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 🙂

Seven personal reflections on 2017

Even though I regularly incorporate a good amount of reflection in my life, December seems a natural point to take stock on perhaps a much greater scale.

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2017 has been pretty pants on a personal level. I’ve been dealing with a high amount of stress coupled with an abundance of personal issues. Without dwelling on the dark times too much I would rather look at what I’ve learned going into the new year.

If I had one big take away, it would be to let things go. This year has been a personal learning curve and with an exertion of time and effort, I’ve combatted stress and eliminated the waste from my life. I’ve tackled issues head first that I’d perhaps repressed over the years and have truly learned to stop dwelling on bygones. I can honestly say that I’ve left the past where it belongs.

2017 might have been a bummer and whilst I certainly wouldn’t wish the dark times again I wouldn’t change the past or live with regret. Having an abundance of time to work on myself was exactly what I needed. I believe that I’ve come out the other side feeling incredible and stronger than ever. It’s taken me a long time to get to a point where I can truly hand on heart feel incredible again.

It’s incredible to think about my mindset change over the year. I for one am beyond excited to head into 2018 with a determination on my face, plans up my sleeve and ambition by my side.

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What have I learned?

Letting go. First and foremost, I’ve learned to stop dwelling on the negative. Holding onto negative energy has repercussions far beyond the obvious annoyances. It seeps into general life and snowballs into having greater effects on the mind and body, such as tension headaches, grudges, pent-up stress, to name a few. It’s not just the extensive issues either – it’s those little everyday niggles that in hindsight should not matter. If you’re struggling with similar things a good question to ask yourself: will this really matter a year from now? Probably not. So why let it take prime time in your conscious now?

Stopping moaning. I notice a default setting for a lot of people is to just moan about anything and everything. I still find it tough spending too much time around particularly negative people because I’m aware of the potential rubbing off effects. If you’ve read my toxic people post you’ll understand that I went through a period of working out who was good for me and who was creating toxicity in my life.

Stopping being reactive. I noticed waking up feeling stressed at the number of notifications, messages and emails on my phone. In hindsight what I was doing was training my brain to be reactive and to deal with the demands of others, rather than my own. It was also feeding into my feelings of being overwhelmed which put further undue stress on my body. The way I combatted this was through decluttering digital waste (below). Now I wake up to feeling stress free.

Digital decluttering. I switched my phone onto do not disturb in the mornings and evenings and I turned my notifications off. The first and last hour of my day is my time and completely uncompromised. There’s scientific evidence that demonstrates that notifications on digital devices feed into the dopamine cycles and addiction pathways in the brain. I.e. you get that initial fix and unsatisfyingly seek more. I was surprised at the effect it was having on me. Now I reduce my brain with collateral and am more than content to engage in being more proactive and productive.

Clearing my mind. Carving out distraction free ‘me‘ time is when I am my most creative. Clarity of mind enables me to operate in my most proactive state; and taking time to really think, write or journal, enables me to reflect, plan and learn. I express gratitude, reflect and learn, which in turn boosts my happiness and self-efficacy.  2018 will include more of this and will be about getting back to being on my own personal agenda.

Seeking support. I can be pretty stubborn at times (I’m working on it!). I like to think I’m invincible and also really dislike feeling defeated, so asking for help can be somewhat uncomfortable for me. However, opening myself up to a number of people and asking for their help or patience has been one of my turning points this year. I felt  overwhelmed with love and support and incredibly grateful for having such amazing people in my life.

Writing as personal therapy. I’ve developed a newfound found love for writing, be it to do lists, journaling or blogging about things I care about. The cathartic process of writing enables me to clear my mind and gain insight into where my passions lie.

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I could write so much more about 2017 but these are a snippet of my learnings.

What have you learned in 2017?

Thanks for reading 🙂

Lianne x