With it being the New Year and all (and Happy New Year by the way!) I have already seen an influx of people making their resolutions for the year ahead on social media. As much as I’m not one for making resolutions myself anymore, I can completely appreciate that this is what others want to do, and I was once that girl. However, the more that I think about it these days, resolutions by nature indicate that you think there is something wrong in your life that can be easily fixed as soon as the 1st of January hits. Starting the new year with a wave of pressure like that isn’t putting you in such good stead just because it’s the start of a fresh year.
From the first day of the year, were constantly inundated with marketing messages that we’re not slim enough, have white enough teeth or earn enough money, but hold the phone… if we were happy on December 31st, what in our mindsets has changed to make us feel like our lives are no longer good enough? If there are things you want to change about your life, maybe starting a side business, pushing for a promotion at work or wanting to travel more, then absolutely do it! Just don’t feel pressurised to do so just because it is the start of a new year or within a certain time frame that might not be achievable.
I found my blogging diary from three years ago, the other day in the midst of a mad post-Christmas clean in order to get myself ready for January: I remember being sat with a friend on New Year’s Eve 2015, and writing out everything I wanted to achieve for the next year, for my side hustle and life goals – the first one being, grow my presence online. Now to me, that is a goal that a lot of people will be setting themselves this coming year, whether you’re further into the ‘bloggersphere’ and have been for a few years, or you’re starting out fresh. But how vague can you get, 2016 Ellie? How exactly was I going to achieve this?
I had no plan.
And you need a plan.
These days, I am a planner by nature; a meticulous, detail-orientated, annoying-as-anything planner in both my professional and social life. I think it has mainly come to fruition in the past 18 months and having to juggle more work responsibility with having a blog, a social life, going away a lot and planning a wedding. I have always been an organised person by nature, and I definitely want to continue this into 2019 and beyond, but without having the restraint of goals always hanging over my head.
Also, I think it’s fair to say though that 2016 Ellie is very different to today’s version of me. Right now, I am happy as I am: I love my job, I have a great support network, I’m getting married to my best friend and my life is heading in a direction that I’m happy with – there is nothing I want to immediately change, especially just because it happens to be the start of a new year – if anything I want my life from 2018 to continue as long as possible without putting the pressure of new goals on myself.
For as long as I can remember, my resolutions used to always relate to my weight or appearance – lose half a stone here, tone my arms, grow my hair etc. – but in my eyes, this is already pre-determining what kind of year you’re going to have and surely, going into it with an already negative view of yourself, that must change immediately can’t be healthy at all. We don’t all need to change ourselves in order to be happy; but if you did want to lose a bit of weight, learn to cook or run a marathon, why wait until January anyway?
My professional life is already full of objectives as I’m sure most of yours are too – setting them, making sure my team achieve theirs and reporting on them – and I don’t want this level of pressure to leak into my personal time. The thing with personal goals is as well, that when we don’t achieve them, we punish ourselves, instead of cutting ourselves a bit of slack. Life is too short to be hard on yourself when it comes to your hobbies outside of work, and I don’t know about you, but I just can’t handle that level of pressure!
We’re programmed from such a young age that we have to achieve the top marks to make us successful, and put in competition with our peers from the get go; it becomes ingrained in us, which is why I think the whole resolution-culture is getting a bit out of control. We can be happy with everything we have; we don’t have to change in order to be happy.
There are of course things I want to achieve in 2019 – I want to volunteer more, to get a promotion at work, and spend time with the people who put a smile on my face, but I don’t want to class these are resolutions or goals as they will happen when the time is right. I have always put so much pressure on myself to achieve, and this year I want to take time away from this side of my personality and be happy with everything I already have without always striving for more.
I know in the next few years my life will be changing in a whole new way as we start to think about having children, moving into a different house, maybe even a different city, and evaluating what we want from our careers; because of that, I want to be as carefree as possible in my last few years without being responsible for anyone else and live my life just the way I want. I don’t want to be weighed down by goals – I want to practice mindfulness and be present in the moment and not worry about what is to come.
Nowadays, I am more than happy taking things in their stride. I want to celebrate my small victories instead of always searching for that something else that I think will make me happy or more successful: I want to live in the moment and not look too much into the future, because if I have learnt anything in the past three years, it’s that life can change in an instant and you should focus on bringing as much happiness to the here and now as humanly possible.
This year I am more about challenging myself: Read 20 books in a year, run another 10k, dabble in cooking more intricate and bizarre dishes, but I don’t want these challenges to overtake my life in any way and I refuse to punish myself if they don’t happen within this 52-week window. I said at the start of 2018 that I wanted to discover more places, visit new countries and have new experiences and that I did – I didn’t have a number of countries or a time restraint to do it; I just knew I wanted to see more of the world and this way of looking at things suited me much more. I had no specific goal or resolution, and it turned out to be the best decision for me.
Whether you’re making resolutions or not this year, just because we’re into January does not mean that you have to change anything about your life if you were happy to begin with – isn’t that the most liberating thing we can do? And if you need me in the meantime, I’ll be riding the wave and enjoying every minute of it!