consciousˈkɒnʃəs/ adjective 1. aware of and responding to one's surroundings.



It's the time of year for resolutions, for goal-setting and for evaluating one's life. I am a sucker for goal-setting but I don't think it always does me good. I am overly ambitious and critical of my own progress, so I end up using my plans and dreams as a stick to beat myself with. At the end of a less than productive Sunday, I can be mired in a state of anxiety and frustration, which hardly makes for a good life. Productive by whose standards, I should ask myself. Because, of course, the answer is always my own. So, since I get to set the standards, I am starting the New Year by resetting them.

I spent the whole weekend doing (almost) nothing. Other than a lovely brunch with Emma where we hatched plans both big and small, I read. I sat on the sofa and I ploughed my way through two books. I'll tell you about them later, they were both wonderful. I've not done such a thing since I was 15 and I felt so much more refereshed and relaxed for it.

Whilst I do have big dreams and goals for this year, which I will share in due course, I want to enjoy my year and allow myself some of that breathing space which actually makes me a more productive (and happy) person in the long run.

So, instead of making goals and resolutions, I am setting myself one little word. I have seen this concept bandied around the Internet for a while now and it feels just right for how I want to focus for the year ahead. My word, in case you hadn't guessed, is conscious. Not conscious like 'not in a coma' but conscious like 'thoughtful and aware'.

There are many facets to this, for me. The first is about health. Last year, I aimed to be more active and do more exercise but failed miserably as dissertation hell set in, alongside my usual lack of motivation. This year, I want to be more conscious of my activity levels. I would like to run a 10k at the end of the year, but ultimately my main goal is just to move more, conscious as I am that I live a mainly sedentary lifestyle at the moment. This isn't about ticking off numbers and pushing myself to my limits, but about consciously creating an exercise regime that actually works for me. I'll be going to yoga more regularly as I know that classes work for me better than being left alone to my own devices.

The second is about food. I want to be conscious of what I'm putting into my body (insert rude joke here). More fruit and veg is key. Less chocolate would probably be a good thing, but there will be no denying of sweet treats altogether since they bring me such joy. I will also be conscious about where my food comes from. It's all very good to talk the talk, but it's time to walk the walk when it comes to eating locally. I'm lucky to work across the road from Leeds Markets, so I can pop in at my lunch break to buy fresh food rather than relying solely on supermarkets. I don't expect that I will be able to replace supermarkets completely, but reducing waste, packaging, food miles as well as supporting local businesses are all good things - even if only achieved half the time.

The third is about relationships - specifically friendships. My friendships are incredibly important to me but I am not always the best at keeping up with them. It is so much easier to see friends who live down the road, keep in touch with them over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. But I have friends spread across the country, and I don't want to lose touch with those that are further away. I want to be more forgiving when friendships don't go exactly as I plan, and be conscious of the other person's expectations and perceptions. I want to consciously prioritise my friendships this year.

The fourth is about money. It's pretty self-explanatory, this one. We've all got to the end of the month and wondered where all our money has gone - I don't want to do this anymore. I want to be conscious of where I'm spending my money (i.e. hopefully with more independent businesses), of what I'm spending it on (not just fast fashion but on good quality things that will last, on things that make me happy - whether that's silly things or serious things) and how much of it I'm spending. I'd like to end the year with some savings, rather than a plan for some savings and a negative bank balance.

The fifth and final, for now, is about blogging. I don't want to stress about blogging. I love blogging, it is a huge part of my life and has got me where I am today in so many ways. I am a blogger, that's just who I am. I want to approach blogging more slowly; rather than trying to create content for the sake of it, I want everything I put on this blog to be worth my time and yours. I want to comment more on other's blogs and be generous in sharing their content when it makes me laugh, cry and think. I want blogging to be a joy rather than a chore. So I will do it more consciously, from now on.

There are many other parts of my life where I can be more conscious, but these are my starting points. Wish me luck!