Keeping Away from the Comfort Zone
So, first post of the new year is here. But you’re okay, this will be a resolution free zone.
I’ve done the usual looking back, looking forward thing that January’s two-faced namesake, Janus, seems to impose on us. It’s as good a time as any to stop and reflect on the good and the bad in our lives, to be grateful for all the positives and to accept, or at least come to terms with, the negatives.
However, keeping reflection and resolve to a once a year activity, dictated by a number on a calendar doesn’t really work for me. And setting big annual goals for radical changes to your life just seems to be setting yourself up to fail.
That being said, I do believe in making small beneficial changes, and I do believe in setting myself challenges. I do take time to reflect on my life and to plan, just not on a January-only basis.
Small changes have more chance of becoming new habits and can on a cumulative basis become big changes. For example, let’s say you want to get fit, but are starting from a level of (in)activity that a sloth can only aspire to. Deciding to take a brisk walk for half an hour once or twice a week is more likely to be doable, and to lead to more frequent and intense exercising as you become fitter, than deciding to take up running several miles a day from a sitting start from the first of January.
The challenge in the above example should be to improve fitness levels from where they are now and the changes are small, possible and cumulative. Nothing hinges on one big event such as running your first marathon and there’s room for degrees of success. It’s not the all-or-nothing that New Year’s resolutions tend to be.
Of course there are always the challenges we don’t choose, ones thrust upon us, ones which floor us. But even in these circumstances it tends to be the small resilience-building steps that get us through and out the other side. More than ever it’s important in dark times not to impose a rigid timetable for recovery or improvement but to value the smallest of steps and the shortest of respites.
My one over-riding, self-imposed challenge is the one I set up many years ago following kicking cancer’s ass, and one which I hope will persist for many more, and that is to opt wherever possible to take the road less travelled.
In a literal sense this has seen me travel all over the world, several times on my own, and not always to places on the tourist route. And in more figurative sense, it has seen me give up a secure, promoted-post job and family home to move to a completely different environment i.e. to no job and from city-living to relatively isolated island dweller. It all worked out, me and the husband both got jobs and flourished. And I began to write. Ten years on, no regrets and once again contemplating a move and beginning another new phase.
Taking the road less-travelled in 2014 has seen me once more resign from a teaching post. This time to take early retirement from my thirty-six year career in order to be a full-time writer. I have a children’s book to publish, I have a new adult novel to start and I want to continue to build the blog.
My long term health challenges continue to be to improve/maintain my physical and mental health. I will continue to fight the anxiety demon and to manage the chronic fatigue. To do this, I’ll keep going with the yoga, something I began last year and absolutely love, and with trying to live more mindfully. I will cultivate the art of appreciation, continue to visit art exhibitions, go to plays and concerts, enjoy music and working in my lovely garden. I’ll keep up with the regular walks, and I’ll go to talks on all sorts. I’ll enjoy the company of family and friends and play with my grandchildren. And I’ll read, read, read.
And as well as all that, in 2015, I have a working holiday, a writers conference (details of both in later posts), and our son’s wedding to look forward to.
But, if forced to make a resolution for 2015 and beyond, it would be to keep heading for the crossroads, to keep choosing the less-walked-on path and to perch only momentarily in the comfort zone. It’s the way to keep growing, creating and LIVING!
And you can hold me to account on that as I’ll be posting on most of the above throughout 2015.