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I Started My Resolutions Early & It's Actually Turned Out Alright // A Christmas Eve Reflection

24 December 2018
^ Because what says Christmas more than the stacks upon stacks of Pannetone in Wilko's.

It's Christmas Eve and the bags for life filled with thoughtful pressies, cute little titbits and last-minute tat have now turned into piles of averagely wrapped shapes that give no clue as to what's inside, stacked like an adventurous game of Buckeroo, except there is no horse buckling under the strain, just this idiot, who treated his lacto-sensitive self to a large hot chocolate for his efforts.

I'm sat alone whilst my parents are out, 'wrapping' away, and found myself strangely reflecting on the year. Normally this doesn't happen until actual New Years - where for the last few years me, Mum and Dad have driven up to a random backstreet in London to watch the fireworks. On the strangely relaxing drive back, I find myself having one of those 'look out of the window as if you're in a music video' moments where I pick out the highlights and lowlights of the year and think about what I want from the next. This year though, as I find myself honestly just sort-of-suffocating a cute fluffy animal hot water bottle thing with wrapping paper that is fancy enough to give the impression I have my shit together (we're talking beautifully drawn reindeer and some copper detailing here - I know), my brain seemed amped to kick things off early.

I've tried making resolutions before - to very little success. With most resolutions you find yourself quitting something cold turkey, or jumping head first into an extreme lifestyle change, and whilst for some that is the key to success, the rest of us don't have that sort of willpower. For me, making small changes regularly has helped when it comes to a number of changes, including eating healthier, and adding variation into my diet. I don't want to brag but I've levelled up from a plain butterfly chicken in Nandos to medium and if that's not character development... I don't know what is. Last year, I told myself I'd not make any resolutions, just sort of go through the year, see what happens, see what I can fix and try again next year.

Here's the thing - I started my resolutions early. By early I mean... September. I'm not quite sure what kicked it off and where I found the motivation to do so; it may have been a similarly reflective journey home more than likely soundtracked by Now That's What I Call A Power Ballad, or an inspirational tweet that lead me to kick myself up the arse, or even simply a string of a few sad days I needed to bounce back from. It could also be the fact that I cling to the past a little and still see the start of the school year as a new beginning. Either way, I found myself planning and making changes to keep things moving in a positive direction which consisted of 3 main categories.


Probably the main thing I wanted to change was to start cooking, and by cooking I mean making things from scratch

 A lot of my cooking involves putting things on a tray, in the oven, and working out timings to ensure whatever is in the oven is ready the same time as the veg I've shoved in the microwave - we love exciting nutrition. During this 10 minutes or so, I'm able to change out of my work clothes, and even make a sandwich for the next day, and I've spent as little time as possible ensuring I have as much as the evening left to do whatever I want as possible. Another aspect is price, as you can get a lot of prepared meat and potato products for very cheap, but to be honest if you make good choices you can sidestep this issue somewhat.

Simple things like making mash from scratch, or taking a day or two to cook mince so it's the perfect consistency, has helped me kick start this transition. Above is a cottage pie I made this weekend, which was absolutely beautiful, and as I find myself getting more and more confident, I find myself wanting to experiment more. If only people told us regularly that trying something and practising can make you pretty good and, more importantly, interested in cooking. Part of my motivation for this sits closely with what I see around me - a lot of people who can cook to a degree, have a meal or a few meals that are their statement meals. Meals that people associated with them and make sounds so close to an orgasm you wonder whether you should leave the room for a second. Selfishly, that's what I want. A weird surface-level reason, I know, but hey - it's motivation, and I'll take that where I can get it.

I love baking, I do okay with baking, it's just sometimes it takes a ruddy long time and effort to make something that's gone in (some cases) 60 seconds, but a lot of the time your brain is busy thinking about the steps, and how much you want to shove your finger in this sloppy mess featuring a shitload of raw egg, and it's relaxing. Sometimes my mum will help too so that's always lovely.

I've also upped the baking game again - I saw this video on Tasty where they'd spent 6 months or something perfecting their brownie recipe and I was eager to try, and also adapt it. Since the first okay attempt, I've jumped in with different flavoured chocolates and made some lush chocolate mint and chocolate orange brownies, which have gone down very well. My next attempt will feature winter spice, the forgotten Spice Girl who was supposed to replace Geri but her car didn't turn up for the Goodbye video shoot, 


I hadn't been on holiday properly since the end of 2016, for a number of reasons, and teased myself with a couple of day trips back in June - a lovely day trip to Brighton with one of my besties, and a traumatic eventful day in Paris where I nearly died - more on that another time. Whilst this had not put me off per se, I just didn't have the motivation to travel anywhere - people around me were taking solo and group trips abroad or even visiting places in the UK over the weekend and I wanted in.

Not the biggest jumps in the world, but I then proceeded to book a couple of UK trips. With the Christmas markets opening up in mid-November, I wanted to go and see the best. Last year, we took a trip to the Birmingham ones when it snowed and it was only partly better than 'meh.' Me and another bestie went away to Bath for a weekend, staying in an AirBNB, and doing all the tourist-y things possible on a grey November day, the weekend of the opening of the Christmas markets. It was a great weekend, and one of those very cliche moments where I thought - 'why don't I do this more often?'

I had also booked myself a 4-day trip to Edinburgh, again in an AirBNB, mostly for the markets but also to have a good old explore. My old camera had resurfaced so I was dying to try it out in a more interesting area than... West London. I'm sure my Mum was a little dubious about this trip, considering the afore-mentioned Paris trip, but all was fine, and I came back feeling great and inspired to take another short trip somewhere very soon, which I'm currently planning.


Finally, and probably most importantly - self care. This partly encompasses all of the above when it comes to taking time for myself, as well as little things such as sitting in a coffee shop and getting myself a posh hot chocolate during the cold weather, getting lunch out on a Friday, seeing films with and hanging out with friends more (though this still needs a lot more work), but alludes more to what I now call 'Self Care Sundays'... which sounds a lot more ominous than it is. SCS is what I incorporated into my week every Sunday evening, a time when I'm normally at home, and a time that normally goes to waste. I put together a list of things that would relax me in preparation for the week ahead, and put together a weekly schedule.

This normally started with watching Doctor Who with my mum, undisturbed with my phone switched off, then making myself a nice bit of food, preparing breakfast and lunch for the next day whilst popping in and out of the living room to see what was happening on Strictly. Following this I would take myself upstairs for a shower and a shave, slap on some kind of food-scented body butter, pick a movie to watch, grab a drink and do a facemask. Not a lot, let's be real, but for those few hours it was my time, and it was lovely.

One night, I even booked myself a very cheap local hotel room and stayed overnight to take some time away from home. I ordered food, I watched TV and I did most of the above - it was absolute bliss.

So Rob, I hear you ask, what is the point of this post? Honestly, if nothing else, it's me patting myself on the back and saying well done - that motivation you've been (barely) looking for is there somewhere and it's further coming out of hibernation just in time for 2019. There's still some things we need to work on, so grab this motivation, make good choices and make this next year a good'un.
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