2017 already feels a bit different. Never mind the bollocks (ie that Donald J Trump is about to be sworn in as POTUS, or that Theresa May is about to trigger Article 50), let's focus on the important stuff. For me, that's that this is the first time I'm setting out in a new year where I plan to be in pretty much the same place at the end of it. In other words, fingers crossed I'll be in the same job and in the same flat with the same boy. That doesn't mean things will stand still, though. If anything, it means I'll have scope to improve and strengthen myself in the areas of my life that have been neglected as I've previously been busy advancing my career, moving continents, Tindering away... Et cetera.
I've identified three areas that could do with a bit of TLC - how I manage my money, how I look after my mental state of mind and the way I exercise. I've set up goals, some more vague than others ("finish a half marathon" is not very vague, whereas "reduce stress" is about as vague as it gets), and spent some time thinking about how to best conquer them. And somehow, before I'd even spotted a trend, I'd downloaded a few apps to help me on the way. Whether they'll increase my chances of success I don't yet know, but I'll make sure to feed back at the end of the year.
I'm great at saving money. In fact, I'm so great at it that every month I'll dip into my savings, saying to myself "I save so much money every month it won't make a difference". Hint - it does. It really does. I've been way too aggressive with my savings, and haven't diversified my portfolio of savings enough. In other words, I haven't had enough savings accounts. This summer I'm doing two trips that will cost a fair bit of money, and to make sure I don't dip into the savings for it I've set up an account with Dreams, an app that helps you save money in different categories and for different goals. It's essentially as though you've set up a couple of new accounts, but you don't see the money you've saved as soon as you log into your mobile banking app (which has been my biggest issue). Beyond that, they've adopted an "every little counts" approach, whereby you can transfer the cost of your vices every time you choose to abstain, whether that's takeaway lattes, glossy magazines, or - in my case - another grey Cos jumper I don't need.
I have a real issue in that I thrive on stress, and I become unproductive when things are slow. It was great when I was a full time student and simultaneously worked full time, and it does mean I always keep busy, but it also means that I have a hard time noticing when I'm moving too fast. As someone once said, "if everything's under control, you're not moving fast enough". I believe that to be true, but at the same time I recognise that I have to be more mindful of my own wellbeing and mental state of mind. As part of this I've started meditating ten minutes every morning, using the app Headspace. So far I find it useful, particularly in that it encourages you to not judge yourself or your thoughts, and certainly not in relation to the meditation itself. They're currently running a campaign with Spotify, giving you both Spotify Premium and Headspace for 149 SEK/month - bargain.
Nike + Run Club
I've mentioned this before, but since I'm about as non-runnery as a runner can be, and since I'm doing a half marathon in Palestine in a couple of weeks(!!), I certainly need a bit of help. I'm using Nike's Running Club app, and you know what - it actually works pretty well. I'm fairly impressed, which is a glowing review for a running app as far as I'm concerned. It keeps me on track (pun intended, lol) and even cheers me on as I run intervals. Whether it'll get me across the finish line in Bethlehem is a different matter, but here's hopin'...
Other behavioural apps I've tried but ditched: LifeSum (soz, can't be arsed counting calories), Smoke Free (I smoke so little I actually found it discouraging to see I'd only saved £2 by not smoking for an entire month), Duolingo (I liked that one, but meditating AND studying a new language every morning is more than I can take...).