My year of more and less

Perhaps you kicked off your new year with resolutions to overnight change your life as from 1 January and perhaps you have made some real progress - well done!

That is no small feat. Take the time to acknowledge just how hard it is to change.

But perhaps you are like me. I make resolutions every year, with the best intentions to transform who I am with a radical change.

And it works....well, for a couple of days or 10...

So this year, I would love to share a couple of changes I am making because I am simply tired of always aiming and never hitting my goals or for that matter giving up. I am not going to tell you what you must be doing, because you have free choice of your own life and what you want to do. But just maybe my journey helps you and if I can help 1 person then this blog post will be worth it.

My Guiding principles

Lasting change isn't an overnight fix

I haven't formed my habits within the last 24 hours, so I am not going to change that quickly. For example, I cannot start exercising every day if I am a total certified couch potato. My habits I have now formed over time, and new habits will need to replace these over time.

So I am making small weekly changes to form lasting habits that will last for the long run.

One of my goals is to become healthier and lose weight, but there are too many things I want to change which makes my head spin. I lose focus simply because there is too much to focus on.

I don't have time for more

Exercise more, do more, more more more...

That's exhausting! The last time I checked time didn't become more at the snap of my little fingers. So I have to create more time.

That means I need to let go of stuff. Less TV watching, less mindlessly scrolling social media (gasp, what?!), less sitting thinking about stuff and less tv watching.

Don't get me wrong, a good binge watching sessions is great, but I don't want to look back on another year and say Wow! My biggest time was spent watching all the latest series. I would rather say I got stuff done, stuff that matters to me. Stuff I have been meaning to do. I prefer that above tv bingeing. So do less of what doesn't bring me closer to my goals.

My mind is my biggest ally

I am only as strong as my mind tells me. For that I need to keep it in tip top shape.

Less negative words and less putting myself down for the benefit of others. Less "no" and less excuses. E.g: replace "Sorry I am late" with "Thanks for waiting for me", replace "I am so silly for doing that" with "Next time I will do it differently".

Would you tell your best friend how bad she is at every corner? Probably not, so why do it to yourself?

Less Toxic

I need to create time for me and for those who matter most. I can't be wasting it on toxic relationships that do not support my mentality, my optimism and my goals. I would rather invest my time in those who positively influence my life. They just suck the time out of my day, time I spend thinking about how their negative words impact on my life.

Less drama Mama!

Forgive yourself

We are so quick to forgive others, yet we hold ourselves to a different standard.

I am especially bad on this, it is ok for others to stumble, but I want it simply perfect. And when I stumble I get off the wagon and it takes me forever to get

back into gear. So the simplest is just forgive myself, regroup and get back on with a pat on the back - "You will do better next time, it is OK! No one is 100% perfect all the time". And in the words of the wise Anna of Arendelle: "Do the next right thing".

PS - I took inspiration from the Panda Planner in shaping my goals. If I consistently hit my goals then I will reward myself with it to enable my future goals.

So here are my goals and steps for 2021 from one busy work from home mama with a husband, a toddler and a baby, a zoo of animals together with a pandemic shaping our worlds.

Here in short are my goals:

1. Care about my health, inside out

2. Be more connected with those who matter

3. Use my time efficiently and wisely

4. Less junk

I would love to have a greener footprint and all such other lovely things, but let's start with these and work our way up.

  1. Care about my health inside out

Let's get the big one out of the way.

I would love to lose a toddler in weight, but that is unrealistic and when the goal is unrealistic you can't see it and when you yourself cannot see the outcome how can you believe in it enough to achieve it?

For me weight is a by-product of healthy food, exercise and other healthy choices in lifestyle in general.

My body needs to last, so making a quick fix simply isn't good enough for the long run.

Breaking these up into manageable steps:

Drink 2litres of water every day. That means one on waking and tracking how many 500ml water bottles I drink a day. This also means reducing my coffee intake. I will miss my caffeine fix, but I found that green tea makes a great substitute. I like these Tegreen capsules that doesn't leave a horrible taste in my mouth and because they are virtually caffeine free and safe to use during breastfeeding. I use 1 a day and my mind is razor sharp and focused. It also helps boost metabolism, now who doesn't like that?

Go less carbs. I would like to reduce my human made consumption of carbs. Note, this is not a gluten war and I am not saying I will never have carbs again. I am saying I want to be better at this. BUT to make this change I will be breaking it down in steps.

First focusing on breakfast, then dinner and then lunch. This way I don't have too much to focus on all at once and I build a strong foundation. Including veggies and protein at every step.

On those days that life just gets out of hand, my plan is to substitute with Yummy Mummy Protein Collagen Shakes and Booby Bars as they contain all the goodness for health and wellbeing whilst encouraging good breastmilk production.

Including more fruit, more fish and less sugar in my diet. Mind you, these will not happen all at once but over time focussing on changing one habit per goal per week and staying on a habit until I am ready to move on.

Move more. Initially focus on increasing activity. Walking the dogs, taking a walk with my daughter on her bike etc. Becoming more focused with time. Same as with carbs, taking this one step at a time. First start walking 3 days a week. Then include arms, then include other problem areas so that I have a focused approach for my own body. I am a certified couch potato, so leave me to work this way instead of thinking I would unrealistically do 5km anytime soon.

Take better care of my appearance.

I have made some incredible changes to my skin care routine. My best investment today has got to be in a cleaner skin because no smart and clever cream can work on a skin that hasn't been cleaned and primed for it. I use a soft silicone device that is soft on my sensitive skin and won't scrape it like bristle brushes. I have seen incredible changes in my skins elasticity and general glow. I definitely recommend the Lumispa. But I want to spend more time treating fine lines and wrinkles and making sure I use a weekly mask on my face. Far more regular than the sporadic I have now.

I also want to get my teeth whiter. Since I am reducing coffee, it will help this toothpaste to help me get there. I also plan to brush my teeth 3 times a day.

2. Be more connected with those who matter

Spend my time and energy with those I really value and who in turn values me enough to spend time with me, to check in and to generally ask how I am doing. I only have so much time in a day and I would rather spend it wisely with those that care for me and those I care for.

Less wasting time on everyone in the address book that you haven't seen for years and no making empty promises of "we really must catch a cup of coffee and chat" that you know will lead to nowhere.

And on that, less time wasted on people who bring you down and who do not support your vision or goals. Friends support one another and if you have someone who second guesses your every move and turns your thoughts and emotions to a negative mush - why do you have them? If your answer is habit or that you have known them for years - think again about what they contribute. It might be time to let that friendship go. It is completely natural to outgrow and evolve and in doing so outgrow some relationships and let them go.

To achieve this goal, I do have some steps which I don't think needs a lot of elaboration, so here goes:

  1. Sending thoughtful happy birthdays including voice notes and calls instead of just a Facebook message

  2. Spend more time meditating and building a relationship with God

  3. Spend more time alone for self reflection - my relationship with myself is important too!

  4. Check in more with my close friends and family - meaningful check ins

  5. Spend more time with my fur friends

  6. Start a journal and reflect on thoughts

  7. Read more novels and spend down time in a quiet manner

  8. Focus on quality vs quantity

  9. Focus on a positive mindset and remove negative words from your vocabulary, e.g "Sorry for that" becomes "I appreciate your patience".

3. Use my time efficiently and wisely

This one is more about spending my time productive and efficiently.

If I only have so much time in a day, then I need to use it to my advantage.

Create time by getting up early and getting some uninterrupted thinking time or doing time away from the humdrum of daily life. I am in general a morning person, so change this up if you are more of a night owl. The idea is to create a morning routine step by step that includes:

  1. Early morning planning and reflection/meditation

  2. Stretch my whole body (I get a cranky neck) and/or do some form of exercise daily - this exercise can be my meditation too. I like going at it alone.

  3. Morning gratitude and planning my day. Which task am I hitting first? What are my goals for that day? What is in my schedule? This point also needs reflection on whether I have too much on my plate for that day. I tend to plan too many things that I don't end up doing which derails me. So I would rather finish everything and then hit an additional item. So this is important for my mental achievement. Yes, I am complicated like that ok.

  4. This morning routine needs to be made possibly by a healthy evening/afternoon routine that includes closing off the day with big wins and how I can improve the next day. It also includes setting out goals for the next day so that it frees up time in the morning for me.

Get paperwork in place

Perhaps you are a clever person who can pinpoint exactly where everything is in your house including a copy of your payslip from 7 years ago.

Ok, a little dramatic but you catch my point. My paperwork has been a state of disarray for some time and I really want to get it right. I'd like to make sure that all my paperwork is in order. And for that matter I want to get a couple of things in place:

  1. Create a solid process to keep track of all medical related expenses for our friends at SARS. Too often I lose receipts that I could have claimed. I think I need an app here to keep digital copies instead as some paperwork fade over time.

  2. Create an ICE file. One file that when something bad happens you grab that one thing only. One file that includes marriage and baby certificates and our will and testament and all other forms of important information safely in one place so that when you need it you don't need to search and if you ever are in a situation where it is needed you could just grab and go. Perhaps paranoid - don't care.

  3. I really need to spend time on my budget process and streamlining expenses. No more frivolous purchases, rather save that up and invest into things I really want. Less stuff and more worth it. I would rather have one beautiful dress than 3 t-shirts that were on a sale. Like this nursing friendly dress that can be worn simply anywhere and doubles up. I would also rather spend on good underwear and toss out all those funky undies that have been in my closet for too long. Spend my money on items that save time and make me feel good. Less spur of the moment purchases. Make what I buy worth investing more in. It doesn't mean it needs to be expensive, but it needs to be worth it. No trips to Woolworths, buying everything I think might look good and then just ending up taking nearly everything back. Less of this.

Purge my social accounts

Oh boy - she said what now?!

I mean making sure that all the digital forms I have are up to date and clean, that includes my Google Drive account.

Sorting out the pics on my phone, saving them to a back up drive and actually print the ones that I like so much it should be showed off in my home. Deleting contacts that I don't know why I have, deleting apps I don't use and making sure that everything is up to date.

Remove files, that I don't use. Similar to purging your wardrobe - if you haven't used the item in 6 months or more, why keep it?

Unfollow accounts that bring no value to my life and leave groups that take up too much of my feed.

Look at the saved items - put them in a place where I can either use it or get rid of it.

Whilst we are on social media - less scrolling for scrollings sake! My time is valuable and scrolling on social isn't a goal of mine. I don't mind spending some time, but not every hour of my day on social; *gasp* she said that...

4. Less junk

Goal number 4. This is more about the stuff I have in my house. I have dress up stuff from years back when and I have all kinds of baby goods that I kept for my second daughter and I have pots and dishes that I never use.

I need less stuff in my house, I really do. So this goal is about spending time getting rid of things that take up too much space in my house and that offers little contribution. I don't need to keep bits and bobs of string for in case I might need it.

I need to put my foot down and get rid of it all, because I live for now not what if and I don't need things for what if I need it. If I need it I can go and get it.

Most often the things I have are not valuable in money terms - so why keep on to it? Get rid of it, give it either to charity or the black bin but get rid of it. I don't need a cluttered home with cupboards full of stuff.

Less is more. More freedom, more choice. To help me achieve this goal I am planning a day every couple of weeks and dedicating it to get rid of things I don't need and take each room in my house and simply go through the contents of that entire room and make a plan with it.

So there you have it, my goals for this year. If you can relate and I could help you think about your goals, then great! I will call that a win.

My point is this is my year, my time and my goals. Just as you should have yours. If you love what you have and only want to make minor tweaks, then do it! If you want a major overhaul of one or more aspects of your life, then do it and break it down in manageable chunks.

This is my year and I can achieve my goals any way I like. If that means starting a new habit on a Wednesday instead of a Monday, then that is my choice. If I start a new goal in the middle of the month instead of 1 January, then that is my choice. But also, achieving them and looking back and saying I did is also my choice. I can choose to have another year filled with busyness or I can choose to make efforts to achieve my goals.

The choice is mine and I choose to do a year of less so that I can create a year of more.

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