Monday, 1 January 2018

New Year, New Rules: How I'm Taking on 2018

If you didn't read the title of this post and end up with Dua Lipa stuck in your head then I just don't know how else to lead into this post. It's a new year, and despite my best efforts to stay the hell away from outlandish revolutions, carb-free diets and shiny, overpriced planners, here I am writing this. Let's go with it.

I know that Kylie Jenner said 2016 was the year of 'realising stuff', but I've learnt a lot about myself in 2017. It seems mad that even after spending every second of every day of 25 years on this planet with my very own brain, soul and body, that I continue to be surprised by what I find beneath the surface. I think I know myself a little better now, and I feel more sure of myself than I have in a good few years. 

I want to take the experiences I've had in the past 12 months and make sure that I exercise the lessons they've taught me about myself. I am already starting to put this stuff into practice, but I think it'll do me some good to have a set of commandments to live by, to remind me that in order to make progress I have to be consistent.

1. I will not grow by staying in my comfort zone

One of the things I hated the most about how I felt when I let my anxiety get the better of me last year was the way it would leave me paralysed. I mean this in both the literal and metaphorical sense. I would often feel like I was allowing myself to stagnate, staying in a place that felt comfortable and avoiding pushing myself and putting myself out there for fear of failure. 

Over time I became so pissed off with myself for ending up in that kind of mindset that by the time I'd pulled myself out of the metaphorical hole I'd already vowed never to go back there. Although it can be hard, I'm trying to always push forward and make progress within myself even it it feels alien and uncomfortable. That's how you grow! Complacency and procrastination are so last year.

2. I will not give my energy to negative thought processes

One unexpected thing that came up again and again during my CBT sessions last year was just how easily I would collect up the negative things people said and carry them around on my shoulders, like heavy little pieces of evidence that proved I wasn't good enough - that others were somehow better than me. Even if there were a million other positives I could have taken from the conversation, I would let the bad parts preoccupy me. 

I'm sure there are many of you out there that do this without even realising. It took someone completely external to my life pointing it out to me for me to fully acknowledge just how much time and energy I was giving to worrying about what others might think. It made me shy and retiring to the point that even my voice got quieter. I became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I'm slowly learning to shake it off and let my 'real' self take the floor without fearing judgement. There is power in being able to brush the negative thoughts to one side, and remind myself how awesome I am. No one else is gonna do it for me. 

3. I will not treat personal growth like an afterthought

Something else I was forced to come face-to-face with in 2017 is that although I can reel you off a 'to do' list as long as my arm, the things that really benefit me are usually at the bottom. I will always want the perfect desk set up, a full fridge and a clean bathroom before I can 'allow' myself to sit down and read a book, look at an online course or even just chill the hell out. It's partly the procrastination demons coming out to play, and partly my need for everything to be juuuuust right before I make a start on the next thing. It's not just procrastination, it's completely self-sabotaging.

This year I've made it my mantra to mentally reorder these lists and put the genuinely worthwhile stuff at the very top. I want to develop my skills to give my career a bit of a boost, but I can't do that if my focus is on irrelevant aesthetic details. Life can't be 100% perfect and under control unless you live in a safe little bubble - it's time to let go of that idea. Hopefully in a few months time you'll find me knee deep in some kind of coursework while the dishes pile up in the kitchen!

I'm going to be journalling and blogging more this year, which will help me to document my experiences putting all of this into practice. Look out for an update or two and wish me luck!


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