I’ve always been rather a fan of the January reflections but only in alternate years have I managed to post any of my thoughts for self-improvement for the year ahead here at The Little Pip. One of the (some would argue many) downsides to working a full time job in addition to writing a blog like this is that time is limited. Stating the effing obvious of course but I am good at spinning many plates and still finding a few minutes for writing. It helps of course that I am happy to press publish without too much agony but still, it’s something I enjoy, need and therefore I do find time to do.
I went back to work after maternity leave at the start of the month. Somewhat unrelated but I mention it because I used the time away from squeezing in blog related admin to spend time hanging out with my children and family, recovering from at least 8 weeks of back to back lurgies and generally reflecting on why my most recent attempts at new year’s resolutions have all remained resolutely the same. Same old stuff. The only progress I have made is the one where I wondered what to do about a second child. That answer of course came last April.
Looking back, I suppose I will wonder what took me so long. I think I was just approaching things wrong. I suddenly realised that I have not made a conscious choice about how I/we want to live. Blame everything I like from parents to being a generation X renter, but I have been making my life decisions the wrong way round. A work related strategy for me starts with considering the outcome and then working out how to get to that place, but instead of starting from the outcome, I’ve been plodding along with a whole bucket load of assumptions. I’m still not sure what my desired outcome is, mind you, but I’m hopeful a new mindset will help me find it.
So, I have decided this year I will not have resolutions as such but will get behind a trend for which I am at least five years too late and choose a word for the year. No matter which way I frame this, the word I’ve chosen is negative but I have decided to overlook this because sometimes the negative can be a positive; just as a decent amount of white space on a page brings additional meaning, so will reframing my resolutions by starting with a more negative concept.
My word is reduce – stuff, debt, stress, negative thoughts, wasting time with pointless multitasking and so on. I’m not going to make big proclamations about not buying anything, or stopping blogging, or reducing time on the internet because I like doing all of those things. What I do not like though is the stress with which the stuff in my flat raises or the personal anguish I feel after I have wasted an evening neither doing something useful online nor watching a film because I have been doing both, simultaneously, and therefore actually doing neither. Instead, I am going to try and approach things with a more mindful or meaningful outlook – being more conscious of why I am doing things and what I would like life to be like. An outcome based focus, if you like. Do I actually need the thing I am buying or am I doing it because up until now buying things has made me feel better. I do not have to keep things because I have always had them – a lot of the things I keep out of some misplaced sentimentality are just things, and not even ones intended to be long lasting. It is ok to get rid of things people have given me, or that I do not like, or simply do not have space for.
A major change in mindset came after watching The Minimalists documentary on Netflix. Whilst I realise it is a privilege to have earned or acquired enough money to have many possessions and a privilege to be able to let them go, it is also simple reality. I can make more mindful decisions in the future but lamenting how I got to here is not going to change anyone else’s situation.
Two things really resonated: “Use things; love people” and the more practical 20/20 rule – I do not need to hold onto things ‘just in case’ because I might need them again if they can be replaced in under 20 minutes for less than £20. I do not need to keep things which are worn out or tired because I might want to use them again – particularly clothes and household items.
As to how this fits with blogging and my search for a beautiful life and enjoyment of recommending products, that will not change. I will still work with brands that I like and use their products and will be happily recommending away as I do now, because I enjoy doing it. It is up to each person as to what they buy, bring into their lives and use – I do not see the two things as mutually exclusive.