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.
How do you see it? Let us know in the comments about your New Year’s rituals that work.
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.
All my goals, neatly listed, poised for New Year’s success. Maybe you relate?
The un-happiness of a life goals list
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.
Looking ahead, it’s time for me – and you, perhaps – to find joy in the moment. Embrace, don’t stress, over your dreams and goals.
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
Late last year I picked up on something I might need to address, a behaviour that didn’t impress me; I wondered what it would take to do everything without complaining or gossiping? My life would surely be less complicated. I’ll admit, it proved harder than I thought, but my diary on my week without bitching unravelled as follows.
How to do everything without complaining or b!tching: let’s do this!
It happened during lunch a few weeks ago – I was catching up with a group of friends, and typically, not too far into the time we were together, I noticed us all descend into negative chit chat. I could hear the words spilling out of my own mouth and knew I should rein it in, but I was on a roll.
I bid farewell to my mates and headed off to finish work for the afternoon, but something didn’t sit right following the interaction. It dawned on me that with some groups of people, I had fallen into negative patterns. We all need to let off steam now and again, and let’s face it, sometimes we face situations that provoke even the most patient among us. Still, I felt a bad habit brewing, enabled and worsened by certain people and conditions, but also creeping into home life, WhatsApp chats and coffee dates with colleagues. Chronic complainers – we all know them, and that is not who I want to be.
Breaking a b!itch of a habit
They say 21 days is what it takes to form a new habit. I decided to compromise and swore off b!tch!ng for one working week.
I declared my intention to my partner Cooper, and at 9am the next day to Lisa, the first work-pal I saw.
‘No negative talk for a week!’ I shared. She smiled sweetly and encouraged me to pursue it. ‘Excellent!’. Within half an hour we were discussing how irritating Riverdale is and how we’re shocked it scores so many television award nominations. b!tch b!tch b!tch.
Oops. (sorry Riverdale fans… but honestly!)
Onwards, it’s never too late to start fresh. I made it to 3pm determined to stay sensible during a meeting I was set to have with a project group I’m part of. All good, until one of the team made a dramatic entrance announcing he had gossip. I love gossip! And I failed on day one.
Four days to go, and in my diary was a meeting with a fabulous friend of mine, Tina. We often collaborate, and the reality of our ‘one hour’ slots is 45 minutes gossip, 15 minutes work (we are very efficient).
There was giggling, joking and b!tch!ng. As we entered our 35th minute, I told her that I was trying to drop my negative habit and feeling better about myself, I talked us up towards positive perspectives.
Wednesday: mid-point hump day, tough. Instead of engaging with my known triggers, I intentionally surrounded myself with optimistic affirmations and kept an eye on @thedogist Instagram Stories to maintain high spirits. If you’re not familiar with The Dogist, go on – thank me later.
Chronic complaining can be broken by mindful action
By Thursday I found I was catching myself in the act, but still making excuses for my bad behaviour. Two of my favourite people tried to explain that there is a difference between ‘b!tch!ing’ and ‘updating’, particularly if one of them has been away and missed out on ‘news’. I’m not sure it works like that, but we were being mindful of our words and actions, and that’s progress.
As the sun rose on FriYay, I wondered if I should test the rubber-band-on-wrist strategy, to be snapped as a reminder if I caught myself mid-naughty habit; but I granted myself a reprieve. I realised the experiment had been successful – pain free, even – because while I completely failed on the no-gossip, no-b!tch!ng front, I was now fully aware of the behaviour I am changing for the better.
This is good, because I much prefer the girl who contributes knowledge, kindness and wisdom to conversations. If not those things, good cheer, at least. I can’t say that you won’t find me moaning about certain television shows (don’t get me started on Love Island), but nobody’s perfect.
Have you caught yourself in the act – what are your tips on not being the compulsive complainer in your social circles? Let me know in the comments.
First published in the November 2018 issue of Get it Magazine, getit-magazine.com.au
A little learning on not saving your best for special occasions – find your glamour cue each and every day 👑
Not saving your best for special occasions: the story
Once upon a time I lived in tiny and expensive flat in a huge city overseas.
Competition for a roof over your head continues to be high in many places, and out of naïve fear I’d accepted the first unaffordable rental a real estate agent sold me on.
This apartment block housed a young, international set, mostly fortunate students who curiously didn’t work but had way more fun-funds than I did.
The experience wasn’t the homeliest I’ve had, and my pay packet stretched only as far as rent and a bit of food.
Trash, treasure and a splash of glamour
That’s why the communal corridor near the ‘bin room’ was such a treat.
You see, every time this transient crowd shifted in and out of the building, they’d leave unwanted goods in that space. Furniture, towels, blankets, cushions, kitchenware, shoes, lamps, kettles, storage boxes, trinkets and clothes would appear every few weeks. All in good condition, nearly-new! The little hallway offered a treasure trove of goodies that saved me loads of money.
One special day I was on my way to work when I spotted a fresh pile of pretty things left for the picking. Sure I needed to catch the train, like, ten minutes prior, however, I was captivated.
Unceremoniously dumped amongst a pile of women’s accessories, was a stylish black leather Kate Spade tote bag!
A Google search later indicated it would retail for more than (AU)$700. My bag’s former owner (someone with more money than sense) had abandoned it still full of her old gum wrappers, crumpled tissues, used cosmetics, and it was stained on the inside with what looked like leaked nail varnish. With a loving clean, it was nearly good as new.
Not saving your best for special occasions: living a glamorous life now
From that moment on, my Kate Spade tote and I were inseparable. I’d never owned an expensive bag before. I’m a fairly low-maintenance kinda girl, however carrying it around made me feel glamorous. It was just a bag that I’d retrieved from the trash, but it did add sparkle to my days.
Indeed, the word ‘glamour’ is derived from Scots (the old English language as spoken in Scotland), when in the early 1700s, the Scottish altered the English word ‘grammar’ to create ‘glamer’ or ‘glamour’, meaning ‘a magic spell’.
What is glamour?
Glamour. A little bit of magic, a feeling that things are in the flow and all eyes are on a sassy version of you. Enchanting, don’t you think?
More reasons to not be saving your best for special occasions, like weddings, formals, awards shows or a jaunt through Vienna.
Glamour can be accessed every day. My Kate Spade handbag made me realise that the spell is in the detail, if that detail is special to me. I still don’t seek designer gear, but I make sure that I implement touches of glamour in my life that serve as a cue to walk tall and approach my to-do list with grace and ease.
Glamour cue: be your happiest today
Your daily dose of glamour might mean ensuring your nails are manicured, wearing a fabulous hair accessory, getting fit and healthy, or brightening up your home with fresh flowers. Maybe the glamorous life to you, means the removal of excess, making space for calm, simplicity and the got-it-together confident you.
When the tragic news of designer Kate Spade’s death popped up as a notification on my phone in June, I recalled how the creation that bore her logo had brought me joy. That bag was my icon of glamour, the reminder to smile warmly, flick my hair a little, and to radiate the bright energy I intend to share with the world. Little had I known, I did not need a big budget or to be in attendance at a fancy event in order to ‘be’ glamorous.
In a reflection on the meaning of glamour, Financial Times journalist Susie Boyt says that, “your best self is not about pampering, but working on that song-in-your-heart mood”. How charming, and true. Find your glamour cues this month, and access daily, because a reality we can all agree on, is that life’s too short to save our best things for ‘special occasions’.
Read the latest 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