Realistically Optimistic Resolutions by Joanna Farnsworth

The days are getting longer, lighter and brighter and at this time of year I focus on the excitement of moving forward into a more prosperous and happier new year. Not that it has been an ‘annus horribilis’, this year has been much kinder to me than the last, but not so for many of my friends and colleagues whom I have shared the sentiment ‘here’s to 2020 let it be our best yet!’

Like many of us I will be attempting a dry January, eating less, exercising more and embarking on new, demanding studies that will push me further than I have been pushed before.

These are all exciting challenging goals that will make me healthier, happier and more educated, but what is the reality of me achieving all if any of them?

Because, let’s face it January can often be the coldest, bleakest of months and it is easy to forget the excitement and hope of New Year when you are stood on a crowded platform in the dark, biting cold, tired, wet and hungry waiting for the delayed train to arrive.    

Despite this I am a natural optimist, at times I may feel a bit empty or low but I will always focus on the positive, my mantra being ‘everything will be alright’ and it invariably will because what is the alternative?

I am determined, tenacious and know that I will stick resolutely to dry January, as I do every year. I know that I will always struggle to stick to a diet and exercise regime so am best not to even attempt It. I know that I will start out enthusiastically on my course, I will likely become disillusioned and doubt myself part way through but will re-engage and finish strong but I know that it will all work out well.

We all need to embrace our optimism, the hopefulness and confidence that the future will be successful, which gives us the motivation to reach for our goals. Being optimistic also helps us to manage our stress levels, positive thinking reduces anxiety and improves our mental and physical wellbeing.  

However being overly optimistic and believing that everything will just happen leads us to poor decision making, risk taking and probably failure. By being more realistically optimistic, anticipating the obstacles that we will encounter, careful planning, persistence and effort will increase our confidence and ability to succeed.

  • Quit Drinking

I will complete January dry, after a season of indulgence it is important for me to reset my drinking habits back to occasionally rather than regularly, it demands commitment and will power particularly in social situations. I focus on the benefits to my health and my bank balance, I will enjoy the feeling of being more alert and energised, having better sleep and hopefully even a little weight loss. I know that I will need to avoid some social situations, not only because it is difficult to say ‘no’ but because I also know that sometimes that first glass is always a great way to alleviate the anxiety of being in a busy, noisy, unfamiliar social space.

  • Exercise more

There is little less appealing than pounding the streets in the cold and wet or the idea of joining the expensive and overcrowded gym. I know that as another year passes as does the fortune of doing so little to stay fit and a habit that I need to ease myself into, this is where having a reason for exercising more is so important. As I write this I remember that I have signed up to the 10k mind walk in April, not only is this a really important fundraising cause but an opportunity to improve my fitness. So I will endeavour to double my usual effort of 5k steps a day by the end of January and set myself small achievable goals that I can increase as I step into spring.        

  • Eat less better

Well let’s be honest it’s not going to be that difficult to eat less than I have been during the festivities although following an enforced strict diet is not going to be much fun or that achievable either. However, making better choices, increasing my intake of fruit and vegetables, planning and eating regularly, more mindfully will give me the energy I need to achieve my other goals.

  • Learn something new

Age is no barrier to learning, I have enrolled onto an MSc in January and whilst the intensity and study hours on top of my full time work is daunting I have made a plan to fit in 20 study hours a week by compressing my existing hours across 4 ½ longer days instead of the usual 5 long days. I have chosen a subject that I am passionate about and will have to be strict about my schedule, I have been realistic with the schedule allowing a full day rest and allowing time to practice yoga. I have also built in flexibility and if needed have a potential to fit in additional reading and study within my commute. I know from experience that I will start off with so much enthusiasm before facing the difficult reality of meeting deadlines and fulfilling added commitments in addition to the hours already committed to work, studying and the commute. I also know that I always finish what I start out to and am excited at the prospect of expanding my knowledge and potential.

We know that when we try to change too many things at once we rarely succeed, but I am realistically optimistic that each of my intentions is achievable and supports the other. By sharing my intentions with you is my further commitment to succeed.

Wishing every-one of you a prosperous and successful new year, may you be healthier, happier, more knowledgeable as you achieve each and everyone of your goals.  

Happy new year 2020

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