Happy New Year!

Whether you rang in 2018 with vodka shots and an all-night bender, a glass of bubbly next to the fire or slept the midnight chime, might I suggest taking some moments during this first week to meditate on the year that’s passed and plan for the year ahead.

Trust me, I am not about to be all resolution-preaching. In fact, 2017 was a year of monthly challenges for me instead which culminated in something pretty big. Take a read over here to see what I mean. Over the years, I’ve seen resolution after resolution dissipate into nothingness; sometimes before January has even come to a close. We have these really powerful intentions and know the ways in which we want to better ourselves, but there’s just something so completely impossible to adhere to. General resolutions are vague. We humans need a little more structure, I’ve come to realise.

So, if you want something a little different, here are some ideas for things you can do in 2018. See if one resonates with you. All offer the opportunity for self-growth and actualisation. Plus, the challenge likely will appeal to the competitive amongst you. So, without further ado.

1. Read 52 books. 52 weeks in a year, 52 books you can get through. This is a pretty hefty goal and it really might not be possible for the busiest of folks. However, if you have the luxury of time, put it to use by doing something you’ll be incredibly proud of come this time next year. Select a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. Some could be classics, others instructional, others historical. Learn about our world, bask in creative genius and study something new.

2. Daily Journal. Even if it’s only a few lines while you’re sipping your morning coffee, buy yourself a journal and record your thoughts every day for the next year. These are always immensely satisfying to look back over and see how you’ve grown, what’s bothered you and what you’ve enjoyed. Time has this way of slipping through our fingers and with it goes those beautiful little daily moments that we soon forget if they aren’t recorded. In 10 years time, you’ll treasure this creation.

3. Learn something new. Sign up to a class in that one thing that you’ve always wanted to learn and dive in. No one likes feeling like a newbie, but you must remember that we all have to start somewhere. In a year from now, you’ll thank yourself a million times over that you took the plunge.

4. Volunteer your time. One of the best things I did for my mental health in 2017 was volunteer my time for one day a week. Learn some skills, meet people you wouldn’t otherwise and experience the joy of hard work that you’re doing for free. There’s something really beautiful about putting your all into something simply because you want to. If only we could do that full time, eh?

5. Cuisine a month. One of the best parts of travelling around the world is the food IMO. Having your tastebuds tantalised by something foreign and interesting is truly enriching. But even if you can’t make it to India, Italy or Indonesia to try out the local culinary delights, there’s no reason you can’t bring the flavours to you. Focus on a cuisine you have little experience with for each month of 2018. Perhaps seek out an appropriate restaurant to head to at the start of the month for inspiration, then take to Google and get creative, trying out new spices, sauces and cooking techniques that you’ve never used before. Creativity at its best. Wow friends and family by hosting a dinner at the end of the month to share what you’ve learned and convert others.

6. Buy only secondhand. We’ve got far too much of everything accumulating on our planet, so why not commit to a year of purchasing only secondhand. Whether it be clothing, furniture, a car, appliances or whatever else, spend a little more time researching and swipe a good deal in the process. Know that by doing this you’re living completely waste-free and preventing yet another item end up in landfill.

So whether you try a year of monthly challenges, one of the above or something else entirely, know that you have the power to absolutely kick this year in the booty and become the person that you want to be. All it takes is hard work and dedication; nothing you can’t do with a little focus.

 

 

If you’re reading his, give yourself a pat on the back for being a unique, majestic creation. Before you vomit in your mouth, hear me out. You are the only person on this planet fit to do the job of being you; able to contribute to the world in the way that you can. And you need to embrace that. You need to become the person you were born to be. Doing so is embodying kindness and encouraging expansion.

Every single one of us has our own dreams unique to our interests and talents. However, so many of us live our lives according to another’s mantra. You may have a wonderfully supportive family, but still find yourself trying to get a foot in the door to an institute of hostility or trying to climb a ladder up a burning building; in either scenario, you’re going in the wrong direction.

If we look closely at this unfortunate pattern we observe amongst society as a collective, we see the suppressing of our own inner guidance system, to the point where we actually forget what it is that our gut knows will make us happy. We begin to have faith in the blind leading the blind, thinking that ‘if everyone else is doing it, then surely I must too’. It’s a sure fire way to misery. If you’re lucky, you’ll wake up one day and realise how off-track you are and still have time to make a change. If unlucky, you’ll be writhing with regret on your deathbed.

Anxiety (speed scribbling)

Irony smiles its smug grin when you stop and think that so many of us are lucky enough to be living in what could be considered a ‘free’ country, yet still we’re enslaved to an elephant stampeding through every room: ‘the should’. I ‘should’ go to university and obtain a degree to make me an upstanding member of society; I ‘should’ get a corporate full-time job to make my parents proud; I ‘should’ be married with children by age thirty, otherwise I have failed as a human.

Isn’t it tragic? Isn’t it awful that so many of us waste away the years living a ‘should’ life rather than one of passion and joy? We work ourselves into the ground, constantly preaching that it’s only temporary; a better time will come.

The idea of achieving your dreams can feel so impossible when you take a cold, hard look at your life and feel a thousand leagues away, but there are some really easy things that you can do right now to get one step closer.

  1. Put down the phone and grab a pen and paper – yes, like old times – and write a list of goals that you want to achieve. Don’t put a timescale on these, as it is likely that some of these goals may take a few years to fully accomplish. That’s okay; that’s not the point of this exercise. Stick this list in your workspace, on your fridge, wherever you get ready in the morning or on your bedside table; you want it where you can see it so ideas can start brewing on the backburner.

 

  1. Assess each goal and ask yourself the following question:

What is one thing that I can do, right now, to get one step closer to this goal?

You’ll find that it’s quite surprising how much you can actually do relatively easily to get you a little bit closer. Remember, it’s no use focussing on some non-tangible idea that feels miles away as us humans achieve in action steps. Give yourself the tools to pave the way to your goal. Now, these instant steps will vary hugely depending on the goal you’ve jotted down, but I recommend spending an hour that day, or at the next possible opportunity, totally focussed on one of your goals. That hour could be spent researching courses, classes, volunteer placements, travel tips, bank accounts to switch to, sustainable energy providers, or whatever else. That hour could also be spent doing. If your goal is to do more of what you love, make the time in that hour to take photos, cook, exercise, call a friend or whatever else you already know how to do and have the means to. You’ll feel fulfilled by feeding the soul.

 

  1. Share these goals with others. You might not feel proud talking about the day-to-day if it seems mundane to you, but share these goals with others when the opportunity arises. This will not only further encourage you to make them happen, but it will also most likely inspire that other person, stimulating creative conversation. It’s also rather remarkable how opportunities come to you when you simply plant the seed and start talking about them. Before you know it, your friend will be putting you in touch with their friend who knows someone who does what it is that you want to do or can help you with your mission.

 

  1. Make a point to dedicate time to these goals throughout the week; preferably daily. Unless you’re incredibly lucky, those big ‘wow’ goals won’t happen overnight, however keep chipping away at them by whatever means you can and you’ll have carved something beautiful before you know it. Each step counts, because with it you are putting distance between you and the start line. If you start doing these things today, I guarantee you’ll be grateful in a year from now that you committed. There’s no time like the present.

Goal!