Best Year Ever?
Jacqui can be found at Small Dogs Bark Loudest, where she shares stories on how she’s still figuring out life in her mid-fifties. Join her as she writes about people and their passions, including her own.
At this time of year, I, along with many others, like to take stock of how I am leading my life. The new year unfurls as a blank page of opportunity in front of me. I love thinking about the potential to improve myself and have the best year ever.
I gave up making specific New Year’s resolutions a few years ago. It sets me up for failure if I set all or nothing targets. Now I prefer a slightly different approach, which I find works better. I like to step back and assess my life as a whole. Viewing my life as a whole helps me to decide whether I am generally happy. If not, could I benefit from making slight adjustments to areas of my life?
From this, I usually find one thing comes into focus. This year I had a realization during a train journey into a city I hadn’t visited for some time. I am at risk of living life too safely within my comfort zone. To put it in a nutshell, I wear my slippers more than I wear my high heels.
It’s easy to slip into comfortable routines just like comfortable clothes. But familiarity can have a soporific effect. We can get set in our ways, which can be aging.
Physical exercise can keep our bodies flexible and help prevent them stiffening. Mental stimulation can keep our minds sharp. Likewise, I believe a change of routine and a conscious effort to incorporate new experiences into life can keep our horizons broad and our outlook young. And so I have my wake-up call to myself for 2017. I will move myself away from comfortableness and sameness.
I made myself a plan designed to provide opportunities to add variety and stimulation to my lifestyle. I share it here with you.
8 Ways To Change Things Up for Your Best Year Ever
- Plan to do something I used to enjoy doing. For example, I’ll take a shopping trip to a city, a visit to the cinema, to the swimming baths, a meal out, a train ride, or revisiting an area I used to know. Allocate some time in my diary and keep the date.
- Make a small change to my daily routine, no matter how minor. Work commitments dictate my overall pattern on weekdays. However, I can still incorporate small changes. I will build in a short exercise routine before leaving for work. I’ll listen to a different radio station in the car. Try a regular walk at lunchtime. I will eat a food item I’ve never eaten for dinner.
- Change something about my appearance regularly. Maybe a new hairstyle, a different dress length, a nail treatment, or I could try a week of dressing in a different style – more formally, for example – and see if it makes a difference to how I feel.
- Treat myself to an item of new technology (it needn’t be mega-expensive), but it should be something that is right up to date.
- Take a different mode of transport. Cars are fine, but you don’t get to interact with anyone. A train ride, on the other hand, can stimulate all your senses. You hear some fascinating conversations – you really do, you can relax and enjoy the scenery through the windows, and you get to share a little part of the world with your fellow human beings.
- Explore: whether it’s on foot, a short weekend away, or a country I’ve never visited. We have limited time, and we make memories when we travel.
- Keep an open mind, be welcoming to change and be willing to consider risk sometimes. I like the quote: ‘Taking chances helps you grow’ – unknown.
- Read my favorite inspirational quotes regularly and use them to spur myself on. I recommend a little book that I received as a gift many years ago: Be happy: remember to live, love, laugh and learn, published by Compendium. It has been a source of inspiration to me throughout my life, and contains many wise, encouraging and powerful quotations, including the one above.