Roman Malanke

Thank You, Year 2010

I’m now sitting in a cozy compartment of a train which carries me through the snowy meadows and forests to the very western edge of Ukraine where in some 30 hours I’ll celebrate New Year. This is a wonderful time to take a look back and reflect on all the goodness brought by the year 2010 and, of course, to set up ambitious plans for 2011.

In all regards 2010 was an exciting year for me. On all fronts I achieved notable improvements and grew even stronger my love to the things I do, be it work, swimming, mambo dancing, or learning Spanish.

Before I jump into detailed report on how I performed against 2010 goals, I’d like to share really quickly my wild enthusiasm about my first specific steps towards becoming a minimalist. I’ve been excited about the idea of minimalism for quite a while inspired by reading the works of Dalai Lama and Mahatma Gandhi. Actually, I’m certain that minimalism was somewhere deep in my genes forever, because as long as I can remember I preferred things in lesser quantity and of better quality. In childhood, for example, I would rather get one tiny Lego set once a year than a new cheap Chinese toy every day.

Definitely the major event which was a giant leap towards my minimalistic ideals was my move to a new apartment this fall. I was incredibly lucky to rent probably one of the most wisely designed apartments in the city which despite it’s small size perfectly fitted all my stuff. While moving in I inventoried all my personal possessions including garments, shoes, tableware, tools, gadgets, books and even souvenirs like fridge magnets and pins. The total number of things I ended up with is 160 and shows that I was on this way already, maybe just unconsciously. The result of the exercise — a categorized list of possessions — allowed me to define the optimization strategy, which already allowed me to reduce the total number and proves to be helpful for making better buying decisions. In the new year I plan to lessen the number of things I own even further to fit into 100.

Now I’m going to quickly review my 2010 goals which were structured by activity and I’ll start with salsa dancing. It’s funny that during this year I understood that the dance I love so much and in which I want to develop my skills should be actually called mambo and not salsa. In fact “salsa” seems to be a commercialized umbrella term under which many people gather quite incompatible things with quite different philosophies behind them. I’m not going to get into detail here and just limit myself to telling that I’m positive that I enjoy dancing on 2 to a jazzy and mamboish music (aka salsa NY) rather than pop-influenced on 1 (aka salsa LA). In terms of the specific goals I think I achieved all of them becoming quite good, regularly attending parties and appearing on some cool pictures.

In swimming, where my goals were probably the most aggressive, I did not formally achieve my timing objectives, but the process of trying was a pure pleasure. I was able to improve 50m freestyle from 42” to 36” instead of planned 35” which is already only about 1.5 slower than the world record holder. This means that if I participated in a professional competition I would be past half the distance and well on my way back by the time the leader would reach the finish. Isn’t it an achievement for someone who by the age of 22 couldn’t swim at all?

On languages front I tried to make the best use of every available second and did the maximum possible amount of listening and reading both in English and in Spanish. What I understood very clearly during this year is that there cannot possibly be a point in time when you could say “now I finished learning this language”, instead it’s a never-ending process of continuous improvement. And I can’t find appropriate words to describe the feeling I get when listening to an authentic news program from Spain I realize that one year ago I wouldn’t make any sense of what they’re saying and now it’s crystal clear.

I hope I haven’t bored you completely by now but still I better move it to a closure by sharing with you my goals for the year 2011. This time I’m going to be super-simple (I’m now minimalist after all) and just have three bullets:

  • Buy a decent photo camera
  • Become fluent in Spanish
  • Visit Spain

For those who are interested to see what failures I hushed up in this post my complete report on 2010 goals is available at the respective section.

Well my friends, writing this post was the last item on my to-do list for 2010 so I’m now off to enjoy my mini-vacation in a good company. Or maybe I will ask my good company to be the first-eye reviewer of this post if she would be so kind. ;-)

I wish happy and prosperous New Year to you and your families. Keep dreaming about good things and keep improving!