Oh February. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a new month, and one that doesn’t even involve any travel. January was a toughie, it felt never ending, and I don’t know about you but that meant I welcomed February with open arms (I even uttered the words ‘pinch and a punch, first of the month’ to Jamie, a phrase I probably havent uttered since the age of 10).
The first month of the year starts with so many good intentions; it’s the perfect time to get stuck into plans and goals and fresh starts. But for some reason around the middle of the month my momentum wanes and I begin to feel like I’m running out of steam. Maybe it’s the loss of that initial ‘New Year’ high that fades, which I guess is inevitable? Whatever it is, I find myself really having to put in the mental effort to stay in a positive mind set. The dark, cold mornings don’t help at all, and the last few weeks have been especially cold and wet. Getting up for work in the dark, day after day, has begun to feel like such a drag and I’ve found myself snoozing the alarm about 3 or 4 times most mornings. Of course that doesn’t help things, I end up more groggy than usual and start reaching for the caffiene and chocolate to get me through the day.
Now that February is finally in full swing, I’m continuing to focus on the writing and blogging goals I talked about in my last post but I’m drawing a line under some other goals that fell to the wayside last month. Dry January? Yeeeah that didn’t happen. I’m not going to beat myself up about it though – what’s the point? Instead, I’m looking forward to seeing what this month has in store and getting back on track, by focusing on some of the long term goals that I’d like to achip away at this month.
1. Running: Finish Half Marathon training
This is a biggie, and probably my main aim for Febraury. About this time last year, for some unknown reason, I decided to sign up for the 2018 Bath Half Marathon. After initially putting the thought out of my mind for a good few months, I finally got into gear last July and started off with the Couch to 5k plan. It was tough. It still is tough. I started out running on and off for a couple of minutes at a time, each time panting and gasping my way through, but somehow I go through it. I finished my 5k plan by the end of last year, and since then I’ve been focused on a plan that has gradually built up distance, with 2 short runs in the week and a longer run at the weekend. I’ve never been a runner, and I’m not going to pretend that I’m suddenly a super fit pro! I’ve never found any exercise so challenging and mentally testing. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that running is basically a huge battle of the mind, firstly trying to keep yourself going when all of your limbs are burning in pain and secondly, learning to ignore that annoying little voice in your head that tells you ‘you can’t do this, it’s too hard, stop now’. I’m running about 5-6 miles on my ‘short’ runs now, and my long run yesterday was 9 miler. In the rain, to add a little cherry on top! Training for this Half Marathoon is quite honestly one of the hardest thigs I’ve ever done, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I regulary feel like giving up and admitting defeat. But I’m determined to stay on track. I’m going to keep dragging myself outside for runs, even in the dark, even in the rain. I know I’ll feel a huge sense of achievement afterwards, and that’s what’s keeping me going. Even if my body does constantly ache all over…
2. Learning: Finishing my TEFL course
This has been on the back burner for a while now, but it’s something I really want to keep on track with this month. For years I’ve planned on getting TEFL certified, and towards the end of last year there was a great deal on Tefl Org UK which I jumped at. A few years ago I completed a 20 hour classroom course with them (a weekend of practical teacher training in Cardiff) but I figure my best bet – if I want to open up the opportunity to teach English abroad in the future – is to get the full online certificate as well. It’s not neccessarily something that, job wise, is in my immediate future but I really enjoyed the practical aspect of the classroom course, and it’s something I’d like to get some experience in… and perhaps dip my toes into the teaching online aspect. I’m finding it hard to set aside much time to study at the moment, as I’m working 6 day weeks to save up money for my travels this year, and a lot of my evenings after work are taken up by running. But I’m determined to fit in some time on my free days – even if it’s just a couple of hours here and there, I know it’ll make a difference.
3. Organising: Get travel planning
I’m hopeful that this year will be a big one for travel (fingers crossed!), and I’m both excited and kinda nervous at the prospect. The ‘big plans’ are not set in stone yet, and for that reason I can’t give much detail… I don’t want to jinx things, or jump the gun! But let’s just say I’m hoping have a longer-than-usual stint abroad this year. Hence all the hours I’m putting in at work and all the posessions I’m trying to sell off to grow my travel fund! Until then I have a few smaller weekend breaks planned to get my teeth into, including a trip to Basel, Switzerland with my bestie next month! It’s come around so quickly and after the usual travel admin jobs I need to do (like update passport info and book airport parking) it’s going to be time to dig out the travel guide and revisit all the pages I’ve bookmarked online (mostly Beverley’s posts on Pack Your Passport!). Basel is somewhere that seemed to be on the travel blogger radar a lot last year, and after reading some awesome blog posts about it I decided it was definitely the perfect place for a short weekend away. Small, beautiful, walkable and within a stone’s throw of Germany for a day trip for some really good beer? I’m sold.
4. Learning: Starting Instagram For Success
Last week I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for Helene Sula of Helene In Between ‘s course, Instagram For Success. I’m a huge fan of Helene’s blog, I’ve followed for a while and pretty much devoured all of her blog and Instagram posts, where she regularly shares her advice on everything from moving abroad and securing visas, to how she uses Lightroom to edit her photos, and how she make money from her Instagram. Last year I signed up for her free Instagram Impact course and after following her advice I saw a big improvement in likes and engagement on my Instagram page. I don’t have a big following at all, but it’s encouraging to see a bit of steady growth and I’m excited to see where it’ll go. I’m never going to be one of the model-looking girls with thousands and thousands of followers, who look like they’ve stepped out of a photo shoot for a luxe travel magazine. That’s just not me. And there’s no point me trying to replicate that or beat myself up for being a normal person, flaws and all. I’m excited to learn from Helene’s course and figure out my own path to building a community on Instagram and, perhaps one day, growing a business online along side that.
5. Be present: practising gratitude
In an attempt to couteract the ‘meh-ness’ I’d fallen into by the end of January, I started trying to practice gratitude as often as I could, and I honestly think it got me through the tail end of last month without doing something rash like handing in my notice and buying a one way ticket to Bali (yeah that would be kinda awesome though…). It’s not something I was that familiar with to be honest, but I’ve been reading a lot about mindfullness recently and the idea of practising gratitue seem to pop up quite a lot, so I decided to give it a go. I started with small things like paying attention to the warmth of the shower, or my first cup of tea, or the colours of the sunrise on the way into work. And although at first it was hard, especially when I woke up grumpy some mornings (*cough*every morning*cough) I found that the more I did it, the more it began to help my mood. I’m never going to be a ‘jump out of bed and sing with the birdies, Disney Princess-style’ morning person, but I do find that counting my blessings and paying attention to the lovely little things can help me turn my mood around a bit.
I’m bringing that into February and I want to continue it for the forseeable future. When I’m feeling down or negative, I’ll remind myself that I’m lucky to have a job that allows me to save money for travels and the cosy flat I live in. I think of how grateful I am for the people in my life that love me, and who I love, and instead of scrolling through my social media feeds – which let’s face it, never improve improve a bad mood – I’ve been putting down my phone and spending quality time with my boyfriend instead of being half there, half online. I’m not saying it’s easy, a lot of the time you don’t realise you’re on autopilot until you counciously make an effort to pay attention to your own moods and actions. But I have found that the more I practice gratitude and trying to be mindful in my actions, the easier it’s getting.
So, those are the main goals that I’m going to be focusing on this month. It’s all about the positive mindset! Do you have any goals for February? How did your New year’s Resolutions look by the end of last month?