I’m sure I’m not the only one for whom 2016 was a year of extreme ups and downs. In fact, many of the lows were experienced collectively: Brexit, Trump, the loss of David Bowie, George Michael, Prince and other great talents. But I have certainly had my share of highs too, such as the wedding of my dear friend Antoine and travelling to some wonderful places – including my first ever transatlantic trip – and I’m sure you have, too. But how can I know what I really achieved last year when I didn’t set myself any goals?
It’s hard to tell what 2017 might have in store and I’m not much of a one for making resolutions, but I do believe that a little planning and a dash of optimism can make the difference between a good year and a great year.
Turning over a new leaf is a beautiful metaphor, but I also think it is a wonderful practice in real life. Our digitised modern lives are so full of stimulation and messages that it’s quite cathartic to switch off and put a real pen to real paper.
So that’s why I decided to take a little time out when there was no-one else around to set out my goals for 2017 – some little, some big, but all important to me. And if you’re wondering why I’m calling them ‘goals’ instead of ‘resolutions’, it’s simple really: goals are something to strive for, and if you don’t reach them you can be proud of yourself for getting at least part of the way. Resolutions are stricter, ‘I must do this, I must not do that’, and it’s far too easy to feel defeated if you don’t keep it up.
This year planner was one of the few things I specifically asked for this Christmas, and I couldn’t wait to get started on making 2017 a spectacular year. But nothing great was ever achieved without a cup of tea, and it is important to enjoy this process with whatever remaining Christmas chocolate you can lay your hands on (these ridiculously amazing silver, gold and rose gold Marc de Schlumberger truffles were a gift from Vienna).
With that sorted, here are my goals for 2017.
tidy desk, tidy mind
I realised as I was writing my first goal that I was already making a head start on achieving it. I like to think that inside me is an organised person dying to get out, and probably screaming in horror at all my mess. So one of my targets for this year is to let her take over and write lists, pare down, tidy up and generally pave the way for my day-to-day life to run that little bit smoother.
And, of course, by writing this list I was already on the right track. But I also began making this change towards the end of last year – such as brainstorming blog content ideas for the year and entering them all into a content schedule for the blog. So if I can keep it up, you can look forward to regular posts on all sorts of themes: style; travel; life; food (even recipes!); and so much more.
stop slacking and stop snacking
I might even sneak a few health and fitness posts in there, because my second promise to myself was that I would learn to respect my body through eating better and make it strong through regular workouts. I’m the first to admit that I don’t always love exercise, but I am determined to find a mix of activities that I enjoy and build fitness into my life in a way that would be difficult to give up.
But respecting my body isn’t all about getting fitter and healthier on the inside: it’s also about taking better care of my skin, hair and nails. I’ve been a nail-biter almost my whole life, and it’s a hideous habit that I really want to crack. I’m no better at looking after the rest of myself either – it’s not unknown for me to go for more than a year between haircuts, and my skincare routine is … sporadic at best, non-existent at worst. A lot to work on, but I have a plan, and I’ll share it with you as I go along.
it’s not all about me
As important as it is to look after myself, I want to make time to help other people too. Sometime in November, my sister announced that she wouldn’t be joining us for Christmas – she would be volunteering (and fundraising) for Crisis instead. I was immensely proud of her, and also a little ashamed of myself, because while I have said once or twice that I would like to volunteer at Christmas, I’ve never actually done it.
With other commitments already in place, I couldn’t do it this year either, but I realised there were things I could do: filling shoeboxes for Give & Makeup; sending my unwanted office-appropriate clothes to Smart Works; supporting World AIDS Day; sending long-outgrown baby and children’s equipment to Stripey Stork; and a lot more besides. They may only be little things, but they all make a huge difference to someone. And because it makes me feel good too, I think it’s a practice worth continuing in whatever small ways I can.
fear is temporary, regret is forever
Ticking off a tidy mind, a healthy body and an open heart, I needed to make provision for a curious spirit. It’s only been a few years since I really began to understand why people travel, so I’ve not really had a lot of time to see the world. Although I managed to visit three different continents in 2016, there are still a million places I want to go – but for some destinations, there’s a bit of a stumbling block in the way.
Here’s the thing: I am absolutely terrified of needles – I have been for as long as I can remember. But seeing as I can’t visit some of my dream destinations without having a whole load of jabs, I’m going to have to find a way to get over that particular fear. And let’s face it, I’ve already proved to myself that I’m braver than I thought, so how hard can a few vaccinations be?!
teach me a lesson
And if I can face that, then trying something new shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, right? I’m going to set myself a goal of learning a new skill this year – something simple and achievable, but that will make a difference to my life. A couple of years ago I badgered my dad to buy me sailing lessons for my birthday. I did two weekend courses and earned a level two dinghy sailing qualification … and haven’t been back since.
So whatever new talent I acquire in 2017, I’m making a promise to myself that I will stick at it. I haven’t fully decided yet what I’ll learn, but ideas I’ve thought about include diving and (don’t laugh) flower-arranging. Or maybe I’ll go and take a refresher course in sailing. Maybe it’ll be something like doing a first aid workshop. Maybe it’ll be more than one thing! But what I can say for sure is that whatever I learn, you’ll be the first to know.