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Be the best that you can be in 2013

I think we’re all feeling a tad reflective given that we ‘survived’ Armageddon and seen as the New Year’s just around the corner. On the countdown to January 1st we look back at the demons and misgivings of the year that has just passed - and look towards the New Year bursting at the seams with motivation and optimism, vehemently vowing to be a bigger and better version of ourselves (the ‘bigger’ part not being literal seen as losing weight is the most popular resolution of choice!).
But instead of doing the usual by picking the same old resolution half heartedly that we know fine well that by March will be a distant (unresolved) memory, take some time to have a think about elements of your everyday life, or the characteristics in yourself that you may want to tweak here and there so that your year gets off to a flying and productive start.   
Everyone has different ideas about what makes for a good life. Take career for example: Some are gloriously happy in their work; some are content but are not overly driven by career; others dread the sound of the alarm clock that signals the start of another day in that awful place. And some love the exhilaration of having ten hobbies and being on the go all the time; others would give anything to have more time to relax at home with a good book. Some want the courage to challenge themselves by trying something new but lack the confidence to pursue the unknown and have the dreaded fear of failure.
I’ve listed some suggestions and words of encouragement that I feel are relevant to us all in one way or another. Take a piece of paper and write your own interpretation of these affirmations and refer back to it from time to time so that you don’t lose sight of your ambitions for 2013. And there is no mention of losing weight, I promise!

Do something different in 2013

Before jumping to the next sentence, consider your reaction when I write the word ‘routine’.
Do your lips curl up towards the crown of your head or down towards your chin? If you’re the former then you embrace routine: you like the feeling of comfort, the constants in life and resist the notion of ‘change.’ If you’re the latter then routine disrupts your passion for new challenges and experiences. Of course, routine is what makes us function day to day, and we are all creatures of habit to a certain extent. But it can also be a hindrance to our development and enjoyment of life. Our brains crave new challenges and stimulation in order to grow, and sometimes an afternoon of playing Sudoku just isn’t sufficient!
I’ve admittedly become quite the routine Queen in the last year or so, but find myself looking back on the year and smiling at moments that fed the adrenalin junkie in me. However in my annual summary of my year there were not nearly enough new things for my liking in there, and it happened without me even noticing. Life has a habit of doing that to you without you or your conscience being remotely aware, and it’s only when we reflect that it actually dawns on us.
Often, I envy the spontaneity of children. They will be sitting peacefully one second and climbing the furniture the next, simply because it seems like a fun thing to do. Now, I’m not encouraging everyone to start clambering on your units, but just to embrace new opportunities instead of cowering away from them.
Encouraging a mind set of constant self challenge will bring you endless benefits; and asides from it staving of boredom it can open up the door of opportunity – entire careers have been carved from testing the water and diving in only to uncover a talent or passion that you never knew existed in you.

Make your first affirmation:

I will do something that is new, or out of routine, every day, whether it’s something big or small.
Start small. Instead of ordering the chicken every time you’re in a restaurant, try the beef. Instead of going on the treadmill first when you go into the gym, go on the cross trainer. Instead of going on a sunny holiday in Spain this year, go on an adventure to Ireland.  If fear creeps in just when you’re on the brink of trying something new, shoo it away because the elation that you feel after outweighs the doubts.
Next, think big. Aim for one potentially life changing experience to have happened by the end of 2013. Instead of settling with a job that you’re not satisfied in, look into that course you’ve always wanted to do. Instead of sitting at home daydreaming about faraway places, put the wheels into motion and research travelling abroad. Instead of letting fleeting moments of genius pass without a record, write a blog and share your thoughts. Life doesn’t change without action after all, and doing the same things over and over again will inevitably give you the same outcome every time!

Make changes in yourself

We all have character defects that hinder us on a daily basis, whether it’s being judgemental, boastful, dishonest, stubborn, argumentative, lazy, defensive or arrogant (to name but a few!).  Our behaviours are again a part of our routines – the constant things in life - thus the theme passes on. It is without a doubt in our power to change these traits; however it takes a bit more of a conscious effort than, say, ordering the beef instead of the chicken! Addressing character defects is an effective action, as overcoming them will mean less stress and improved mental well-being in the long run.
Identifying things in yourself that you want to change is half the battle, putting it into practise takes time and a bit of effort. For example, instead of jumping to the defence when someone offers a slight criticism towards you, take a few breathes, consider what they are saying and tell yourself that it is not in malice and that everyone is entitled to an opinion. You will walk away from the situation feeling like you have made an - albeit small - breakthrough. You should strive for progress and not perfection.
At the same time it’s important to not lose sight of the good qualities in your personality; qualities that make your friends and family love you for being you. Are you thoughtful? Do you make people laugh? Do you think of others before you think of yourself? Whatever good points you have in your character, concentrate on them, or even exaggerate them; it’s why people enjoy being in your company, and more than likely they will be grateful to see more of it.

Make your second affirmation:

I will be the best version of myself, everyday, by embracing the good points of my character while filtering out the bad.
Mistakes are part of the process – embrace them!  
None of us are perfect, and making mistakes along the way is merely part of the process. We need to make mistakes to learn from them. Setting goals for the year ahead is a challenge, and as with any challenge there will always be ups and downs. The important thing is pushing through the down times and not giving up on your goals altogether. Circumstances in life can change and things may need to be put on hold for a little while, but it’s important not to lose sight of what you’ve set out to achieve.

Make your third affirmation:

 If I am making mistakes then it means I am trying something new and pushing myself – I will embrace mistakes, learn from my mistakes and then move on from my mistakes.
I’ll leave making a list 100 different resolutions to try because you can take what you want from the basic affirmations I’ve discussed and interpret them into what is relevant to you and your own personal resolutions, as we all have different priorities and things that bring us happiness and contentment in life.
What are my own resolutions? I’m going to cook something new every week. I’m going to try skiing, preferably in Switzerland, but if not then Escape in Glasgow will do instead. I’m going to start a new at home study course. And I’ve vowed to get up earlier in the mornings – one habit that I’m not looking forward to breaking!
Happy New Year everyone and all the best for 2013! 


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