Positive Intentions for 2018
So long 2017. It’s been emotional.
Thank you, to all our customers and readers of this blog. We couldn’t do it without you.
The beginning of a new year is a time for reflection. A time to consider how we want our lives to be, how we measure our success, and what kind of world we want to live in. We’d like to start 2018 with a dose of honesty:
Life is hard. Life can be crappy. Life is not a succession of peak experiences; no one’s life looks like their Instagram feed. Most of your life will be spent doing mundane things.
And guess what? That’s fine.
There is no place, no matter how much we earn, how toned our abs are, or how many social media followers we have, where life is free of problems.
With that in mind, let’s look at some ways we can make the next year interesting and rewarding, without the weight of unrealistic expectations.
Our goal for 2018? To have better problems.
Nurture a relationship
Your friends and family - is anything more important? We’re all going to die soon, so if you love them, tell them. One of the most enduring Christmas clichés is warring in-laws, but taking loved ones for granted can bite you in the ass.
Choose one relationship you feel needs work, someone you would like to spend more time with or talk to more often. It could be a parent, an old friend you’ve drifted apart from, or an estranged child. Pick up the phone or meet for coffee. Whatever it is, sacrifice something less important and make space for that relationship that needs TLC.
Get more sleep
Why has sleep become a sign of weakness? Our culture seems to value burning the candle at both ends: If we could only eliminate those bothersome hours of rest we’d be able to earn/work/play more.
The truth is that lack of sleep is killing us. Why we need sleep is still largely a mystery but it is a wondrous and vital thing. Anything less than seven hours a night is sleep deprivation.
Try a bedroom phone amnesty, and stay off electronic devices in the hours before bed. You can’t whirr up your brain with blue light and information, then expect a restful night.
This list, by its nature, is encouraging you do stuff. How about doing less? Empty space in your diary is an opportunity to relax and be thankful that you are above ground.
Our social media feeds buzz with tales of high achievers. That guy who wrote the book while scaling the mountain and curing cancer? He’s a freak. An inspiring freak, but a freak nonetheless.
We’re not saying don’t be ambitious, just be mindful that if ambition consumes you, other areas of your life are likely to suffer. So what can you stop doing in order to make space for, well, nothing?
Get involved in your community
The world is falling apart around us. That’s what it feels like if you absorb too much news.
You can’t single handedly (or multi-handedly for that matter) solve the Middle East crisis. You can’t halt global warming on your own.
You can make a difference right outside your front door.
Ironically, it’s the things we do for others that can have the most impact on our own sense of well-being. In your neighbourhood, on your street even, there are people and groups who would benefit from your input.
Anyone can learn to cook, and cooking a meal for people you care about is one of the most fundamental acts of love there is.
Have you noticed that as cooking programmes proliferate, so do options for eating without doing any? Watching Masterchef, or clicking on Deliveroo, will never be as enjoyable as whipping up a pasta sauce for your mates.
Many people say they don’t have time to cook. If nurturing your body with nutritious food is not on your list of priorities, it’s time to have a word.
With yourself and with others. Little white lies are sometimes necessary to oil the wheels of relationships; brutal honesty at all times can be dangerous. However, saying how we feel is, most often, a positive and empowering act. Difficult emotions and situations cannot be addressed without dialogue.
If there is something you need to say to someone, choose the best, most compassionate words (you could write it down first for clarity) and the best time, then say it.
Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most is an excellent book on the subject.
Do something that scares you
This will vary from person to person. You know where the threshold of your comfort zone is. For some, the scary something might be bungee jumping. For others, it might be going to a party they would be normally avoid.
Danger is not a prerequisite here. Telling someone important how you feel after a long period of radio silence could easily be the most rewarding, and scary, thing you do in 2018.
This fantastic article by Mary Schmich, which was later transformed into the cult hit ‘Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)’ by Baz Luhrmann, is an inspiration here.
Try the 30-day challenge
Pick a challenge or hobby, something creative or physical, and do it every day for 30 days. First thing in the morning is ideal. It might be playing the harmonica, drawing, running, or walking to work. It could be an activity you’ve neglected, or a brand new one.
30 days is long enough that the improvement will be marked, and short enough that it’s achievable. If it’s going well, keep going. But only concern yourself with the first month initially. You will have to adjust your routine to accommodate the new item, but that’s no bad thing. Switch up your itinerary and ditch something that’s not working for you.
Listen to your intuition
We make most decisions with our heads. We weigh up the pros and cons, write lists, consider quantifiable factors like money and time. Logic and reason are powerful tools. However, they are not always the best ones to use when planning our next moves.
Consider an obvious scenario (real life is rarely so clear cut). You are presented with a job opportunity. Good salary, but creatively unfulfilling. Your head might say yes—what you earn is an important consideration. What does your heart say? Choosing income as the ultimate value is unlikely to bring happiness.
Take the time to listen to your intuition.
Get a dumb phone
Can you believe the iPhone was only launched in 2007? It’s almost impossible to imagine life without our smartphones. Technology brings many benefits, but so does being present in the physical world and available to those around you.
Although switching to a phone without internet might hinder your life in unacceptable ways, you could see it as an interesting and potentially rewarding experiment.
Face each train journey with a book or magazine or, heaven forbid, nothing. Wait in pubs for friends with no distractions. The world is happening around you, not inside that plastic box. Set yourself free, at least for a time, and read My Life Without A Smartphone.
Bring it on, 2018. We’re ready for you.