Not the New Year’s Resolution type? Me neither. I believe that you don’t need a new year to start trying a different project or decide on a goal. Any day can be perfect for deciding to take a new road, learning a new skill and doing something extra special in your spare time. Below is a list of goals that will definitely add spice to your life and make 2015 a year to remember!
Learn martial arts
Martial arts are the best possible way to get fit, strong and become a competent fighter in one package. A martial arts club is strictly disciplined and demands complete mental and physical alertness and competence. The trainers push you to try harder and learn to accept the exertion, pain and injuries as necessary requirements to the agile, lean and flexible fighter that you seek to become. There are several martial arts clubs in Karachi, with the focus traditionally on Karate, Judo, Wushu and Taekwondo, but with newer styles like Muay Thai and MMA making fast inroads.
Learning martial arts is not for the faint of heart though, since the boot camp-like atmosphere and intensity of workouts will soon seem like torture to half-hearted practitioners. Expecting black belts in a few months with minimal injuries is not a dojo-friendly attitude!
If shouting karate instructors, fights every week and constantly sprained ankles and toes do not constitute your idea of physical training, then you can always join a gym or buy some weights to work out at home. While a gym will get you quicker results owing to the presence of a trainer and better equipment (as well as the motivation you get from seeing other gym-goers), you can get pretty good results training on your own.
Start with learning simple body weight exercises like pushups, crunches and squats (although there are many more), and then invest in a chin-up bar and pair of dumbbells to step it up a notch. Be careful not to try anything risky without proper guidance and strength level first, always work out in the presence of a partner when attempting heavy exercises and consult reliable sources (such as nutritionists, gym instructors and doctors) for advice on training technique, diet and injuries.
Applications that allow you to edit and generate images, make videos and construct 3D models are always worth learning, even if they may be difficult for beginners. While learning technical software may or may not be useful to people depending on their profession (for engineers, it’s a must-do, for doctors, not so much), learning programming is a truly rewarding pastime. Steve Jobs famously said, “I think everyone in this country should learn to program a computer. Everyone should learn a computer language because it teaches you how to think.” And for good reason too!
Learn a versatile programming language such as Java or C using any of the numerous resources available online (such as www.codeacademy.com), and put your newfound skills to use in your school projects, business and everyday routine. To-do lists, simple input-output calculators, mini-games and spreadsheets are just some of the things you can create after a quick course in programming.
Write your own story/script
Got a creative streak? Are you a wannabe filmmaker or author? Think you can bring something new to the table? Then get started on your own story or movie script. Visit online resources such as film critics’ websites and www.tvtropes.com to understand the dos and don’ts of a good and original story, and formulate your masterpiece using storyboards (graphical representations of the story, a lot like comics), background descriptions (that describe any relevant background stories in detail) and comparators (that compare the scene to similar ones from existing movies or stories). Give it a try – all Oscar-winning filmmakers began somewhere!
Make a magazine
Magazine-making is really a team effort, but is not just a great test of your creative and management skills – it is also an excellent and lasting way to spread a message or let the world know about your organisation, mission or simply your capabilities. So whether you are a university student, a high-schooler or part of a company, you will always have good reason to make a magazine. Gather a team of dedicated friends who understand the scope of this task – there is no backing out until it is done and constant communication is a must.
You will need (at a very basic level) an editor, a graphics designer and a marketing guy – someone who is responsible for scouring the city for potential sponsors for your magazine. Spread the word on social media about your magazine in order to attract contributions and sponsors, or make a website, page or blog. The initial days might see the editors having to write most of the articles themselves, the graphics people working on not just the magazine design but also the web design, promotion material and photography, and the sponsors unwilling to fork over funds for a hitherto nonexistent magazine. But make no mistake, the end result – a crisp, fresh-smelling copy of the magazine in your hands – will be more than worth it.
Read or watch a classic book/movie
You probably saw this coming, but now is the time to read or watch that classic piece of literature or cinema that you’ve always heard of, but never really got around to experience firsthand. Read any one of the masterpieces of prose such as The Brothers Karamazov, The Art of War, The Catcher in the Rye and The Count of Monte Cristo to understand on your own what makes these names stand out in the realm of literature. Or watch some of the few movies that will always be remembered as the greatest ever made, such as Citizen Kane, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, Apocalypse Now and The Godfather to find out what a classic is all about.
Keep a dictionary nearby and consult the web in order to understand any underlying motif or historical theme that you don’t understand, for there will be plenty. The important bit is to not compare these works to modern ones – perhaps their jokes will fly over your head or their suspenseful moments will seem awkwardly mild by today’s standards – but to understand and enjoy them for the works that they are.
So what do you think? How many of these are you willing to give a shot? Remember to ask for help and consult the numerous resources available online to make learning these skills easier. Hopefully you’ll have more than a few CV-friendly accomplishments to brag about by the end of this year!