Of course, I couldn’t let today pass without giving a nod to Valentine’s Day! And if there’s one thing more attractive than a good heart, it’s an active and engaged brain.
Our brain needs new connections, literally, to keep functioning. It also needs to keep connecting to the world and learning new stuff to keep growing and thriving. And having a positive curiosity about the world and people, also helps to keep us young.
Getting curious and being open to new experiences can bring about all sorts of opportunities we might not even have considered. Have you ever put off doing something, such as trying a new food, because you didn’t think you’d like it, but it turns out that actually, you do (hello olives!!). Or have you avoided speaking to certain people who you didn’t hit it off with initially, only to later find out we actually have a lot in common.
Our tastes and likes change over time, so if we’re stuck in thinking about what (or who) we liked years ago, we could be blocking out all sorts of magical things.
Be open, stay curious. Life might just surprise you!
Photo credit: Kashawn Hernandez via Unsplash.com
Connecting with other people is great. That buzz when you feel part of something is often what keeps us going. Meeting people to bounce ideas off, and people that believe in you more than you do yourself.
But sometimes the people we’re surrounded with don’t see things the way we do. And also, some people are just hard work, aren’t they? When it comes to our closest relationships, quality definitely comes before quantity. The most outgoing person in the world can have a list as long as your arm of contacts, followers, Facebook friends…but how many of those individuals do they truly connect to? Longevity doesn’t equate to quality either when it comes to friendships – being surrounded by lots of people doesn’t necessarily lead to real connections, or support.
Sometimes we need to make peace with knowing that people aren’t who we want them to be, and that they can’t (or won’t) be able to give us the support we need.
The best people to be surrounded by are those that truly get who we are, and what we are trying to achieve in life. And they don’t just let us get on with it without judgement, they want to help us to get there. And likewise, we are there for them too. That’s how it works.
And the best coaches don’t just teach skill or technique, they have a passion for whatever they teach, and that’s contagious. Even if we feel that we are independent, we still rely on good energy and positivity from others.
Do the people around you beam out good energy, or do they drain you?
Photo credit: Toa Heftiba @heftiba via Unsplash.com
Thanks to the long and lonely nights of Lockdown 3.0, I’ve been planning further ahead for the blog, and batch writing like a productive thing! My goal for Start A Little Fire has always been to celebrate the things that light us up, and addressing some of the things that can get in the way. So with that in mind, going forward I’m planning to take a deeper dive into some of the common themes around personal growth and development.
In February, I’ll be kicking off with ‘connection’…whether this is with other people, the world arounds us, or with ourselves…and looking at ways we can build better connections.
As they say, the link for the blog is in the bio, and I’ll be posting some new episodes on the podcast this month too.
Onwards into February!!….
Photo credit: @nickmorrison via Unsplash.com
From little acorns….
So, how’s January going? Whether you started the year with big intentions or are still easing yourself in gently, it’s all good.
An hour is made up of minutes. A week is made up of days. A year is made up of months.
Everything starts out in one place, and then develops into something else. Nothing gets from here to there in a second (ok, maybe a MotoGP bike!).
All of the separate elements come together to make something bigger, but each element also stands on its own merit.
A simple acorn is a beautiful thing in its own right…cute as a button, with it’s own little hat. Even if it did nothing but exist in this state, we could still appreciate it. But knowing what we know about the majestic oak that it’s destined to be, all proud and mighty, just adds to the wonder of it.
Every dream, goal, or little acorn, holds the key ingredient to turn one little thing into something even more wonderful…potential.
Photo credit: Eriks Abzinovs @pixworthmedia via Unsplash.com
Consistency is key…but accountability is not far behind, surely?
We’ve reached that stage in any ‘normal’ January where the promises and goals of the New Year might be starting to slip. (Disclaimer: This year it’s ok if things have gone a little bit awol!)
But some form of monitoring needs to happen if we want to see improvements and instigate the changes that got us motivated to begin with. We can get caught up in the planning, and list making, and daydreaming about how productive we’re going to be this week, and then life happens.
There is no bigger regret than the things we didn’t do, and it is really easy to let other stuff take priority. I’ll catch up next week…next month…I’ll leave it until the better weather…. Sound familiar? Me too.
Yes we need to be a bit more kind to ourselves right now. But being kind also means holding ourselves to account every now and then, and having a bit of a pep talk with ourselves. Remember why you started, remember what you’re doing this for.
Make a diary note or appointment to catch up with yourself along the way. And write your “reasons why I’m doing this” next to it. Just in case you start to forget!
And how awesome is this image btw!?! Photo credit to Marten Newhall @laughayette via Unsplash.com
I was reading an interesting article earlier about how introducing new activities or habits can lead to greater success, when compared with giving things up.
The study by researchers at Stockholm University found that people who were working on achieving a goal by focusing on adopting new habits were 59% more likely to achieve their aims.
This makes a lot of sense in the light of New Years Resolutions too. Often we set goals that seem to punish our previous behaviours…especially those related to diet or exercise. We feel guilty or ashamed that we’ve overindulged or spent a little too much time in front of the TV. We’re also bombarded with images of ‘New Year New You’ that make us question whether we are doing enough.
So, it does seem much more likely that we would keep up a new healthier regime if we were kinder to ourselves and looked at creating and cultivating new positive habits instead.
Interestingly, the study also found that there was no significant difference in success based on the amount of external support that the participants received.
So if you are looking to make some positive changes this year, focus on the positive habits that you can introduce this month. Find activities that you enjoy doing, introduce foods and meals that are nutritious and healthy, but taste really good too. Commit to working on your CV or sign up to a job search website. Investigate a new hobby or start to plan that post-lockdown holiday.
Whatever you want to achieve, start small. But begin!
Photo credit: @dsmacinnes via Unsplash.com
This is an exciting time of year for any fellow stationery lovers…new diary, new calendar, new planner, new journal!!
I love sitting down at the New Year and writing in all the important dates and appointments, however these are still a little bit thin on the ground at present (thanks Tier 4!). But it’s still nice to have things to plan for, and look forward to.
When I looked back on how I spent 2020, I found that most of last years activity was based around work…work work, blog work, workout work. 2020 brought some much needed positive shifts and new opportunities of course, but there wasn’t much room for fun.
So this year, I’m making sure that I also allocate time to doing things just for the sheer joy or fun of it. No expectations. No targets. No achievements. Just taking time out to recharge and reset.
How often do we plan in appointments for the fun stuff?! We make room for the other ‘stuff’, the non negotiables and the ‘I must do this’ diary notes, but including time to create the joyful moments and make the memories should be just as important.
When I look back at the end of 2021, I want to remember these times as well as the achievements – the smiles, the laughter, the warm glow of feeling happy.
So welcome 2021 – the year of more joy.
Photo via Unsplash.com
Last day of these little hints and tips, and I hope they have perhaps given you some ideas of where you could make some little tweaks here and there, to provide you with a bit more breathing space at this busy time of year.
But they are things which you can put into practice at any time. Maybe by taking time out to notice when you are getting stressed, or making more time to do things you enjoy, you have realised you need to do this more often?
If so, try to keep these little reminders as we head off into the new year too, as part of your ongoing practice.
Hopefully you will be able to take some time off over the festive season. Goodness knows we could all do with it after this year! Before your time off goes in a flash, it can help to set time aside to enjoy some comforting or joyous activities so that you get to enjoy the break too….e.g. don’t spend all of your time in the kitchen (note to self!).
Try and make a list of your favourite activities or traditions that you would like to do, and plan when you could do them. Commit to doing them as a non negotiable, so that you can have things in the diary to look forward to, instead of all the usual tasks. At this time of year, other things can wait!
There always seems to be another thing to tick off the to-do list at this time of year…writing cards, posting parcels, present shopping, food shopping, baking etc!
Sometimes the lead-up and preparations are the things which help to add to the excitement but if we are struggling to fit things in, it’s not so much ho-ho-ho.
If you are starting to feel as though you don’t know how you’ll fit it all in, try and think about how you are spending your days…if you usually spend time scrolling in the evenings, could you have a screen break and get some cards written instead? Or rather than watching the gloomy news, play some festive tunes to lift the spirits and get the wrapping started.
How we spend our time will affect our mood and it’s tempting to keep ploughing on, trying to get everything done. But making a few small tweaks when we recognise that things may be getting a bit off kilter can help to reduce the pressure, and have us feeling more festive!