One of my three goals throughout February this year is to learn to appreciate what I already have. It is a goal I want to continue throughout the year, not only focusing on material goods but my health, my fitness, my job, opportunities, friends and family.
We all know how easy it is to fall into a spirial of constantly pining for new things. From clothes, books, cars, holidays, shoes, makeup, experiences etc. The list is limitless and predominantly down to the growth in social media (no don’t worry I am not going to start Instagram bashing). Yet with a constant feed of new brands being shoved under our noses, and marketing strategies designed to make us feel as though we are missing out without the latest products in our lives it is difficult to believe our existence will be fulfilled without them (as sad as it sounds typing that). I know I am a sucker for it, especially makeup and skincare products, sportswear and furniture. Yet when you are stuck between wanting everything influencers can throw at you and a desire to travel or save it is difficult to gain perspective and appreciate how many wonderful things we already have. This is where this months goal comes in. Throughout the month I want to start appreciating how many good things I already have in my life.
I don’t want you to think I have got this nailed, or believe that I will never want for new things, or never impulse buy flights etc. It is not the case at all. This is just me simply trying to find a middle ground, to become less wasteful and more grateful for what I have.
I know I am fortunate to own a house. I sacrificed moving to a city to set down roots in a town and have the security of being on the property ladder. However, with the growing trend of Instagram profiles dedicated to home renovations and beautifully styled homes alone, it is difficult to ever feel content. I also don’t own a house with a partner so what I pump into my house is my money, money which could be spent on holidays, days out and clothes etc. The house is a project, I didn’t buy a new build, I was conscious of equity and making a bit of money and I also daydreamed about a project house (I am beginning to see that was no dream just a nightmare).
Instead of worrying about what others have and how lovely everyone else’s homes are compared to mine I have really begun to appreciate what I do love about my house. I have been able to put my own mark on it. I love the garden it has, despite needing work it catches the sun all day. I love my kitchen and all the furniture I have managed to collect over the years and the fact that it feels like home to me. I love that my housemate Alex can live there with me and the jokes we share. I am grateful I was able to get my dog because I own it. I love how close it is to my work and the town centre and I love that even though there is a lot of work still to be done, I have learned new skills and I am able to tick smaller, affordable jobs off between the bigger tasks. It is not a race, and yes it may take me a little longer than others, but the renovation is not my priority in life and I am really proud of what we have already achieved and the amazing memories I have been able to make in this house.
My health and fitness
This is probably not something we give much thought, I know I certainly didn’t until recently. I follow the fitness blogger Zannavandik and if you do too you will have noticed she underwent major surgery out in the Maldives. She was out there with HealthyChefSteph on a blogger/ fitness influencer tour when she suffered from a twisted bowel. I know you are probably thinking what does this have to do with anything, but stick with me. Zanna is now back in London and is starting her recovery journey. For someone whose life and career is centred around fitness and exercise, it must be overwhelming to only be able to walk for ten minutes a day. Whilst she has managed to stay optimistic to her followers she highlighted that if you are fit, healthy and able to exercise with an able, capable body unlike hers at this current moment then do so. Go out and do it. We all make excuses as to why we cannot or do not want to exercise but really all you need is a very short amount of time and an able body and you are good to go.
Her comment struck a chord with me. For the first time, I realised I don’t need to look like a VS model, draped in new sweaty betty gym kit to really appreciate my health and fitness. I didn’t need to be making the most instagramable healthy meals either to lose weight or stay fit. I just needed to appreciate the fact that I am healthy, I have a working body and I know from past experience how fit my body can be when I stop making excuses stop making lists of things I need to get fit and lose weight and just accept that I have everything I need already to get there again. Her stories are a reminder to us all to stop with the ‘if I had this’ or ‘if I had more time’ ‘I need a personal trainer’ etc. We don’t need all the extras that are marketed at us. Don’t opt to buy shakes, coffees, etc which will never help you lose weight or suppress your appetite. Instead, find 15 -20 minutes a day where you can add a bit more movement into your routine. I read a piece once which I have used a lot on my blog which said ‘if you wake up an hour early each day you gain 15 extra days a year’. I know we get tired but imagine what you would think you could do if someone gave you 15 free days a year! So set that alarm an hour earlier and get moving. We owe it all of those who do not have the luxury of a healthy mind or body to get out there and keep fit and healthy.
Don’t forget there are so many free resources out there to help. From the Couch to 5K podcast, to YouTube and Instagram TV all filled with free workouts. Local parks are now fitted with more workout equipment than ever before but all you do need is some comfy clothes and a pair of trainers and a grateful mindset.
I think I sit somewhere in the middle between loving fashion, new styles, keeping up with trends etc and being quite relaxed with what I wear and wanting to save money. I love having my own style, I am not an extrovert, I am not edgy or cool in any way, I love the British Highstreet but I think I have a uniqueness in regards to what I like. Over the last few years, I have started to move away from fast fashion. My time spent shopping for clothes is invested in more fulfilling areas of my life. I don’t live close to clothes shops so I don’t browse windows, or nip to shopping malls in my lunch break. My shopping has to be planned and scheduled even if it’s via the internet. Because of this, I have become better and picking pieces which are versatile and can be worn season to season for different occasions. Pieces which can take me from work to dinner and even for drinks in the evening. I don’t believe I am the only one noticing themselves making this change. As a generation, we are slowly becoming much more aware of our environmental impact, and the damage fast fashion can cause. I make sure my clothes are often recycled. I will wear a piece to death until I am bored of it. I am a creature of habit so for me, it is easier to reach for something I enjoy wearing, which I feel confident and comfortable in. I also noticed clearing old clothes out, donating to charity or selling on eBay also really taught me to appreciate what I already had hanging up. If I felt nothing for a piece or knew there was little chance I was going to wear it again I donate it to charity. It makes you appreciate the clothes you do have and enjoy wearing. By clearing out old clothes as well it gives you room to keep the ones you do enjoy wearing in your vision so you can remember what you do already have, which I can assure you is a lot more than you probably think.
My approach to making up really changed at the end of last year. To a degree I have always been a bit of a makeup junkee. I love trying new makeup, new products and brands etc. However, at the back end of 2019, I had an allergic reaction to a new moisturiser which had never happened to me before and after a month of it not shifting I had to get a steroid cream from my GP. I had a month of no products on my face and do you know what? I was fine. I enjoy putting makeup on and of course, I look better with Makeup on but I didn’t miss it as I thought of would. With the break, I also noticed my spending habits on makeup and cosmetics ground to a halt and my skin actually improved dramatically. Hacks which helped me appreciate the makeup and cosmetic I already had was only replacing them once that product was finished. If I already had a product in my make up bag I was not allowed to buy another one. Set yourself a spending limit on what you think is acceptable to spend on cosmetics too. I see hundreds of recommendations each day on Instagram which I use to save and hope one day I could try but now if they don’t fit in my cosmetic budget I forget about them. Remember also everyone’s skin is different. An influencer I like may wax lyrical about a product but it doesn’t mean It will work for me. I again have learnt to appreciate I have a lot of makeup, a small collection that many young girls would love to have. Yes, I work hard, I save for it and I look after the makeup that I do buy. By ensuring you do not buy a product you already have or already have similar of makes you remember how much you already have and therefore appreciate the situation your makeup bag is in. (NB this felt very first world problems to write and I am already cringing at myself).
Making the most of your job
Work can make things difficult in terms of appreciating what you have. When I have not enjoyed my job I have always been searching for a fix from the mundane often in the form of purchases or wanting to book holidays. Thankfully I do not feel like this now, but if you do the first thing to do is write a list of elements you like about your job. Note down the benefits and think about whether you are going to match those benefits if you were to move roles and if you are actually going to enhance them. If it is a yes then start by looking for a new job, no brainer. As much as I try to get a good balance throughout my day away from my desk our working days are 7 hours of our day that is 35 hours of our week so you need to make sure you are happy there first and foremost.
Get a side hustle – something that motivates you, something which could potentially turn into something full time or is just fulfilling. I write my blog on the side so I can continue to write, and chat to you all and when work is on a lull. It makes me feel fulfilled when I am at home in the evenings. When work is rocket busy and I need the downtime instead I can leave this to tick over on its own, no commitment.
I think one of the most important things with your work life is to try and find some social aspects. I know it can be easier said than done, especially if you work in a small team or you are self-employed. Social Situations in an office can often elevate feeling of choice and ‘freedom’ with work. Having friends in your place of work can break up the norm of being at your desk, it will stop or at least help reduce the need to plan the next ‘fun’ fix, or block that impulse buy for that spike in adrenaline we are all guilty of feeling when internet shopping.
Humbled by Friends and Hobbies
Nothing makes me appreciate what I already have as much as a good catch up with friends or riding, running, writing and reading does. My favourite feeling is leaving a casual evening at the pub, I have probably sat there for hours with one diet coke laughing endlessly with my girls, comparing shit stories and having a good old gossip, I leave with the best feeling. I forget the things I haven’t achieved or the places I am yet to tick off and I am just unbelievably grateful I have these people in my life. The same goes for spending time at the farm, riding the horses or just watching the pigs run around. It is easy to get mixed up in the need for more all the time. More things, more memories, more experiences, more countries ticked off but sometimes its the simplest of moments that make you the happiest. My favourite memory this year so far and I can’t see anything beating it or coming close was my nephew’s face when we swam in the outside pool at center parcs the first night we were there. His eyes were so big, bright and full of wonder, he couldn’t contain his excitement that he was swimming outside under the moon. It is these simple pleasures in life we forget as we get older, we forget these moments could fill us with so much happiness when we were so small and we swap them for tangible items instead but honestly nothing of monetary value could be swapped for that one memory of mine in January. And that is when I know I am learning to appreciate the amazing things I already have.