Review of 18 for 2018

Hanging planters in a beautiful restaurant discovered in Copenhagen

Earlier this year, I created a list of 18 things I wanted to do in 2018 that would bring me happiness and joy. These were not resolutions in the traditional sense, i.e. based on ‘lack’. No, this list is positive additions I wanted to make to my life. You can read the original post here.

  1. Take a relaxing holiday in a country I haven’t visited before. Copenhagen! Having never been to Denmark, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a truly fantastic break and a wonderful experience, I absolutely adored the place
  2. Swap my make-up and skincare 1 at a time to vegan I may write a post on this alone! The amount of brilliant discoveries I have made has been eye-opening. I now have a full set of make-up and skincare that is 100% vegan, but I do still wish to use up the last remnants from earlier this year.
  3. Join or start a book club Earlier this year, at the encouragement of my boyfriend Dan, I went along to my first Shelf Help book club meet up, and I haven’t looked back! I have met such brilliant people, read so many books that I would never have picked out were it not for Shelf Help, all of which have helped me to learn and grow personally.
  4. Learn 3 pieces on piano from memory Unfortunately I did not get far with this one! I did sit down on several occasions to play, but definitely need to lower the bar and choose some easier pieces!
  5. Be ‘bad’ debt free – cut up my credit cards and only keep one Such a relief to be able to cross this one off the list! All are moved to low interest loans, with a payment plan!!
  6. Clear out – donate to a charity shop all clothes I don’t wear and get rid of all toiletries I don’t need Done, through necessity when I moved house!
  7. Complete Chartered Institute of Marketing qualification. Done! Now just waiting on results to arrive in the new year!
  8. Find the perfect vegan entertainment menu for both casual and formal dinners This one I still don’t have fixed down. I have experimented with so many vegan recipes this year, so I am happy to have this on my list, but I still haven’t discovered the ‘showstopper’ that would please a crowd.
  9. See a world-class ballet in London Very much disappointed not to have done this! Budget was a limitation, as well as finding the time, but I do hope to do this next year.
  10. Write a book Sadly not, although my writing output has increased thanks to this blog, so hopefully with the momentum I will find the time next year.
  11. Go on a yoga retreat Yoga retreats did turn out to be significantly more expensive than I had expected….! However, I am now working at a yoga studio and absolutely have increased the amount of yoga I’m doing, which is a start!
  12. Take an art class – drawing, painting or crafts Nope, didn’t get round to this one
  13. Visit the lake district and do some walking Done! Wrote a little about the trip here, and going back in January. Can’t wait for my dose of walking and fresh air!
  14. Start a blog Done!
  15. Do a happiness project Nope, didn’t get round to this one
  16. Hand make 2 cards Again, nope!
  17. Be a tourist at home: Visit 5 attractions in London that I haven’t visited before I’ve hit 2 out of 5: Sky Garden and Royal Albert Hall.
  18. Write a letter to the Queen of England requesting the documentation of an eye-witness account based on her experience in the public eye Not yet, but will update if I do so before the end of the year – there’s still time!!
Peaceful moment captured in the Lake District

What have I learned from my word of the year, Epanouissement*?

*Unnecessarily fancy French word that means ‘Growth’, in the sense of personal development

Setting a word of the year was a nice idea, one which I thought could be fun and help me to reach my goals. Little did I realise what a transformative influence it would have on me this year!

This word, in my mind all year, has proven to be a guidepost. At every junction, when I have struggled to decide on a course of action, the idea of personal growth has offered me the right answer. It has pointed me toward the path of improvement, of self-betterment. As I look back, I see that I have grown in so many ways throughout the year.

Mid-year, I decided to train for my first half marathon. The idea was to set a medium-term goal, and work toward it consistently. In the past, I have found short-term and long-term goals to be achievable. Yet, over the medium term, to quote Seth Godin, I have always struggled to move past the ‘dip’. The dip is the point at which motivation has long disappeared and the long-term habit has not yet formed has always been a stumbling block.

The half marathon goal was therefore my attempt to overcome this and prove to myself that I am capable. Although a knee injury set me back, I continued to train for the half-marathon for as long as my knees would allow, before eventually taking the advice of a physiotherapist and rested.

At my peak, I ran 15km, which was a personal best, and close enough to a half marathon to know I am capable, once my knee has recovered.

As one door closes, another opens

The set-back and frustration led me to search for a way to rebuild strength in my knee, and enable me to start running again. When Zanna Van Dijk launched her 12-week fitness programme, I knew this would be an opportunity to follow a structured programme over the medium term (!) and get back on track. I am now thrilled to have almost completed week 12, with 2 workouts left to do this week!

Although aiming to find a solution to my weak legs, I discovered that a routine of regular exercise also helped my mental health. As I exercised more, I not only noticed that my happiness exponentially increased (which itself was a massive learning!) but I noticed how the rest days impacted my anxiety. After two consecutive rest days with zero physical activity, my anxiety would be disproportionately high, to the extent that it stopped me sleeping. I am now pleased to be able to have a degree of control over this, knowing that a couple of yoga sessions on my rest days and a short walk is all it takes to keep my mental health in check.

Discovering my inner book worm

With a focus on growth and development, I have refocused my awareness on how I use my time. I have aimed to cut out those activities which drain my time for minimal reward and focus my attention on things I truly want to achieve. Often, what I want to do is superseded by what I feel I ‘must’ or ‘should’ do. With growth in mind, I have accepted reading as an activity I should be doing in order to achieve my goals, and as a result the pace of reading has increased dramatically.

Supported by Shelf Help the fantastic book club I joined this year, I have rediscovered my love for books, both fiction and non-fiction, across a variety of genres. The books I have read this year have opened my eyes to new ideas, developed me intellectually (I hope!) and provided a source of joy and connection to those around me.

2019

Lastly, I have a greater awareness of what I want to achieve. I am proud of my achievements that have grown over the course of the year, but equally excited for what 2019 will bring. I have a clear picture of not only what I want to achieve in 2019, but how I want to live my life.

Sending best wishes for your health and happiness in 2019.

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