This year I have lost (and kept off) forty pounds. Ran my first 10k races (plural!). Left a PR job I hated (okay, fine. I basically got fired, but fuck it they did me a favour). I spent six weeks in Rome, and finally visited Sicily and Sardinia, as well as Milan and Austria. I wrote a book proposal and began, finally, talking with professionals who are genuinely interested in my project (!!!!!!). I wrote 30,000 words. Moved to Russia for the winter. Got photographed naked. Started freelancing. Booked a flight to Bali for New Year’s Day. I tripled my blog traffic, made the kind of friends I could not, now, physically live without, and I got my heart a bit dented and survived.
2014 has been, in no uncertain words, the making of me. I have changed my outward life, and I did it absolutely on purpose. But. But I didn’t realise the magnitude of what I’d done, what I’d achieved, who I’d become, on the inside, until I wrote it in an email. When I saw all of that information together, in one spectacularly impressive paragraph, I stopped typing for a full ten minutes and just… stared.
Fucking hell, I thought.
Every month this year, religiously, I have sat down to reflect on the month before, and focus on the month to come. My notes are based on a template from Life Less Bullshit, and to illustrate how useful this idea has been to me, I listed some of my accomplishments to website author Nicole. Hey, I was trying to say, what you write on the internet means I have been inspired to do this – and this, and THIS - with my life. So… thanks!
One of her prompts is to send a gratitude note every month, and this month, at the end of this bonkers year, it needed to be to her.
What you do matters to me, I added. Because wow: how often do I think that versus how I often do I say or type it aloud? I want to get better at it – at saying “You make a difference to my days.” Once a month isn’t enough – but it has been a good start.
I’ve been thinking about this upcoming year. About 2015. About where to go from here – and how to do it. And I’ve been struck by the simple truth of how I’ve come this far: I shrunk my world to make it bigger.
Isn’t that oxymoronic?
I achieved big, sexy things, one very unsexy step at a time, day-on-day-on-day.
Is it possible, then, that I did more by trying to do less?
Could it be that simple?
I didn’t change my entire lifestyle overnight. And I still have such a very long way to go to truly be living as I want. Oh, boy: I’m still chasing the dream of writing pretty words, in a warm place, with yoga every day and a plant-based diet, with enough money in the bank to head on off to another warm place to write more pretty words and try other plant-based foods if the whim takes me.
But I’m closer to that than ever before.
When I was losing weight that was, literally, the only thing I focussed on for a solid three months. I got up, ate my prescribed foods, went to work, came home, ran, ate more prescribed foods, and then went to bed. I did that every day, for almost a hundred days, until I thought I had enough of a handle on my new habits to head on back out into the world without reaching for the nearest glass of prosecco and cream cake. And it worked. A few wobbles aside, it worked. And everyone wanted to know what my secret was, how I’d done it. Transformed my body. How disappointing that I did it by focusing on the one thing I really wanted – to become, finally, healthy and balanced – and made it my priority.
Because of these monthly reflections, I have systematically chosen my priorities, month by month, and deliberately considered how to go about them. That’s it. That has been the “life hack” of my 2014.
Awareness, and then action.
And the reason I’m writing all this in a post is to say, YOU GUYS: I was the laziest, “if-it-doesn’t-happen-I-obviously-didn’t-want-it-enough”, “let’s-see-how-it-unfolds” girl out there. If it didn’t feel good, I didn’t get involved. I didn’t slow down enough to listen to myself, either. If I was always doing something then “progress” (whatever that means) was bound to happen.
We get the life we want by identifying, first, what it is we’re after. And then we make it a priority, and accept that actually, we can’t have it all. But goodness, little by little, we can have a whole lot more.
You can see my monthly reflections here, if you'd like: