Three simple tips to make 2018 your best year yet

As 2017 comes to a close it’s natural to reflect and begin planning the year ahead. Personally I’m not really into making solid new years resolutions but I do like to take stock on things going well and reflect on areas that I want to improve. I definitely don’t wait until January 1st to make changes though – reflection is something that should be incorporated into your life continuously. Read about my 2017 reflections here.

A majority of New Year’s resolutions are made post-Christmas binge and spending extravagance, so it’s natural that a majority of these reflect a feeling of wanting to save money, be healthier or lose weight. Easy to do when you feel like you’ve overindulged, but once the initial Christmas week bloat has subsided those good intentions go straight out of the window.

With that in mind I wanted to share three simple tips on how to have a great year. No resolutions, no restrictions, just some easy to implement self-development approaches that can help you to make small but longstanding changes.

Reflect

What went well this year?

Reflecting on both the good and bad can help you consolidate your self-worth, steer bad habits and build on good behaviours 

This can usually be broken down into a few areas such as work, personal life, social life, relationships, etc, depending on where your priorities lie. Did you achieve something that you didn’t think was possible a year ago?

Reflecting on your year may seem a daunting task but all it really requires is taking time out. You don’t need to be a top analyst to stop, clear your thoughts and think about things in a reflective and reflexive manner. However you choose to reflect try to do it when you have some real peace and quiet in order to really listen to your inner voice. Trust that. If you feel that you find it easier to dwell on negative things and less inclined to praise the positive, then this reflects a state of mind that is automatically attuned to focus and on the bad. It’s a bad habit and I bet you’ll also find it easier to remember negative events, situations where people have wronged you or hold on to grudges. If this resonates with you then I would perhaps consider focusing on changing this bad habit. It serves no good purpose.

Over the period of a year there should be one or two (if not more) highlights, but if they don’t jump out make sure you reflect even when you do not feel there is anything to particularly stand out. What are the positives of your year? What moments were you truly happy? How did you feel in those moments? If all else fails, ask yourself What are you grateful for?

Next, think about the behaviours which underpinned these positives. These are the behaviours, habits and activities that you want to build on and keep incorporating in the new year. As for the lowlights, or the things that didn’t go to plan, how could the situations be improved going forward? Those behaviours are things you want to inject in your life more.

Project

Where do you see yourself in a years time?

Write yourself a list, letter or goal of something you wish to have achieved by December 31st 2018. 

This is your north star and will essentially guide you in your behaviours for the new year. If it is a specific goal then break it down to it’s constituent parts and plan to incorporate small changes or steps that amount to the larger goal. Remember to set goals that are SMART (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic and Timely) as these are the most achievable. For example, if losing weight is your goal then set a SMART goal and break it down into a number of steps or smaller goals. i.e. drinking 2 litres of water a day, or taking the stairs instead of the lift. Start small to build the foundations and consolidate with congruent behaviours. Don’t overwhelm yourself with unattainable goals as they’re likely to have a rebound effect.

If you write about something less concrete such as ‘being healthier or happier’ then again break this down into actions and/or behaviours that you can incorporate which will subsequently amount to the overall aim. E.g. smiling at people, letting go of the need to be right or reducing toxic people from your life. Read my post about that here.

Prioritize

What activities do you already undertake and what behaviours/habits do you have nailed down? List as many as possible – for example, going to the gym twice a week, having a weekly catch up with your friend, or a 10 minute meditation session every morning. List these in order of priority so that when you feel overwhelmed, too busy or stuck in a rut, look at your list of actions or behaviours that are the most important to you. Continue with the most important and prioritized activities at times when you are overwhelmed and cut the rest.

If you would like me to write more in detail about goal setting and behaviour change let me know. 🙂

Do you make resolutions?

Thanks for reading 🙂

Getting into the Christmas Spirit: my fave to dos

It’s a Christmas to do list!

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Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, it really is good to get into the festive spirit. Aside from all the get togethers, presents (and stress!) at the heart of it Christmas should be about sharing and caring. The time of year when most people take some time out to relax and spend it distraction free with loved ones. As things start to slow down a little (mentally, not physically) some of my favourite things to get into the spirit of Christmas!

To do: Festive sports

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The perfect time to try a new winter sport. How about trying Ice Skating at a Christmas market? Somerset House in London is beautiful, but any outdoor skating rink is perfect.

To do activities list: Ice skating, winter walks, indoor/outdoor skiing or snowboarding, sledging, christmas decorating.

To go: Christmas Cities & Markets 

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Mulled wine, market food and crowds of festivities? There’s just something special about a Christmas market that brings people together. I also love to get dressed up and go out for Christmas drinks with the girls.

Top UK cities: Manchester, London Winter Wonderland, Belfast, Birmingham, Bath, Liverpool, Leeds, there are tons spread out across the UK. 

Overseas: I hear Copenhagen, Prague, Amsterdam, Berlin (or anywhere in Germany), Tallinn, Paris, again, tons spread out!

To watch: Christmas Films

I’ve already watched Home alone 1 & 2 and Love Actually. But others I recommend are The Holiday, Bad Santa and Christmas with the Kranks. Christmas is the perfect time to watch some nostalgic TV and films. What are your faves?

 

To bake: Festive treats  

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I really like the idea of making personalised treats for stocking fillers as I think it’s just that extra bit special when somebody goes out of their way to make something. Last year I made biscottis which were delicious! For the ones above I followed a standard biscotti recipe and then to make them more festive I added pistachios, cranberries and grated orange peel.

To make: Christmas DIY 

There are tons of DIY ideas out there. One year I made a wreath when I had a craft day. Other nice things to make are decorations, candy canes, potpourri, jewellery. They also make great gifts!

To practice: Self love

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One thing I think is seriously neglected at this time of year is taking care of ourselves. Year round it is so important to take the time out to relax and look after our minds and bodies, but especially at this time of the year when we become super busy, our stress levels rise and our bank levels drop. It can be hard to find free time so just remember to practice being grateful and express thanks to keep you grounded when surrounded by such abundance. Also try to take a bit of time out to unwind – visit your favourite coffee shop, read a book, have a pamper evening or take yourself to a quiet spot to clear your mind. Manchester Central Library (above) is amazing for peace and quiet.

As well as loving yourself, practice extending that love to others. Express kindness to people you meet (regardless of being cut up in traffic or in a queue :-P) as you really do not know what is going on in the minds or lives of others. Instead of falling into the trap of becoming bitter, senseless or unappreciative, just remember that everybody is feeling just as stressed out. So forget the nitty-gritty of who buys what and who owes who, and don’t allow yourself to be pulled into the dramas that crop up at this time of year. After all it’s the time to forgive and forget.

Top tips: Daily gratitude, smile at people and have an open heart. Why not donate your time to a good cause? This time of year it would be good to donate a jumper or coat to the homeless. Share your time with people and fill it with good things

..and of course to complete the list: a spot of indulgence!

IMG_2635Festive foods, party spreads and Christmas dinners. This was an incredible spread we made last year. I think we can all learn to ditch the guilt on that one day of the year (or week!). Enough said.

Have a very Merry Christmas

xoxox