What will you do differently this year? Do you set New Year Resolutions? No? Me neither, because with as much enthusiasm as one can muster, they normally last a couple of weeks if that and peter out once the year gets going. But there are a few things I want to focus on this year and I’d like to share them with you. Perhaps you’ll have your own to add or some of these might help you, but I plan on coming back to read through these suggestions often to remind me of my goals for 2017.
Yesterday was a quiet day. Being the first day of the year and after having a relatively late night watching the fireworks in the local village from our front deck, even the neighbourhood was quiet. We decided to use the time to begin sprucing up a few of the rooms in our home that weren’t included in the renovation of 2015. So out came the paint brushes, ladders and ground sheets. I realise we could have given ourselves a day to relax and welcome in the new year, but not known for sitting still for too long, we were off to a flying start.
While painting and prepping the room, my mind was free to explore and one thing that kept surfacing is that I really don’t want to make the same mistakes as in previous years. I want 2017 to be a positive year, regardless of what happens. And as I have very little real control over what happens in life, I have to begin with me. I want to grow as an individual and expand my experiences so I can be a better ME, which will help me to be a better Mother, Wife and Friend. By “mistakes” I don’t mean big ones that require great big heart-to-heart conversations, forgiveness and tears. I mean the little ones that we all do daily.
So here’s my Top 1 for 2017 – yes, you read that correctly. I’m setting myself one single goal to work on throughout this year and if I can look back in 363 days time (maths is correct, it’s the 2nd of January already) and know I’ve done my best, I’ll be a happy soul:
- Be kind to myself.
Whew! That looks so simple there in black and white text. Seems like it should be in bright colours with flashing polka dots, but I’m serious. In all it’s simple glory, that’s it.
But is it really as simple and easy as it seems? Do we actually understand how unkind we are to ourselves, and how often? Imagine if you said some of the things you say to yourself to a close friend, how long would that relationship last? Honesty is great, but sometimes our self-talk can’t even be classed as honesty. Sometimes it borders on bullying. We expect so much from ourselves in this day and age and society, celebrity and the world in general puts ridiculous pressures on us. We need to look fantastic, be shining lights (literally if you see the bronzer on some magazine models), have our homes in order, bring up perfect kids, be fabulous at our jobs, the list goes on and on. Some can’t be bothered and this note to myself isn’t about giving permission to become a slob. Heaven knows the world has enough of those, but it is about giving ourselves permission for so many other things and realising that we deserve kindness and respect, especially from ourselves.
If this is something you’d like to do for yourself too then take a few moments to make a list of how you believe you can be kinder to yourself. Or paint a room, it’s amazing where your mind can wonder during that time.
My ideas for helping me be kind to myself include:
- Get enough sleep
We all need different amounts of sleep, so it’s important to listen to our bodies, but too little and your body begins to take strain physically, mentally, chemically, emotionally. The old adage: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” is very true.
- Limit time on Social Media
No last minute checks on social media before light’s out. What I think will take 2 minutes can sometimes become a half hour waste of time and the additional screen stimulation really doesn’t make for a good bed-time routine.
- Eat Well
Eating a well-balanced range of food while still enjoying the odd treat is good. Limiting nutrient intake or leaving out certain food groups entirely causes havoc with our systems and can lead to greater weight gain, mood swings or deficiencies. Unless of course there is a medical, religious or personal beliefe issue but thankfully I have no food issues.
- Exercise 2 – 3 times a week
Have you started exercising with a bang and realised you were unrealistic and can’t maintain the programme? Then you end up leaving it completely and feeling worse than you did before? So my goal for myself is to do more small activities. Go for walks, take the stairs instead of the elevator, find the furthest parking space away from the shop, stretch for a few minutes when you wake up and before you climb in to bed. Buy some home gym equipment like a bicycle if you can and try hopping on that a few times a week. If you have time and money for the gym or a personal trainer, then by all means go for it as often we hide behind the lack of time to exercise, when it’s really a lack of motivation.
- Let It Go
We can’t be open to new experiences if we’re too focused on the past. Whether these are major life changing issues or small upsets between family members or friends, let them go. Be free of spite and anger. Don’t hold grudges. Stay away from gossipers. Know that you have a purpose and you can’t get anywhere close to achieving it while carrying baggage around with you.
If you aren’t into the whole spiritual side of meditation, then simply sit quietly for a few minutes each day and try to clear your mind. Try to be present, although you may feel like a cat-nap. It rejuvenates the soul and is a brief haven of peacefulness in an otherwise busy world.
- Speak kindly to yourself
How many of us stand in front of a mirror while brushing teeth or doing make-up and have a running commentary in our heads about saggy boobs, bat-wing arms, dimples on the thighs, extra padding on the hips…as women we tend to be extremely critical of each other, but mostly of ourselves. The older I get, I see and hear myself falling into the trap of being terribly unkind. We age. Get used to it. Our bodies change. Get used to it. If you can do something about it, then do what you can, but stop berating yourself (myself). As we look back on photos of our younger selves and realise that we weren’t actually as fat (replace this word with whichever adjective is your vice), note that in 5 or 10 years time we will look back a pics of ourselves at the age we are at right now and realise exactly the same thing.
- Find time to do something for you
Call it a hobby, activity or sport, it doesn’t matter. Give yourself permission to take a little time each week to do something you enjoy and haven’t done in a while. I find myself blaming work, family commitments, grocery shopping, etc. for never having the time I want to do “stuff” for me, but honestly, it’s just lazy to believe that and an excuse. We each choose how to spend the 1,440 minutes we’re given each day. Choose to set aside time, even a few minutes, to do something for you. Even painting your toe nails can make you feel better.
- Choose a Mantra, Password or Phrase to help you show/feel/express Gratitude
Think of a positive word or phrase that you can call to mind when you’re feeling low, angry, stressed out, pressured, disappointed or tired. Use this word or phrase as and when you need it. Make it simple and easy to remember, but something that makes you happy when you say, write or think it. I did that in 2015 and it worked a treat. Totally forgot about it in 2016 but will definitely be doing this again this year.and lastly,
Something so natural yet so hard to do when we’re anxious, tired or angry. Taking a few deep breaths works wonders to calm the mind and spirit.
No matter what 2017 holds, I’ve decided that this is the year of ME. Starting today I’m working on being kind to me by working on the 10 points above. I know it will help me to be a far nicer person and who doesn’t want to be around nice people? I know my family prefer me when I’m calm and happy. Heard of Happy Wife, Happy Life? A bit cheeky I know, but I think it has some truth to it. Being a good, kind, present wife/mother/friend/sibling begins with us being good, kind and nice to ourselves. I wish you all a fabulous year ahead.