What are your goals for 2018?

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are planning towards a prosperous 2018.

This is the time of year when most people set out New Year goals. I know they are known as resolutions but I like to refer to them as goals.  We can be over-ambitious when writing our goals and as a result fail to focus on how we are going to actually achieve those goals on a practical level.  Without the small steps and milestones it is almost impossible to achieve the outcome we require. We need to break our goals down into small chunks therefore feeling a level of achievement when completing a task.  We also need to write our goals down on a notebook – the nicer the better!

I have been reflecting on the past year; which goals I met, which are ongoing and how I dealt with setbacks.

I did not quite finish reading the bible in the year but came close.  Had this not been one of my goals, I doubt I would have achieved even this.

I began reading more books towards the end of the year.  The only issue is where to store them as our bookshelf is full. I am slowly gravitating towards owning a kindle.

Another goal was enjoying each moment. I have certainly improved but there is room for development. My daughter recently complained I am always cleaning and tidying our home.  You would think she would appreciate living in a clean and tidy home. Her use of the word ‘always’ is somewhat misleading.  Perhaps she wanted my attention there and then as children do and became frustrated when I was busy doing housework.  Bearing in mind through the complaining, my daughter did not once offer to help to reduce my load.

I must say my mind pondered on hiring a cleaner on at least five occasions over the Christmas period.  I hosted nine people on Christmas Day and two family members over the week. Guests certainly equals more work but we had fun!

What goals did you set in 2017?
Did you put milestones in place?
Will you approach your goals in 2018 any differently?


The art of giving

Last week I discussed consumerism and our need to constantly buy, to have and often in multiples too.  This week, I am gravitating towards the art of giving. Giving in the sense of our time, our assistance and our money in order to enhance or bless the lives of others.

The saying; “it is better to give than receive” rings true to me. As much as I like to receive, I also feel great pleasure in giving to others especially when in the form of a gift. I admit since having children, I have greatly reduced gift buying at Christmas for adults.

Anne Frank quoted:
“No-one has ever become poor by giving.”

We should not view giving as something being taken away from us but as something we are freely giving. When we give it makes us feel better as people and despite the challenges we face, it does us good to take the focus off of us and place it on another.  One way or another we will always be dealing with our own issues so there is no perfect time in which to bless others. We can use excuses as to why we do not have the time or the finances but we prioritise what is important to us. When a thought comes into your mind about giving, entertain it rather than talk yourself out of it.  Be willing to commit and hold yourself accountable too. No-one else may know of your intentions but you do.

Giving is highly underrated in today’s society where the focus leans towards obtaining as much as you possibly can.  Where is the joy in that?

What are your views on giving?
What are your experiences of giving and what impact has it had on your life?

Has society gone consumer mad?

Everywhere we look we are bombarded with adverts; cars, gadgets, houses, clothes, make up, books, homeware and so much more.  Magazines, billboards, the internet are just a few of the platforms used to grab our attention. Whenever I am browsing on the internet, I receive pop ups from designer clothes stores – I really need to deactivate my pop ups!

I stopped buying magazines around nine years ago as I found a lot of the UK magazines had similar or identical adverts and there were a lot of them.  I felt cheated at paying what was  £3 or £4 for adverts I could easily have viewed online.  Reading the magazines also made me question my life which is not necessarily a negative thing depending on the angle you are coming from. In my case, I questioned my life negatively as I read articles on what one should look like, what one should wear, how one can be successful by the age of 25 – exaggeration but I am sure you get my drift.  Also many fashion adverts were for designer clothes and bags, £800 for a skirt and £300 for a belt – way out of my price range.

If I feel the need I will browse fashion sites online and do not need to part with my money for the privilege.

Clearly we need to buy in order to boost the economy nationally and internationally, however society does seem to be edging towards an ” I want it now” attitude, similar to Verucca Salt, the spoilt little girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who begged her doting father for a golden egg.  We all know how that ended up!

Marketing companies are experts at convincing some consumers that if they simply purchased particular items or services, their life would improve for the better. This may well be true in some cases and in others not at all.  People genuinely wish for their life to improve so they sign up to this.  There are a number of expensive anti-aging creams on the market with little evidence they actually work but women will part with their money in the hope they wake up looking five to ten years younger.  Sleeping and eating well, exercising, refraining from smoking and drinking have far more impact on the body.  Yet time and time again, people fall for the ‘quick fix’ option we are sold.

What are your views on consumerism?
How do you find a balance between your needs and wants?


Turn your challenges to good!

We all face challenges in our lives, some more painful than others. Recently I reflected on how often we use our overcoming these challenges to encourage and inspire others. Challenges cannot be avoided but we can endeavour to learn something from them, to grow, to become that little bit more resilient. Though I know there is not always an explanation for what we go through and why we go through it, I struggle to accept that troubles come just because they do. I would rather it was because I had to endure in order to help those facing similar situations or to become more empathetic. I am definitely a person who likes to ask why, as far as I am concerned there must be a reason.  I am slowly learning that life is not so straight forward.

My past experiences have meant I am sensitive when in particular environments and in tune with peoples feelings. I have had the privilege of working alongside women as a mentor and confidante.  I have had the opportunity to share my experiences with women in the hope of offering encouragement.  This reminded me that the challenges I faced were not in vain.  I was able to use my past pain to help others overcome theirs. I found sharing my experiences to be incredibly liberating as choosing to disclose matters close to your heart is a sign it no longer has a hold over you. Making yourself vulnerable before others rids you of the shame, anger and guilt often associated with carrying things of the past. You are no longer bound which brings immediate freedom.

How can you grow in the midst of challenges?

1. Accept your past and embrace the present. You cannot change the past but you can decide how you want to be in the future.

2. Remind yourself there will be an end to the challenge and if not the the pain will ease over time.

3. Focus on how you can help others even in the midst of your own challenges. It will be a struggle but it does us good to take the focus off of self. Also there will rarely be a stage when we do not have a challenge so now is as good a time as any to reach out to others.

How have you turned your challenges to good?
Do you choose to learn from your challenges?