Are you are the type of person that has compiled a list even before the clock strikes twelve or woken up on New Years day panicking because you have already broken two of your resolutions? Well I am here to inform you not to worry. New Resolutions don’t always have to be just for New Year. I’m not about to start condoning New Years Resolutions at all; in fact I often help people compile their lists because if you are going to have them then they had better be good, and of course worthwhile. What I am going to do is rather give you a life resolution list or at least (hopefully) get you to think about it. Get comfortable because this is a long one.
A New Year is always a good place to start I agree, so if you want to stop drinking or read more or even spend more time at the gym then I wish you well and hope that you stick it out for the both of us. But why do you need a New Year to make a new anything, surely a new day is just as good? Cheesy right (it only gets worse.) The truth is you don’t need a New Year so if you find yourself reading this in August then don’t fret, the next few life resolutions can be imposed whenever you feel like it so you don’t need to wait for another year to flash by.
As I get older, I am finding that time goes by much faster. A lot of people have also mentioned that it only gets worse, (definitely not looking forward to this) and this is actually why I have compiled the list below. This should serve as a reminder that life is short although it’s the longest thing we get (more cheese) and because if you don’t stop to watch the sunrise or smell the Nescafé then you miss out on the small moments that make the bigger picture.
I have to admit that this list isn’t all my own thinking, searching the web and reading what other fellow travellers have had to say on this topic got me thinking and I stole an idea or two from friends. If you have read this from some other source then I do apologise but I am in no way shape or form taking the credit for it. This list isn’t the be all and end all either, it’s supposed to just get the cogs turning and ignite a little excitement in those who don’t think they were built to be extraordinary.
1. Go somewhere new more than once a month. Explore more. Start at home. So often I hear people say that they have never explored their own back yard or only do the same thing/go to the same place every time. This simply has to stop. How can you call a place home if you haven’t explored every nook and cranny and got lost down all the weird and wonderful side streets? I know I am guilty as charged for doing this too. I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world (Kenya) and I hardly even know what magic truly lies underneath all the touristy things. Start small like your own village or town. Go to the museums, parks, galleries, local walks or even walk down a street that you have never been down. Look up and down and take it all in. Once you have conquered this small piece then head to the neighbouring towns or even further afield if you are feeling brave. It doesn’t need to be expensive or extravagant but you do need to start somewhere, and what better place than home.
I actually did a little sneaky and asked all my friends to send me a postcard. I love receiving post but this isn’t why I asked them to do this. So often people ignore what they have on their doorstep and most postcards actually showcase the best of the best (it’s how they sell them!) What started off as a little experiment actually turned in to something quite amazing. Instead of receiving notes of love and miss you, most of them wrote about how inspiring the place is or what makes it so beautiful. What makes this so cool? Well a postcard is only a small thing so you have to think very hard about what to write. It surprised me how many thought about where they were and why and it got them out exploring what is right in front of their nose! It only takes a few lines but even they inspired me to go to places that I hadn’t even had on my list. Think about that next time you are out and about. If you were sending a postcard, what would you write?
2. Make the most of your weekends. I’m not saying every weekend has to be packed with activities or adventures, what I am saying is don’t just spend it in doors in front of the TV or looking at something on some other piece of technology. Even if the weather is sh*t you can always find something to do. Leave the house and go for a long coffee, take a drive to some neighbouring friends, walk in the woods or even down the road, read a real book (made out of pages and paper), pack a picnic and go to the park or even check out some stuff to do (referring to point 1). The possibilities are endless. When I lived in New Zealand, we had a rule where every other weekend we would go away and do something. Sometimes it meant just going to the lake with a bottle of wine and watching the day go by but other times it meant packing the camping gear and picking the place to go. Even on the weekends where we didn’t go anywhere we always had a coffee to share with someone or breakfast to be had with the crew. These weekends actually made my time there and if you know me, then you know how much I loved the year I lived there. There is no reason why I can’t create a little bit of New Zealand in Bangor and there is absolutely no reason why you can’t either. This also applies to any work vacation time too. Make the most if it; it’s a better time than any to find some of the world’s magic.
3. Leave your phone at home just once. Again, I am guilty as charged for never doing this. I always have my phone with me and it is always within reach. In my defence I usually use it as a camera when I go out, as I am too poor to have my data on when I am not in a Wi-Fi zone but this point is exactly why I should leave it behind. Phones force you constantly be connected, whether it be by Facebook, whatsapp and even snapchat these days you never seem to get away. Even if you don’t check any of these you are always quick to grab it as soon as it beeps or rings and you even check to see if it is working if you haven’t heard it go off in a while (we all do this, stop lying to yourself). Leave it behind and disconnect for a while. Make some memories that are only for yourself, there is no need to share it with everyone and you definitely won’t be missing anything overly exciting on Facebook! It’s also rude to be on your phone while you are talking to people so if you are in company it should be kept well out of arms reach. If you have just taken a walk then go and meet people for conversations. You never know whom you will bump in to or where you might end up. I might also suggest taking a map if you are going further afield because without your phone to find the way home it could lead to a serious adventure! We used to live without them and I know we all still can. So go on, give it a try!
4. Don’t be afraid to go solo. I am not one for my own company; in fact I rely so heavily on other people for entertainment I actual bore myself crazy sometimes. This year I have decided that I need to be better at this and I have been doing quite well recently. I arrived back to Bangor to what can only be described as a ghost town and to make matters worse my house was cold and empty. This would normally be my worst nightmare but I actually thoroughly enjoyed every day of it. If this also frightens you a little bit remember to always start small. Head out for a walk alone or even grab a coffee by your lonesome. It’s amazing how much thinking you get done with no distractions (especially if you have left your phone at home too!) Once you have got the hang of your own company, get a little more adventurous each time: Weekends away and even solo overseas trips too. It’s a little harder to do this when you have a family etc. but you can always find time for a little me time. It’s healthy to be able to be alone. I know some people who do it so well and it makes me so envious. I am not a boring person and I certainly don’t live in a boring place so I for one have absolutely no reason why I can’t live a little and go it alone while I still can.
5. Lower your expectations. Do you find yourself not liking the presents you got given at Christmas? Hate how no one else can make your tea right? Get annoyed when plans don’t work out as they should? The truth is nothing is perfect and it will never be. We always have something to complain about and this is usually because we have such high expectations that we get disappointed if they are not met. Everyone has done this in some way or another; I do it all the time too. The trick is to be grateful for absolutely everything even the small things. Someone made you tea but it’s not perfect, well at least someone made you tea. Don’t like the tacky photo frame or gift card that someone bought for you, just be happy that they bought it at all. All these things are trivial at the end of the day anyway. Life is never going to be perfect all the time so just expect things like this to happen. You appreciate the good times so much more when you aren’t focused on how your holiday is ruined because the mattress wasn’t memory foam or the breakfast buffet only had instant coffee. Be grateful for all the small things, you won’t always be pleased so it’s better to expect the worse and hope for the best than to expect the best and be given the worst.
6. Own less clutter and more things that matter. We are all hoarders in some way shape or form and often find ourselves stashing things in draws because we might need them someday. I decided the other day that I own too many bits of technology and far too many clothes that have been left unworn for months. Before I left Kenya after Christmas I went through all that was in storage and saved only the things that meant the most to me. What did I get rid of? Enough items of clothing and clumps of paper to sink a ship in all honesty. Instead of throwing them away, give them away to someone in need of it. Charity shops are always good for that and even the local shelters too. Your children don’t need mountains of toys that all do the same thing and your family don’t need the latest gadgets or craze that is going on. What matters are your memories and moments you share. Get rid of all the clutter and start filling your home with photos of family adventures or fun things you have made together. We all need a little clearing out of some sort every now and again. Remember at the end of the day all this stuff is just that, stuff and you can live without it!
7. Love the place you’re in, be in the moment. If you don’t like it change it, you are not a tree. You hate your job or are no longer inspired by the lifestyle you live. You no longer like living in the town or even the house isn’t quite perfect. Whatever it is it is obviously making you unhappy. Life is too short to live in misery so change it; whatever it is, it has to stop. I know this is easier said that done but at some point something has got to give. If your life, sanity and wellbeing are suffering because of it you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. More often than not the answer is no. Like I said this isn’t easy, but (brace yourself for more cheese) it will be so worth it in the end. There is no greater elixir on this earth than waking up everyday happy to be there in that moment. I speak from experience with this, for once in my life I know I am exactly where I want to be. Sure it’s in Bangor and I find myself having to study for exams and write unhealthy amounts of poetry but I wouldn’t change a day of it for the world. It hasn’t been an easy road to get here but I finally wake up everyday with a smile on my face. Even when the sun isn’t shining I know that I am so lucky to be here and this makes me the happiest me I could possibly be.
8. Do something that scares you once in a while. I am not suggesting giving yourself a life-threatening heart attack everyday but you have to give yourself that little rush of adrenalin at some point. Pick up that teeny tiny spider that you think is going to kill you (obviously don’t pick it up if you know this will happen), talk to that one person who you’re dying to speak to but can’t figure out what to say and are still unsure if you can actually speak a discernible language around them, go rock climbing if you have always wanted to but can’t because of the heights issue, even go and get the embarrassing doctors appointment if it has to come to that! Whatever it is it has to scare you. Knowing that you can conquer a little fear each day will make life a little less evil and you might even surprise yourself. Something good always comes from facing a little fear every now and again, just remember the braver you get the more adventurous life becomes too. You will be well on the way to skydiving or swimming with sharks in no time and just think of all those new and exciting stories too.
9. Stop thinking about what other people think, especially when it comes to you. Ok so you are a little weird or different and you worry about what people think of you or you hide something away because you worry people will judge you for it. The truth is you shouldn’t really care at all what other people think, even if it is really really weird. Everyone judges, we all do it, even you are guilty of this too. We live in a society where we are told what is acceptable and what isn’t, how we think we should look and what is “normal”. You can’t possibly keep up. Those little traits you have, or the way you look makes you who you are. Instead of hiding it because someone will a small mind will judge you, you should own it and wear it with pride. People are going to talk, and they will have their opinion so give them something good to talk about. Learn to take their opinions with a pinch of salt and a shot of tequila if needs be. If everyone were the same person we would live in a very dull world. You are you, that is truer than true (thanks Dr. Seuss) own that and remember it.
And last but no means least,
10. There is no better day than today. Stop the procrastinating or waiting for another new year. Like I said tomorrow is a new day, new beginnings don’t need to wait for anyone or anything. If there is something you want to do or somewhere you want to go then go and do. It’s a depressing thought but there will come a time when there is no tomorrow so why waste all these opportunities. You have to live a little to get a lot so start now to make the most of it. Honestly it isn’t easy but would you rather get to the end of your life just to start thinking about all the what ifs? No, of course not. I for one would rather look back on my life and think to myself that I was glad to have done it all. So stop waiting and wishing for better days or expecting things to change on their own because they won’t, only you can make this happen. Start now, find what makes you happy and live it everyday, because life is just too damn short to settle for anything less than extraordinary.