2017 has been very much a year of change for me and my family and I’ve invested lots of time in understanding mindfulness and intentional living. It’s helped me out as an individual so much!
I spend the odd afternoon working from my local coffee shop these days. It get’s me out of the house and provides the additional inspiration I sometimes need. Because working for yourself, from home, can be tough; you must have serious motivation and the strength to say no to the household chores and other temptations (Netflix anyone?) that are rife when you’re at home, with just the dog for company…..
So today, I took myself out of the house and went to my local haunt. One of the things I love most about being here is that I can “people watch” between sentences and whilst off “on my own planet” having a think. I often get sat next to people who chat away, mostly oblivious to the fact that I’m (sort-of) listening. It’s great! A real fly-on-the-wall experience for me and gives me wonderful insight into the people around me and those who I’m writing for.
My company for a short period today was a couple. Just your average couple to walk past on the street; but these guys were more than that. And the difference between them and other couples I’ve witnessed; they truly listened to each other. They were completely engaged in each other, in their conversation. Like they were in their own little world, mindful of just each other, just the two of them. And it got me thinking about how we could all do with some of that sometimes.
Between Christmas and New Year seems to be the time that, amidst finishing the leftover chocolate and swearing never to eat turkey again, we start thinking about next year. About what it might bring and what changes we’ll make. Well, here’s my top three suggestions for making 2018 your best year yet….
GET SPECIFIC ABOUT WHAT YOU REALLY WANT
One of the all-time greatest questions to ask children is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” But, as adults, it’s not very often that someone asks us what we really want. Apart from perhaps requesting our opinion on what we fancy for tea or where we should go on holiday, when was the last time you had a conversation with someone you love about what you, or they, really want from life? Remember our couple from earlier? Like them!
Part of the success of Passive Home Management (which is what The Yorkshire Pudding aims to teach you) is understanding the concept of intentional living. Simply put, living intentionally is taking the time to understand what you really want and making decisions based on those desires. Easy right?
At the moment, you may find that you actually have no idea what you want out of life? It is easier to make life decisions based on what you see around you (i.e: what everyone else is doing and saying) and to let these choices drag you through life. Taking pause in this and questioning your “why” is where intentional living is so powerful and can bring you happiness where you didn’t realise it was missing.
“Intentional living is asking yourself why you do things – and being happy with the answers.” Jennifer – Simply Fiercely
It sounds deep and meaningful, and perhaps not something we can raise over a cuppa and Emmerdale, but, it is something that I encourage you to think about before the clock strikes midnight for new year.
Take some time to ask yourself the following questions, and perhaps pose them to your loved ones too.
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- What do you really want out of life? (think career, family, travel aspirations, etc.)
- Where do you want to be this time next year? (physically, geographically, emotionally, etc.)
If you’ve identified something that you want, give it a “why” too. Most people head into the new year with a plan to get fit, lose a stone, write a book, get a promotion, etc. But why? That’s the question that we often neglect, so be sure to include that in your questioning process. Giving power to your plan with a “why” is a certain way to ensure it doesn’t fail like it has done every other year that’s passed.
Not only does this process give you a real insight into yourself and the people around you who you care for, it can also inspire great change. It will challenge you to set and reach goals and to consider the “bigger picture” of your very finite time on this earth. Getting specific on your “why” is a great way of taking huge strides in your life next year.
MAKE A PLAN
Someday is not a day of the week. A goal without a plan is just a wish. Shall I carry on?
You’ve identified what you really want. Whether that be to lose a stone, spend more quality time with your family or get a promotion, it doesn’t matter. You know your why; what is really driving this decision to change. You’ve written all this down. Now it’s time to get specific and make a decision about how you’re going to get there.
A big goal is scary all by itself. But, if you break it down it becomes manageable. Think about when you want to achieve your changes by (also with a why attached to it) and make a plan of action. Here’s some examples to help you out:
To lose a stone in 3 months:
1 stone = 14lbs
3 months = approx. 13 weeks
This means you need to lose just over 1lb a week
To spend more quality time with your family:
Identify what your family loves to do
Set cash aside in your monthly budget to ensure you have the funds to make it happen
Schedule time to do all the things – those that are free should happen weekly, those that cost should be scheduled as and when is practical to your budget but remember, someday isn’t a day of the week! Save to make it happen! Remember your why!
To get a promotion in 12 months:
Add the following to a weekly plan:
Week 1: What promotion do you want?
Week 2: Find out what qualifications/experience are required to get that job?
Week 3: Volunteer somewhere to get the experience/Sign up for the course to get the qualification
Week 4 – 40: complete the work, do the volunteering, be amazing in your learning
Week 41-52: Make it known you want to promotion. Look at other companies who offer the same role if it isn’t available at your current employer. Apply for the jobs!
Make an action plan for each change you want to make, for each goal you’ve set. Make the conscious decision to break down the big scary goal into manageable, actionable steps that aren’t scary at all. And do them…..
GET MINDFUL AND GRATEFUL
Once you understand everything you want and have a plan in place to make it happen, the next step is not to underestimate what you already have. Now, this seems to be retrospective – I can hear your cries “but Jo, I’ve just got all excited about the future and now you’re telling me to be grateful for what I already have! WTAF?!” But, I have genuine reason.
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie
Where gratitude is an amazing step in self-discovery and creating a calmer, happier life; couple this with mindfulness and the benefits are beyond mind-blowing!
Now let’s talk about mindfulness, shall we? It seems to be all the rage, just another passing fad, but, it has actually been practiced in different cultures and traditions for millennia, just called different things. For those of you that don’t know, mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”
Because every moment matters, and being present on your journey is all part of the fun. Success is the destination, but the journey is full of golden steps we should remember. Just look at our couple from earlier; completely mindful of each other in that moment. Do this in your own life with active listening; most of us listen to reply, not to really hear what the other person is saying. Remember that next time you’re talking to someone you love. Also, take time to be mindful for five minutes a day, alone. Just breathe and be.
Gratitude and mindfulness; When these two super powers team up, I promise that you (and the people around you!) will see and feel the difference.
So, now it’s your turn. What does next year look like for you and what are you going to change to make it happen? Share your plans in the comments and let’s keep each other accountable!