On December 26th 2019, I published this blog post filled with my goals and ambitions for the following year.
Exactly six months later, I’ve decided to revisit this blogpost and review my progress in achieving these goals.
However, before getting into this blogpost, I’d like to firstly just address where I am within myself whilst writing. The UK has been in Coronavirus lockdown for over three months now, meaning that my lifestyle has completely shifted from how it was in December 2019.
I’ve had a lot more time to pause and reflect on different aspects of my life, and a lot more time to engage in the self care behaviours that I would have once deemed as too much effort or boring. Whilst lockdown has given me the chance to stop and focus on minor details in my life, it has also sometimes caused a bit of over thinking and micro-managing.
Within the last two months, I’ve been in a very odd space within myself. Lockdown provided me with a cushioned and secure lifestyle, where I was able to control just about every aspect of my waking day. Whilst this control and freedom benefitted my approach towards mindfulness, productivity and health – it also put me into a bit of an obsessive mindset, where I completely feared and worried about going back to my “old ways”.
I am naturally quite an addictive person and I like to have control over my life. Lockdown made me hyper-control parts of my life and try to be regimented with everything – which was positive in the sense that I stuck to good habits like daily yoga, meditation and frequent exercise. Yet I wanted to control other aspects like alcohol, social media usage and anything that could slightly impact my mental health in a bad way.
What I’ve realised over the last few weeks, is that my life after lockdown should have the aim of balance rather than restriction and control. As we begin to settle back into a routine and lifestyle which is leaning towards normality, I want to exercise moderation and balance with my lifestyle. Which, in laymans terms – means working hard in my final year of uni AND having a few nights out. Doing my daily yoga and meditation AND having the odd half hour scrolling aimlessly through social media. Hitting my weekly running kilometres AND spending some days barely hitting 10,000 steps.
What I am learning, ironically, is that all my thoughts, feelings and actions are a learning curve. Going against what I’ve previously said, or changing my goals in life is just a natural way of me learning what does and doesn’t work best for me.
So, without further rambling, here is a review and recap of my 2020 goals. Please click here to read the original blog post.
- Reading at least 3 nights per week
I’ve easily made this goal a lifestyle habit, and I read every single night and sometimes through the day too. Through lockdown I’ve read over 10 books – which is an achievement for me as I have greatly stumped my reading in the last year.
I’ve broadened my reading horizons from self help, to other avenues like science, feminism, fiction, law and race. Reading has improved my understanding of the world and opened up my passion and appreciation for creative writing.
2. Be in a good routine
Another goal which I have easily completed. Once again, lockdown is to thank for this. I’ve woken up before 9am every day and done at least one form of yoga or meditation before having my breakfast and going on my phone.
I got into the habit of writing a daily to-do list and completing my journal prompts of: 3 things I am grateful for, 2 things to accept and 1 thing to let go of. Having my journal as part of my routine keeps me accountable and positive.
It’s obviously been easy to stick a routine in lockdown, but I am slowly incorporating more things into my daily routine which will make the transition into normality a bit easier – like doing volunteering at my local charity shop to familiarise myself with getting back into a working environment.
Leaving my phone away from the bedroom has greatly benefitted my routine, as I can sleep much easier and feel less tethered to the thrill of scrolling through apps before or after sleep.
I’ve been asleep before 10:30pm almost every single night for the last three months, and I wake up feeling refreshed and well rested at about 7am (unless I’ve been up all night listening to my boyfriend’s delightful snoring xxx).
3. Dedicate more time to running and the gym
Pre-lockdown, I went to the gym most mornings before 7:30am. I’d pack my bag for the day and shower at the gym before starting work or university. Although I was in a good routine with the gym, I rarely had time for running and didn’t have much desire to run beyond 3km.
Once again, lockdown came along and changed that. I now run about 25-32km per week, and whilst I seem to despise home workouts, I’ve been practicing yoga every single day and maintaining my fitness.
After lockdown, I will probably visit the gym less frequently than I used to, but the trade-off will be that I put more effort into running, as I’ve made amazing progress in the last three weeks and I feel much more accomplished after a run than a gym session.
In the whole of 2019 I ran just under 330km, whereas we are 6 months into 2020 and I’ve already run over 510km!
4. take my degree and career goals seriously
This is a goal which I have half succeeded in, and half struggled with. From September-December 2019, my grades floated around a 3rd or a mid 2:2. However, in the last 6 months I’ve been graded between a mid 2:1 and a low 1st for all my assessments, meaning I have made very good progress in my focus and approach towards academic work.
I know that I will take this good focus and mentality into third year, and my aim is to get a solid 2:1, but of course I won’t be mad at a 1st either.
Career wise, I’ve had a lot of time to consider my options. Part of me wants to do a masters in a writing related subject like creative writing, part of me wants to apply for a civil service grad scheme, part of me wants to go into marketing, and part of me wants to curl up in a ball and cry.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that my blog, social media and personal writing is something I enjoy as a “side hustle”, but I would feel a little conflicted if this was my career, as I feel making an income out of an enjoyable activity would eventually make me struggle to enjoy it. I’ve also realised that there’s no rush to grab a stable job in a good company, but it’s advisable to consider my options a good few months before graduation.
Career wise, I’m still learning and understanding where I want to be in the next one or two years.
5. Improve my relationship with alcohol
A big stickler here for me. In the original blogpost, I discussed how alcohol negatively impacted my life at the end of 2019, and how much damage this caused for me.
I continued to drink alcohol from January to March 2020, but this was all in good moderation and I got much better at saying no. However there were still occasions where I let a hangover ruin some days, or I spent almost a weeks wage on one night out.
During lockdown, I decided to give sobriety a go. It was very easy, as all bars were shut and I’ve never really been the type to drink alcohol in the house. I was sober for 55 days. The first month or so, I felt excited and admittedly “holier-than-thou” for my decision to cut out alcohol. I listened to all the audiobooks and followed all the inspiring instagram accounts about sobriety and a booze-free life.
However, as lockdown eased and I had more time sober, I began to come to terms with the fact that exercising balance is something that I am capable of, and also the most stable way of dealing with things like alcohol. Before deciding to stop drinking, I never actually viewed alcohol in a negative way – I just had no idea what my limit was.
Yet when I stopped drinking, I convinced myself that alcohol was an evil and deadly substance, which would ruin my life. Reality is, alcohol is an inanimate object – and it’s my approach and mindset towards drinking that is either positive or negative – not the drink itself.
As someone who’s social life does involve some alcohol sometimes, and no alcohol other times – I think it’s important for me to learn balance rather than an all or nothing approach. I’ve since had two occasions where alcohol has been involved, and my approach has been completely different since having my “sober spell”.
Moving forward, I probably will have extended periods of my life where I don’t drink. If I am busy, I’m struggling with poor mental (or physical) health, if I’m watching my money and if I am starting to see negative patterns, the I think a sober spell is a good thing to exercise every now and again. However, there is some joy in drinking and some joy in being drunk – and I am learning the balance that’s best for me.
I enjoy alcohol free moments much more than I ever did before, and I don’t think many situations are actually enhanced by alcohol, and if they are – it’s important to be mindful that there are plenty of social interactions that don’t involve being intoxicated.
So in conclusion, I’d say that I’ve grown a lot mentally since developing these goals last December. I’ve stuck to them, and pretty much smashed them all out of the park.
Setting myself realistic and measurable goals like this has helped me stay accountable, and I believe that setting small micro-goals is the key in achieving bigger long term goals.