I must admit, I really didn’t feel like writing one of those ‘Goals for 2019’ posts this year.
While making your new year intentions public can be a good motivation, and it can certainly be fun to read the lists of others, sometimes it’s not always the best approach for everyone.
In my case, I prefer to keep a lot of my goals close to my chest more often than not. And full disclosure – many of those goals and intentions are just ongoing from last year, because Rome wasn’t built in a day.
And then there’s the negative effect of reading people’s 2018 ‘summary’ posts, or their plans for the new year, which can involve a lot of self comparison and feeling less about ourselves because our accomplishments or goals don’t seem as shiny, impressive or exciting as others’. I think we can all agree that that’s not the kind of start to the new year we need.
But where we can all no doubt use a little support is getting around to smashing our goals – whatever those may be – after the festive period is over. Lord knows Christmas is a huge disruption in most people’s lives…so much so that we can lose all sense of what our regular routine was like before. Therefore some easy steps for getting back on track can really help us to get our head in the game.
We may be a week into January already, but I wanted to share some of my own tips for easing into the new year. Whatever you plan on achieving in the next 12 months, these actions will encourage you to take your time, look back on the progress you’ve already made, clear your head and get into the right frame of mind so that success will come that bit more effortlessly.
1. Write down everything you were grateful for over the festive break.
Most of us will no doubt be back at work now, feeling like Christmas was a million years ago. But looking back over our favourite moments of the holidays can really help provide closure before normality resumes.
Try making a list of all your favourite moments of the festive break, and the things you were most grateful for. These can be as simple as the food you enjoyed, the gifts you received or the company you spent time in. Or it could be certain activities you enjoyed, like choosing your tree or simply having a cosy home in which to enjoy the festivities.
Even if this Christmas wasn’t your best, there’s always a happy moment to be grateful for. By writing it down, you’ll realise what a good time you’ve had and that’s enough to put you in a good frame of mind going forwards into January.
2. Look back over the things you’ve achieved over the last year.
Before we can look forward, it’s important to look back. Though you may be excited to set new goals for the year, first take stock of everything you’ve achieved in the last year.
No doubt there will have been difficult transitions, exciting new opportunities and proud achievements that took place. But achievements don’t always have to involve new jobs, new houses or other dramatic life changes. Even if you don’t feel like you made any great strides in a typical sense, you’ve likely changed a lot, and there’s probably been plenty of internal changes you weren’t even aware of.
Take some time to reflect on how you’ve grown, things you’ve learned or ways in which you approach things differently now. What did you do well? What didn’t you do so well? What lessons did you learn? What steps did you take to bring yourself closer to your goals? In what ways do you know yourself better? What habits do you want to take forward into the new year?
By pausing to congratulate yourself on the positive changes you have made – regardless of how small they might be – you can build a solid foundation from which to enjoy the successes that are to come.
3. Declutter your home to make room for the new.
This step is probably my favourite, and also one of the most effective ways to get your head ready for change.
Even if you’re not looking to recover from a period of indulgence or chaos, decluttering your home on the regular can bring massive benefits in providing a clearer mind, simplifying your life and moving stagnant energy along.
Most of us tend to hold onto things for way longer than we should. At Christmas, existing clutter is compounded with the arrival of new presents and gifts, and it’s amazing how many people allow it to simply add to the stuff they already own instead of doing some much needed maintenance.
I hate the feeling of owning too much stuff, so I declutter my home at least twice a year. This often takes place just before Christmas or throughout, as I’m aware new things will inevitably be coming into our lives and there’ll be plenty of things we can let go of.
I know that it can seem like a mammoth task, and most people won’t have time to think about it before the festive period. But now is as good a time as any. Start with just one room of the house – or even just one cupboard – and work your way from there. The act of getting rid of things is bound to feel so good, you’ll be excited to do more. Even if you have to do it one weekend at a time, you’ll eventually be glad you started when you’re enjoying a tidy, organised, clutter-free home.
I usually take a lot of the stuff I no longer need to my local charity shop, but if you have anything in good condition, like clothing, you can even sell it on eBay and make some dough.
Not only does decluttering help make room for the new, it’s also a huge stress reliever and will get you thinking clearly when it comes to your goals.
Below are some brief notes on tackling each room of the house.
- Clear out wardrobes and get rid of any clothes, shoes or accessories that no longer fit. As a rule I tend to throw out anything I haven’t worn in the last 12 months because it’s usually an indicator my tastes have changed.
- Keep only bedding you actually use. Donate old, unused or worn-out bedding.
- Declutter bedside table drawers, returning books to their shelves and throwing out old boxes or papers.
- Clear out cupboards, drawers and cabinets and get rid of old or out-of-date medicines and cosmetics.
- Clean out your make-up tray and narrow it down to only the stuff you actually use on a regular basis. Old used make-up is a magnet for germs and should be thrown away.
- Get rid of empty shampoo and conditioner bottles from your shower and arrange it so that only the ones you use are taking up space.
- Sift through your cupboards and get rid of any old or damaged crockery. If you have several sets, consider cutting down your collection to just a couple to cover fancy and everyday use. It’ll make your cupboards much more accessible.
- Ask yourself whether you really do use every single kitchen gadget you own. If there are you haven’t used in the last year, it should definitely go.
- Throw away any old or out of date food. If you have perfectly good, in-date and unopened food you don’t think you’ll eat, you can donate it using an app like Olio or at your local food bank.
- Condense any multiple open packets of dried foods like pasta, rice, cereals etc. into single jars or containers for easier access and visibility.
- Sort through your book collection and be honest about which ones you intend on reading. Only keep those you know you’d like to re-read or reference. Return any that you’ve borrowed to their original owners.
- Tidy out desk drawers and file away loose papers and important documents. I love these folders and organisers by Kikki K.
- Group all bits and pieces like paper clips, pens and push pins into jars or containers, or at least a drawer where you know they can be immediately found.
- Minimise your desk space so that only the essentials are out in view – your computer, pen pot, notebook, diary etc.
- Categorise your drawers and add labels to them so you know exactly what can be found in each one.
4. Get excited about nourishing yourself.
Naturally, everyone is talking about eating healthier at this time of year, and it’s easy to see why.
We all know that taking care of ourselves and feeding our bodies with the right foods is a great habit to have. But ‘nourishing yourself’ doesn’t just include the food you’re putting into your body. It also includes what you read, watch, look at, think and generally consume on a daily basis. It’s about nourishing your soul and mental health, not just your physical self. Even if your goals don’t specifically include ‘getting fit’ or ‘eating healthier’, the decision to nourish yourself as a whole will go a long way towards helping you reach your goals in other areas.
Think about it: when you get enough sleep, you feel rested and more able to take on the world. The little things just don’t bother you like they do when you’re sleep-deprived and cranky. And when you feed your body with the right foods, you tend to have more energy and feel more able to do the things you want to do. (And if you notice any physical or aesthetic changes, that could be a bonus too.) It’s the same with getting enough fresh air, enough exercise, enough social interaction (that’s not from behind a screen) and enough time on your own to think, reflect and just be.
When you meet all of your basic needs in this way, the other things you want to achieve feel much more tangible.
So whether or not your goals involve fitness and health this year, have a think about your overall self first and how you can go about ‘nourishing’ yourself on a daily basis. One of the best ways to get excited about this might be to follow some positive influencers that promote all-round well-being from both a physical and mental point of view. Deliciously Ella, Danielle Copperman, Kate Flowers and Zen Habits are a few of my favourites.
Here are some general tasks and actions you could incorporate into your day to nourish both your brain and body:
- Getting in at least 30 mins of movement every day, even if it’s just going for a walk. Also avoiding sitting for too long.
- Taking breaks away from your computer or desk throughout the day.
- Avoiding any forms of media that make you feel badly about yourself or just don’t serve you in any real way. These might include reality TV, gossip magazines, gossip channels on YouTube, or following certain accounts on Instagram that are more toxic than helpful.
- Making yourself at least one healthy, home-cooked plant-based meal every day.
- Watching documentaries about new topics and interests you’re interested in.
- Reading books that help you learn new things, about yourself and the world.
5. Write a letter to yourself.
Most people are excited to charge into their newly laid plans straight away. This may of course involve writing down what it is you’re going to strive for this year, or if you’re a blogger, publishing a list of goals in a blog post.
Writing down your goals is a fantastic way to get you motivated and often helps to cement them in our mind. But did you know that the chances of us achieving what we want is multiplied when we write them as though they have already happened?
Instead of writing your goals down in a list this year, I recommend that you write a letter to yourself, dated one year from now, describing exactly what your life will be like, using the present tense. This is a trick I learned last year by one of my favourite copywriters John Carlton and I mentioned it in last year’s goal-setting post. Though it’s a subtle difference to how you’ve probably been writing down your goals so far, apparently it has a tremendous effect on your brain and can influence every decision you make between now and next year.
The key is to write the letter with one foot in reality, however. You want your goals to be big and ambitious, but not too ridiculously over-the-top radical that any step towards them feels nearly impossible. While you want your life to have changed in a year’s time – and for the better – you also want it to feel achievable and you have to really believe it can happen. If you can imagine all of the changes you want for yourself, including, most importantly, how they make you feel, then you’ll be one step closer to readying your brain for action. Writing down goals in this way ‘pulls’ them towards you instead of you ‘pushing’ them to happen. It is almost as if you attract them without thinking.
Whether or not you believe in the law of attraction, I believe that these kinds of exercises really are beneficial in changing your mindset, which in turn changes everything else.
What do you guys think? Will you be trying any of these tips? What are some of your rituals for kickstarting the new year off right? Let me know in the comments below!
In the meantime, I hope everybody had a very happy new year, and I wish you the best of luck with your goal-setting for 2019, whatever they may be!