2017 was a selfish year. That should be a bad thing right? Wrong. There’s a difference between the stereotypical selfish that makes us envisage spoiled children who refuse to share their toys and the selfish I’m talking about. I’m talking about the self-love kind of selfish, the kind that’s good for you, the kind we intentionally deprive ourselves of when we should be doing the very opposite.
Figuring out my own version of minimalism over the last few years catapulted me into gravitating the art of saying no. That’s what minimalism is all about really – saying no to stuff that doesn’t add value to your life. This time last year I was in Mexico (we always go away for New Year because I find it such a pressured time of year to be at home) and I made a promise to myself to take my version of minimalism up a gear – all the physical stuff had gone, and now it was time to really focus on me.
I promised myself I’d stop doing things I didn’t really want to do in the same way I’d stopped buying things I didn’t really want or need. The plan was to replace all that time I’d get back with things that were good for me. The results were incredible. Put it this way, I wouldn’t be typing this blog post for you now had I not made that promise to myself, because my blog would’ve never got off the ground.
I’ve already written about saying no and how to do it gracefully but here’s what filled the gap and worked wonders for me last year. I’m hoping they’ll work wonders for you too, as in make you a happier healthier person. I wish someone had handed me this list years ago.
- Meditation – I downloaded the Headspace app on January 1st last year. I started with the free 10 day trial and after that I was hooked. I’m subscribed for a year but they have great 2 and 3 minute freebies too.
- Yoga – Adrienne Mishler and her Sunday yoga videos and emails that come with them are something I look forward to every single week. She never makes me feel bad about my current fitness level or the way I look. I don’t sign up for many newsletters but hers is top of my list.
- Creativity – Photography, writing, making stuff – any stuff – you name it, it’s so good for us and worth making time for, despite it sometimes feeling selfish. I’d rather spend money on creative pursuits than a new pair of jeans any day of the week. It gives us so much more in return.
- Journaling – I can’t imagine being without my journal. Having somewhere to brain dump is so therapeutic. I don’t write in it every day but I aim to, even if it’s just a sentence.
- Reading – I was always reading when I was a child and then I got fed up of it and stopped reading anything other than social media. Last year I read around 25 books, which is a big count for someone who read say a total of 1 (if that) the year before. I’d forgotten just how much books had to offer. Even if it’s just a page, I try to read every day – usually in bed at night. Favourites from last year include Chasing Slow, Playing Big, Daring Greatly, Tiny Beautiful Things and Essentialism.
- Podcasts – I’m a self confessed ‘podcat’. My favourites are The High Low, The Slow Home, Pardon My French, Make it Happen, Real Talk Radio, What She Said (you can here my episode here) and Hashtag Authentic. It’s amazing how much information you can consume on the dog walk, in the car or in my case whilst your mucking out in the morning.
- Prioritising health – 2017 was the year I stopped moaning about my shoulder pain and started seeing a chiropractor, paid for a dermatologist because 6 weeks later the GPs still couldn’t sort my skin problem and it was also the year I started seeing a psychotherapist who I don’t think I’ll ever be able to be without again. I feel SO much better for saying yes to all these things. We’re nothing without our health and it should sit at the top of our priority list.
It’s really important to emphasise that 2017 wasn’t all wondrous – I still have a nasty procrastination habit on my hands and an inner critic that rears her head on a daily basis. Saying no also led to long term friendships breaking down, which was heartbreaking at the time, although now I see it was for the best and was only a matter of time anyway. The most important thing I learned in 2017 is that life can’t always be sunshine and rainbows – and that’s ok. The bad times are actually what make the good times so good and embracing both, and everything in-between with open arms is the key to happiness.
This year is going to be even more about me. This is the year I’m going to intentionally be kinder to and, dare I say, learn to love myself in a very non narcissistic kind of way. In a way that doesn’t leave me beating myself up when things aren’t going so well, in a way that enables me to encourage myself and ask for help when I need it without feeling like I’ve failed. We all need a best friend voice and this year I’m going to try my hardest to fine tune mine.
What about you? What worked wonders for you last year and what’s 2018 going to be about for you?