I love January! I think I like it more than Christmastime, although both come with their own set of rituals, demands and expectations. It’s important to remember that we can make a fresh start any time, which I’ll cover here, but as it’s the New Year…
Every day is a fresh start, but 1 January is extra special
For some reason, New Year has always served as my reset point; my joy-and-motivation initiator – my reminder that every day is a fresh start. Certainly, that may be cliché, but I’m sure others see it the same way.
I also know I’m not alone in scrapping the whole ‘resolutions’ and ‘goal setting’ business. January 1 is a holiday, my uncle Doug and cousin Liz’s birthdays. The only pressure I want to experience is the cork popping out of a bottle of bubbly!
How to do January (or any time, for that matter) stress-free but with maximum impact then?
I’ve been practising for a few years and have simplified my start-fresh ritual.
Here’s what I’ve learnt:
A book, that is. I’ve spotted a pattern throughout my year – when I’m perpetually emailing or mindlessly scrolling Facebook each evening, I’m less happy than the times I’m engaged in a good read. I’m more of a non-fiction gal myself, but it doesn’t matter what your preference is. Find time to read. It’s too easy to fall out of the habit of reading books, but the practice has proven health benefits including improved memory and reduced stress.
Tip: Not sure where to start? Ask for recommendations on Facebook or talk to friends. Take it one step further and join a book club this year (there are countless options, both on and offline).
We are blessed with thousands of free interesting, inspiring and motivating resources at our fingertips. If you’re short on time, try the Blinkist app that summarises popular books into 15-minute sessions; or start a routine of listening to a Podcast once a week. Breathe and Calm are fabulous apps that will get even the most resistant amongst you into healthy meditation and mindfulness habits. The most accessible of course, is YouTube, with more hours of content than we can consume in four lifetimes. Much of it is even very good!
Tip: Sign-in to YouTube with your own unique account, so you can personalise your experience.
Make this the year you engage a coach or mentor. Since I opened up to this, my life has changed. I used to think I had to do it all on my own, but now I know for sure that surrounding myself with guides is wise.
To clarify, I see a ‘mentor’ as someone to look up to; whose footsteps I’d like to follow in, and who shares helpful advice. A coach, is usually someone who talks you through questions that help you come to a conclusion or solution that’s right for you.
Tip: Don’t worry if you’re not sure who these people might be in your life. If you’re on the lookout for a mentor, you’ll know when they appear. Or try Google – coaching is big business now.
Lean on gratitude as a tool moving into the New Year. Set an intention to consistently recall the things you’re grateful for. By giving energy to the good, you’ll attract more of it.
Tip: Start a habit of writing down five things you’re grateful for each morning and watch what happens.
Pick a tool, any tool – pen and paper, or an app like Evernote. Write down the things you want. It’s that easy. Think big; limitless. The power of putting it on paper is renowned, and for good reason. Many of us have seen the things we write down come true.
Tip: Don’t be too attached or specific. Instead, write down how you want to feel. For example, ‘I want to feel respected and be abundantly compensated for doing what I love’. Often what you ‘want’ comes in a form that you hadn’t imagined, so be open to the possibilities.
It began with something called a ‘happy planner’ that promised to keep me on track with my life goals list. The year, that is – I started off so well, planning ahead in my bright yellow hard-covered book that’s trimmed with gold and artistically decorated with beautiful landscape photography.
I spent time working through my planner’s activities which included noting intentions, and rating my happiness in various areas of life with a view to taking action on anything that felt lacking. On a glance back, I see I also filled in the ‘reverse bucketlist’ pages, where instead of writing down all the things I wish to achieve, I listed those things I was already proud of accomplishing (a very nice activity, if you need a boost today).
While I did initially make the most of my ‘happy planner’, it has actually been sitting on top of a pile of half-read books since May!
The bright yellow HAPPY cover serves as a reminder each morning of the possibilities ahead. But in the evenings, it came to prompt panic over all I’d intended to do but not yet acted upon.
According to the internet, this is now a thing – ‘FOMOMG’ (fear of missing out [on] my goals).
What on earth is FOMOMG?
What to do then, if we feel like we’re not where we intended to be now? That is, if we haven’t saved the money we wanted to, got the job, bought the house, discovered the romance, finished (or started) a project we’d hoped to have in hand.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and like we’re missing out, and some might agree it’s especially so at this time of year. Keen to not fall victim to this so-called FOMOMG, I resolved to lessen the pressure I admitted placing on myself.
Types of goal setting, not goal-setting or indeed not giving a f*ck!
I’ve been reading some of Sarah Knight’s work – she’s the author of the No F*cks Given guides and presenter of a TED talk on the ‘magic of not giving a f*ck’ that’s reached over four million people. Clearly, many are curious to know if it’s ok to shed our excess ‘stuff’, and Sarah’s now famous for spreading the word on how to let go of things you really don’t need to care about.
Akin to decluttering your home, we’re encouraged to do the same with our minds. You can start this today by writing down a list of all the things that are taking up space in your head, then carefully considering which items you don’t need to care about. Really. For example, are you worrying that you’re not as caught up in your career as your friends are (well apparently, according to Instagram)? Let it go. It’s likely to work out the moment you begin to clean up your thoughts and focus on the things that truly matter.
Life goals to set for yourself: choose wonder not worry
I’ve also been dipping into Amber Rae’s Choose Wonder over Worry (another one stashed in my bedside pile of books). She helpfully points out that it’s not the things we don’t care about that are hard to let go of, but it’s letting go of all those things we DO want to achieve, plan for or create, that is so hard. To choose ‘wonder over worry’, means doing just that – letting some of the stress and pressure go, and focussing on the thing that is the most important to you.
Make time for a festive break; consider the good in your world, and your achievements; play with your kids or pets; focus on ONE thing you’re looking forward to pursuing next year. Let go of the clutter and embrace with me the understanding that setting goals is one thing, but realising those goals can change is the real key to happiness.
How do you see it – do you set goals anymore, or focus on intentions? I’d love to know – please drop me a line in the comments.
First published in the December 2018 issue of Get it Magazine, getit-magazine.com.au
Another year, another lesson learnt (hopefully). I reflect every January on my new year rituals, and like to think I wise up each time around. Perhaps…
New Year rituals – 2018 pondering
Welcome to the new year! Old habits die hard, right? For this month we’ll still write the date as ‘2017’, analyse our horoscope (even if we don’t believe), and determine that this is the year of less gin and more gym. Yes absolutely, (tomorrow)!
Many of us also repeat a new year ritual and I’ve come to relish in mine. After a run of January 1sts where I was left feeling more than a little let down and empty, I realised that the act of having refresh routine was what might save me.
Signs – what signs?
For a bit of light relief, the first thing I seek is signs it will be a year of promise. I’m delighted to discover that it’s the Chinese year of the dog. Anything to do with dogs is good by me!
I know nothing of numerology, yet I find myself dabbling with numbers: 2+0+1+8 – an eleven year, which breaks down to one plus one equalling two, marking the ‘beginning of a new direction’, so my online research explains.
Numbers and signs lift my spirits, but we know nothing happens without action and intention. So, after I’ve had my fun looking at what’s in the stars, my personal ritual gets old-school as I turn off the computer and turn back to pen and paper.
The important part of a new year ritual: write it down!
As far as I’m concerned, the power of writing things down is not to be underestimated. A few years ago, we went on a winter trip abroad and I used a long-haul flight home to Queensland to have a think about what I’d like to come out of the year ahead.
I peeled open my shiny new diary for the year – clean pages representing the chance at an organised, fresh start. In an appropriate space up the front, I wrote a list of things I hoped for. I didn’t have any real method in mind, I simply noted my desires.
We landed back in Australia and I went about filling my diary with events, tasks and to-do lists, enjoying the delicious satisfaction of crossing items off, marking as ‘done’. At some point later in the year, I went fishing around in the front of the book looking for a note I had paper-clipped inside, and I spotted the list I’d made on the plane.
Amazed, I realised that many things I’d written down (but had forgotten about) had come true. I felt like I’d experienced a little bit of magic in that discovery!
How do you want to feel?
Since then, I’ve been more conscious about my new year ‘write it down’ ritual, and I’ve tweaked it to make it as powerful as possible. I try not to be too prescriptive in terms of detail. Instead, I write down how I want to feel. This bit has become important to me. I have discovered that what I (think I) want, or what is for the greatest good, might not come in the exact package I imagine.
Some of my list includes, ‘I want to feel valued and respected at work’, ‘I want to feel inspired by the creative people who surround me’, ‘I want to feel fit and healthy’. Coming at the new year with this attitude – imagining it, and repeating these mantras – helps me detach from specific outcomes, and inevitably brings me a wealth of opportunities better than I could have dreamed of.
My new year ritual closes with two important acts: giving thanks, and letting go.
Gratitude to my people, lessons, loves and experiences that make and break. And, dropping (as hard as this can be) toxic grudges and situations that simply do not serve me.
Desires, dogs and new directions – feels good to me. What’s on the cards for you this month? We’d love to hear about your refresh rituals. Do drop us a line with your own words of wisdom, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Happy New Year!
First published in the January 2018 issue of Get it Magazine - read it at getit-magazine.com.au
If you can’t see it (or importantly, feel it) then how do you know ‘it’ when it shows up?
I’m often asked about the processes I implement coming into a new year. Recently I’ve developed a suite of tools and tips that have proven to be helpful for friends trying to either set themselves up for the months ahead, or recover (faster) from bad news and tough times.
While we do have the opportunity at any time of the year to begin fresh; even any time of the month, week or day (and God knows I’ve been practising that recently), January is a nice time to try to set yourself up for a positive start.
I’d like to share what works for me, and what I’m doing now to prepare for the new year.
Personally this year has had definite high points, however it ended up a bit rocky. But that’s ok – it’s life, right? As Anne [of Green Gables] says, each day is a chance to start fresh.
How I’m preparing for a new year
I seek positive, helpful books for reading during the holidays
I plan to use the holiday break to get stuck into a few good reads intended to motivate and inspire me.
My go-to authors are people like Gabby Bernstein and Rebecca Campbell who write about life, business, spirituality and strategies on how to make space in your life for the important stuff, as well as how to move through difficult times faster.
Of course, your go-to books might be about goal setting, fitness, healthy eating, mindfulness or on a subject you aim to know more about in 2017 like learning a language. It’s all good!
I find investing just twenty minutes a day in reading something positive, interesting and helpful can shift your energy and perception.
If you’re too tired to read, try finding a podcast or listen to audio books as an alternative.
I subscribe to regular free broadcasts
We’ve all heard of YouTube, but did you know you can utilise it for much more than getting the odd laugh out of dog and cat clips?
If you sign up for an account (and here’s why you should do that) you can subscribe to inspiring broadcasters you find on the platform.
Some YouTubers now have more influence than most people on television, and no matter what you’re into, there’s a daily or weekly vlogger who can supply you with a dose of inspiration and motivation each week.
About a year ago I got into watching Doreen Virtue‘s weekly oracle card readings. She’s cute and quirky but quite possibly not for everyone (obviously, angel cards and tarot isn’t for everyone, anyway!).
However, every Monday morning first thing I take a look at her ten to fifteen minute broadcast for the week (I’ve come to love her). She reads three cards that she pulls from a deck and quite surprisingly I find her readings to be accurate.
BUT I should stress that I’m not actually looking at this to view my ‘fortune’ for the week.
I watch it for the messages I can take away to apply to situations in my life, whether they be challenging work or personal problems that I’m looking for a fresh perspective on, or words of wisdom I can share as advice with friends.
These resources are free and at our fingertips, and finding something to engage with on a regular basis that encourages a positive perspective shift – whatever you need – is a healthy way to pass the time, I think.
It’s something I’ll focus on with any spare time this holiday season, and a habit I’ll continue into next year. I hope you choose to take advantage of this type of resource too.
I’ve engaged advice from a coach
An opportunity to work with a life and business coach popped up in my sphere very recently.
I’ve engaged in this type of activity before but for a slightly different purpose (back then I had the intention of gaining a new perspective on building my own business).
This time around, I’m aiming to see things differently in my life and career and to learn new strategies for dealing with situations that are unfamiliar to me.
I find I’m very happy to help and mentor others and am proud to have achieved a level of success in doing so.
But when it comes to getting yourself out of a rut sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes – and someone who is trained in this art is even better!
In our first session I outlined issues that I could simply not see a way out of, and left the session with a set of action points that really gave me my power back and made me feel so so much better and in control.
I realised that engaging in this activity before the new year is preferable to starting after January 1 has ticked over (although obviously any time is a good time to begin).
When I talk about ‘coaching’ though, for you this could mean in the fitness, health, Yoga, meditation, business, personal or spiritual sense.
I think we can all do with guidance, and you definitely need the help of the right person, but if you’re on the lookout for them, I believe you’ll know and feel it when they appear.
And of course, if you’re serious about making real change (eg. getting fit, quitting smoking) make a call and set up an appointment with an expert now, and maybe even invite a friend along too so you can keep each other accountable.
I get serious about gratitude
There’s no faster way to make yourself feel better or to attract positive things than to mindfully consider all the things and people you’re grateful for.
Big, small, unexpected or the constants in your life – begin it now and I guarantee in under 60 seconds you’ll feel better about yourself and the world.
Using kindness and gratitude as a tool moving into the new year, set the intention to remember these things; recall them, revisit the list, add to it and send a little love back to those people on it to remind them about the good in the world.
This isn’t about forgetting the atrocities that go on around us; on the contrary, it puts things into perspective and is a reminder to help out where we can.
Also, by giving more energy to the drama the television news generates, we’re perpetuating that negativity and it’s not helpful!
There are just as many like-minded souls such as you and I who are doing our best to bring the light – we can never have or contribute too much of that!
On that note, I really enjoyed this story by Bernadette Russell in Balance Magazine (December 2016) on being kind at Christmastime and how often the nicest thing we can offer anyone is our time.
I write things down
Using a good old notebook or an app like Evernote or OneNote, when preparing for a new year, write down the things you want!
I have several years worth of experience writing ideas, wishes, dreams, plans down (funnily enough, often done during long flights); I’ve written down what I want to see happen, that I intend or that I want… I have later come across these lists and am so surprised to see what has actually manifested!
The power of putting it on paper is proclaimed by so many motivational speakers, coaches, authors, successful entrepreneurs… you name it.
I don’t know what the magic behind it is (although I know a bit about the Law of Attraction and believe it to be true from personal experience); but write it down because wow, I’ve seen it work first hand – even before I knew about any of the things I talk and write about today.
A tip: try not to be too manipulative when it comes to specifics around working in a certain business or seeking a particular person as your new romantic partner; a neat trick to try is writing down how you want to feel.
In other words, what you want or what is for the greater good might not come in the exact form you imagine, but it will come, and it will be better. Write it down.
In one of my favourite Gabby Bernstein lectures (via podcast on iTunes) she talks about how to develop what she calls a ‘desire statement‘.
The process is made up of three parts:
Write down a list of what you want right now in your life;
Then make another list about how these things will make you feel;
Following this activity free write (that is, simply write whatever comes to mind, no editing) for two to ten minutes after pondering these things you want to receive in your life right now.
When you’re done, go back and underline any significant words or phrases that particularly resonate with you.
From there write and edit your ‘desire statement’ into a clean, succinct, positively worded paragraph that you should then read and reflect on day and night. Use language like, “I want to be abundantly rewarded for a job I love and in a workplace where I’m valued…” rather than, “I don’t want to have trouble paying my bills and I don’t want a job where I’m not respected.” (note the difference in language used).
Surround yourself with your new intention, read it aloud consistently, and watch it come to life.
This manifestation technique has worked for me and friends so I personally vouch for the process. All it takes to work is your time commitment.
If you want an example of one of these or would like input on your own for the new year, drop me a line in the comments.
Christmas can be indulgent – who cares, just go with it.
But be aware of balancing some healthy activity for your body, mind and soul.
After a tough few months I’ve become very aware of the fact that I don’t want to be someone who moans or ‘carries on’.
Yes, life is filled with hard times, difficult characters, sickness, sadness, challenges both personal and professional, but without those things we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good. Nor would we be able to lean on faith and positive, nurturing activities that we can take responsibility for on our own (like the ideas I have outlined above)!
If I can help just one with something in here, then I’ve done my job.
Drop me a line in the comments if an idea here has sparked inspiration in you, or if you have other tips to add then we’re always grateful to hear from you.
Usually I’d get onto this whole goal setting and personal development year-in-review exercise much earlier, but the last part of 2015 has been fraught with distraction and even a little bit of devastation.
It’s New Year’s Eve, however, and so this morning I pulled from my bag a printed, crumpled sheet that I’ve been carrying around for a few weeks – Suzy Greaves’ annual review questions. Suzy is a life coach and editor of one of my very favourite magazines, Psychologies UK, and she’s full of wisdom. Join her mailing list for more at suzygreaves.com.
Rather than emphasising that we choose one big goal and set to work on ‘achieving it’, Suzy reminds me that reflection on what’s gone by, and intentions for the new year are much more important than setting major milestones that we may or may not reach (that’s not to say we shouldn’t strive for our best). I do think this is a healthier exercise, and it’s one that can be done at any time of the year, not just December/January.
On my personal reflection I realised that although this past year has had some major challenges, it’s come with lots of laughs too. Both Cooper and I had the absolute pleasure of spending time with our parents who visited the UK all the way from Australia – that’s very special, and we enjoyed many times where we laughed uncontrollably over shared stories, jokes and London survival strategies (stay to the right on the escalator!!).
And on the family front, we’ve got an aunty, uncle and cousin in Queensland who we offer eternal gratitude to, for loving and caring for our dog (and fur baby) in his golden years. While the end to that story is too difficult to write about still, I’ve been shown tremendous examples of kindness that the only way to repay is to pay forward, and I will.
We’ve got gorgeous family of all generations; true friends where distance and time do not matter; and an abundance of good things in all directions. Gratitude gratitude gratitude. If you care to consider it…
I had a good think about situations that got me down at work and in life, but then realised some proud moments where I made a move to change these for the better. Through my own practices of goal setting and personal development, I know now that I’m happiest and at my best when I can bring light to those who need it most; when I can be creative and travel and inspire the one person who really wants and needs to hear what I have to say at any given point in time. I’m proud that I have encouraged people to get out of their comfort zones and travel. Some have, or are on the way for a visit soon!
The TBEX gathering was a highlight, not only for its ongoing creative, entrepreneurial and fun energy, but because I reconnected with a person I’d previously worked with who will be a life-long friend now. Plus, there’s always Spain – the backdrop of our favourite conference this year. Yep, I could live there one day.
Back to reflection though, an important aspect of my year has been attending other goal setting and personal development workshops and seminars, like Hayhouse’s I Can Do It, as well as Rebecca Campbell and Robyn Silverton’s wonderful Spirited Urban Retreat. I strongly recommend you take advantage of any type of workshop or conference you can get your hands on in 2016 because aside from any helpful, practical tools you can take away from the sessions at such events, it’s the positive energy you’re immersed in that really makes the difference. Spending dedicated time with like-minded people who want to implement positive change (despite wide and varied obstacles) does make a significant impact, and truly worked for me this year. My advice is don’t underestimate it – go with an open mind, ready heart and choose to let a day like this make a difference. I can’t wait to attend Gabrielle Bernstein‘s upcoming workshop in London!
While I’m reasonably good at identifying larger situations in career or life that I need to make changes on, I’m not so good at managing the smaller aspects that can get me down – that is, I consistently fret about not having enough time – for work, friends, phone calls home, blogging, upkeep of this site, social media, networking, travel, downtime… the list goes on. But, my reflection this morning has reminded me that I know that when I intend for there to be time, there is. Daily meditation and being consistent at taking twenty minutes a day to write, going to the gym with Cooper; and weekly yoga and creative outlets are my lifestyle aims for the coming year.
Suzy asks, ‘what is the moral of your story in 2015?’ I think one for me is that just when I think I’ve got it all in hand, something shows up to challenge my understanding and comfortable space. I realise now that life isn’t about getting to a particular point (financial, career, family or otherwise); it’s about the journey, lessons learned, adapting and thriving. I think in the end, it’s about an unapologetic pursuit of happiness and freedom to be yourself (that will obviously mean different things for different people).
One thing I know for sure is that this past year I’ve helped people, and I like it! It might only have been a handful of souls, and in the only ways I know (chatting, writing), but I’ve made a difference, just like others have done for me. One small step at a time – but this year I learned that sending that energy into the world is a far stronger force than pushing out fear (or upset, worry, obsession over all the bad things that are going on). I believe this. I liken it to the adorable film Monsters, Inc when they realised that rather than scaring kids and gathering energy from fear, they did far better by generating the vast reservoir of energy garnered from happiness, laughter and love.
I think if I can look back on the moments of a year or period in time and recognise how I was challenged, how I dealt with it, what I learned and what I could have done differently (or will do in the future), then that’s an achievement for me. That’s success, and living. What do you think?
Goal setting and personal development – in a word
My mate, Madonna Williams, shared a wonderful post this morning, encouraging her friends and yoga clients to consider the one word that they might use to describe the year gone by, and the one they will use for the year ahead.
I’ve chosen ‘allowance‘ for the past year because it represents what I kept coming back to during scary, difficult, upsetting and even exciting times brimming with opportunity. Letting go and allowing – a very big thing for me. Next year I’ll go with ‘abundance‘, because I want to attract more creative endeavours, travel, adventure and even a few more dollars into my world. And dogs, lots and lots of dogs.
What are your descriptive words, or your stories from the year gone by? Drop me a line in the comments.
And if you would like to take a look at Suzy Greaves’ questions, she’s kindly linked them here.
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