So, once again we’re at the start of the year. Every year many of us make plans, set goals and set off full steam ahead. For some it’s business plans, others health aims, personal challenges; the list can be endless as we try to make our lives perfect.
But what if we just stop?
This year I found myself doing my usual planning at the beginning of December and I found that between Christmas and New Year I stopped. I watched TV (my clients know I rarely find myself catching up with the latest TV shows), I read, played games with my boys, ate, and avoided clock watching as our diary was pretty empty. It was fun and it reminded me of how I want things to be and what I managed to achieve in 2017. In 2017 I started to put in better boundaries and I began to spend better quality time with my children. I realised that I work hard but I’m entitled to a break, once a day, every week. Other people do it, and it’s important to remind yourself what work is all about.
So how are you going to take it easy on yourself?
It’s always easier to give advice to others, but walking our talk can be hard. If we are going to preach though, we need to appreciate what we’re asking people to do. My changes are work in progress and some are habits I started before 2018.
I made some big (for me) business decisions for 2018 and have decided I will now no longer work after 7pm on a Friday. It may not sound like a big deal for some, but for me, this one was huge. I’ve agreed with myself that even though it may mean I have to work an extra Saturday, I’ll still aim to give myself a weekend off a month and I’ll still aim to keep my Sundays as my family day. Sometimes, little tweaks can make the biggest changes for us. The thing is, I don’t know if it will be enough, but it’s work in progress and if it’s not, it’s not set in stone and I can go back and rejig it until it feels right. We don’t need to make massive adjustments to see the changes, we just need to do little things often to make progress.
Another thing I’ve started to do while I was on holiday is clear. I don’t have time or motivation to do massive clear outs, but each day I find myself looking at something and thinking ‘I don’t need this anymore’. I’ve got a bag under my kitchen table which is being filled and will find its way to a charity shop. I’ve found this is a manageable way to clear things without getting absorbed by the overwhelm that often accompanies the task in hand and it takes the mental pressure off to fit another job in.
Another aim I started previously and will continue this year is to improve my savings. In previous years I decided to challenge my thought that I didn’t have any spare cash. I made a conscious decision to transfer £5 into a savings account each week. I was so unsure of myself, I didn’t even set it up on a debit, I just did it at any point in the week I felt confident I could manage it. This was again based on the little and often approach. If I could afford a coffee and a sandwich, I could afford to put five pounds into a saving account. At first, I wasn’t even confident I could do weekly, and that maybe I should consider monthly, but I decided to go for it. And it worked. It meant I had savings to fall back onto when I needed extra cash and got me into a better habit of saving rather than constantly spending. Another thing I’m thinking about, is how can I spend more consciously. I’d like to give my money to small businesses where every penny can count, and I’m thinking about ways I can increase my expenditure with independent shops and small businesses, as they’ll see the real benefit of me spending with them rather than adding to a corporate business profit margin.
Those who have read my previous blog posts will know I meditate, and it’s something I aim to do five times a week for 10minutes. It’s small, achievable and over the years I’ve seen the benefits build. My attention span during meditation can be distracted, but again, it’s work in progress and is another practice I’ll take into the year. For 2018 I plan to build on this and think about my body more. My clients will know my weight fluctuates, but I know my eating and exercise isn’t great when I’m so busy. It’s not an excuse, but when you have a lot of priorities, some of them have to get pushed back. I’ve been using spotify and rediscovering music I love. After discovering myself jigging around my kitchen I’ve put some music on my phone so I can dance in my kitchen while I’m doing the school run packed lunches. In 2017 I tried to commit to walking my boys to school twice a week, but depending on client appointments and weather, this can be a little difficult. In December I also put a yoga app on my phone and I’m committing to 10 minutes at least twice a week, but ideally more. I know our bodies need cardio and strength so it’s important to combine the two. I’m not going to set myself massive aims, I’m going to take it slowly. I find ten minute slots achievable. Ask me to find an hour, and you’ll see me looking at my diary trying to find space, but ask me to donate ten minutes and I’ll spot a gap in my day quite easily.
So this year, maybe think about how you can break those big aims down. By doing little and often you can look at more than one area of your life. Maybe think about one little action you can take on a regular basis which will help you achieve what you want to do. Don’t pile yourself with pressure and big aims, break it down to weekly actionable actions so you don’t get disheartened. Make 2018 the year you take it easy on yourself, little and often can make big changes. Also, recognise the changes you’ve already adopted, don’t let them get lost. Embrace them and recommit to them each year, because each time you have a choice about what habits to continue.
Louise is an holistic therapist who owns the Therapy Centre, BS14 9HB, a clinic offering a range of holistic and beauty therapies. Louise offers reflexology, aromatherapy, aromatology, holistic massage, Indian head massage, reiki, baby massage and story massage. She is a mum of two boys and when she is not working she enjoys getting outdoors with her family. For further information visit louise-morgan.co.uk or contact her clinic on 01275 217160