Over the past few days I have been doing a lot of thinking about where I am and where I might like to be. It started with a cycle ride to Gale on Christmas Eve when it occurred to me with startling clarity how little I appreciate the situation I am in or how fortunate I am. I do have a tendency to find the negative in every situation and as I cycled along I appreciated how rarely I do see the positive in any aspect of life. What’s not to be positive about cycling along an empty road in stunning sunshine?
This was followed on later in the day with a chance conversation with a lovely friend in the local bar. I was explaining (moaning) about how difficult I find it to do anything constructive with my time because it’s split between Bristol and Albufeira. Without hesitation my friend said ‘Come on Steph, that’s just rubbish. You are a bright girl and could do anything you put your mind to. You just need to plan your time more effectively’. I do have a tendency to find excuses not to do things all the time – whilst telling everyone who will listen what I want to do! I can’t get a job, I can’t enter a 10k race, I can’t enter a triathlon – there are a million things I can’t do and all of them have been blamed on moving between two places. My friend was right – it is utter rubbish. If I had wanted to do them badly enough I would have done them, it is just an excuse. I am naturally deadline driven and the type of person who suits being employed. Being a teacher there were deadlines every day – marking to be done, planning to be done. Time limits on everything. I have found this first 18 months as a lady of leisure very difficult. Without deadlines I have drifted.
I’ve also been working through a workbook ‘My Shining Life’ and one of the reflection questions was ‘What have you done during 2016 to be proud of’. Sadly, I could only write ‘made a wedding cake’. I was super proud of that (it was good!) – but besides that there wasn’t anything. Even with the wedding cake, I’ve merrily told the world I couldn’t make another. Actually, I could! For once, I don’t believe it is my ability to enhance the negative – but I haven’t actually done anything. At the start of the year I was going to do all sorts and announced them to the world. But what I actually did was very little except watch the world pass me by whilst wishing I was actually achieving more.
Whilst this has been going on I’ve also been reading New Year; Same You by Julie Creffield. Julie rejects the idea of New Year Resolutions, and the more I read the more I came to understand this. Resolutions for me, in the past, have been statements; “I’m going to do this” or “I’m going to do that” with little real effort or planning put in to place to ensure that they actually do happen, so they were pretty much guaranteed to fail. This year there are no resolutions, however, I have been doing a lot of reflecting, letting myself dream and actually identifying goals – some of which are totally unrealistic, but some of them might actually happen. As I was skimming through Facebook this morning another article caught my eye by James Clear. He was putting forward the idea that goals in themselves are, in general, totally unrealistic. Far better to make small achieveable and realistic changes to your day to day life and schedule them in. So in my case rather than just say ‘In 2017 I want to be more grateful for what I have’, I am far better in doing something small everyday to ensure I maintain that thought and keep it at the forefront of my mind. His argument is that by doing this and scheduling small changes you will actually achieve the big goal you initially had in mind.
Whilst reading through ‘My Shining Yearbook’ I came across two websites that appealed to me. The first was 365grateful.com. The idea is to take a photograph every day of something you are grateful for. This appeals to me far more than writing down those things I am grateful for, as I will have interacted with them at some point during the day. It’s visual and at the end of the year I will have a reminder of all the things that I was grateful across the year. Have I waited for New Year’s Day to start? NO. Today is Day 1 – The Sparkling Sea. I am very fortunate to live so close to the sea and I love the way it sparkles!
The second was One Little Word 2017. Here I need to identify a word. One Word. And throughout 2017 various tasks will be set to ensure that that word stays at the forefront of my mind. Again, it is very creative and very visual and doesn’t rely on me writing down my thoughts every day. For me, I do have to engage with something to be able to maintain it!
So besides, reflection and wishful thinking I have identified goals for next year – some fairly simple, some ongoing, some completely daft – but you never know! Deadlines have been set, and now I need to plan more effectively how I am going to achieve these things. Schedules will be put into place to ensure that I make the most of the coming year. I really don’t want to arrive at the end of 2017 wishing I had done more with the year – because the only person who can fix that is me – and I’m not waiting until January 1st to start.