2017 themes and goals: February

2017 themes and goals February Penny Golightly

Well hello there, how the devil are you? I’ve had a couple of days off after Jump Start January, then caught some virus or bug thingy that meant I needed to have an extended lie down, so apologies for the relative quietness of the blog at the moment. On the mend now, and catching up with lots of emails and other gubbins, so it’s getting back to business as usual.

Like most people, I usually have some time to reflect during the Christmas break and get all excited about the coming year, but I never have any luck making New Year resolutions. I don’t know exactly why that is, although most resolutions tend to be along the lines of ‘always do this…’ or ‘give up that forever’, and somehow my brain rebels against sticking to any stuff that stretches into infinity.

However, I have had a lot of success by deliberately working around these tendencies. I’ve found that I can stick to something really, really well for a week or a month, and I do best with short or medium term goals rather than very long term or permanent ones. These give me a lot more variety, and I also have the freedom to try new things more often.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to have a set of new mini resolutions every month during 2017. Each month has a different theme, and there are various specific short term goals so that I stand a reasonably good chance of completing tasks and hitting my targets – something most of us need to get the feel good factor, myself included. I’m trying to set a new habit or two every few weeks as well , but keeping it simple and not overloading myself with too much all at once, mainly because focus is so important when it comes to laying down new patterns of behaviour.


What did I get up to in January?

The first month of this year was a Jump Start Challenge, and because there was so much to do during the challenge I decided to keep everything else really simple behind the scenes. My personal theme for January 2017 was ‘back to basics‘. I didn’t blog about it at the time because I thought it would be too confusing to mix it in with the Jump Start.

January is such a long, dark and skint month for most people that I went for a few simple and easy things to do, mainly so that I wasn’t setting myself up to fail. It was all easy to manage, straightforward stuff that I hoped would make incremental improvements to everyday life.

Here’s what I picked:

  • Taking the first shower – getting up ten minutes earlier and taking the first shower has greatly improved my morning routine. No waiting around for someone else to finish their ablutions, and no rushing around afterwards to get ready; it really set me up for a good day. There were a couple of days I didn’t manage it due to having a headache, but apart from that it was great.
  • Writing morning pages every weekday – if you haven’t heard of these, it’s a writing exercise that you do first thing in the morning to limber up. There are no expectations, there’s no particular end goal, and there’s no quality control either, just scribbling away with no need to be perfect. I’ve found that what I write after finishing the exercise is more creative because I’ve warmed up properly, and I enjoy writing it more as well.
  • Drinking at least five glasses of water per day – we’re a bit too obsessed with drinking lots of water in this country, but I’d started drinking a bit too much tea and coffee again, so this was something to do to space it out. It’s worked, and most days I’ve had six glasses or more.
  • Having a bedtime routine where I always use skincare and dental floss – I’m pretty good at taking all my makeup off and giving my teeth a quick brush, but I decided to improve my bedtime routine by going upstairs ten minutes earlier, putting on skincare and making sure my gnashers are sparkling clean. A month later, my skin feels softer and clearer, and my teeth feel that little bit fresher.
  • Keeping a gratitude diary in the evening for a month – I freely admit it felt a bit ridiculous for the first week or so when I tried it, but it’s an activity that slowly trains your brain to remember the good things in you life. It has definitely allowed me to remember that even a fairly crappy day can have quite a few good bits in it, so you don’t need to go to bed full of grumpy thoughts. Not so ridiculous after all, then.
  • Wearing an activity tracker every day – this one was a bit of an experiment. Last year I was given a very attractive Misfit Ray fitness tracker as a gift, and I’ve worn it on and off but never got fully into the habit. Many of us find it easier to reach our goals if we’re tracking our progress, and sometimes simply monitoring in itself can be all we need to encourage us to stick to a regular activity. Sadly, just wearing it didn’t help me to be more active, but at least it did help me to create a baseline of average activity (definitely in the ‘could do better’ category), and it’s sparked a few conversations about fitness and going out for walks etc with the other half (so maybe that adds peer pressure to the mix as well, bonus?).

So that last month was mostly about morning routine, evening routine, and very basic health and fitness. In real terms they were incredibly simple, but I definitely felt an improvement by the end of January.

After evaluating all of the activities, I decided to carry them forward as everyday habits and keep doing them. The idea of carrying any of them on for a year fills me with dread somehow, but I can easily complete another month of them without sabotaging myself.


February 2017 Goals

This month is calmer, work-wise, and so I’m able to have some slightly more challenging goals. The theme I’ve picked for this one is ‘vitality‘.

The goals are:

  • Take 3 & 1/2 hours of moderate exercise + do 300 sit-ups weekly
  • Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day
  • Read A mindfulness guide for the frazzled by Ruby Wax, and try the first set of exercises
  • Not checking my email, social media or the news in the morning until I’ve completed an hour of writing

There are fewer activities in the list for February so that I can concentrate on them properly. I know only too well what happens when I bite off more than I can chew – very little at all!

If there’s time, I might also do a short course to brush up on some of my blogging skills, but it’s not officially on the list at the moment. The first week has been a bit mixed due to being poorly, but I’m a lot better now and hoping to carry on as normal.

Wish me luck!

Do you have any personal goals for 2017, or for the month of February? Let us know.


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  1. Dear Penny,
    For my morning routine I used The Morning Miracle method. But I do the Exercise and the reading at night to keep it shorter and simpler.
    I just bought a great book ‘The 30 day challenge book – 500 ideas to inspire your life’. I am planning some to help me keep going. It is a great book full of free ideas, most of the challenges do not need extra money or equipment. Love it.
    I also used the book ‘Instructions for happiness and success’, thanks to you.
    Let me know if you’ve heard about the first 2 books above mentioned.
    Love, Pat

  2. Hi Pat,
    Sounds like you’ve been busy! I haven’t read either of those books but I’ll have to check them out.

    Penny x

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