Happy New Year! It’s early January, so of course it’s that time when many of us set New Year’s resolutions or goals.
For the next few weeks there will be lots of people in pristine gear using their new gym memberships. By mid-February, many of them will have lapsed back into couch potato mode. (Been there, done that.)
Others may have signed up for Veganuary, switching to a plant-based diet for the first month of the year. Apparently 14,000 people signed up for this on Sunday (30th December) alone.
Ditto ‘Dry January’. According to Alcohol Change UK, last year more than four million people signed up to go alcohol-free for January.
Every year millions of people make lots of resolutions to change their lifestyles. Some succeed; some don’t.
I have to admit that I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions. For starters, I have a long track record of failure with them. Mostly this has been due to (a) a lack of motivation and (b) trying to do too many things without working out what I will stop doing to make time for them.
I also believe that if something is really worth doing that much, why wait until January 1st to start?
Having said all that, I do take the opportunity to do an annual audit to try to establish better balance. When I did this last year, I split everything into four component parts – family, work, blogging and ‘me’ – and set myself goals in each. I was about 80% successful – or 79.99% better than usual – so I thought I’d do the same for 2019. Set stretching goals, but ones that are realistically achievable.
So, here goes …
Let’s start with me. It’s so easy to ignore our own needs or to feel that doing things for ourselves is somehow selfish. But it isn’t. My own experiences underline the importance of ‘me’ in the overall equation.
My big focus for last year was to improve my general health, particularly in terms of managing my diabetes. I’ve been saying this for eight years, with only intermittent success. But that changed in 2018. Bad things happened to people I know. A course provided a couple of light-bulb moments for changes I could implement easily. I found motivation that had previously been sorely lacking.
It was like the pieces of the puzzle suddenly clicked into place. I switched to a low-carbohydrate diet, started exercising more and lost 20 pounds in 11 weeks. I achieved my primary goal in the form of a green-light to reduce my diabetes medication. All that was planned. But along the way I suddenly became happier and more confident about my body too. I’m still overweight but I’ve stopped constantly fat-shaming myself – an unexpected bonus.
So my goal for 2019 is essentially an extension of the end of 2018. I’m starting the year 11 pounds above the weight I was when I got married, 22 years ago. If I can achieve (and sustain) that, I’ll be delighted.
I’m also looking to improve my overall fitness. I have become increasingly unfit over the years, particularly since having children. There are five-ton statues that are more mobile than me. I started 2018 with a walking target of 50km per month. By the end of the year I was averaging double that. So 100km is my new monthly goal.
I also need to do more intense exercise. As a runner, there is about as much chance of me being mistaken for Forrest Gump as there is of Donald Trump ever making a modest, self-effacing tweet. So I’ll be giving ‘Couch to 5k’ a go. If you see what appears to be a wheezing, slow-moving elephant pounding the pavements of Berkshire in the coming months, you’ll know who it is. I’ll never run the London marathon – and I really don’t want to – but this feels like a worthwhile and achievable goal for me.
I have a couple of goals here under the general banner of ‘setting a better example for the kids’.
To start with – and straddling both the ‘family’ and ‘me’ categories – I want to read more books. In my younger days, I was a voracious reader. But now I have a stack of unread books by my bedside that rivals the Burj Khalifa in height. Every time we go away, I optimistically pack three or four books. Every time we return with those books untouched.
Our kids are all keen readers, which we love. But I’m setting a poor example if the only thing they ever see me reading is my phone. So I’m aiming to finish a book a month this year. Not a huge amount, but that’s as many books a month as I managed in the whole of 2018.
My second goal is to continue something Heather initiated recently, which is to recycle more. We’ve always been pretty good about paper, cardboard, garden waste, bottles, cans and cartons. But recently we’ve started recycling all food waste and packaging too.
I’ll admit that I’ve been surprised by how big a difference this makes. We’ve gone from averaging six or seven bin bags every fortnight to about three. That’s at least 50% less landfill. And, just as the 5p charge quickly changed our behaviour around shopping bags, I’m already thinking more consciously about buying loose fruit and veg rather than their pre-packaged equivalents. It’s partly a function of being a middle-aged parent but I’m definitely much more aware of the impact our modern, convenience-driven lifestyles have on the planet our children will have to live in after we’ve gone.
Work-wise, 2018 was challenging. On the one hand, I started the year determined to manage my stress levels better and, to some extent, I’ve succeeded. On the other, though, I ended up taking on an expanded role which has made my job larger and more complex.
So it was a partially successful year for me at work. I need to get on top of my new job in 2019 without allowing it to get on top of me. It’s always tricky to find that right balance when you have both a young family and a job that you want to succeed in. So, no specific goals but I want to feel more in control of work at the end of the year than I do at the beginning of it.
I’ve been blogging for nearly 12 years and there were a couple of times in 2018 when I nearly stopped altogether. Over the year, I gradually blogged less frequently. I’ve watched as my stats have declined – and it hasn’t bothered me one bit. In fact, I’ve been happier writing less but only doing the things that matter to me, regardless of whether they drive traffic or brands to the blog.
And that’s why setting blogging goals is the easiest task of all. I deliberately don’t have any, for the first time since, well, ever.
Blogging in 2019 is about doing it for fun. If that means I go a week or two without posting anything, so be it. This is where I will make sacrifices. And that’s okay, if it enables me to succeed in the other parts of my life.
So that’s me. But what about you? Have you made any resolutions or set yourself any goals? And how will you ensure that you succeed?