2019 Resolutions

This post is so cliché and overdone that I almost hate myself for writing it. But I figure putting my resolutions out onto the world wide web for all to see will help me stay accountable, so here goes.

Until last year, I’d never been one for new year’s resolutions. I had always found them a little trite and every time I’d attempted to implement them in my own life, I lost interest and failed miserably within a few weeks. But as I’ve written about in previous blog posts, I set (and stuck to!) a resolution last year that had a huge positive effect on my life: being more optimistic. I think a big reason why that resolution stuck was because I found something about myself that I genuinely wanted to change for myself. I didn’t do it because I felt like I had to or because others were doing it or because I felt guilted into it. I did it because I sincerely wanted to better myself. So this year I’ve decided to stick to that method and identify things about myself that I can realistically work on for reasons that mean something to me.

Strengthen my immune system

This year I found myself getting sick a lot. A lot. I started the year out with a double sinus infection and the flu (which I had to endure on a 15-hour plane trip—would not recommend), ended it with a bad chest cough (happy new year to me!), and got sick multiple times in between. I think it’s fair to say that a portion of that can be attributed to the stress I experienced being in my last year of uni, but if I’m being totally honest, I know that my poor diet and lack of exercise was the real antagonist.

Being sick is exhausting, especially when it’s happening constantly. So this year, I’m going to make a conscious effort to get into habits that will help strengthen my immune system: regular exercise, remembering to take all my supplements and medications daily, plenty of water, a consistent and healthy sleep schedule, and a diet that doesn’t primarily consist of McDonald’s and Mad Mex.

I’ve tried to set resolutions like that for myself in previous years—lose weight, drink more water, eat healthily—but I’ve failed every time. My motivation for those things has always been extrinsic (i.e. to fit certain beauty ideals, to impress other people, etc.), and I’ve found that extrinsic motivation simply isn’t sustainable for me personally. Working toward bettering my immune system wasn’t a conscious choice—I’m just so sick of being sick. I feel really good about this resolution, particularly since I’ve already gotten myself into a great exercise routine and a healthy sleep pattern (though the diet part still needs a little work).

Better money management skills

I am the QUEEN of drying up my bank account as soon as it gets a little money in it. I’m seriously so bad at managing my money. I don’t even know where it all goes (just kidding. I totally do. It all goes to Maccas). Since I’m planning to travel this year, it’s imperative that I get my act together ASAP and learn how to save. I’ve already taken significant steps toward this resolution like keeping a written log of when, how much, and where I’m spending my money, as well as transferring a good portion of any money I receive into a locked savings account as soon as I get it.

Putting in an effort in uni

Okay so this one is a cliché at its finest. I know. But I have good reasoning behind it! Being honest, I didn’t put my best effort in for the first couple of years in uni. I slacked off, not considering how it would affect my future in any way. In my last year I realised I needed to pull it together and really start putting in some work. Once I started receiving great marks instead of average ones, I felt like I was on top of the world. It made me wonder why I hadn’t been striving for that the whole time!

This year, I’m determined to put in the hours it takes to get really great marks. I’m going to do the things that make me uncomfortable or that I haven’t been bothered to do previously, like actually utilising professors’ office hours and following up with grades I’m not happy with. I love learning and I love uni, but what’s the point if I’m not trying my best?

I love challenging myself, especially if I know that I’m only going to benefit from the goals I’ve set. Of course I don’t expect any of these changes to happen overnight, nor do I anticipate them being easy. But after experiencing last year how one resolution can unexpectedly change so many different aspects of your life, and how easy it is to make new behaviours become habits, I’m so excited to see how I’ve changed by the end of 2019.

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Easy Ways to Create a Positive Headspace for Yourself

If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that my resolution this year was—is—to be more positive. In the post that I wrote about this resolution, I detailed the ways in which  it has changed my life mentally, physically, and emotionally. I wrote about how all the positive changes I was creating were putting me in a much better headspace, but I didn’t mention that one of the best byproducts of this is how much easier it’s become to pull myself out of a bad headspace. Not only do I no longer get as down as I used to, but I also find it much easier to bring myself out of that negative space now.

Being that I’ve always thought that it’s pointless to have good thoughts and not share them, here’s a list of all the ways I create a more positive headspace for myself.

Turn negatives into positives

It’s so easy to find the negatives in each day: I hate waking up early; my train is late; it’s so cold outside; I’m hungry. But it’s actually just as easy to find positive things about your day: I’m so glad I woke up this morning; I have a cheap, convenient, eco-friendly way to get to work and uni, even if it is a couple of minutes late; I love winter fashion and I have tons of great coats and scarves to choose from; I have the ability to walk out my door and find any kind of food I want, at any time I want, and I have the money to pay for it—not everyone is so lucky. See how much longer the list of positives is?

Be grateful

I’ve made a habit of listing a few things each morning that I’m grateful for. It makes the day so much more bearable and puts me in a good mood. It’s such a positive way to start the day! I find that once I start listing things I’m grateful for, it’s hard to stop.

Thank you, not sorry

It’s so important to replace negativity with positivity when you’re talking to people. Know the difference between when you need to apologise, and when you need to be thankful. Just don’t go overboard and cut out “sorry” completely—taking responsibility for your poor actions is just as important as being grateful for what others have done for you.

Be nice to people, but also be nice about people

It’s one thing to be nice to someone’s face. But the true judge of character is how you speak about someone behind their back. Thinking negative thoughts about others and spreading hate about them will only serve to make you unhappy in the long run. It’s nice to be nice!

Be nice to yourself

It’s so, so hard not to be your own biggest critic. But wherever you can, practise a bit of self-love. Compliment yourself. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself like you’d treat your best friend. You’ll be amazed how much happier and more confident you’ll feel.

Take it slow sometimes

I’m a big believer in me-time. But I’m also a big believer in staying productive, and often these two things clash. I get in over my head with projects and assignments and work, and I begin to burn out; but feel too guilty about taking a break to stop. At times like that, you need to remind yourself that the world doesn’t revolve around what you accomplish. You can’t be your best you or do your best work if you’re worn out. Pause for a moment; read a book, watch some Netflix, catch up with a friend, take a nap, do some exercise. Do what makes you feel rejuvenated and at ease.

Breaking: It’s May And I Still Haven’t Given Up On My New Year’s Resolution

Full disclosure, I’m not the best at follow-through. I forget to text people back, I’m awful at replying to emails, and I’m constantly giving up on tasks that aren’t immediately easy. Not surprisingly, my New Year’s resolutions usually go the way of my unanswered texts and emails and failed tasks.

Most years, my resolutions end up being fairly cliché ones: drink more water, eat healthier, actually utilise my gym membership, go to all my lectures—you get the idea. Perhaps I’ve failed at most of them because subconsciously I don’t really want to achieve them; I have no impetus or particular motivation to stick to them. Or maybe it’s because they’ve all been focused on extrinsic things. That’s why this year I decided to indulge in a little bit of introspection to find something that I genuinely, truly wanted to change about myself.

Of course, I’m far from perfect, so I had a lot of less-than-ideal attributes to choose from. I need to be more patient, more conscientious of my surroundings, more environmentally-aware, less selfish; the slightly embarrassing and very confronting list is as long as Santa’s naughty list (which, after this introspection, I’ve decided I’m more than likely a part of). But the one thing that I’d been noticing increasingly over the previous few months was how pessimistic I’d become.

I’ll admit that I’ve never been a totally glass-half-full kind of girl. I’m not the first to find a silver lining or to look on the bright side of a situation. My motto has always been “expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed”; I’m my father’s daughter in that way (and in most other ways, too). While that was a pretty fail-safe outlook—I was rarely surprised when things didn’t work out for me—it also cast a very dark cloud over my life. I was always anticipating things going wrong; so much so that when something went right, I couldn’t even enjoy it because I was so busy wondering when the other shoe would drop.

So there it was. I decided I would be more positive. No more expecting the worst. No more anticipating failure. The funniest part was that once I had settled on my resolution, my first thought was, “I wonder how long this will last before I give up”. It took effort to push that out of my head and tell myself I could do this.

I’m proud to announce that I’m still sticking to my resolution. It’s not quite halfway through 2018 yet, but this is probably the longest I’ve ever kept a New Year’s resolution. And let me tell you, it has worked wonders in my life.

I started by encouraging myself when I felt like I couldn’t do something. I forced myself to go places and do things I didn’t particularly want to go to or do. I made sure I was speaking more positively about others as well as about myself; it’s made me feel good about those around me and my relationships with them, and also about myself. I put a real effort into consistently building up myself and everyone around me. It has made me infinitely more confident and optimistic.

I’ve come to realise that my pessimism was preventing me from achieving so much. There were tons of things that I wouldn’t even attempt because I thought I would fail or because “what’s the point anyway? I’m just one person, how can I make a difference?”. In the past few months I’ve become more conscious of my environment and of those less fortunate than I am. I understand now that although I’m just one person amongst billions, my actions have impact and can create change in the world, even if that change is small.

My newfound positivity has made me more patient and empathetic toward others and myself. I’ve learned the difference between “thank you” and “sorry”. I used to apologise for everything—I assumed I was being a burden on those around me. Now I realise that although I sometimes need to apologise for something I’ve done—”sorry for making you do this for me”—other times I need not apologise for my actions, but instead thank someone for theirs—”thank you for helping me do this”.

I’ve even noticed physical changes! I sleep better, my skin is clearer, I get fewer headaches (they used to be as frequent as twice daily), and I have more energy. I find it easier to interact with people I’ve never met and I’m more receptive to others reaching out to me.

In sum, a seemingly small adjustment of my outlook has created positive changes in pretty much every aspect of my life. I’m blown away by the massive turnaround I’ve experienced. The good news? You don’t have to wait until 2019 to do a little self-renovation.