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12 thoughts on making the most of my 2012

January 2, 2012

Happy 2012! Thank you for helping to brighten 2011 for me by reading my blog. 🙂 I hope you will continue reading in 2012!

When I first started thinking about this year and what it may bring (when my mom nicely tried to chat with me about it a few days ago), I immediately got a stomach ache and wanted to change the subject. Sorry, Mom. The truth is, although I have had some wonderful times during the past couple of years and I wouldn’t change what we have done in 2011, I am not very good at having things up in the air. And oh my, have things been up in the air! However, although a lot of things about my life are still unsettled, I can see that my year is starting to take shape and I am getting very excited about 2012. I know it is going to be a good year. Most importantly, I know that some things will always be out of my control, so I need to focus on the things I can control.

I am not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions or setting a date to start on a particular goal, but I do believe it is important to think about what is important to you and then think about how to make those priorities take center stage in your life. Thus, my list of thoughts on how to make the most of my 2012…

In no particular order, my top 12 are:

1. Learn everything I can from my new job – I have worked incredibly hard to get a job which I will (hopefully) really enjoy and learn from, and which I believe will lead me to a long-term career I will be happy with. Therefore, I want to make the most of each day once I start my job and learn everything I can from the experiences and people I encounter. I am really looking forward to the specific work which I will be doing, and although I am sure I will regret saying this, I am looking forward to working normal hours. For the past year, the lines between work and home have been totally blurred, and I am sure weekends will be far more meaningful once I am working again.

2. Use my commute productively – In the past, I have always driven, walked, or taken a bus to work. At times, I have been able to do some work-related reading on the bus, but I have generally found it difficult and have spent most of the time just looking out the window lost in my own thoughts. With my new job, I will probably have a relatively long commute on the train (at least initially). I know that this will make my days feel shorter, and so I hope that I will be able to make use of my train rides, whether I do some reading for work, work on blog posts, come up with a meal plan or grocery list, or read a book for fun. I hope that if I can make use of the time I spend on the train, I will have more time to do what I want once I get home.

3. Continue to eat foods which make me feel good – For approximately the past year, I have been eating a primarily plant-based diet. I am not a vegan, but I have been eating a diet which is very low in meat and is completely dairy-free. I realised just about three years ago that I am extremely lactose intolerant and gave up dairy products, and nearly two years ago I started having lots of problems with my digestive system. I was told that it was probably IBS, and after initially taking daily medication to control it, I decided to try controlling it through diet and exercise. I have learned a huge amount about digestion (more than I ever wanted to know) and nutrition, and I have found a way of eating which works for me. I know that certain foods (e.g., lots of meat, certain uncooked or even cooked vegetables, anything eaten on an empty stomach, caffeine, alcohol) upset my stomach and I know that certain things really help (e.g., not getting too hungry, eating enough soluble fiber, eating soluble fiber before insoluble fiber or alcohol, drinking peppermint tea). I have also learned a lot about how to get the vitamins, minerals, fats, and protein I am missing by not eating dairy or much meat. I have found that I feel far, far better with my new way of eating, and although it’s not always possible to eat exactly the way that works best for me (particularly when traveling), I would like to make sure that I carry on eating well and learning about food and nutrition as much as I can throughout 2012.

4. Keep in touch with family and friends – This is very difficult for me because I have the best family and friends in the world, but unfortunately they are scattered all around the world. Sometimes it feels overwhelming to try to stay in touch with everyone, and so I just don’t make the effort to stay in touch with anyone. Or I get in touch, but so rarely that each time it is a big undertaking…and then there is a big gap before I talk to someone again. I am hoping that even if it is just a quick facebook message or wall post or e-mail, I can do just a tiny bit more to make sure I stay in touch with the people I care so much about. In addition, I would like to make the contact I have count. It is easy to have a phone conversation while doing or thinking about ten other things or checking e-mail, but I want to make an effort to really focus on the conversations I have with people and make them count. I hope that my blog might help a tiny bit with keeping in touch, as at least people will be able to see some of what I am up to and will hopefully comment once in a while (thank you to my commenters!), but I know I can’t expect everyone to spend time each day or week reading about my life!

5. Laugh more – I am quite a focused person and sometimes I think that I take life a little too seriously. This year, I want to try to laugh more and focus on what is really important rather than letting small things bring me down. I am not quite sure how to do this other than trying to change my frame of mind and perhaps initially working hard to find the funny side of situations when I actually feel frustrated or upset (or perhaps laughing even if I don’t find it funny). I hope that perhaps by consciously making this a priority and perhaps forcing myself to laugh for a while, it become more of my natural reaction in the future.

6. Exercise consistently – Just before leaving for Christmas with my family, Ben and I had gotten back into the habit of running consistently. Between being busy, the colder weather and icy roads at home, and me having a bad cold, we didn’t manage to go running at all when we were at my parents’ house. We did go for some walks in the snow, but I know that I feel better when I get plenty of exercise regularly. I think this will be even more difficult (in a way) when I start my new job, but I really want to make exercise a priority. I don’t want to set specific exercise goals (at least right now) because I don’t know exactly what life will be like and I don’t want to beat myself up if I don’t meet a very specific goal, but I do want exercise to be part of my regular weekly routine.

7. Keep writing this blog consistently – I have enjoyed writing this blog so much the past couple of months, and the comments I have received from people have meant a lot to me. When I start working, I think it will be more difficult to write high quality posts as frequently as I have written them so far. Therefore, I may need to post slightly less frequently, but I want to carry on writing consistently and making sure the posts are of a high quality. In other words, maybe I will write three good quality posts per week rather than five rushed posts, but maybe if I am commuting I will have time to write each day. I’ll just have to see. The content may also change slightly when I am working in a clinical psychology position and have less time to cook, but I definitely still want to include plenty of recipes.

8. Learn more about a range of topics within psychology and neuropsychology – I think that this will happen naturally when I am working in my new job, but I also want to make time to think about and learn about psychology topics which I may not encounter at work. I am hoping to use some of my commuting time for this, as my sister recently reminded me that there are lots of interesting psychology podcasts available for free on iTunes and I am hoping to take advantage of listening to these podcasts while I am on the train or the tram.

9. Live in the moment as much as possible – In the busy world we live in, it is easy to be doing ten things at once. However, at least for me, when I am focused on lots of things, I miss out on what is right in front of me. In order to be efficient, this is sometimes necessary, but I want to make sure that I stop checking my e-mail while talking on the phone, for example, and really pay attention to the people I’m with (or talking with). I hope that by doing things like working on things during my commute, I will feel less stressed and be a bit less busy when I am at home.

10. Learn more about how to use my camera – Ben bought me my DSLR camera for my birthday about a year and a half ago and it was such a great present. I have always loved taking pictures, but I had no idea what a huge difference a good camera would make. I have so much fun using my camera, and each new thing that I learn improves the quality of the photos I take exponentially. However, I still have so much left to learn! It may be a slow process, but by the end of 2012, I hope I will know a lot more about how to take top quality photos of a range of subjects.

11. Do more yoga and/or meditation – I have taken yoga classes and meditation classes, and I really enjoy them and I have learned a lot from both. They also help with stress and IBS. However, I rarely do yoga or meditate, and I would like to work these into my schedule more than I do currently. Again, I don’t have a specific goal for how frequently I will do yoga or meditation, but I would just like to make them more of a part of my life in the year ahead.

12. Make quality time for Ben and me – I feel incredibly lucky that Ben and I are so close and that we like spending pretty much all day every day together. However, sometimes I think that because neither of us have had set work schedules for a while, and therefore neither of us have any actual time off, we miss out on having time which is set aside just for the two of us. I love the fact that we have a good time no matter what we are doing when we are together, we are a great team, and being around Ben makes even the most mundane tasks really fun…but I am hoping that in 2012, we can set more time aside for us to go for walks, go to movies, or go out for dinner or a drink – and leave our laptops and work thoughts behind. Luckily this is number twelve, because I should probably stop writing this post and start living up to what I am saying! Shutting the laptop down now…

Anyway, I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year, and I wish all of you the very best for 2012! If you missed my review of 2011, you can see it here (part 1) and here (part 2).

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