Wednesday, 26 February 2020

My Resolutions for 2020

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

"The best time for new beginnings is now."

First off, let me preface this post by saying that this this one is going to be largely self-indulgent. It's been a little while since I've given an update into what's going on in my life, so I figured the New Year would be a better time as any. And, like many others, the new year - and new decade, at that - has had me pondering about my choices up to this point and what I would like to change about my life going forward. Any bad habits I want to break, new habits I want to form, or anything I would simply like to get around to that I haven't yet done.

I understand it's a little bit odd to be coming up with some New Year's Resolutions when we are already approaching the end of February (how on earth did January last for what felt like 6 weeks and Feb is almost over?), but I tend to look at January as a test-run for the year ahead.

It's a month that for some reason, seems to go tits-up for everyone and has us all questioning our very existence on this chaotic planet.  I actually covered this topic in a post from 2018 that tackles the generic 'January Blues' and how to pull yourself out of that dreaded funk - shameless self-promotion, but it's a great read ;-).

At the beginning of 2019, I also made some concrete goals for myself and actually achieved about 2 of 3 of those, so I'd say it was mostly a success! I learned how to drive and travelled to two new places, Malta and Malaga, and although I'd have ideally liked to have visited more places, I'm still glad I got to go on these trips. I aim to travel again this year, preferably to see my family in Canada (money permitting!) so here's hoping.

I also achieved quite a bit last year that I didn't forsee. For example, I managed to learn how to read and write coding languages like HTML and CSS, gained new skills in SEO, and as a bonus managed to lose quite a lot of weight! I lost almost a stone within the space of a year which is an incredible accomplishment, and I genuinely feel so much happier in my body than I was the year before.

Sometimes in the thick of things and general messiness of life, it's easy to overlook our achievments and forget how far we've actually come. This idea of taking a mental note of my personal accomplishments actually ties into one of my new year's resolutions for 2020, so, let's jump in shall we?

Grow my hair

This may seem like a small goal, but growing my hair long has been something I've been trying to do for years. The longest it had been was around 6 years ago - before I bleached it, shocker! - and since then I've struggled to get it back to that gorgeous length. It doesn't seem to want to grow much past my shoulders, and I think this may be because of the damage I've inflicted on it over the last few years, with some of the incriminating acts including...

- Bleaching it over and over instead of going to a professional
- Dying it red, purple, pink, etc.
- Having irregular trims
- Constantly straightening and curling
- Not taking any vitamins/poor diet
- Basically, just never giving it a chance to breathe!

It's probably also worth mentioning that my hair was so severely damaged by repeatedly dying it bleach blonde that it had started to fall out by itself. I only noticed this one day when I looked back at old pictures and realised that my hair had gotten shorter without having been to a hairdressers: cue the panic!

Since then, my hair is in a much better condition. I get semi-regular trims every couple of months, and I now go to a hairdressers when my roots are in dire need of some professional assistance. However, it saddens me that I still haven't been able to retrieve the long length I once had.

My goal, then? Grow my hair back of course, but this will take some time and commitment. I'll follow the advice I wrote in a blog post from years ago about how I got my lovely long hair in the first place, but the main thing I'm going to try and do is abstain from making any changes to my hair at all. My sister has the most gorgeous head of hair - curly, long, thick, and dark, and according to her, has formed as a result of staying away from the hair dye and drastically limting the use of sraighteners - for 3 years!

This has already proven a challenge to me, as the minute my roots start to come through I want my hair a pretty light blonde again. I even had a weak moment earlier in January where I considered dying my hair black. Thank god I sat through that urge!

3 years would certainly prove too much of a challenge for me, but I will aim to go this full year without dying my hair, bleaching it, maybe even cutting it, and see if it makes a difference. I know a lot of people will argue that getting regular trims helps your hair grow, but for me I think at the moment it's ruining any progress I make. Fingers crossed!

Practice Gratitude

At the beginning of February, I came across this channel on YouTube called Kurzgesagt - In a Nutshell, that creates videos on a range of thought-provoking topics. The videos are mostly science-related, but once in a while they address common issues humans face in their lives - like dissatisfaction, loneliness, and happiness. The first video I watched was "An Antitode to Dissatisfaction", and in the video, they address dissatisfaction from a scientific standpoint - why as people we tend to feel unhappy, and what we can do to combat it.

Using research and proven methods, the answer boils down to one somewhat vague solution - gratitude - the act of being grateful for the things we already have in life.

Interestingly, this revelation made me think back to when I started this blog. During that time, I had managed to get through severe depression by practicing gratitude through journaling and writing posts about things I was thankful for each week. I had read a lot of online articles on self-improvement and tried to incorporate gratitude into my life as much as I could.

What's even more fasciniating to me is I also remember referring to myself as an 'optimist' at this time of my life! For anyone who knows me, optimistic is probably the last word they'd use to describe me. But, it's true, I used to be very optimistic - simply look through my blog post archive from 2013 and you'll see what I mean! 

Obviously, when depression strikes, it can be significantly more difficult to 'think positive' all the time, and cynicism and pessismism because almost second-nature.

It can't cure the illness, but I believe it can relieve the symptoms. Since seeing the video, I've began using apps on my phone to record little moments of joy in the everyday and mundane. It can be difficult sometimes to stick to this habit, but for this year, I want to make this the norm for me so that it no longer feels like a chore to record the good things that I may sometimes overlook. 

There is a lot of good in life despite all the bad, and I think actually making note of the things that make me happy will make me more content with life overall.

Keep on writing (and reading!)

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but this year I aim to keep a more consistent schedule of posting to my blog. Doing this will encourage me to write more, and if I brainstorm a couple of topics that I could post throughout the year, I reckon it's definitely achievable. Sometimes it's the waiting around that prevents me from writing anything as I wait for some sort of inspiration and motivation, so having ideas already written down should help combat this.

I also need to make sure I read more - I started re-reading 'Get Your Shit Together' by Sarah Knight at the beginning of the year and have unfortunately ended up abandoning it again!

I got the book a couple of years ago, and although I had the best intentions of reading it, I usually avoid reading anything at all when my brain is simply too tired or emotionally drained. If I encourage myself to pick up a book and read just a chapter every night, despite whatever mood I find myself in, I should be able to wizz through quite easily. I enjoy reading but my attention span is the worst!

Establish a solid skincare routine

Another goal of mine for 2020 is to finally get around to establishing a suitable skincare routine for my face. If I'm being honest, I'm not even sure what my skin type is anymore - and that is unforgiveable considering I have been on this earth for 26 years and have had more than enough time to figure it out!

In my teens and well into my twenties, I have suffered from terrible acne. When it was at its worst, for example, in university, I came to the conclusion that I must have combination skin. I decided enough was enough when I finally visited my doctors and received a prescription to eliminate the acne using a steroid-based cream, Duac gel. Whilst this has helped clear my face in the time I've been using it, it doesn't stop the odd spot, and I'm still getting spots on annoying areas like my chest and back.

So, this year, I'm making it my goal to really determine what type of skin I have, and then buy/use products accordingly that will work best to give me healthy, clear skin. I definitely need to do more work internally too, by eating healthier and drinking more water - but the routine is something that is seriously neglected!

Save, save, save

This one should probably be higher up on the list of priorities, as it's something I've inherently struggled with for a long time - saving money!

Whilst I'm quite lucky in terms of debt as I've never owned a credit card and only have my daunting student loan to creep up on me once I'm earning a sufficient salary, I'm awful at budgeting and even keeping money in my savings in the first place.

I've been in my graduate overdraft since leaving uni, and so my top goal this year is to finally get out of it and actually see positive numbers in my bank account once again. This will be tricky, as once I get money and the bills are paid I like to spend it by going out and either buying drinks or having a nice meal, or, treating myself to some new clothes or make-up. And, although I really wanted to put some money together to travel this year, I think if I focus on putting a little bit of money back into my overdraft every month for now, I'll thank myself for it in the long run. 

Also, reminder to myself to purchase the 'Go Fund Yourself' book - I follow their official account on Instagram and they offer brilliant financial advice.

Study philosophy

Just recently, I finished watching the series finale of The Good Place, and I am obssessed. If you have been in contact with me at all over the last few weeks, chances are I haven't been able to shut up about it, but it really is that good of a tv programme.

Without giving away any spoilers, it follows the lives of four problematic individuals that have made their way into 'the good place' - in other words, the heavenly afterlife as a reward for their good deeds on their life on Earth. There are lots of twists and turns but what kept me binging episode after episode was the sheer brilliance in the way the writers approach scary issues such as: what happens to us after we die, immortality, morality, and the significance of being a good person with the little time we have.

The show deals with a lot of philosophical concepts, and since finishing the series I've been dying to learn more about philosophy in general. I actually almost studied Philosophy at A-Level but instead opted for Sociology, but there is so much about it that I find fascinating.

I love discussions and theories regarding the meaning of life, so I would like to delve back into this subject by reading 'The Philosophy Book'  that gives a brief summary of all of the theories and concepts. This goal is purely for interest purposes, but it certainly can't do me any harm to teach myself some new things whilst encouraging me to be a better person in the process.

Invest in a good camera

I've been meaning to get myself a decent camera since the beginning of time and my god, if I don't do it this year! I always told myself I would eventually buy a decent one so that I could publish photos to my blog that are genuinley good quality (whilst looking so much more professional) but it's just one of those things that I never got round to (see above r.e. my shortcomings with saving money).

If anybody has any recommendations for starter cameras that aren't too complicated to use, hit me up!

Spend less time on my phone/on social media

I'm proud to say that I have actually been attempting this one since the beginning of the year and whilst it has had its challenges, I'm not doing too badly!

I won't go fully into the reasons I decided to take a much-needed break from social media, but to summarise, I was going through some shit in my personal and work life that messed me up pretty bad. When bad things do happen to me, I tend to react in ways that aren't helpful or healthy and my mental health ended up in a very poor state.

For some reason, when I'm feeling bad mentally, my negative moods and emotions are amplified from spending too much on social media. So, as a result, I decided I would 'detox' to give myself a chance at recovery and actual healing/space to deal with my issues.

Like I said before, this has been tricky and I have had some weaker moments when I couldn't peel myself away from Instagram and Twitter for whatever reasons. But my main goal from the detox was to significantly reduce my time on these platforms and ultimately away from my phone, so that I can begin to sit with my anxieties and negative feelings, reflect on them, and get through them in healthier ways.

I honestly believe it's done wonders for my wellbeing and I will continue the year by incorporating more downtime from these apps so that I can be present in my daily life - not glued to my smartphone in the middle of conversations!

What are your resolutions for the year ahead? Whatever you put your mind to, I wish you the best of luck and success - you can do this!

Em x

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