As John Lennon sang: another year over and a new one just begun. I don’t know about you, but 2018 – which I am officially proclaiming the ‘Year of Me’ – is off to a slow start.
That’s no bad thing necessarily. I crawled over the finish line of 2017. The run-up to Christmas was manic. And no sooner had I got over a month-long cold/bug than I developed another on Christmas Day.
Now I’ve never been one for making New Year resolutions. Rather than creating an unending and unattainable to-do list, I take more of a ‘balance the books’ approach. For every new goal I set, I identify something I will stop doing (or do less of) to make space for it. I can’t magically find more time to do stuff. But if I can focus what time I have more ruthlessly, I stand a chance.
This year I’m modifying my approach slightly. Over the past few years, the balance between the four key parts of my life – family, work, blogging and me – has been a little off. So rather than setting goals, I’m aiming to balance these four elements better. Here goes.
For the past couple of years managing the kids has been less stressful as they have become more self-sufficient and independent. But in recent months the pendulum has swung back the other way. In particular, Isaac is showing signs of developing into a teenager already. It’s a struggle to keep up and adapt my parenting style to his changing needs and character. For the first time I can remember as a parent, I don’t always have the right tools and tactics to cope.
I need to continue to make time for the kids, especially on a one-to-one basis, something they all value. But I also have to learn to take a deep breath sometimes, especially with Isaac. I need to remember that he’s dealing with changes he doesn’t fully understand and cut him a little slack. The last thing I want is to push him away. I need to be there for him.
Summary: No more, no less. Just do things differently (and more patiently).
2016 was a difficult year: a new job with broader responsibility and more pressure to deliver. I underestimated it and, at times, it was more than a little overwhelming.
In 2017, though, I found my feet and had a better year. Far from perfect, but I can now see tangible progress – and also what we need to do next. I’ll take that.
So 2018 is about keeping things going without letting my workload stress me out and compromise the other parts of my life. As long as I can maintain a decent balance, I’ll have done well.
Summary: More of the same. And because life doesn’t wait, start planning for what I want to do in 2019.
2017 was a year of less not more. I wrote fewer posts. I read and interacted with fewer blogs. My stats went down. But easing back allowed me to rediscover my love of writing and remind myself about what’s important to me. It’s the personal, reflective posts I enjoy doing the most, even though they’re my least popular. So in 2018 I’ll be writing more for the only audience that matters: me.
At Christmas I ended the Meet the Parents podcast after 76 episodes and nearly two years. Rationally, it was an obvious call. Planning, recording and editing the podcast occupied half my evenings most weeks. Emotionally, it was a tougher decision. I loved the weekly chats and I will miss them going forwards. But in terms of freeing up a big chunk of time, it was the right thing to do.
With the podcast having ended I will devote more effort into writing – but I will still free up a lot of time. I have a couple of potential projects in the pipeline but I’m allowing myself three months of head-space first to enjoy my freedom. As such, for the first time I am not setting myself any specific blogging goals this year. Whatever happens, happens.
Summary: This is my biggest win in terms of freeing up time. Put it to good use elsewhere and pause to evaluate what I really want to do next.
This is the tough one. In the great equation of life, the one element that is most often overlooked is myself.
2017 wasn’t my best year from a health perspective. Generally, inevitably, I’m getting older. That means I’m more susceptible to bugs and when I do get ill it takes me longer to recover.
More specifically, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes eight years ago and over time managing the condition requires more effort and sacrifice. It’s tough to deal with psychologically. Diabetes is a life-long condition with potentially serious long-term implications that I need to address now.
I’m doing okay – but no more than that. I need to do better. Diet. Exercise. Not having one good month and then sliding off the wagon for a couple of weeks. I can make choices that will extend both my life expectancy and quality of life. It’s easy when you write it down; it’s harder to enact every day, every month, every year.
So this is the one area where I will set specific, quantified goals for 2018. Blood sugar and HbA1c levels. Weight. Exercise targets. If there’s one part of my life where I need to push harder and focus more, it’s this. I need to put myself first more. Family and work are important, of course. Blogging has been a hobby and a passion for nearly 11 years. But ‘me’ is at the centre of it all.
As idiotic as it may sound, I have frequently got that balance wrong over the past 20-odd years. I suspect I’m far from alone. It’s time to do something about that.
Summary: Get my priorities right. Pay a little more care to myself and the rest will follow.
So that’s it. No list of resolutions but a few small changes that will hopefully make a big difference. No more hiding behind the demands of family, work and blogging as an excuse for overlooking my own physical and mental well-being. 2018 is going to be the Year of Me.
What about you? Have you made any New Year resolutions or set any goals or targets for the year, whether blogging-related or personal?