New Year New Blog

So, it would appear the WordPress powers that be punished me for not blogging enough last year, and shut me down, almost forcing me to start a new blog. I guess that would make one of my new year’s resolutions be to blog more, but if you’re at all familiar with me or my work, you’ll know my feelings on new year’s resolutions and my belief and that they are an evitable path to failure. Generally speaking, they are just grand, vague empty promises you make to yourself about the better person you’re going to become in the new year. But the problem is, you have no idea how to become that person. You’ve identified the destination, but you have no road map for how to get there.   

2018 was by no means an easy year for me. Perhaps marginally better than 2017, I only had one hospital stay, but just as many doctors’ visits. I went through shoulder rehab, fell off the shoulder rehab wagon, and then climbed back on the wagon late in the year. I went through a serious bout of seasonal depression, found out my inner child was still really angry about a lot of stuff and I lost my last remaining grandparent. However, I also went on an amazing holiday to a Greek Island. I saw Ed Sheeran live. I welcomed a nephew into this world and I saw my beloved Seahawks kick some serious ass live, with my Big Bruv. Hubby and I went on an incredible trip to the Kruger and watched an unforgettable lunar eclipse together. And even though I no longer have grandparents, for most of my life I had the best grandparents, and that’s more than most people ever get.

I know undoubtedly that part of what made 2018 marginally easier was that I had a road map. No more vague destinations in mind, but clearly defined landing points. Perhaps not exact GPS coordinates, but definitely instructions on how to get there. I also learnt (and am still learning) that change is a skill that requires practice. You can’t change overnight, it requires deliberate and consistent action in the right way and the right order, over time. Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. As you would build on any skill, if you want to make a change, you have to practice getting better at making changes.

I still need to lose a significant amount of weight. I still need to get fitter and healthier. I still need to read and write more. However, I am currently following a healthy eating plan and have cut down significantly on my junk food intake (no small feat for me). I am exercising every day – almost miraculous considering where I was in the middle of the year. I have done a full edit of my first draft of the first novel I ever completed and plan to continue working on it in the new year, and I am ready to tackle the 52-book reading challenge this year. I have a schedule of when I write and I already know most of the books I will be reading to fulfil each category of the book challenge. See. Roadmap.

These sound a lot like resolutions and I guess they are, although I prefer to call them goals as they are long-term changes in mindset and not whimsical, vague ideas of transformation. To anyone looking to make genuine resolutions for 2019 I would recommend picking low hanging fruit. Pick something small, simple, and repeatable that you’re guaranteed to succeed at. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just matters that you succeed with it. This will help you to practice change. Master change first and then up the ante on what you’re trying to change.

My commitments for the year are as follows:

  • Treat days on Wednesdays and Sundays only.
  • Follow exercise programme from biokineticist.
  • Work on novel every day.
  • Work on blog Tuesdays and Fridays.
  • Read an average of one book per week.

I plan to post throughout the year on my goals and their progress. Please follow me on my journey – I welcome encouragement – and share yours with me. A prosperous 2019 to you and yours!

The Five Whys

Well it’s Tuesday as I type this and my fridge is healthily stocked and I’m drinking my green juice, which means it must be time for an update on “New Year, Same Old Me, But Trying Hard to Make Some Lasting Changes”. The juice really is quite green, but it doesn’t taste all that bad. Kale (it’s not as trendy as it used to be, so you don’t need to roll your eyes quite so much), an apple, a plum, green melon, some walnuts, turmeric, spirulina (natural algae – full permission to roll your eyes – a supposed nutrient-dense, high-protein “superfood”). It is extremely green. And some extremely overpriced macha green tea powder. For the liquid I used ginger water which Hubby made last week by boiling raw ginger. Simple as. If one thing’s for sure, being healthy is expensive and labour intensive!

Last week I spoke about how difficult it is to achieve goals when they are vague and not clearly defined. The second part of my Sleek Geek challenge was all about making these goals more concrete and ensuring you have a clearly defined reason for change, otherwise it will be virtually impossible to make it stick. To do this, you really need to dig deep and start asking yourself some serious questions about what it is that you value in life, and why; what kind of person do you want to be, and why? Are you currently living according to those values? Chances are you’re not, or you wouldn’t be in this position (unless you’re just reading this purely to follow my journey – which is ok too 😊). In this modern age it is very common for people to feel unfulfilled in their jobs, and even in their lives as a whole. As though they are not living their life’s purpose. They are falling short of the mark somehow. This is not what they thought their lives would be. Very often, this is because their life is not in-line with what they value.

Bestselling author and esteemed life-coach Robin Sharma has a saying that “Your schedule doesn’t lie”. He believes he can look at your schedule and automatically tell what it is that you value because those will be the things that you prioritise and place importance on in your day-to-day living. If you say you value family but your schedule doesn’t allow for any family time, then either you are lying, or you are living a life that is not in-line with your values. Human behaviour specialist, Dr John De Martini similarly believes that to get to the core of your value system you need to examine your life and be honest about how you spend your time, energy, and money. What are you most passionate about? What dominates your thoughts? In what areas of your life are you most organised? When you are truly honest with yourself about these questions, you might find yourself surprised by the answers, and that’s ok. It’s ok to change your value system, as long you’re prepared to change your lifestyle to align with it.

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Know your why

Knowing what’s important to us and why gives us direction and purpose. As with change being a skill that needs to be practiced, if we really want lasting change in our lives, we need to get to the bottom of why we want that change. And I’m not talking about “I want to be skinny” surface reasons here, I’m talking about the really deep, “five years of therapy” reasons. To do this, Sleek Geek recommends a process called the Five Whys.

Five whys

You begin by identifying what it is you want to achieve. You then ask yourself why you want to accomplish this. You then further the process by again asking why, interrogating your previous answer and asking why that reason is important to you. You ask three further “whys”, each time questioning your previous answer until you have gotten to the bottom of why that thing is important to you, what difference it will make, why it will matter. Once you have your real “why”, which is distinct and very personal to you, you will have something very concrete to hold onto when the going gets tough.

So here are my Five Whys for why I want to make some serious lifestyle changes this year:

What do you want to achieve? Overall improved health and fitness.

Why #1 I want to feel better about myself.

Why #2 I want to give myself the best chance at life, where I have a positive body image, and better self-esteem; and can give myself a better chance at a higher quality of life.

Why #3 I feel like I have more to offer the world and my health problems are holding me back from being a better wife, a better writer and a better person.

Why #4 I want to live a good life for as long as possible, where I can positively contribute to those around me and I need my health to be able to do that.

Why #5 If I don’t make significant lifestyle changes there is a very real chance I will encounter even greater health problems in the very near future and I will never be able to accomplish my dreams of having a family or publishing a novel.

So, there we have it folks. If Why #5 isn’t enough motivation to put down the chocolate and go for a walk around the block, I don’t know if anything ever will be. You don’t get much more dramatic than that.

Chief Seattle