Christmas has become overwhelming once again for me. Not because I do my daily gold envelopes revealing Christmas activities for the kids, and not because I’ve stupidly succumbed to the Elf on the Shelf craze, but because of outside influences! Christmas for me is about me and my family creating memories, so I don’t want the extra pressure from school in particular with their daily requests of donations and different activities that I need to prepare for or at least remember, work with its crazy hours so we can finish in time and all have Christmas off, except for the likes of me that have volunteered to still work over Christmas to keep the place ticking over, and the endless, “We must meet up before Christmas,” invites I’ve allowed myself to commit to. All of these things I could have said no to, or slipped past a teacher pleading I’d not received the text, e-mail AND letter they’d sent. But eager to please, as I always am, I’ve pushed myself too far once again!
But next year is going to be different, because I’m going to get into healthier habits and reduce my stress. I’m adamant it’s going to happen because I have a plan, as laid out to me in my new read ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin.
I first heard about this book from listening to the podcast ‘Happier with Gretchen Rubin’, a podcast that I’m sure was recommended in a book on happiness. This is why I am such a strong believer in reading for personal development. Every book I read leads me on a new path of discovery, and after listening to references to this book for months on the podcast I in turn went out and bought the book.
I am only a couple of chapters in, but already I understand the plan and have constructed my own version for me. Gretchen’s own happiness project consisted of her splitting her year into twelve subjects to develop healthier habits in to promote happiness, and each subject to be split further into sub-projects. So I have planned my 12 subjects for improved happiness as follows, and will update throughout next year:-
- Eating and Exercise
- Family Sleep and Routine
- Life Purpose
- Meditation and Spirituality.
I don’t know what order I am going to put each subject in as yet. I’m not ready to stop letting my adorable 4 year old climb into my bed in the middle of the night. I do not have the energy to do the return to bed method at this stage of my life. But I know realistically I can’t have her still doing it when she’s 18, and she shows no signs of sleeping through the night of her own accord! I want to work on my home later in the year after some extensive work planned which will involve moving a boiler out of the playroom to become a second bedroom for my youngest so the girls no longer have to share a room. They’ll lose their playroom in the process, but they’re desperate for their own space. So until that work is done I don’t feel I can plan too much in my home. But after the work I will have a lot of fun re-designing that space and planning the next stages of renovating our home. I think community will come towards the end of the year as I am aware being part of a community is very important to mental well-being, but with the constant dramas at school between mums, and a close-knit village community that don’t always look after their own, I need to be in a different place mentally to tackle that one. At the moment I feel the need to keep my head down and keep myself to myself, but as I build on my happiness throughout the year I hope I’ll feel ready to get back out into the community and find some projects to be involved in.
But I’m going to start January with focusing on friendship, and I’ve split the subject into the following sub-projects to work on:-
- EXPECTATIONS. I know I fail massively with the expectations I put on my friends. I think because I would do anything for them that they would do the same for me, and when they don’t it knocks my self-esteem and I question what I’m doing with these people. As I quoted in a post recently on my Instagram ‘We all need a variety of friends with different qualities:- the friend we can ring at 2am with the drama keeping us awake, the friend that has our back no matter what, the friend that tells us the truth, the friend that makes us laugh. No one person holds every quality, so know your tribe and value their individual qualities rather than pondering their flaws’. So I want to start the New Year not putting those expectations on people and just taking them for who they are, and accepting whatever they want to contribute to the relationship.
- CONTACT/ARRANGEMENTS. I have lots of friends that I never get to see because we live far apart or we have different interests such as my football pass-holder friends that have commitments every weekend throughout the season. And those are the people that I always intend to meet up with and then before you know it a year has gone by. I want to really focus on having something in the diary with these friends, and if that’s not possible, to at least have regular contact. Sometimes I avoid contact because I know I can’t see them for a good few months and I don’t want to get into that conversation of saying we can’t find a mutually convenient date. But that shouldn’t stop me dropping them a text just to check how they are and keeping the lines of communication open.
- PUTTING MYSELF OUT THERE. I’ve been hurt, let down and screwed over badly by friends, and I know I’ve changed as a person and stopped being the organiser, or answering invites straight away, or just generally being the person that everyone knew of as being the one that would be up for an adventure. It turned out that was the thing that annoyed a couple of people. And while I know in my own mind that was down to their own jealousy and need to compare and feel inadequate because they didn’t have the time and/or money to keep up with me, I know I was doing nothing malicious, and there were people ten-fold that loved that part of me. We all love the friend that’s not going to say no to a night out! They build our self-esteem for a start! So I need to go back to being that person and not questioning if someone is genuine or not, but if I like them invite them round for a coffee or a drink after the kids are in bed and build on relationships from there.
- SEEING THE GOOD IN PEOPLE. This goes back to the point before. I need to not tarnish everyone with my previous experience of one or two people. I need to realise that not everyone has an agenda, an ulterior motive, or issues they’re going to push onto me, and just put myself back out there believing that everyone is a good, fun-loving, kind human-being until they prove me otherwise.
- NOT BEING RELIANT ON PEOPLE. When I had my children I fell into a very intense friendship group because we were going through the same thing at the same time, and I think we all felt our previous friends were at different stages of their lives and perhaps would be bored by our new priorities. It was the worst thing I could have done. I should have kept a variety of different people in my life. Instead I was so involved with these 8 or so girls that we did everything together from daily activities with our kids, to even going on holiday. And the conversation on our WhatsApp group was constant, to the point that everything in our lives went through that group. The conversation did not stop all day and all night! And when it all fell apart I was lost and realised I was now too scared to do anything on my own again. I recently went into a bar and had a drink on my own just because I challenged myself to do it. I was terrified, but I missed going for a quick drink while my daughter was in cheerleading class because I didn’t have those people to go with anymore. I felt so self-conscious doing it, right up to the minute I left the bar, but I felt that once I’d done it I could do anything on my own. And I think once I take the focus off people having to be with me to enable me to do an activity it will be a game-changer.
So they’re my challenges for January, the idea being that once I get used to these as the norm I start new challenges on new subjects each month.
So wish me luck because
hopefully 2019 is going to be the positive change I’ve been building up to all my life!