeks to think about it, talk to friends and get their thoughts, and ended up deciding that if I wanted to live in Japan someday, there would be no better time than the present. So, some back and forth negotiating on start dates aside, I put in my notice and left Amazon on my 4 year anniversary. After that I took three months off to spend Christmas relaxing and with family, and moved to Tokyo over the new year, taking 6 weeks off to find an apartment, sort out a bank account, and all the other tedious admin work that comes with moving abroad before finally starting my new job in February.

At no one point during or before the whole process did I ever think 'I'm going to move to Japan this year,' I just kept saying yes, and, one step at a time, here I am.

Goal 5: Keep saving - Success. In hindsight it's not a very useful goal given that even $1 saved would technically count as a success. For future years I'm going to be more specific about my saving and investing goals which means I won't be including them here. Unfortunately the state of my personal finances isn't something I'm comfortable sharing publicly right now.

Goals for 2020

Goal 1: Read 2 books per month - I think this should be achievable, as the new job is proving to be a better work/life balance than the last one, and my Japanese is getting good enough that I can overlap this goal with the next one.

Goal 2: (Japanese Studies) Pass the JLPT N1 - One final hurdle before I'm done with all the levels of formal Japanese exams. It doesn't mean I'm fluent - and in fact the exam is flawed in that it doesn't even test speaking ability at all - but it's a significant milestone. It also means I've reached the limits of what most classes and textbooks can teach in terms of Japanese, and will be relying solely on immersion from there onwards.

Goal 3: Write a blog post a month - I've done pretty badly on this goal in the last couple of years but that doesn't mean I'll give up on it.

Goal 4: Get fit - The cliche of new years resolutions, but one I want to put more time into. I've gone through ups and downs prioritising diet and health in the last few years but I'd like to get into some good habits to go along with uprooting everything else in my life this year.

Goal 5: Travel to a new place each month - Covid took this goal behind the shed and shot it, so almost certainly going to fail this one. If things return to normality in the next few months I might be able to achieve it for the portion of the year that Japan isn't in lockdown.