6 Ways to put Joy into January

Why is January one of my favourite times of the year? Well it’s not for the sales. It’s not the leftover chocolate either – although that helps. January is one of my favorite times of the year because it is a time when we can wipe the slate clean and begin to reinvent ourselves. It is a time when we can begin to work on new goals and challenges. January is a time when we can try become the best version of ourselves, again.

I’ve never been too good at sticking to goals. My life is full of great intentions, but most of them never see the light of day. You see I have a common condition called rubberarmitus. This is where one’s arm can twist itself without an ounce of pressure. I still set goals. But I usually fail as easily as Jim Carey from Yes Man would if he arrived to The Craggy Island Parochial House with the intention of not having tea. But still, January always excites me because it allows me to dream of the person that I’m going to be next year. I may not be great at achieving my goals, but that doesn’t stop me from setting them. And not achieving them doesn’t stop me from learning. It doesn’t stop me from getting closer to that person that I want to be.

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My challenge to you is to not view January as a dark miserable hangover. Instead, view as an early sunrise bringing the optimism of a beautiful new day. Take time to reflect on your year gone by. Reflect on who you were walking into 2018 and who you are as you close the door behind you. Most importantly, take time to visualise the person you want to be the next time Christmas comes knocking on your door.

Your goals and resolutions must come from within you. You must want to achieve them and you must believe that you can. Having said that, I want to share some simple goals that could help you move towards the best version of yourself. I’m sharing these as a source of inspiration – but mainly so I can be held accountable for my own goals and use your added pressure as motivation.

Brian’s 6 Simple Goals for January/2019

1. Eat Less Meat

The healthiest diet I ever had was in 2014 for 10 months. As a New Year’s resolution I decided that I was going to be pescitarian – eating fish and no other meats. I only did this because I love fish and this was an excuse to eat more of it. Smoked salmon for breakfast, mackerel for lunch, prawns for dinner. Happy days! I was in my element. What I didn’t realise was that indirectly, I was vastly improving my physical health. I was no longer eating carcinogenic, non digestible red meats. I was saying no to fry-ups, Chinese’s and pizzas. Subbing them for an equally tasty alternative like granola and fresh fruit and fresher coffee for breakfast, yum! I didn’t realise that I was also improving my mental health. I was planning my meals every day. Taking the responsibility of sourcing my ingredients rather than being handed a plate of stew at home. By preparing my own meals I was partaking in daily mindful practice without even realising. I also didn’t realise the role it was having in reducing my carbon footprint. The meat industry – particularly red meat – is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gases on the planet.

Unfortunately my diet came crashing down only a few hours – and a lot of Guinness – after our club’s championship win at the end of September. Approximately 24 of Foley’s Bar’s finest cocktail sausages knocked me off the wagon and I’ve been off it ever since. Until tomorrow that is.

2. Move Naturally

It is time to get clever about our approach to exercise. Most of us are guilty of attacking our physical activity by diving straight into the deep end. We take a Forrest Gump like approach, buying a new pair of Nike’s and taking off with no real thought or plan. This worked for Forrest, and it will work for about 0.1% of the rest of us. For the other 99.9% we need a plan that will bring us slowly from where we are to where we want to be. Like I’ve mentioned in another post, the goal shouldn’t be to become a runner by February. It should be to become a runner by the summer. Taking each attainable step along the way.

If general fitness is something that you want to improve in the near year. Try to incorporate ways in which you can move more naturally every single day. Use stairs instead of lifts. Cycle to work once or twice per week. Walk to the shop for groceries. Meet your friends for a coffee to go and stroll around the park. Spend January fighting back against your bad moving habits. You will become fitter, healthier and happier.

3. Own Your Phone

Do you own your mobile phone, or does your mobile phone own you? Think about it and be honest. If I’m honest, my phone tells me when to sleep, when to wake, when to eat and when to move. Right now, I’m living in my phone’s pocket, and this must change drastically.

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4. SDG Challenge

Let 2019 be the year that you stop telling yourself that you’re only one person and there is nothing that you can do. Earlier this month Sir David Attenborough has told us that Climate Change could lead to the collapse of civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world. This is not news to us, but maybe it’s the first time we actually listened – in fairness I’d listen to David Attenborough commentating on a nil-nil draw between Stoke and Wigan and still be interested. So this year, take some personal responsibility for the protection of the planet that you and I destroy every day.

Development Perspectives’ SDG Challenge is my favourite way to take on this challenge. It is fun, engaging and empowering. By signing up to the challenge, you will receive a monthly challenge that is aligned to one of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. The challenges are accompanied by brilliantly put together resource packs and workshops that will give you the knowledge you need to engage with and empower others. Check out the SDG Challenge and play your part in our effort to reverse the catastrophic damage.

5. Volunteer Your Time

This Christmas, we should have all felt the joy of giving. Giving presents is a selfish activity. It’s selfish because it makes us – the giver – happy. By giving presents we are giving ourselves the gift of endorphins and serotonin. Those same happy hormones are up for grabs by giving back to others in your community. There are a million and one ways that you could volunteer some of your time to worthy causes. Maybe you could share some of your expertise to a non-profit organisation. Maybe you can invest some time in a soup kitchen or your local sports club. Either way, there are only positives to be taken from giving back. A perfect mix of gratitude, goodwill and happiness. Take a peak at Volunteer Ireland’s website to see what opportunities might be waiting outside your door.

6. Find Your Creative Spark

This is why I write blogs in the first place. To be creative. It’s not because I’m getting paid, and it’s not because I have a big audience begging for more. During the year I wrote a blog that sixteen people read. SIXTEEN!! And at least five of those people were me rereading to make sure I had no mistakes. This blog could be the same. Actually, you could be part of an elite group who read this far down on one of my blogs. So thank you if you are, but I’m gonna keep writing regardless because it keeps my creative juices flowing.

Let 2019 be a year that you start to create content, instead of just consuming it. This doesn’t mean sharing social media posts or blogs. This means finding a creative activity that you enjoy. Keep a diary, write a short story, buy an adult coloring book. Do something that will take your outside of your usual busy day. Exercising creativity is one of the easiest, yet most enjoyable ways in which we can nurture our own mental health.

Thank you eletists for taking the time to consume some of my creative work. I am wishing you a very happy new year full of happiness, prosperity and joy. And less cocktail sausages.

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