I was determined to stay awake until midnight this past New Year’s Eve. I’m not sure why but I felt it was important to welcome the new year in which I will turn 40. 40? 40! We won’t talk about the fact I prepared for bed well before midnight so I could turn in immediately after the clock struck 12.
I don’t yet know how I feel about turning the big 4-0. I guess I won’t know until it draws near and then it actually happens. Until then, I am determined to make the most of this year and hope it will be all sorts of wonderful.
I have always been one for New Year’s resolutions. As December of each year would draw to a close, I would conscientiously take out a piece of beautiful paper to jot down my resolutions for the following year. Sometimes this beautiful piece of paper would have a matching tissue-lined envelope because it was my hope to carry it around with me, occasionally revisiting my meaningful well-intentioned words and seeing how well I’d kept my resolutions.
Never happened. I was actually pretty hopeless at keeping my resolutions, which were roughly the same each year, give or take a couple. Months later, I would find the untouched pristine envelope tucked away in my bedside drawer, wonder what it was, and surprise myself when I opened it to find that year’s list of resolutions I’d conveniently forgotten about after January.
So I’ve decided to change things up a little this year in a couple of ways.
Firstly, I’ve adopted a “word of the year” – enjoy. Enjoy my family because it is awesome. Enjoy turning 40 because I will have been so fortunate to reach this milestone. Enjoy life and not take it for granted. Enjoy friendships, new and old. Just a simple word I will try to live by and remember, especially in the not so good moments (which are inevitable).
Secondly, instead of resolutions, I have recorded my dreams for the year. Let me elaborate – I don’t mean the dreams I have while sleeping (which I can never remember anyway); I mean the aspirations, goals and hopes I have for the year.
Before I go ahead in more detail, I should preface all this by saying that, while I am always inspired by those who achieve seemingly impossible dreams, I am at a point in my life where I am contented to dream about our next holiday or, for this year, how I’m going to celebrate my milestone birthday. Or a sleep-in until 8am, for that matter.
For the last few months, I have been writing down what I hope to achieve each month, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch to apply the principle over the course of a year. It all sounds so airy fairy, but here’s the thing. If you have an idea what you want to achieve, and you are willing to invest time and energy into achieving it, it can be done. As a first step, I would suggest setting aside time without distraction, sitting down with a pen and paper, and writing it all down. It doesn’t have to be perfect – it might even be something seemingly pie in the sky like “I want to be happy” – the devil is in the details, as I’ll explain later when I give an example. Next, and this is crucial, is to look at each of the items written down and to imagine what achieving that dream would look like. I know it sounds silly, but write this down too. Write down how it looks and how it feels with as much detail as you can. It enters the subconscious mind that way and becomes part of our psyche and motivation when we put our plans of action into place.
Finally, write down all the things that need to happen in order for the dream to be realised. The plan of action. These actions must be tangible and concrete. When a dream is recorded in clear, achievable terms (that is, broken down into “bite-size pieces” to be tackled), it is not so far-fetched to think that we cannot achieve something that we have dreamed of doing or achieving.
A personal example
A dream of mine last year was to “have a wardrobe that I loved”. I imagined:
- only having clothes and accessories in my wardrobe that I enjoyed wearing
- everything in my wardrobe would be beautiful, functional and reflective of me
- I would always look polished and presentable while being comfortable
- I would choose quality over quantity when adding anything to my wardrobe
- there would be minimal clutter, with a place for everything
My plan of action was detailed, for example:
- going through my [tops/bottoms/dresses/outerwear/activewear] and either disposing of or donating items that no longer fitted in with my lifestyle (or no longer fitted ha!)
- sorting through my collection of bags and accessories and purging those I no longer had use for
- looking through my shoeboxes and getting rid of shoes I no longer loved or wore
- wiping down all the shelves
- purchasing hangers (I love the velvety thin ones from Howards Storage World)
- categorising folded items of clothing onto the shelves (and drawers)
- categorising hanging items of clothing onto the racks
- recording inventory and shelf location of bags I decided to keep
You get the idea. Lots of small steps that can be undertaken over some time. I would diarise a task to be undertaken when I had some spare time. It didn’t feel like a chore because I had visualised the end result at the beginning of the process.
Finally, I leave you with this thought.
What would you like to achieve this year?