They’re not so much resolutions, you see, as choices I want to make about how I live my life and how I think, this year. I figure that if I focus on these, the life goals that I have – the writing work I want to do, the creative projects I want to develop, the marvellously calm and fulfilling home and family life I want to create – will all feel more achievable.
I want to be clear at this point that I’m writing this today as somebody who is struggling with all of this. This isn’t a list written by somebody who’s got it all worked out and who’s advising you on how to be better. This is about writing down what I know I need to do and remember, so that I have it to refer to. And it’s here, too, for anybody else who finds it difficult to keep their habits and mind in check, should they need a little reminder.
This is my plan for 2019:
1. Be a better planet inhabitant
I’ve been trying, like so many of us, to recycle more and to minimise my impact on the planet. I’ve found it really useful to hear from others about action they’re taking, so here are a few things I’m doing on this front:
a) Using washable sanitary products. There was a piece on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour during 2018 about the level of plastic in sanitary products, and I felt ashamed that I’d simply never considered it. So, I’ve purchased reusable ones as a simple way to reduce the amount of plastic I use and chuck away. I went for these, and there are plenty of others available too.
b) ALWAYS carrying a shopping bag with me. I have become that woman who stands behind her husband in a queue in a supermarket shouting DON’T LET THEM GIVE YOU A PLASTIC BAG, I’VE COME PREPARED! My in-laws bought us a SakItToMe bag for Christmas (they roll up really small and are super easy to carry around) and I’m going to make sure I have it with me at all times.
c) Reducing our meat consumption because science says it’ll help, and listening to science is a good idea.
d) Always taking water out with me. I know it’s an obvious one, but having a baby is such thirsty work that it’s forced me to realise how easy it is to always have a water bottle with me, rather than buying a drink whilst I’m out. I want to try and spot other ways I can cut down what I put in the bin by thinking ahead.
As I said, these are just a few steps I’m taking, and I’d love more ideas. What are you doing to live a greener life?
2. Focus on what I can control: My words, my actions
I’ve mentioned this on here so many times, but whilst it’s a simple concept, it’s very easy to forget.
There are two things in this world that you can control – what you say and what you do. That’s it. When I feel myself getting into a worry spiral (this happens to me regularly), it tends to be because I’ve started tricking myself into thinking that I can or should be able to control other things. But no matter what the situation is, or who it involves, these remain the only two things within our power.
This year I want to be quicker to acknowledge this, as it always makes me feel calmer and lets me put my brain space to better use. Perhaps if somebody could text it to me everyday? I think that would help.
3. Worry less about what people think
I’m never surer that a person cares what people think than when they tell me that they don’t care what people think. OF COURSE YOU CARE, YOU’RE NOT A PSYCHOPATH.
But what matters is that you don’t let it get in the way. That you don’t spend more time thinking about what people think than doing what makes you happy.
I worry every time I write a blog post that somebody somewhere will see it as further evidence that I’m a moron, but do I let that stop me hitting publish? No, I don’t. I just do it and hope that if they think it, they’ll resist the temptation to email me to let me know.
I doubt very much that my worrying about what people think has ever had any bearing on what they’ve thought of me anyway, so it’s really not a good use of anybody’s time.
4. Stay focused on what I’m doing
Is a New Year’s resolutions list even complete without a mention of a more mindful use of social media? I don’t think so.
I have a terrible habit of looking at other people’s life updates and seeing them as evidence of the ways in which I’m failing. I’m most affected by anything to do with people’s careers, particularly when people share publications they’re writing for or books they’ve published (Why don’t I write for them? Why hasn’t the book I haven’t even written been listed as a bestselller?). Since I had a baby, I’ve also started partaking in what I like to call ‘Parenting Inadequacy’, which I highly recommend. All you have to do is forget absolutely every single thing you’ve ever done for your child, look at one photo of a stranger with their offspring in a museum/garden centre/puddle and let yourself feel like the world’s worst mother. It’s fun AND worthwhile!
This is all a total waste of time, leads to nothing good, and is entirely self-inflicted, so enough already. Be inspired by other people, sure, admire their photography if you like, but spend all your time comparing and all you’ll gain is a headache. I’m not a failure for not being somebody else. Being just the one person at a time is NORMAL.
5. Remember that my achievements incorporate everything I’m doing
It’s easy to slip into thinking that you’re not doing enough. Be it for your child or towards your career or whatever. But everybody only has so much time, and life is just a constant game of prioritising. Some days I just have to be a parent and a tired human and my other ambitions have to take a back seat. And then other days I’m full of energy and writing ideas and I manage to get lots done.
I’m prone to focusing far more on what I’m not doing than what I am. And I also let myself forget how much work goes into the various aspects of my life. Being all the different types of people that we are to this world – a mum, a wife, a writer, a The Marvelous Mrs Maisel enthusiast – takes a huge amount of time and energy, and our sense of achievement should come from it all.
6. Be a better friend to myself
You know what I’m good at? Listening to a friend or a stranger about how they think they’re failing at life and then telling them all the reasons why they’re not. You know what I’m bad at? Doing the same for myself.
I met a mum outside my daughter’s nursery this week and told her she was absolutely doing the right thing by having a day where her child was being looked after by somebody else so that she could go and get some jobs done. I then told her how terrible I was for doing the exact same thing.
This year I want to try and step in on my own thought process and be the stranger who would definitely tell me that I’m not such a failure after all.
7. Value my time
I don’t get a lot, mate, what with the baby and the washing and Coronation Street on five times a week. So I want to be more mindful about how I use it. Be present when I’m with my daughter – play with her, look at her, take her in, and try not to be doing 300 other things at the same time. Check my phone when I have something to check rather than just scrolling for no reason at all. Read a book in the evening, rather than channel hopping until I fall asleep. Use my daughter’s nap times to write and pitch and connect with the creative side of my brain.
I guess what I’m saying is that I want to be kinder to myself, and to the planet this year. How about you?
Thanks so much to everyone for reading what I had to say in 2018, and I look forward to chatting to you more in 2019. Happy New Year, friends.