1. Step back and look at the big picture.
It’s so easy to be focused on a couple of elements in our lives – our jobs, our kids, the endless to-do list – that it’s easy to lose the point of it all. Are you simply surviving each day or making steps to build the life you want?
Take the time to write down what you want for each of these key components in 2019 and beyond. If you don’t have time right now, book in 45 minutes later today or tomorrow to complete this one.
Relationships: Who you want to spend time with? Which relationships do you want to grow? Do you want to meet new people? How can you best become part of a community?
Career: Are you climbing the right ladder? Are you spending your time doing work that inspires you? What do you want to learn? Do you have any specific goals?
Your output: What are you bringing to the world? How are you contributing? This can be through creativity, helping others or simply adding positivity to other’s lives?
Your living situation: Is your home environment how you’d like it to be? What can you do to make it a place of calm, peace and inspiration?
Your experiences: Which parts of the world do you want to see? Which cultural experiences have you always wondered about or wanted to do more? What small little things can you do to make your experience of the world a little richer?
Your health: What delicious, healthy things can you eat? What fun active stuff can get you moving? Which habits do you feel strong enough to ditch – what’s your strategy to do this?
2. Just one thing daily.
Your big goals need to be connected to daily tasks, so each evening write just one thing that you’re going to do to improve or maintain something in each of the areas in tip one. Set an alarm on your phone to do this and have a notebook and pen that you keep especially for this next to your bed. Tick off what you’ve done at the same time.
3. Gratitude for a happy heart.
After you’ve written your one thing to do, write down one thing you’re grateful for. Spend one minute focusing on this thing and feel the gratitude permeate you. So many of the messages we receive from the world tell us that we need to want more. Remembering what we have is the antidote to the frenzied treadmill of consumption this can produce.
4. Check email in chunks.
Emails are the nemesis of anyone who’s tried to remain focused and mindful at work. Turn off notifications and schedule two or three slots a day when you will check and answer them. The rest of the time you can focus on important things that will drive your work forward.
5. Meditate with a candle daily.
This helps increase your concentration levels and calms the mind at the same time. Light a candle and concentrate on it for 10 minutes a day; let thoughts come and go, refocusing on the candle each time.
6. Cut down your advert and social media exposure.
Your attention is precious. Guard it with ad-blockers, mute the TV and for the ads you can’t avoid, mindfully and firmly tell them “thanks but no thanks”. Like with email, set times for social media and use apps such as Freedom to block them for the rest of the day. This may seem extreme but the effect of social media on the brain is similar to gambling or drug addiction. It has a devastating effect on our ability to focus and be mindful in other areas of our lives.
7. A decluttered home for a decluttered mind.
Set aside some weekends for home organisation. Be honest with yourself about what you may never use and donate them. Tackle one category of things at a time (not one room at a time). Start small (with your underwear or spice rack) to build up confidence.
8. Get back into your body.
We spend a lot of time in our heads which leaves our experience of the world clouded and frenetic. A couple of times a day – maybe while walking (or even sitting on the loo!) – come back into your own body. Feel the ground beneath your feet, the air coming into your nostrils, your lungs filling, the feel of your clothing against your skin. Allow yourself one minute to really live inside yourself.
9. Banish impulse buying.
Half of what we buy is on impulse and then we wonder where all the stuff cluttering up our houses comes from. Keep your home and wardrobe decluttered by only buying things you truly need; research styles you love and what really suits you before splashing out on clothes. Borrow tools and hobby equipment until you’re sure you’ll use them regularly. When you decide to buy an object, get the highest quality you can afford – you’ll save money in the long-run because you won’t be re-buying inferior items.
10. Focus on making others happy.
When we focus too much on ourselves, our lives, our problems or our goals and flaws it can isolate us from others, and if there is one thing we know from every scientific study of happiness ever done, it’s that it is our relationships and connections that dictate how happy and fulfilled we feel. Actively become mindful of others around you, at work, at home, even on your commute – practice imagining how others feel and what might make their day a little brighter.
Bonus tip: Remember that New Year isn’t the only time you get to draw a line and start afresh. January is an arbitrary man-made invention. You can choose any day, any moment to be your January the first. Don’t like what just happened? Draw a line, turn over a fresh page, breathe and start again.
Tara Button is on a mission to change the way the world shops forever. In 2016 her little idea went viral and BuyMeOnce was born. After working ten years in advertising, she's now using her powers for good rather than evil. Tara lives in Hertfordshire with a murderous cat and a husband she gets to laugh at every day. Her first book A Life Less Throwaway is published with Harper Collins in the UK and Penguin Random House in the USA.