I love the start of a brand new year. It feels like anything is possible. All those goals and intentions we have in mind, things we want to do and be and see – in January, it feels like this year is The Year to get it done.
But a lot of the time, I found that my goals were about taking something away from my life: losing weight; reducing what I had or ate or said; being less, somehow. It wasn’t working.
A few years ago, I decided to try something new. I wanted to use the New Year to add something to my life. So for the past few years, I’ve set myself annual projects, doing one small thing to add some positivity to the day. There’s power in small changes; before you know it, they accumulate into something large and life-changing.
In 2016, it was a photo a day on Instagram, chronicling my life living overseas. I still frequently look back over these photos and friends have done their own photo projects because they saw mine, which is cool.
In 2017, I started gratitude journaling. I bought a beautiful diary from New Zealand stationery company, Frank, and wrote down three things every day that I was thankful for. That was the year my daughter was born, so this journal tracks my pregnancy and those crazy, beautiful newborn weeks. It’s one of my most precious possessions.
And it was because of my teeny tiny baby that in 2018, my Annual Project was all about self-care. It’s all about finding time in the day to look after myself so I’m healthy, replenished and able to care for others. It’s worked so well for me over the last 12 months that I’m bringing it with me into 2019. And I’m sharing it with you because I think you’ll get something from it, too.
It’s called Five Hearts. Red, orange, green, blue, purple. One for each area you want to work on. In your 2019 diary, draw one empty heart in each colour next to the date. Each day, you colour in the heart that corresponds with what you’ve achieved. This is less about doing every single thing every single day. Those little hearts represent your intention to put something positive into your life when you can. That’s the goal.
You can mix and match what your hearts represent depending on your own interests, passions and needs. But here are my Five Hearts to get you started:
Whether it’s following along with an online yoga video in your living room at home, running 5k at your local ParkRun on a Saturday morning or just getting out for a bit of fresh air and a walk, there are loads of cheap and easy ways to get moving. And it’s not just about your physical health. Those magic endorphins, which I used to think were made up by marketing teams at gyms, will calm your mind and give you a whole new perspective.
Orange: Five A Day
There’s a lot of guilt and misinformation about around food, particularly at this time of year. It can feel like we all have our food hang-ups. But on the days when I’m eating at least five portions of fruit and veggies, I have more energy and feel pretty good. Full disclosure: there’s a pretty serious sugar and caffeine component to my diet! But I use this heart as a baseline to make sure I’m eating some decent stuff and take it from there. Top tip: if you can get two portions into your breakfast, the rest is easy.
Green: Read Something
There is nothing like losing yourself in a good book. Whether it’s a few pages, a couple of chapters or a whole can’t-put-it-down book in one sitting, this heart is all about taking a few minutes to yourself to read a little. You might feel like you don’t have time. There’s so many things to get done in a day that reading is hard to prioritise. But give yourself permission to take a little time out and I guarantee you’ll come back to your to-do list inspired.
Blue: Write Something
We all have our own ways of creating, of processing and of expressing ourselves. For me, it’s through writing. I haven’t really dealt with something until I’ve got it down in prose. I love the possibilities of a blank page; I love even more when that page is full! Plus, writing is also how I make money.
There is nothing in my life I find as easy to put off as writing! But setting this intention last year saw me do more writing than I’ve ever done before. As in, I wrote the first draft of a novel – something I’ve wanted to do for years but didn’t believe was actually possible. Now it’s done.
Whatever way you create, make it one of your five hearts and get ready to achieve something incredible.
Purple: Send Some Love
Write an elegant handwritten thank you note on beautiful stationery. Or text a friend and tell them why you appreciate them. Put yourself out there – you don’t know how you might be speaking love into someone’s life exactly when they need it. At the very least, you’ll know you’re investing in the relationships that matter to you.
And that’s it! Five hearts. It’s that simple. Why not make 2019 your year of self-care and try the five heart method for yourself? I think you’ll be surprised by the results.
What intentions will you set for the year ahead? What will your hearts represent?