Why hello again friends! How are you doing? 2018 more than any other year seems to have flown by.
It's crazy to think that we're almost at the halfway mark for 2018, so I wanted to dedicate this post to some thoughts about how one might approach the second half of 2018. When Winter hits, it can be a good time to reflect, along with the changing of the season, evaluating what you want to achieve in the next 6 months.
After that lovely half year break with Queens Birthday, I decided to treat myself to a week not blogging. After a busy May where I was wall to wall with sponsored posts (I need to sometimes make hay while the sun shines), it frankly left me a bit pooped. Fortunately, I've picked myself up again and I've been hard at work, thinking about what is in store for Wellington, and for me for the rest of the year.
I'm almost frightened to say it but I am looking closer to my 30's than my 20's now, and that makes one feel that some things are simply not worthwhile feeling anxious about, and must be cut, and others are worth fighting for. Working full time as a policy advisor and blogging 3x a week, plus a weekly video and Instagram (ooooh Instagram - more on you later) is a pretty full workload, and it can be easy to be overwhelmed.
I'm not special, however, and I know that you have loads of responsibilities as well, from family to hobbies to social commitments and volunteering. It's true! Busy is the new fine. But in light of some recent sad deaths which bring to light yet another refreshed focus on mental health, we need to be making sure more than ever that busy isn't overtaking feeling sane, and money and work isn't overshadowing family. We're all guilty of it. We aren't perfect. Some of us like our jobs (guilty of liking my blogging and job equally over here), which can cause us to spend longer hours than we need to in search of perfection. So let's take a pause for a second. I got you.
SHOP THE POST - GOOD AS GOLD & CHAOS AND HARMONY
This informs some of the new 'Mid-year resolutions' I feel make sense. You might have similar or very different ideas, but ideally, you'll take a moment to pause and think about what is working for you, and what is frankly spluttering and fading out like a very old Honda Civic. I personally have found that the method that informs my madness goes something like below:
1. Stop and Think: What are you doing?
This week, I've noticed myself mindlessly panicking about things I don't need to, usually after behaving in repetitive ways that no longer serve me, but that I do out of habit. For example, Instagram is my most used app on my phone, and while I fully do appreciate it, particularly where it let's me meet amazing people and learn about new things, it also can be a bit of a honey trap. I'll hop on for 5 minutes and 45 minutes later I am still on it. Doh! This is ONE example which applies to me but the first step to assessing whether you feel on track with your year/life, is simple to NOTICE what you are doing to begin with. If you have apps on your phone which you use mindlessly, if you end up getting to work too late all the time, if you skip exercise, or if you're avoiding hanging out with people you'd normally like to spend time with, just NOTICE, without judgement, what the feeling is and why you feel that way. If you have no idea what I am on about, you can read lots of great materials about non-judging observing, from Russ Harris Book, 'The Happiness Trap', to Marie Forleo's 'How to make every man want you' to meditating with Headspace. Just start to get interested in your habits, and why they stick (also good is Charles Duhig's 'The Power of Habit'.)
2. Why are you doing what you're doing?
Once you have noticed what it is you do that's sabotaging your productivity or calm, try and understand why you keep on acting like a noo-noo and doing it over and over. Personally, I think I go on Instagram frequently because I am always looking for a dopamine hit (as kindly provided by social media). I am often late in the mornings because I am not organised and I don't go to bed early enough (quite frequently because I spent the time I should have spent writing a blog post on...wait for it.... INSTAGRAM! I see a pattern). Once you have worked out a pattern of behaviour, now is the time to either acknowledge that is who you are and that you won't change (ideally, if it bugs you, don't do this) or otherwise work out how to change your behaviour.
If you are trying to break a bad habit...
3. What would you like to do less of?
So, taking the example above, if I would like to be less focused on checking Instagram, the first thing I need to do is to work out why. I can tell you, checking it too much makes me unproductive, anxious, obsessive (yes, I really do need to spend 40 minutes editing a photo in the middle of the day, only not to use it in the end anyway), and generally distracted (.... what??!). Therefore, we can establish it is not a habit that is really working for me.
4. What would you like to do more of?
I can think of lots of positive things which would make my life more interesting if I sought to break some of this screen-obsessed behaviour. I could finish books! I could try meditating again to combat it! I could write more! I could spend time with Matt! So many positives can be found if you really want to break a habit. Why do I want to do these other things...?
5. What makes you feel good?
Reading more enriches my brain and gives me better ideas. Connecting to Matt helps me feel grateful for our loving and special relationship, and can lead to greater intimacy (oooh la la). Writing more is something which helps me deal with my emotions as a human and create interesting and fun content for you to enjoy (you're welcome). But what do I get from too much time on Instagram? A giant fat poop shaped emoji of anxiety after 3 hours per day on it is what. So COME ON! Let's get it into perspective. We have one glass very full of positives and one very empty.
6. If you don't feel good, talk it out.
To bridge the gap, you might need some help to break your habit. This probably looks like talking to someone to work out all this stuff (or if you are me, to write about it). This week I spoke to a very nice psychologist at work (at the end of a workshop we were running) who was visiting because I was feeling crappy about the way some people had spoken about me, and we worked through what I could do to move forward. Although I logically knew much of what she said to me, I found it very useful to have an adultier-adult, who WASN'T family or friends to discuss it with. Don't sit on your anxieties and problems. There are great services which exist for a reason. If you need to speak to someone, you can call some of these numbers below, or ask your work about work counselling. It usually is free and you don't have to only talk about work-related problems.
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) // Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) // Healthline – 0800 611 116 // Samaritans – 0800 726 666
So what have I taken from this exercise? Well, I will be trying to stick to these resolutions for the rest of 2018:
My Mid-Year Resolutions
Use Instagram Less and be in the moment
I mean, if you've got this far, it won't be a surprise. See above for all the reasons. To help me stay accountable, I've installed an app called 'Moments' on my phone which tracks how much time you spend on your device per day. I'm keen to worry less about likes, engagement and followers and more about posting authentic content at the moment. It isn't worth spending ages putting something up and then taking it down again, and if my Instagram for The Residents looks more basic as a result, or I lose followers, so be it. I'd rather be happy than miserable with 5000 extra followers.
Enjoy focusing on my blog more and allow it to be my main focus, without guilt
WARNING - RANT AHEAD: Some commentators say that these days that blogs are a thing of the past. It makes sense. Web-based browsing is old hat. I see it in how Influencer agencies treat the value of blog metrics vs Instagram metrics. You could get tens of thousand people visit your blog every month, but if you didn't have an Instagram profile to match, it is possible you'd be ignored. Instagram is hot right now. But will it be around in 15 years? Personally, I think that it is unlikely (I could be wrong!). To use a metaphor, if I were talking about Instagram like a stock on the stock exchange, I'd say it was over-valued, based on the hype that comes along with. It could be easily replaced by something jazzier and more current. YouTube is different again, and probably less likely to be supplanted in my opinion, because the medium is different. But those are just my personal thoughts and feelings.
I personally LOVE blogging and making content, and YouTube this year has really come alive for me. And if you love Instagram the most, THAT'S AWESOME! Focus on THAT! But for me, going forward, my main focus is primarily my blog, secondary my YouTube and third/fourth Instagram & Facebook, tied (Twitter, sorry, no change for you in the charts). I just don't love Instagram the way I love blogging, but it is TEN TIMES more addictive. As such, I've already started treating my Instagram more as an extension of my blog by writing life updates underneath posts. Writing is my passion and that's what I want to be remembered for, creating a useful and interesting brand which informs and educates people about interesting individuals and how to navigate life and Wellington (and other places I visit).
Keep on collaborations with clever people you admire and work with with
I love working with my accountants, Pocock Tong Trass, my photographer, Ashley Chuch from Dinosaurtoast and Nadia Darby, my video editor. When we work together, magic happens. I'm fortunate enough to also work with many inspiring brands which I admire, so props to all them! I also LOVE interviewing all the interesting people of the city still, a passion which will never die. So, I'm going to try and integrate more of this into my work, and hopefully make better content for all of you. And this includes YOU. Some of my favourite and most valuable collaborations to date have been with the lovely Residents readers. So let's keep on working together, y'all.
Focus on a small circle of true friends and family
The more people I meet, the more I appreciate the power of old friends and family. I am an extrovert (ENFP Myers Briggs, or a Dolphin if you believe this BuzzFeed Quiz), but because I love being around others SO much, I am becoming more introverted in my old age. When life is busy and I am seeing lots of people, but not my nearest and dearest, it makes me feel a bit blue.
Read, read, read, and watch what you consume
Do I need to watch yet another episode of 100% Hotter on Netflix? Possibly not. I really think that in the future we will think about how we consume content the way we think about our diet. There is so much out there, and lots of it is junk (I'm not excluding myself from this). Yes, a little bit is fun every now and again but we need proper books, films and high-quality articles like we need fibre and protein. They are the building blocks of our brain. If you consume too much crap, you will feel crap. Hence, I am going to try and curb my addiction to too many trashy English docos (like Strippers of Scotland - Season 2). Currently, I am reading about the life of Audrey Hepburn but also lined up are 'The Multi-Hyphen Method' by Emma Gannon and 'How to be Famous' by Caitlin Moran - two epic ladies you should check out.
Go make some stuff that's meaningful and you enjoy
One of the best ways to stop yourself overthinking everything is to get out there and do something. Go and try a cooking class. Start your own blog. Take up swing dancing classes. Whatever it is, go and engage in a task that forces you to do more than passively consume. I am going to keep on making videos and yes, I have taken up swing dancing (shout out to Sarah if you are reading - I thought I was anonymous until you joined class *laugh-cry-emoji*). I'm also going to enjoy sharing real moments from life. By moving past being a screen-zombie, you will start to find inspiration, and learn more. Let your creativity take flight.
Don't overthink everything you do
Okay, so my video editor Nadia briefed me on this. I was explaining to her than I was spending waaay too much time planning my Instagram posts and she gently told me that people actually like the more raw/happy behind the scenes. If it seems like a photo shoot, it might be perceievd a bit too forced (she was nicer - I am paraphrasing). Seeing as she is 8 years younger than me, she can certainly teach me a thing or two about how social media works. And yes, I shouldn't spend so much time worrying about perfect. Because often YOU GUYS don't even WANT pefect. You just want the raw-lucy-version. So I pledge not to overthink this blog, or its social media, for the great grand goal of just being more natural and generally getting on with life.
Keep your exercise up and, GIRL, sort out your food
Becoming stronger through Results Room has been amazing and I am LOVING IT (use my code 'ResidentsfortheResidents' for a free personal training session). Where I do need to step up is my food. I'll be using my Foodbox food to whip up some lunch for the week tonight (because we are poor as church mice until we go overseas!). Don't spend money out on food, and make it yourself you lazy poop!
Step out of the rat race
Don't compare yourself to others. Everyone is doing something different, and that is awesome. I think that because the scene in New Zealand is so small, it can be easy to get stuck in the echo chamber of competition. But it isn't worth it. As long as your relationship with your own stakeholders is going well, and you have good friends and family, that is all that matters.