Since my teenage years when I started dabbling in diaries and pouring my thoughts out on paper, every January there has been a little list of Resolutions for the year ahead, always based on “improving myself”. Every January the same two things have topped that list: lose weight, and stop biting my nails. There is only one year in my life I managed to achieve a significant weightloss which was in part due to an enforced 20k steps to the station and back every day for work, coupled with daily runs and following Weightwatchers, and at some point in the last decade I stopped biting my nails, though I can’t remember when or how (and I still do when anxiety is getting the better of me). I forget what the other things have been, different depending on the year, none of them had a major impact. In short, resolutions and I, we don’t get on.
But I still bought into them until really quite recently, because there is something so attractive about a fresh start, a new chance to do something properly, a blank slate to make your mark, and it seduced me into thinking a little list of goals would achieve my dreams within the next rotation of the planet around the sun. Hmm.
It took a few years of life throwing me some quite big curveballs to realise that you can’t really micro-plan your existence in this way, and in fact what you think is right for you, sometimes isn’t. And that actually, whether doing ‘well’ with my resolutions or not, the me I am right now, at any given moment, is pretty okay. No need for a new me, the current one will do just fine thank you very much.
And this year more than ever, I have noticed lots of people thinking the same. Molly Forbes, my favourite body positive blogger and all-round lovely and very wise person, wrote this fabulous post far more eloquently than I can about why both pro- and anti-New Year’s resolution camps are both essentially coming from a place of self-love, and I totally agree. I am anti them because I don’t want to have to change myself, but I am pro them (or rather, some form of reflection) because I want to take this opportunity to bring my wishes and happiness to the fore and think about it a while. It’s a chance we don’t often get in our busy lives, and one which should be taken from time to time. It is all too easy to coast along on the day to day without ever looking at the bigger picture, and it is really only through blogging, and particularly through looking at the posts I have done on our house renovation progress, that I have realised this. It seems to me that we’ve not done anything much to the house this past year, but then take a step back and write it all down, look at a few before and afters, and actually, I am amazed at how much we have achieved with very little time to do DIY.
This has made me wonder what other fabulous things I have lived through without really realising, and what knowledge and inspiration I could actually take from them with a little time for reflection. And it has made me take reflecting on the past twelve months seriously, learning lessons and using them to help make the next year even better and somewhat more considered. Having our daughter 18 months ago caused me to stop planning ahead and simply live in the moment a little more, which whilst wonderful at the time, is not right for me anymore, I am craving more of a steer on how we spend our time, and I want it to come from looking at what has made me happy over the past year. More of what makes you happy – that seems like a resolution everyone could get on board with (and in fact Jessica Williams has been talking about this on her Instagram Stories lately, she advocates planning your diary around your leisure time and the things that are important to you, rather than fitting in leisure around your work appointments, which is genius).
Sophie Cliff wrote a great post with some questions to ask yourself about your past year, and though I actually haven’t made it past the second question yet (it turns out I had a lot of thoughts on the first two!) I already have a very clear view of what has made me happy this past year, and what I would like to work on altering. I’ve bookmarked it to do every year from now on, as it is a really great prompt for reflection.
So, what did I learn from these reflections? And what are my intentions for the year ahead (I refuse to call them resolutions now!)?
- More quality time as a family with Emilia
- More time for Ste and I as a couple
- More time with extended family and friends
- More time for myself, creating and taking care of my physical and mental health
- More focused approach to finishing our current house projects
So, as you see, all I need in 2019 is a shed-load more time! But actually, perhaps I have the time already, I just need to spend it more mindfully.
It has taken me until the start of February to write this post, because I wanted to live a while with these intentions and see how they fitted into my life. I didn’t want to add stress or pressure on myself to carve out new blocks of time in an already packed schedule, and I didn’t want them to feel like chores. And I think this approach has worked.
I have been making better use of my evenings – I no longer have the excuse of endless sleepless nights (for the most part at the moment Millie is a good sleeper) so there is no need for me to go to bed so early in the fear of multiple wake ups. We have done a few DIY jobs in the evenings, and I have also been reading again before bed, and am utterly bewitched with the Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden – I’ve finished two in the past fortnight, after not reading much at all in 2018, and it feels fantastic, and oddly enough just this simple thing has made me feel more like ‘me’.
We’ve also been making the most of weekends, either letting Emilia spend some time with her grandparents while we crack on with DIY, or planning lovely family outings, like a windy day in Whitby a couple of weeks ago, or a trip to Leeds this past weekend. And we have also managed more couple time too, spending the evenings more wisely and even planning a little holiday for just the two of us to Scotland in a few weeks! I cannot wait.
So, in summary, my 2019 intentions reflect the fact that I don’t want a new me, I want the current me to feel the best she can, right now. As Sophie puts it in yet another inspiring post:
You are allowed to enjoy your life, to prioritise the things that make you happy. You are allowed to do work that makes you feel accomplished and happy, rather than resenting your to do list and living for the weekend. You are allowed to spend more time with the people who make you feel like the very best version of yourself, and spend less time with the people who make you feel like crap. You are allowed to eat the foods your body craves, and move it in a way that feels natural to you, rather than hitting the gym and counting those calories. You are allowed to approach your life with a sense of ease and joy and adventure and bliss, rather than falling into a perpetual cycle of hustle and struggle and dissatisfaction.
My 2019 intentions have already helped me to mindfully create more happiness for myself in the here and now, which can only be a good thing. 2019, I have a feeling you’re going to be a good one!