When I was a child, my parents bought me a typewriter with those tall keys you have to really press down on to make the letter print on the paper. Later, they bought me an electronic one where you could even install a tippex ink ribbon to undo mistakes.
I’d sit on the floor for hours writing horror stories and trying to emulate my favourite author at the time: RL.Stine.
The trouble was, I never finished those stories. No matter how much my cousin loved reading them and begged me for the next part, no matter how many commendations I won at school for my story writing, I felt like a fraud.
That feeling only worsened as I reached adulthood and wrote endless fanfictions which I never published.
I started a book which I never finished too. One which I had high hopes for at the time which I felt could help others.
The trouble was, that voice in the back of my head saying ‘Who do you think you are calling yourself a writer? Who would want to listen to the likes of you?’
And I listened.
And I continued to write only to myself, saving my work but never showing a soul.
The day I created this blog was the day I decided to give that voice a serious ass kicking.
Who did it think it was to try to stifle my voice and stop me from sharing my beliefs? Who did it think it was to make me deny even one person who might get some value out of what I had to say?
Because when you don’t share your voice, that’s what happens. Someone misses out.
Someone who really could have done with reading the words in the way that only you could write them.
Not only that, but you starve your soul of the very thing that nourishes it.
If you are a writer, no matter how ‘bad’ you think your writing is, you’ll feel it deep down.
You need to write to feel better, you get grouchy when you don’t. You need to post. You’re itching to share your thoughts in long form. When you write, you feel a satisfaction you can’t explain and that nobody else seems to understand.
If any of that sounds like you, what’re you doing continuing to read this? Get out there and write! Someone needs your words. The way that only you can craft them.
It’s World Book Day so grab a cuppa, curl up in your favourite chair and lose yourself in a great book.
Even if it’s ‘just for five minutes’, I implore you, sit down with a good book and realise that a whole hour has flown by.
I’ve always loved my books. I was that kid at school who loved being ‘punished’ by being forced to pull out my reading book in silence, and was annoyed when I had to put it away. Oh, and don’t even think about interrupting me in the middle of a sentence…
As a child I absolutely loved horror books, especially the Goosebumps series. Now I’m 34, and I’ve lost count of the number of self-help books, minimalism books, and other topics I’ve devoured over the years. I’ve also read a few gripping fiction books by some less-known indie authors on Kindle.
So, without further ado, here are some of my absolute favourites. Books which have changed my life, and which have stuck in my mind for some reason or other.
For me, this is the ultimate book on minimalism by an ordinary guy who decided he’d had enough of the chaotic, messy, and unhappy life he was living and changed his life through minimalism. He is what I consider to be an extreme minimalist.
In this book, Cait Flanders slowly changes her life from blackout binge drinker riddled with debt, to one of intention and freedom. This book will remind you that no matter where you are in life, you’re capable of achieving where you want to be. Inspiring stuff!
This book couldn’t have come at a better time in my life, right when I was thinking about where I was going and why. Cait compares her outdoor adventures to real life conundrums we all have, and shares her nuggets of wisdom gained along the way. A truly wholesome book to read if you’re lost in life or wondering if you’re going the right way.
A recent read which shocked me to the core, and further propelled me into eco-friendly and zero-waste living. We all need to do our bit to save the planet, and this book is a great place to start and look at your own consumption habits. Also has a really helpful chapter on caring for certain materials.
This is one of the earlier self-help books I read and has stuck with me eversince. If you want to escape a life of mediocroty, or level up your mornings, read this. Then read the follow up; The Miracle Equation.
I’m a big fan of Jen Sincero’s writing, and this book truly made me feel powerful and opened my eyes. This is a book that talks a lot about The Law of Attraction (which I’m a big believer in), but even if you’re not, don’t dismiss this.
A beautiful and simple book about Zen and simple living. The bite-sized concepts spoken about in this book are simply lovely and doable by anyone. It is a great reminder to slow down and appreciate life. I leave this one on my bedside table so I am reminded every morning.
I love Anthony Moore’s articles on Medium.com. He writes openly and honestly about his own struggles and successes in escaping a mediocre life. When I found out he was writing a book I was really excited. Apparently, this book didn’t do too well but it is a gem with simple easy advice and lovely photos throughout. If you know you’re capable of more but stay stuck every day, don’t hesitate to pick this up.
A very recent read which I raced through to the end on an emotional rollercoaster of sadness, hope, and inspiration. Rachel’s story is one of challenging severe mental health issues through her discovered outlet of running. This book had me almost in tears one minute, and feeling elated along with her the next. She just released a follow up called A Midlife Cyclist.
If you’ve ever questioned your relationship with alcohol or tried and failed to quit time and again, I urge you to read this. Packed full of scientific information, and explores the internal reasons why you just can’t seem to stop. It’s also non-judgemental and shame-free reading. Tonnes of ‘aha!’ moments and dawning realisations.
This book is a classic but despite how old the text itself is, the advice is still incredibly valuable for today. Perfect for learning how to relate to others, build relationships, and negotiate in a positive manner with just about anybody.
And there you have it! My list of absolute favourites to adorn my shelf and subconscious.
Of course, there are way more, but to list them all would take significant time, and there’s even more I’m currently reading.
If you haven’t picked up a book in weeks, months, or even years, it’s never too late to fit in a good book that might just light a fire in you.
Who knows? You might discover something new about yourself.
Give it a chance and spare five minutes of your time for a book today.
It’s the second year of writing on this blog, and over that time, I’ve grown while my pile of belongings have shrunk.
I’ve written a lot about minimalism and the process of decluttering, but since then, my mindset has changed, what I want has changed, and what I thought I needed to be happy has been challenged time and again.
I am now what I consider to be an extreme minimalist.
Minimalism is all about only keeping the things that you love, that you find useful and that bring value into your life. Once the physical aspect has reached a certain point, it extends into other areas of your life such as relationships, career, and personal values.
Extreme minimalism is minimalism taken even further and isn’t something there is such a lot of out there on the internet. Many extreme minimalists have gone furniture-free to encourage more movement in their daily lives as well as introduce even more space to move around freely. They keep only what is essential for them and live as free as possible.
What is essential will differ depending on the individual, and that will always be the case no matter what kind of minimalist you are.
Some extreme minimalists I follow are Youheum on Heal Your Living, and Anja’s Artworld. While my lifestyle is different because I have a family and different hobbies, the extreme minimalist lifestyle very much appeals to me.
As I decluttered more and started asking myself big questions, I realised that I too, wanted more, by having even less.
Of course, because I have a family, there’s only so far I can go. I can’t go furniture free, for example, as I would have done, because my family loves having a sofa, table and chairs. And that’s fine by me. Extreme minimalism isn’t for everyone, and I’m focusing on what I can do personally to minimise my own stuff so I can maximise my life.
So far, I’ve got rid of about 80% of my stuff.
It’s strange to think I used to be an organised hoarder. The stuff I held onto caused drawers to break and arguments between me and fiance (now my husband). I didn’t know what I wanted out of life other than to collect and play as many videogames as possible and write fanfiction which I never published.
I was simply surviving day to day, and was struggling with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.
Growing up, I had been taught that life is a constant struggle, that money is only for rich and/or crooked people, and that my dreams were unrealistic. For the longest time, I viewed successful people with suspicion and saw almost every opportunity as a con.
It has taken many years of working on my past, working on my mindset, changing the stories I told myself on a regular basis and becoming minimalist, to unlearn all of that.
My minimalist journey started a couple of years ago sometime after being confronted with my huge attic hoard by my mum.
Later, we moved into a house we would be sharing with my parents and for a time we had to live in the bedroom while a side extension was built onto the house so we would have our own living room and enough bedrooms for all of us.
Once complete, the living room was going to be very narrow and long, so I knew I had to be selective about my stuff. I wanted a fresh start, anyway. New furniture, new ornaments, new everything.
Over time, I got rid of bags upon bags of clutter. I must have been walking to the charity shops every other other day because everyone in my family started commenting on it and making jokes out of it. “You’ll have nothing left”, “Their shop will be just full of your stuff”.
Ironically, I did feel as if I had a shop full of stuff, yet none of it had brought me lasting joy.
The more I got rid of the more free I felt, and the more my decluttering muscles built. But I also started to feel guilt for the amount of stuff I had mindlessly accumulated. Some of the stuff wasn’t even all that old and was something I had convinced myself I needed but then realised I didn’t or got bored of quickly.
Some of it was gifts I had kept out of guilt and obligation.
More recently, we’ve had our second child who is now almost 5 months old, and the gaming room we’ve had will soon need to become her bedroom. As a result, we’ve been slowly getting rid of our large collection of games and merchandise (definitely some of the hardest stuff for me to part with).
Most of it, I realised, was just to show my identity as a gamer and as an interesting person. I used to want to be like my favourite Youtube game collectors and imagined one day showing it all off on camera.
I wanted my friends to come over and be wowed as they looked over my awe-inspiring collection.
Now I don’t want any of that.
Not only have I parted with a lot of my stuff, I’ve shed a lot of my ego and realised the things which are really important to me; writing, taking photos in nature, going on long walks.
I’m not saying I no longer enjoy playing videogames; that’s something I’ve enjoyed since I was 4, and can’t imagine a life without. What I’m saying is, I want more out of life, and extreme minimalism seems to be the way for me to make room for that.
I was tired of a layer of dust accumulating over everything. Fed up of dusting huge units of furniture. Exhausted with the decision fatigue when I didn’t know what game to pick. Bored of worrying about what might happen to my collection in any number of situations.
I consider myself an extreme minimalist because I am almost entirely free of decor and things that might otherwise overload my senses visually, and I’m considering sitting on the floor more and on fold-away furniture to encourage a more active lifestyle. So far, my long walks have been doing wonders for my stamina.
I’m already experiencing many of the benefits of extreme minimalism:
Less things to clean and maintain, more time to relax, be with my family, or learn something new.
Less visual clutter overloading my senses.
The more money saved by not buying random tchotkes, the more I have to support me in what matters.
Celebrations being focused on family and fun instead of stuff and storage (this is a work in progress as it involves others being on board).
More space to think and for my kids to play freely.
Space for my husband to set up his PC station for gaming and work, and still have plenty of entertainment area left.
Less worry about safety and getting angry at superfluous things getting broken by my kids.
Room for growth and potential.
Space for the big questions in life and for self discovery.
Space for silence and a cup of tea just thinking about…nothing.
I’m quite excited to continue my journey and wonder where I’ll be six months and even a year from now. Likely, I will be returning to posts like these as a fun way to check how far I’ve come.
When you live a counter cultural lifestyle people will have something to say, usually by those closest to you.
As I’ve become more and more minimalist, one of the silliest comments said to me is ‘’you won’t be happy until you’re living in a cave and shitting in a hole in the ground’.
Pretty extreme, right?
But, so what if that WAS the way I’d be happy? (I wouldn’t be, but still…what if?)
I also recently left Whatsapp and Facebook and some of the comments were ones of downright panic and exasperation.
“But how will you keep in contact with people? It’s kind of stupid in this climate!”
But I knew that the damage it was doing to my long-term mental health and the time it was sapping were far worse a cost, so I have stuck to my decision with no feelings of guilt.
As a result, I’ve felt 80% more present and see that I have more time than I ever realised, even if most of it is taken up by a screaming, teething 4-month-old at present.
The people who I’m close to can still message or call me or vice versa so it isn’t a problem.
You have to ignore the comments (which usually come from others’ own fears) and as my favourite writer , Anthony Moore, has quoted ‘Stay in your own lane’, for if you’re busy looking at others, you will crash.
In her latest book Cait also says ‘ People can only see as far for you as they can see for themselves’, which, in my own experiences, I’ve found to be true.
It’s like having a pair of glasses and then giving those glasses to a friend. Their vision is likely to be extremely blurry or the glasses won’t suit them at all.
I was told I was crazy for making a sudden decision to take a counselling course out of nowhere (I had a dream about it)- which turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I was told I’d never make it out there in the world by one of the closest people to me – yet here I am.
I was told that many things in my life were ‘just a phase’ but because I simply stayed true to myself and my beliefs, I am much happier for it and those ‘phases’ were actually important life changes that are improving my life to this day.
You have to do what feels right for YOU. I understand if, like me, you have a family, there may be compromises you have to make along the way, but, ultimately, your life is yours to live, the decisions yours to make.
If you don’t live how you like now, the regrets later on will also be yours, and yours alone.
It’s like something from an apocalyptic movie; a pandemic has been announced, countries are in lockdown, people are isolating themselves for months, and businesses are struggling.
In times like these, it’s easy to panic, and it’s easy to lose sight of the good things around you. And if you’re self-isolating for a long period, loneliness and boredom can set in quickly.
Humans are social creatures and it’s vital that we find ways to connect with others and maintain our mental health, not just during times of challenge, but as a part of everyday life.
Here are some things you can do to beat boredom and look after your mental health when you’re stuck inside.
Deep clean your kitchen cupboards
You’ve probably been meaning to do this for months, but work and other responsibilities meant you could never get round to it. Now is the perfect time to empty those cupboards and give them a thorough cleaning. For more cathartic impact, imagine that all the grime you’re removing are also layers of negative thoughts being scrubbed from your mind.
Deep clean/declutter cutlery drawers
Remove all your cutlery, declutter what you don’t need, and give the drawers a good clean. It’s so satisfying to get your utensils out of a clean and organised drawer, and makes meal times much easier.
Deep clean/declutter the bathroom
Bathrooms accumulate mould and bacteria quickly. It’s also amazing how many supplies end up multiplying in bathroom storage. Get rid of out-of-date toiletries, makeup, and medications, then remove everything else and make the surfaces shine. You’ll be glad you did.
Declutter Rooms In Your House
Start a mission to declutter your home, starting off with one room and gradually making your way round to the others. When you remove what you don’t need and keep only the things you love, you create space and clarity in your home and your life. It also becomes much easier and faster to clean, which frees up time for other activities or rest.
Decluttering is so incredibly freeing on the heart and mind it can become addictive.
Wash/clean your curtains or blinds
I don’t know about you, but I rarely think about the blinds in my house when I’m doing a clean and recently I couldn’t work out why my rooms still had a dusty smell to them. The other day, I thought to check the blinds, and they were covered in a thick layer of dust. Giving your curtains a wash or your blinds a good wipe-down will help to freshen the air in a room.
Wash your bedding
Bedding needs changing once a fortnight, or even more frequently if you’re a heavy sweater. Dust mites also build up inside mattresses, so it’s a good idea to give the mattress a hoover while you’re at it with a dust mite vacuum.
Declutter/tidy the shed or garage
Sheds and garages are clutter hotspots. They accumulate multiples of tools or things get stowed away in them which we believe we might need ‘one day’. If you have a nice sunny day, why not set aside some time to clear these spaces out?
Fix the thing you never got round to
You know that broken toy you promised your kid you’d fix two months ago? The shelf that’s been wonky for the past year? Now’s a great time to finally get round to fixing it. Once it’s done, it’s off your to-do list and your family or partner can stop nagging you to do it.
Self Improvement & Mental Health
Take a course/learn a new skill
Always wanted to become an awesome cook, but never had the time to learn? Thought about learning how to write a book or start a blog? There’s no time better than the present.
There’s no shortage of both free and paid courses online to learn anything your heart desires. Some sites I recommend are Udemy, Skillshare, Open university, and Youtube. And there’s an ocean of excellent, insightful books out there for your chosen topic.
So, what’re you waiting for?
Go for a walk or run around your neighbourhood
Walking or running is a fantastic way to boost your mental wellbeing and should be a part of your everyday routine if you can. It’s also a great way to get your dose of vitamin D on a sunny day. Currently, the lack of cars and human activity in many areas has made for cleaner, fresher air, so there’s no better time to get some fresh air.
This might feel almost impossible when the world around you seems to be going to Hell, but I assure you, if you set aside the time and put some thought into it, you’ll come up with at least a handful of things in your life to be grateful for. Practising gratitude is great for boosting mental wellbeing and for adopting a positive mindset.
If you really struggle, there are some lovely gratitude journals out there which give you some gentle prompts and beautiful pages to look back on.
Before you cast this aside as childish, hear me out. Research has shown that adult colouring can help to reduce stress and anxiety. It’s a peaceful, mindful activity and there are hundreds of beautiful or humorous adult colouring books to choose from. It doesn’t matter how good you are because there’s nobody judging you. It’s all about you and your relaxation.
Music can change or enhance our moods, so if you’re on a bit of a downer, try putting on some happy, upbeat music (or whatever chills you out). Music has also been proven to reduce pain in some chronically ill patients. I have been enjoying sitting in my sunny garden with the living room door open, listening to the radio, and have found it massively relaxing.
Play board/card games
A few weeks ago I bought two classic board games from my childhood: Ludo and Snakes & Ladders. Despite all the screens and other distractions, they’ve been a surprising hit and are something the whole family can enjoy. When the board games are out, boredom flies out the window, people’s cheeky and competitive sides come out, and screens are forgotten.
Recently, I’ve discovered Solitaire Klondike and have become somewhat addicted (no, I really hadn’t played this before).
Don’t underestimate board games or card games for some classic family fun.
I’ve always been a gamer, but even if you don’t consider yourself one, or have never picked up a controller in your life, there are thousands of games out there now to appeal to all ages and preferences.
The Nintendo Switch is a https://www.nintendo.com/games/switch/good choice for access to a massive library of games, as is the Nintendo 3DS. You can’t go wrong with either and there’s bound to be something you like whether that’s puzzles, point & click, party games, platformers, or action-shooters.
Multiplayer videogames are also a great way to stay in touch with others, make new friends online, or have fun with the family.
Help someone in need
For the ultimate pick-me-up, if you’re not sick you can always help somebody in need. With panic buyers emptying store shelves, and the elderly and vulnerable unable to get supplies, there are multiple ways you can help.
You can deliver shopping to their doorstep, leave a kind note, or drop off some flowers. Even making a few phone calls to some lonely people would be a huge help with the current situation.
Here are some links to just a few of the acts of kindness that have come out of the Coronavirus pandemic.
As important as it is to stay updated, there are some things you shouldn’t be doing, that have the potential to increase your anxiety and feelings of hopelessness.
Don’t keep checking the news
The news updates to the minute and it’s tempting to keep refreshing it or checking back to see new updates of what’s happening. But as useful as the news can be, it can also be a huge trigger for anxiety and worry.
Every time there’s a new death, there’s a new headline. Do you need to know about every single death and crime? Keep in mind, many articles are written in a way to grab your attention and make you react with a panicked curiosity. These kinds of articles are often referred to as clickbait.
Set times for when you will check the news. After all, why worry about the things you can’t control?
Don’t check the news/social media first thing in the morning or last thing at night
How you start your day affects how the rest of your day will feel or go. If you start the morning reading depressing, worrying news, those will play on your mind for the rest of the day and keep you checking on events.
Similarly, if you start by scrolling through social media, that can have the same anxiety-inducing effect as constantly checking the news, especially as people are currently voicing their constant anger and worry.
Checking either late at night could keep you scrolling well into the time when you should be relaxing or catching a good night’s sleep.
Not only can the blue light from devices keep you awake, the anxiety from the news or from other people’s feeds can make you too anxious to sleep, and cause nightmares. And if you aren’t getting decent sleep, you’re going to feel consistently crappy.
Don’t believe everything you see on your newsfeed
Along with the coronavirus came the viral wave of fake news sweeping the internet. Companies are trying to slow the tide of fake articles, but there’s only so much they can do. The best thing you can do is to do your research.
Don’t immediately believe what you read online unless it’s from a well-trusted news source or website (in the UK mine ours is BBC News,Sky News, and the NHS website). There’s also the World Health Organisation who keep their website updated with the latest Coronavirus information.
But how can you know if what you’re reading is fake? First, check the source. Is it a familiar website? Has it got a weird-looking address?
A lot of shared fake news starts off with someone who knows someone else, who’s related to someone important, who said or saw something that nobody else knows. A quick Google search should show you if it’s fake or not.
It’s better to ignore ‘news’ like this, as it’s the equivalent of a game of Chinese Whispers – one which starts off with a lie to begin with.
Remember, if it’s not on any of your main trusted news websites, it’s likely not true.
Don’t worry about what you can’t control e.g other people’s behaviour.
In the end, no matter what’s going on outside, you can’t control it all. So focus, instead, on what you CAN control: your thoughts, your reactions, your words and actions.
Try not to succumb to vices such as excess drinking which can make anxiety or feelings of depression worse.
I hope you’re all safe and well during these crazy times. Sometimes it’s hard to believe I’ve not been sucked into some sort of dystopian novel or movie.
That being said, with everything seemingly at a standstill, I want to help in some way, even if it’s from behind my screen. So within the next day or so I will be posting a list of things you can do to beat boredom, avoid cabin fever, and care for your mental well-being.
Greetings all! I’ve just realised it’s been 11 days since my last post, which is annoying because I always intend to post once a week. Illness over the past couple of months has made it hard to be able to post as often as I’d like, but I am working on my latest : Wage War Against Your Inner Critic and Win.
We all have an inner critic; that niggling voice at the back of your mind that keeps you grounded in mediocrity, fear, or self-loathing.
My inner critic used to be unrelenting, powerful, and all-consuming, but I learned how to fight back, and gradually, I started to overpower it.
With the right tools and knowledge at your fingertips, you, too, can take back the power that’s rightfully yours.
The power to control your own thoughts.
The power to carve your own path.
Until then, stay tuned, and remember, you’re awesome!
Yet there’s this expectation in society that if you don’t have a high-profile job and don’t own the latest and greatest stuff, you’re no good.
Marketers constantly try to convince you you’re lacking in life if you don’t own the latest phone, celebrity endorsed cologne, or the sexiest sofa.
You’re not a good parent
You’re not a good runner
You’re not beautiful enough
Not smart enough
Not cool enough
Not happy with your life
But that’s OK because if you buy today, you can rest assured that you’ll be the envy of your friends, and you’ll be so much more interesting.
We rarely realise it, but after a while, those messages add up into an essay about how much we lack, and life starts to feel intensely unsatisfying. Depressing, even.
While embracing minimalism definitely made me see that happiness doesn’t come from a delivery van, it certainly hasn’t made me immune to slipping up and making bad decisions.
On this blog, I talk about achieving goals a lot and simplifying your life so that you can discover what’s really important to you. I even share my successes so that you can hopefully start to realise the potential in you.
But what I don’t talk about often enough are my failures along the way. The times where I take five steps up the ladder but fall down ten.
Let’s face it, even though we need failure to grow, it’s embarrassing to talk about and even scarier to experience.
First off, here’s a little bit about me so that you get a little bit of context: I’m generally happy and cheerful (sometimes to an annoying degree according to my husband), I have several obsessions including writing, reading, gaming, minimalism, and self-growth.
Come into my living room, and you will see that everything is a calming white and pastel green with loads of empty space. I’ve got my future planned out, an incredible family, and quality friends.
But it wasn’t always like that, and sometimes I fall into the same quicksand I had escaped before, slowly sinking back into old habits and ways of thinking.
I used to be a hoarder. Not the kind of hoarder you see on those TV shows, but an organised hoarder. I was in serious denial about how much I owned. It caused arguments with my fiance, and allowed me to carry on hiding behind my stuff.
You can read the story here, but basically, I was keeping it all because I was deeply unhappy, didn’t believe in myself, and identified strongly with my past.
It took my mum bringing it all down to my house and my husband threatening to bin the lot, for me to finally confront the lonely memories and dusty old beliefs that kept me clinging on.
You see, minimalism will make your life a hell of a lot calmer and easier, and it will help you to discover yourself, but it won’t solve every problem for you. Especially those that are nestled deep inside.
It also won’t cure bad habits because they won’t go straight in the trash with your physical clutter. Rather, they get recycled into new, useful habits.
Sometimes, when things get me down like an argument, symptoms of chronic illness, or even writer’s block, I will find myself clicking over to Amazon and Ebay. Other times, I just feel stale in myself, like a mouldy piece of bread.
Suddenly, the bag I bought just months before has a fault and I need a new one. I need a new game despite having a mile long list of unplayed titles. I could really do with that lovely looking lunch box as it will ensure my food doesn’t leak in my backpack (despite never having that issue).
Of course, those are all elaborate stories I weave in my mind which will lead to me buying the product of interest.
As I click ‘buy’ I feel the anticipation of the item’s arrival and start getting rid of things that are relatively new. The dopamine rushes through me, even though I know deep down that two clicks and a parcel won’t bring me satisfaction.
But my brain doesn’t care about that fact because of the temporary feelings of elation.
Days later, the package comes, and as the packaging goes in the bin, so does my excitement. I realise I didn’t really need it, that I could have saved the money, invested in more skills, or gone on a day trip.
‘Call yourself a minimalist? Ha! You’re a phoney, you’re weak’, my brain chatters.
Just to be clear, I don’t have a shopping addiction, because these slips ups don’t happen very often. But the shame is no less intense, and the bad decisions can lead to me making other bad choices such as eating a luxurious helping of Nutella on toast when I know I’m gluten intolerant, or having a second glass of wine even though I know I’ve had enough.
However, unlike in the past, I find that I can get back up from the fall much faster than before. The injury doesn’t go as deep.
I know that I’m not a phony because I strongly believe in what I practise and what I say. As sickening as it sometimes feels, I acknowledge my mistakes, and that makes me self-aware.
Experiencing failure makes you feel like masking the feelings that come with it, and all the mean things the gremlin in your brain might be hissing at you.
But here’s the thing: the more failures you have, the more wise and resilient you become. You grow. You learn. You start to become aware of why you made those bad choices.
I’ve discovered that, generally, when I’m craving something new and making up stories of validation, it’s not the stuff I’m craving but experiences.
It’s not a new outfit I’m after, but love and acceptance.
I don’t want to own new stuff, I want to see new places, learn new skills, walk a new path, blossom into who I know I can be.
However, even though I’ve taken action and forged a new path for myself, the path is long, sometimes a forest gets in the way, and you know how excruciating it can be when what you want is just a little bit further, and a little bit further.
But what we often forget is to enjoy that journey. We can get so focused on hacking through that forest that we don’t see the beauty, or notice the undergrowth teeming with life.
The trick is, to not lurk in that beautiful forest for too long, and if you fall, get right back up.
Remember who you are and what you stand for, and walk hand-in-hand with failure no matter how scary, because it is your best teacher, and your greatest friend.
Why New Years Resolutions Don’t Work And How You Can Master Yourself PERMANENTLY
I know it’s a little on the late side since January has well and truly kicked off, but Happy New Year to you all!
And how are those New Year resolutions going? Still going strong, or starting to feel the burn? Perhaps you’ve already given up.
If the latter sounds like you then worry not ,because today I want to talk about why New Year New Me doesn’t work, and why you can still win big this year while being yourself.
For many, New Years is like starting a fresh new notebook or journal. You know the feeling: crisp fresh pages that you’re definitely going to keep neat and fill all the pages this time. But ten weeks later, it’s full of scribbles and you’re already looking at new ones.
That’s what New Yew Year’s resolutions can be like and this is why so many people are what I call one month wonders.
It’s the same every year; the clock strikes midnight and everyone cheers, pops the champagne and vows to be a better person.
‘From this moment on, I’m cutting sugar and losing weight!’
‘I’m going to find a new job’,
‘I’m going to be more organised’,
‘I’m going to stop smoking’’
‘I’m going to start going to the gym’,
‘I’m going to be a better parent/partner’,
‘I’m going to get a nicer partner’
Half a week goes by. Then one. You’re on fire! You’re totally going to smash your goals. You can already feel yourself becoming the person you’re meant to be, that you’ve always dreamed of.
Then week two comes and you start to feel the burn. It’s hard. Really hard. And you’ve already skipped a few days at the gym, and are falling behind schedule.
Life is hard, so you go out and treat yourself to the biggest, creamiest slice of cake you can find, accompanied by the sweetest, most luxurious hot chocolate. Bliss.
‘Oh well, failed already,’ you think. But no matter, everyone else has as well. I’ll try again once the warmer weather comes.’
Thus, the pattern continues year after year. The resolutions remain the same, and the list is a little longer than before. Why isn’t anything changing? You try, but life just keeps getting in the way.
That’s because New Year New Me doesn’t work like that.
Despite what marketing would have you believe, you’re still you, and growth takes place over a long period of time. Change must come from within if you want to see a significant difference in your reality.
A new you isn’t something that comes about like a change in the weather. It’s like planting a tree, maintaining it, and watching it grow. It takes time and dedication. And you must be willing to fail and learn from it as a part of the process.
Society and social media would have you believe that you must be perfect, and that you can be perfect if only you’d buy this health drink, and this notebook. But the opposite is true.
Without failure you cannot win.
This may feel shocking and a little uncomfortable to take on, but failure is a great thing. Not only do you learn what works and what doesn’t, it means you’re taking action, which is more than most people do.
There isn’t a single successful person who has got where they have or where they did without consistent failure.
Take Thomas Edison, for example. He didn’t see failure as his enemy, despite a thousand failed attempts at creating the lightbulb.When a reporter asked how it felt to have failed that many times, he replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
The reason so many people fail and don’t get back up is because they lack grit, don’t have a powerful enough reason for change to take place, and see failure as a terrible, unacceptable thing.
Also, getting fired up just because everyone else is doing it.
Everyone else is going to the gym and going on diets. Everyone else has a plan. Everyone else is going to be better and you’re going to be left in the dark.
But if you’re one of those people who say ‘Right, it’s New Year, I’m going to be more assertive and look after myself more’, you’re not serious enough.
That’s right. You’re not truly ready to commit.
Because people who wait until the New Year to make changes always wait for the planets to align before they start. They wait until everyone else is doing the same thing, then burn out at around the same time.
If you’re dead serious about becoming a new you and winning throughout the year, the best time to start is always NOW.
You’ve probably read that on a hundred other posts and in dozens of books. You might even be sick of seeing it. That’s because it’s true.
It doesn’t matter if it’s New Year or the end of summer, if you’re twenty-five or seventy. If you really want things to change, you’ll put in the time and dedication from the moment you decide what you want.
As author and entrepreneur Jim Rohn said ‘If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse’.
I used to be a master of excuses and spinning stories as to why I couldn’t or shouldn’t. It meant I could sound and feel temporarily awesome without putting in the work.
If I was meant to be successful, success would come to me. Maybe I’d even win big on the lottery.
I grew up with everyone around me telling me that life is hard, that money is hard to come by, that I should be grateful for what I have and not do anything stupid, aka, go outside my comfort zone and look for another way in life.
I was told that people who have money or who were successful had either cheated the system or won big.
And I believed it all.
As a result, I looked in awe at successful people and thought they were born that way. If someone was in a higher position that me at work I looked at them almost like celebrities. I put them on a pedestal and looked at them starry-eyed whilst seeing myself as important as pond scum.
I’ve also read tonnes of amazing self-help books and done every exercise in them, applying them best I can every day of my life.
That doesn’t mean that I never slip up because I do, plenty of times. But it’s important to keep going. Remember what I said about failure?
Over time my confidence has sky-rocketed, I’ve completed the first course towards a new career as a counsellor, and I started this blog. I also entered my first writing competition despite being so terrified that my heart was pounding before I hit publish.
My mindset has completely altered from what it once was and my old beliefs have long gone out with the trash.
But it took a lot of hard work and perseverance. I had to carve out time for personal reflection and self-growth exercises, to toss out my past in bin liners and boxes, and it had to be more important than sitting with a game controller in hand, daydreaming about a new me.
Change didn’t happen overnight. It took a long time, and I’ll never have completely reached my full potential because growth never stops.
In the words of entrepreneur and motivational speaker, Hal Elrod, ‘You are where you are because of who you were, but where you go depends entirely on who you choose to be.”
To be successful you have to make the choice to carry on long after everyone around you has quit.
It’s easy to enter the New Year saying ‘Hell yeah, watch out world, here comes the new me!’and dive in brimming with motivation, especially while everyone else is doing the same thing.
It’s why it’s always so hard to find a parking spot at gyms in January, why book shops start selling all the motivational self-help books, and why health food and fitness equipment adverts can suddenly be found everywhere.
But simply buying an exercise bike and going at it when you feel like it isn’t going to make you fit.
Buying a nicer laptop or a shiny new notebook isn’t going to make you a well-known author.
Ditching one bad relationship isn’t going to stop you from attracting more of the same if you still harbour subconscious negative beliefs about your self-worth.
Vowing to be better with money isn’t going to make you any richer.
What will get you results is riding that bike regularly, churning out words daily, altering your inner beliefs so that you will no longer put up with mediocre circumstances. Not giving up when you fail, no matter how many times.
What you do must become so routine that it feels the new norm, including the way you think about yourself.
Grit and habit aside, you must also be very specific. If you’re vague and say things like ‘I will be better with money’, you’ll be scratching your head come March and blowing cobwebs out of your wallet.
You need a detailed plan which includes specifics. For example ‘I will not go under £200 in my bank account every month. I will do this by eating out only once a month, and making lunches at home four days a week’.
You must become like the Terminator. Your why must be so strong that it can’t be reasoned with or bargained with, and you must be relentless even when everyone else is back to screwing around.
Let me give you an example of this from my own experience.
When I first decided I was going to change my path and become a counsellor, I encountered a lot of resistance from others; mainly because it had come to me in a dream and it felt so right and I felt so excited that I started excitedly ranting to my husband about it.
Then I jumped out of bed and started looking up courses and thinking of ways to pay for it, even though I was completely broke.
Not surprisingly, my family thought I had lost my mind.
But I felt so intensely that this was the path I was meant to follow, that I didn’t stop. I went on the search for days, researching the career, talking to people, and searching for courses even when it seemed there were none in my area.
I didn’t care how long it took me or if I had to travel for miles on train. My husband was about tearing his hair out at this point trying to talk and shout sense into me (before he started supporting me when he saw just how deadly serious I was).
Long story short, a course appeared in my area as if by magic and in a very short time I applied for and was accepted onto it. In true Law of Attraction style, I ended up with the exact amount of money needed to pay for it and have now completed my course and applied for the next one.
Without a doubt, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I didn’t care what anyone else said to me, what the universe threw at me, or what my current situation was.
That’s how dedicated you need to be if you want to change your life.
Yes you’ll have challenges thrown your way. The universe loves to do that.
Many people see them as impossible hurdles and a sure sign that they aren’t meant to succeed.
Don’t believe it for a moment! See these things for what they really are – a test to see how serious you are. Find a way to barrage through the obstacle and you’ll get to where you want in no time.
This brings me to my final point of staying focused.
Whatever you do, don’t compare yourself to others and look at what they’re doing unless it’s for educational or inspirational purposes.
It’s not a competition and you won’t be lying in the same grave as them when you’re gone.
You’re living YOUR life, crafting YOUR own reality. You can only do this by following YOUR own path in life.
If you’re constantly looking over at someone else’s path, you’re going to bump into trees, get lost and not even see the massive pile of gold you passed ten miles back.
You’ll also probably start noticing how many more weeds are on your path than theirs, not realising they had to hack their way through a jungle at the start.
So stop dreaming and start living, TODAY!
With that, I leave you with one more quote I love by Jim Rohn: “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
I am a writer. You are a writer. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading this.
And just like you, I sometimes suffer from torturous levels of self-doubt. I haven’t published any books – yet. But I do have a couple of amateurish self-help books that were written years in the past and buried in the attic. I’ve also been writing a self-help blog for the past half a year. A blog I was putting off starting for the longest time because I was petrified of failure.
After starting my blog, people contacted me to tell me how much they appreciated me sharing my stories and advice. It was only a handful of people, but let me tell you, when you have a message to get out and you’re being authentic, it’s the most freeing and amazing feeling in the world.
No matter how rubbish you think you’re writing is, it will always entertain or help someone. And you can only get better, not worse. Though if you never start, nobody can ever hope to be moved by your words or inspired by your inner world.
Looking back on my old work, I see grammatical horrors, and an inconsistent flow. It’s all too easy to listen to that voice from beyond the cobwebs of your mind that says ‘Give it up now. Throw away the pen. Nobody wants to read that hot garbage. Everyone will laugh at you’.
That voice is meaningless. Poison. It will kill your dreams and stifle your voice if you give it so much as an inch.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a writer. As a child I would sit at home writing stories in cheap spiral notebooks, or typing up a storm on the old-fashioned style typewriter which my parents bought me; you really had to hammer the keys to get the ink onto the paper. I used it so much that one Christmas, they surprised me with an electronic one and I was beside myself with excitement, my fingers soon dancing over the keys, page after page of prose whirring onto the paper.
At school, I put my heart and soul into writing assignments, winning commendations for the stories I wrote in English. It was exhilarating to have my work read out to the whole class, and I felt proud.
Then I got older. And the more of life’s traumas I experienced, the rarer and more incomplete my stories became. I became convinced that they weren’t good enough, even though my cousin would read them, transfixed, and beg me to write the next chapter. I never did. I would screw up entire pages of prose, rewrite it, then screw it up and rewrite it again, until the story got abandoned completely.
Until recently, I would continue to write half stories, only to leave them behind until they become nothing more than a long-buried memory in Google Docs or on my hard drive. Over the years I’ve read dozens of books and magazines on writing. I formed a writing habit, but it still didn’t cure me of my endless need to perfect whatever I was working on. For me, perfectionism was another form of procrastination. As long as I was forever editing my work, I didn’t have to get it out there.
Then something happened which drastically altered that self-defeating mindset that had poisoned my writing over the years. I rediscovered one of the horror stories I had written as a child.
The story was about an alien that came into my house one day and kidnapped my family, then I discovered the family dog could talk because she helped me to defeat the alien and rescue my family. It’s cringe-worthy and hilarious to read now, but ultimately, this story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
You see, back then, I was too young and innocent to let a lack of confidence hold back my imagination. My child-self simply put pen to paper and wrote whatever nonsense her brain had dreamed up, no matter how silly it sounded or how crazy the plot.
It’s astounding and depressing how as I grew older, experiencing trauma and setbacks, my stories eroded alongside my self-confidence.
For many years I’d been held back by my insecurities: I’ll never be any good, I’ll never write anything worthwhile, people will never care about what I write and will judge my work harshly. Yet nobody else had ever read this story. The cruellest judge of all was me.
Without a doubt I can tell you that your mind is the enemy of your pen. Whenever you put off another project, or another sentence, you are standing in your own way of success, letting doubt and fear gain the upper hand.
But you’re worth more than that, aren’t you? You know you are. That’s why you have so many words racing around your mind. So many untold dreams.
The words you keep locked in your mind are endless, just like your potential.
Whenever I feel that self-doubt creeping back in, I still my mind and get back in touch with my inner child, locked up behind bars, still poised at the typewriter. And I start to write as if I were that fearless child again, simply getting anything and everything down on paper or my screen.
Just like I finally started my blog and gained several followers, I brought down that old buried manuscript of the self-help book in the attic, and began to rewrite it with the knowledge and skills I’ve gained as a thirty-something writer.
No longer am I a writer in hiding.
Through getting back in touch with that eager and neglected inner-child who’s always wielding her pen and typewriter, never caring what others think, I’ve found that old buried confidence.
Because I am a writer.
So, what are you waiting for? Go unleash those ideas and share them with the world! Your words are worth it!