Nearly ten days into the New Year and I'm only now sharing my plans and aspirations for the twelve months ahead. Better late than never I suppose, so here goes.
I'm not a fan of loud and boisterous Hogmanay celebrations, preferring to see the year out with a small group of friends or family. I haven't reached the stage yet where I take myself off to bed to wake the next day to a new year. Neither do I sit gloomily in an armchair, clutching a dram with a curmudgeonly air, watching the clock for the midnight chimes. I enjoy the few hours leading up to the bells, where chatter and banter cheerfully ease me from one year to the next. There's always booze to enjoy and we make sure we have an array of tasty snacks on the go through the evening. It's a fun time in a 'fifty-plus years old' kind of way.
The actual moment when the countdown begins and the bells chime is a movingly emotional juncture for me. My voice breaks and I feel tears welling in my eyes. This is the moment where I enter into a new contract with myself - to become the person I continually aspire to be. Invariably the year I am leaving will have been a mixed one, with challenges and triumphs in equal measure. There is no doubt that my struggle with depression will have played a big part during the year. The moment when the fireworks burst into the skies and people hug, kiss and wish each other every happiness, is the briefest of moments when the pains of the departing year are expunged and hope floods my senses. Amidst the tumult of bonhomie I look forwards, visualising myself embracing my life with vigour and positivity. After the celebration is over, it's always a pleasant experience drifting off to sleep in the wee hours of January 1st with sleepy dreams of exciting adventures on the horizon.
I do not call them resolutions but I do have a number of things I want to achieve in 2018. Like many folk I suppose, I begin the new year with high levels of motivation to tackle things I procrastinated over the year before. The challenge of course is keeping this motivation at a consistently high level to effect the changes and the learning I aspire to achieve. For many years I was a development trainer/coach and I'm an old hand at observing the process of initial enthusiasm slowly shifting towards lethargy and eventual disappointment. I understand what the usual contributing self-defeating factors towards this might be. I see these all too clearly in myself. In the opening hours of the year I resolve not to allow these factors to get the better of me - as they did the year before, and well, all the years before that.
As I always advised folks to do, I have chosen a manageable number of aspirations to work towards, rather than create a long and unwieldy list. I remember likening setting post-course goals to work towards akin to packing a rucksack for a wilderness expedition. Pack what is essential and not carry too many things to cut back on the weight. Where possible, share the load too. Trying to cram too much into the rucksack will leave it overladen, jumbled and impossible to find what is necessary because this'll be buried under non-essential stuff. Again, akin to many successful expeditions, it's essential to understand personal limitations and abilities, thus realising the likelihood of a realistically achievable outcome. I've found with my expeditions that they require purpose, something tangible, which makes them meaningful and provide me with the determination I require to see them through. The same is true with setting new year goals for myself - they need purpose, so that I'm purposeful in working towards achieving them. Finally, to bring the alliteration of the wilderness expedition to a close, it needs to be enjoyable, even if at times the sense of challenge may seem overwhelming.
The common sabotaging blocks in achieving my goals are my lack of self-belief, procrastination, not attending to immediate matters to address developing situations, becoming distracted, a poorly organised approach, and allowing a sense of failure determine whether I progress or not. Neither am I good at drawing on any learning from my achievements and successes, instead preferring to dwell on where I think I'm failing. It's ironic how aware of this process I am, yet allow it to play out time and again.
This year's first aspiration is to not allow this to happen for 2018. I will nip any self-defeating behaviour in the bud and draw on inspiration from my recent kayaking and other adventurous successes. If I attend to this aspiration as the overarching goal, then the list which follows ought to be well within my reach. It all seems so very easy!
Here's the short list of what I want to achieve in 2018. In fact I will change this, it is the list of what I will achieve in 2018.
- Kayak the Three Peaks.
- Kayak to Muckle Flugga from Tobermory and back.
- Complete writing "Strong Winds are Forecast", the book about my 2015 journey.
- Establish a You Tube "LifeAfloat" channel and make at least two films a month for this.
- Sail our yacht at least twice every month when the weather allows.
- Become proficient in addressing and resolving electrical issues on the boat.
- Make contact with all the important friends in my life.
- Teach myself twelve Scottish folk tunes on my tin-whistle.
- Watercolour painting at least once a month.
The list is self-explanatory and contains some demanding items to achieve. I can see which of these will require the greater attention to prevent procrastination and as I write this I'm aware of a my determination to not allow this to happen. Already I have pleasantly surprised myself by not succumbing to the temptations of avoidance and distraction when I had recently set myself the task to settle down to write. The feeling of achievement at the end of a successfully busy day is sufficient reward indeed.
This blog entry outlines the contract I have set with myself and by sharing it here, I'm inviting you to play a role in the success of my new year aspirations, by checking in with me from time to time and holding me to account. For example it might be that you ask me to post a recording of me playing one of the tunes I have learned on my tin-whistle! However you interact with me, I will accept your interest and support with gratitude.
So then, 2018 is under way and I'm looking forward to seeing how it unfolds. It's not a case of leaving this to chance because of course, I have the means to influence the outcomes I'm aspiring for. I sincerely hope that the same is true for you too and that this year is a wonderful one for you in so many ways.
Dear Reader - my warmest wishes to you for a happy and fulfilling 2018.