I adore Christmas. I’m a planner and a note-maker, and always need to have something to look forward to, so for me, the build up is one of my favourite parts: choosing and wrapping special gifts, planning and buying all the food, decorating the house with scented candles and twinkling lights… it all makes me really happy . We had a gorgeous Christmas this year, and rounded off the season with a small New Year’s Eve gathering with some of our favourite people. Now, though, I’m already wanting the decorations down, the house clean and tidy again, and I’ll be raring to dive headfirst into this squeaky clean, fresh and sparkly New Year. One of the first things I’ll be doing is opening a lovely new notebook and creating my positive life plan for 2018.
Why create a positive life plan for 2018?
If you’ve visited English Mum before, you might have read about the positive life plan. Originally dreamed up with my friend, life coach and cognitive behavioural therapist,Erica Douglas, the plan came about after we were chatting about life and how helpful it would be to perform some kind of positive life edit where we could set goals, record our hopes and dreams, and then refer back to it every so often.
Erica: I think most people are so over New Year Resolutions, they bring back memories of failure and come with a lot of pressure, and that’s not the way to begin a new year. A new year should be about positivity, resetting ourselves, and despite past failures and obstacles, launching ourselves once more towards the life we dream of. The plan we came up with was a way for us to assess ‘where are we now’ and ‘where do we want to be’ – from there you can plot the steps in between. So instead of setting ‘succeed or fail’ type goals, focus on incremental change – positive baby steps that move you closer to your goal. One day, you’ll arrive there, and you’ll wonder how!
Becky: We decided to split the plan into a few different categories: health, fitness, money, beauty/personal style, relationships, work/personal brand, quality time, aspirations, self, and added the rule that everything has to be positive, no being hard on ourselves. Basically the plan is as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Since our original post on the subject, it’s been lovely to chat to so many people who have started keeping some form of journal, either keeping track of each subject and updating every month, or just keeping a simple diary of their thoughts and feelings on each topic, updating and editing every so often. The most important thing is that we created this plan for you: use it however it feels most beneficial to you. To start you off on your own positive life plan for 2018, we’ve outlined our suggested topics, but as always, feel free to create your own:
Your positive life plan for 2018
B: I don’t know about you, but after way too much rich food and far too much wine over Christmas, I’m so ready for some fresh, healthy food and some alcohol-free days (I’m going to be teaming up with Drinkaware this month – more of this later). What are your plans for your own health this year? Maybe you’re thinking of losing a bit of weight, trying out a vegetarian diet, or managing an illness or injury?
B: Are you a gym bunny or a keen runner? Maybe you’re neither and are on a quest to find an exercise regime that’s perfect for you?
E: Exercise is not only great for your body, it can be good for your mental health too – it has been proven that regular exercise reduces the feelings of anxiety and stress.
B: I’m terrible with money, so for me, this category is all about developing a more positive attitude to my finances, creating and sticking to budgets and starting a savings pot. Maybe you’re planning on a big purchase this year or, like me, need to keep a better track of your spending?
4 Beauty/personal style
B: this is one of my favourite categories. I’ve used it to keep a track of my own personal style: jotting down notes on what works for me (monochrome, fitted jeans, classic black knitwear) and what doesn’t. A new year is a great time to give your wardrobe an overhaul (be brutal – if you’ve not worn it for ages or it doesn’t fit, out it goes) or perhaps try out a new beauty regime or commit to a monthly facial to get your skin in tip top condition.
B: We’re all guilty of taking each other for granted. Perhaps this is the year you decide to commit to a monthly date night with your partner, or maybe you’re looking for love and this is the year where you join a dating site and find that special someone? Write down your hopes and dreams, but remember to keep it positive.
E: Through my work the one thing I have picked up on is that sometimes the only things wrong with your relationship are your expectations. Most of the people I see simply have set expectations that their partner simply isn’t aware of, or just can’t live up to. Acceptance is a wonderful thing, try and see the good before you see the flaws and adjust your expectations and you might find there’s nothing wrong with your relationship after all.
E: when it comes to friendship, quality beats quantity. If you only have one or two good friends, don’t worry about it – focus on those and give them the attention they deserve. New friends will come along when they are supposed to, just make sure you’re ready with open arms when they do.
B: This is great advice. I find meeting new people quite difficult, so my plan for 2018 is to be more open to new friendships.
7. Work/your personal brand
B: Are you happy and fulfilled at work, or desperate to make a change? Maybe you’re stressing over curating your Instagram feed and this is the year you decide you’re rebelling and just being as creative as possible? This is the category for career plans and personal stuff. Perhaps this is the year you delete Facebook, or maybe the kids are growing up and you’re planning on heading back to work. What’s going to make you happy this year?
E: I’m perhaps going to be a bit biased here, but if you’ve had career or business plans for a while and aren’t making progress, if you can afford it, consider getting a local coach. They will help you identify any sticking points and obstacles and help you fast track yourself to where you want to be. Well worth the money if you stand to gain financially or in increased happiness/fulfilment.
8. Quality time
B: Sometimes you just have to put down your phone, close the office door and plan some quality time with your loved ones (or indeed yourself). I love the Saturday market in our local town (there’s nothing nicer than fresh bread and a bunch of flowers), but maybe for you it will be committing to a cinema trip with the family once a month, a relaxing bath with a glass of wine and a good book, or a vow to step away from the computer at 5pm. Or maybe you’re thinking bigger and looking to book a holiday? Where will 2018 take you?
B: This is another favourite for me: grab your pen and just write: what do you dream about? What are your hopes and goals? Where do you see yourself in five years? 10 years? 20? It doesn’t matter if it’s retiring to a little cottage in Brittany with chickens in the garden (yup, that’s mine), or just wanting to achieve a bit more time to sit and read a book in peace – write it all down!
B: We’re all so hard on ourselves, don’t you think? We screw up our noses at every photo, filter out every imperfection and moan about everything from our thighs to our bank balances. Vow to love yourself a bit more this year: this is a great category for counting your blessings, dreaming about what will make you happier and generally showing more gratitude for what you already have. If something lovely happens, or if someone gives you a compliment, jot it down – it’s lovely to return to and read in the future.
E: Surround yourself with positive people. Negative energy will lower your own energy levels leaving you feeling like you’ve had the life sucked out of you. Identify who makes you feel good and schedule in more time with these people in 2018. If you’re the energy vampire, take a moment to reflect on why you’re so negative and take steps to try and adopt a more positive outlook to life.
Do let us know how you’re getting on with your own positive life plan for 2018. We guarantee it’s life-affirming and inspiring. If you want to get in touch, leave a comment or find us on Twitter: @Englishmum and @erica or Facebook: @englishmum @lifehealcoaching.
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