New Year, New Start

Saturday 18 January 2014


Hello beautiful world!

So, I'm a little late to the party,  but it's a New Year and I'm back and energised, and ready to give this whole blogging thing a bit of love. 

Being busy at work and trying (unsuccessfully) to move house has been feeling like its taking over my life, but I've realised that I need to make time for the things that I love doing as well.

Here we are at 2014....didn't popular culture tell me I'd have a jet pack, a hoverboard, and a retinue of sassy robot friends by now?

I thought I'd share my resolutions for this year:

>>    Become debt-free

This sounds like quite a big one, but it's not really. In fact, hopefully it will be an 'easy win'. I've been silly and naive with money when I was younger, and I left uni with two large overdrafts, credit cards, store cards and goodness knows what else. I wasn't financially responsible at all, and didn't even open my bank statements. Since then, I like to think I've grown up massively when it comes to money matters. I've had to learn responsibility, I've become a homeowner, plus being married to a financial advisor puts a bit more of a focus on being sensible with money!

Now, all my credit card debt is on a 0% card and I've been steadily paying chunks of it off, I've built up some savings and I've even analysed my credit report. But this is the year I want to finally wave goodbye to being in debt. I will still have my mortgage, student loan and car loan, but I want to be rid of all credit otherwise. I only have under a £1000 left to pay off, so hopefully it won't take much longer -  just a few months and I should be able to tick this off my list.

Taking it forward, I resolve not to build up any more debt, and to save up for the things I want rather than relying on credit. I don't want to worry about debt anymore.

>>    Be consistent with my health and 'join the dots'

It wouldn't be New Year's without some kind of diet and exercise related resolution, so here it is! I think that when it comes to health, I've been doing all the right things. I visit the gym, I've started running home from work a few nights a week, and for a while I was doing morning workouts. But I don't do any of the above enough, or consistently enough to get real results.

So my goal this year is to join all the dots up and try and make what I'm already doing work better for me. In addition, I want to start lifting weights, proper weights, not girly ones. Too many women are afraid of it, but I read a very enlightening blog post recently that really changed my mind about it (view it here)

I also had a flirtation earlier last year with the 5:2 diet. It was the only diet I've ever tried that worked for me, I stuck to it, it made me feel good, and I did lose some weight. Only then I went on holiday and jacked it in and I couldn't seem to get back on track when I came home, no matter how I tried. But it might be time to give that another try too.  I figure my time is running out before I start a family, so it feels like this year, in many ways, is my 'last chance' to do a few things. And getting truly fit is one of them!

>>    Be kinder to myself and others

This sounds like a bit of a silly resolution, but I think it's important. I'm generally quite a positive person but I do judge myself- and others- quite harshly sometimes. I can be a bit unforgiving, a bit quick to pass verdict. And I don't think that's always helpful. I don't want to lose my compassion. And I don't want to make my own life harder than it should be.

So this year, I'd like to take it a bit easier with all the comparisons. I want to undertake more little acts of kindness - be they ever so small- because they can actually make a big difference to others. And, rather more selfishly, they can also make a big difference to me. Studies have shown that being kinder to other people actually boosts our own happiness and self-esteem more than any other factor. Sounds like a win-win situation it would be stupid not to try and make more of.

I'm not going to set any number goals (like 'I must do X number of kind acts this week...'), but where I see the opportunity for something small that could improve the world around me, I'll take it.

>>    Take writing seriously

I'm definitely a writer. I'm a writer in my bones. I can't stay away from it. And yet I devote so little time to it. This is mainly a combination of lack of self-belief and lack of self-discipline. But I want to try and take writing a little more seriously this year.

For years now, I've been working on a novel (what can I say? I'm an English Lit graduate, it's practically a law!) but although I've worked on it in fits and starts, again, I've never been consistent enough to see it through. Even though writing makes me happy.

It is hard to find the time alongside everything else, but maybe I need to prioritise and make time rather than spending ages on social media in the evening, or reading so many magazines. It's another one of those things I know I won't have time for when I do start a family, so I need to make some headway this year, if only to prove to myself that I can.

>>    Mix it up style-wise

So my style is what you'd call, fairly vanilla. I know what I like and I tend to stick to it. And what I like is fairly 'safe'- an indigo jean, a nice riding boot, a little black dress, a well tailored jacket. And I'm not proposing to abandon any of that. It took me long enough to figure out what my style was and what suited me. But I want to be a little more adventurous this year, and try some new things. Again, it seems like my last chance before I have to settle down into sensible mum-style clothing and consider practicality above all else.

I tend to think girls fall into two categories (possibly three if you count people that only dress for comfort) i) those who dress for men and ii) those who dress for other women. And I've always dressed for men. I've always wanted to look attractive, instead of trendy. Classic, instead of current. So I just want to try being a little more adventurous and try some different styles. I'm never going to be way out there, but I want to try a few little modifications and be less 'obvious' with my look.

>> Buy less, buy better quality

Hopefully this one isn't incompatible with the one above! I feel like I want to invest more in having better quality clothes this year. Clothes that will last me for more than a season, that are well-cut and made from quality fabrics.  This will naturally mean buying a bit less, although with eBay etc, it doesn't have to cost the earth to aquire nice things.

Buying my first designer handbag a couple of years ago has really taught me a lot. It's beautifully made and I get so much lasting pleasure from using it. It's durable and since getting it, I have rarely used any other bag. Now, I'm certainly not rich or anything, but the economics of it- cost per wear- have made perfect sense. Do I really need a closet full of cheaply made bags that fall apart, when I can have one really well-made piece that's stood the test of time?

So, I want to spend more. But that means buying less, which will be quite a challenge for shopaholic me. It doesn't have to be designer, but it does have to be made well. I'm inspired by my friend Lady T, whose style is always immaculate, but who treasures her clothes and, ironically, or perhaps making perfect sense, has a much smaller selection than me.

It's definitely the way forward. And hopefully, knowing my own style will help me make smart choices.

>>    Invest in skincare

I've always taken fairly good care of my skin. But the products I use are relatively inexpensive and not thought through. I tend to just buy whatever catches my eye. I'm like a magpie flitting between products! But I'm not getting any younger, so it's time to get serious about skincare. I worked out that while I'll spend quite a lot on make-up, I don't seem to spend much on looking after my skin. And if you don't take care of the canvas, the painting will never look as good. So I want to spend a little more on a decent regime that I can stick to.

I've been thinking about it carefully, researching a few different lines. I've also pledged to use up what I have before rushing out to buy new stuff, and hopefully that will help me to make an educated decision.

Those are my goals for the coming year. I'll post updates about how I'm doing as we go on. Here's to a 2014 full of good health, happiness and progress.

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