It’s that time of year again – the time when we set resolutions to be better, thinner, richer, get up earlier – the list goes on. January 1st comes and we have that renewed spring in our step – all the sins of the past have been washed away. We have turned over a new leaf and this will be the year we stick to it. Then somewhere around the middle of January our resolution starts to weaken – it’s generally on a busy Wednesday when you think ‘will it really hurt if I press snooze one more time?’ or ‘a pizza and wine after work won’t kill me – I will work out for twice as long tomorrow to make up for it’. From there it slowly goes downhill until February finally comes and that list is a distant memory. There’s always next year right?
So this year I have decided I will not make resolutions as such. Instead, I have a list of aspirations – things I want to gradually work at and improve on. What’s the difference? For me resolutions always feel very set in stone. If you mess up and miss the gym, or heaven forbid eat half of the McDonalds menu after a night out, it feels almost as though you’ve failed and it’s time to throw in the towel. As the saying goes ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ – equally so, we are not going to wake up on January 1st with a complete personality transplant, so why put ourselves under such pressure? It is a process and as my brother recently said, many things are a lifelong battle, so lets be a bit gentler on ourselves and do the best we can day-to-day. We are after all only human.
“And suddenly you know … It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” Meister Eckhart
01. Get out of your comfort zone – I have found that since I’ve been settled in one place after years of living a rather transient lifestyle, I am less and less inclined to put myself out there and challenge myself. Comfort has wrapped me in its warm embrace and the world outside suddenly seems a bigger, scarier place. This is also something that naturally starts to happen as we age – our friends start to settle down and we don’t see them as often. Nights in on the weekend soon become the new norm – no longer are you out dancing around a circle of handbags with a bunch of complete strangers. Pyjamas and Netflix anyone? This year I am determined to get out more often and meet some new people. As an expat, for me the first step has been joining the local branch of Girl Gone International – a fun and friendly community for a new generation of women living abroad. What will your first step be?
02. Read more – In these days with the constant barrage of ‘noise’ from social media, emails and movies on demand, it’s hard to find time to read. Or so I keep telling myself. I find myself going to bed and catching up on a show I missed on my iPad while simultaneously looking at Facebook, Instagram and emails on my phone. It’s really not the kind of restful activity that induces sleep. So this year I vow to unplug at bedtime and get back into the habit of picking up a book instead – even if it is on my kindle!
03. Take more photos – ‘More?’ I hear my husband saying. Anyone who knows me well, knows I click away a lot – even to the point of distraction when I’m travelling. I’m the girl that is too busy with her camera to her face to notice the sudden dip in the pavement or the odd unexpected step – who put that there? My trusty camera strap has saved my camera from many a near death experience. So what do I mean by ‘take more photos’?. I am great at taking hundreds of photos when I’m away somewhere new, but not so great day-to-day. I forget to look up, see things from a different angle and find the unexpected in the everyday. This year I will try find the beauty that is around me all of the time.
04. Eat better – I am one of those vegetarians that has fallen into the trap of replacing meat with far too much bread, pasta and cheese. The result has been low energy levels, little to no immunity and definitely no skinny jeans. I have tried diets before and failed miserably. I will be the first to admit I don’t have the strongest willpower in the world and when there is a cheese board calling my name, it certainly doesn’t have to call twice. So instead of dieting, I am trying to take a completely new approach to food. I am eating a much more plant-based diet with lots of green drinks, smoothies, salads, stir-frys, soups and grains. I also try to incorporate more protein to keep the cravings at bay and have stopped treating wine like one of my five a day (although in my defence it is made from grapes).
05. Move more – I have had a life long love-hate relationship with exercise. I hate the thought of it and really struggle to find the motivation to get started. What I love is the results and the added energy and feeling of well-being it gives me. So this year I don’t have any grand plans to take up hill-walking, run a half marathon or even join the gym. I simply want to increase my steps per day and do at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five times a week. I think even I can stick to that.
06. Learn something new – My mother has always said that learning keeps you young and I would have to say I strongly agree. Last year was a steep learning curve for me – I did courses in Online Marketing, Social Media Strategy and taught myself to muddle my way around WordPress. After years of not studying I’ll admit it wasn’t easy at first, but like anything the more you do it the easier it becomes. This year I want to become a Photoshop whizz and improve my photography skills. Whether it be studying towards a change in career, finally learning that language or taking salsa lessons, it will hopefully enrich your life and if nothing else, give you something to look back on and laugh about.
07. Don’t leave things until the last minute – This one is definitely very much a work in progress. I say this as I sit here and finalise my posts for tomorrows blog launch! I have always said I work better under pressure – that has been my excuse and I’ve clung to it. The reality is that it causes a lot of unnecessary stress and late nights spent cursing yourself. Time management is something I am great at in the workplace, but for some reason it doesn’t translate into my personal life. I am going to try and be more structured in my planning and stop setting myself up for nail biting pressure.
08. Remember to breathe – It sounds obvious right? If you’ve ever sat there at 5.00pm on a Friday with your desk still piled high you’ll probably know exactly what I mean. I find myself getting so tense that I sometimes give myself a headache. My shoulders end up in knots, my jaw is clenched and I can literally feel the stress bubbling up within me. At 3.00am, I find myself lying there worrying about things that need to be done, should be done or could have been done better. We all know the feeling. This year I am going to try and consciously take deep breaths and remember that the world isn’t going to end if I don’t respond to an email until the morning (or whatever similarly trivial scenario is keeping me awake).
What are your goals and aspirations for 2015? I’d love to hear so please share them in the comments!