Putting your best foot forward. How are your New Near Resolutions going?

Do you manage to stick to your resolutions? It seems that most people just can’t do it. They know what they should do, right enough (lose weight, get fitter, spend less, be tidier etc) but it’s just too difficult to see it through.

Well, there’s a simple trick to achieving what you want to achieve, and that is to find the fun in it. Let me explain.

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Let’s take getting fitter as an exampler. It’s mid-January, so the annual peak in gym membership applications is here. There will be lots of new faces signing up for classes or inductions to the gym to start the process of losing weight and toning up. How many of these people will still be regularly training in February? Not so many, I’d be prepared to bet. The problem is that unless you are fairly fit to start with going to the gym, or an energetic Zumba or dance class, it’s going to be too hard to be fun. And if things aren’t fun, it’s very hard to stick to them. At the slightest excuse (it’s pouring with rain: my kit’s in the wash…) it’s too easy to give up. But if things are fun, you do them whatever the inconvenience. Shopping? Going to the pub? Many people don’t have to be asked twice!

I’ve written a short Kindle book to explain my thinking about getting fit through walking, and I’m sure that this is a really good way for most people to get started.

You see, establishing the habit of walking doesn’t need too much time or special equipment. Most people can easily fit some walking into their normal day, either walking to work, or walking the children to school, or walking the dog or going to the library. If you choose your walks carefully and have the right mental approach you can easily find that walking is fun. The more pleasure you find in walking, the more you want to do it, and the fitter you become. The key is enjoying the place you are walking; taking notice or and an interest in what is around you. If you can manage a fast walk for 30 minutes or more, preferably including some hill work, then you are probably fit enough to enjoy going to the gym or starting an energetic class. Read more in my book. A beginner’s guide to walking for pleasure   ASIN B00L3D7ENY.

The same principles apply to other areas of life. To take one more example, it’s easier to eat better and spend less on food if you learn to enjoy cooking. It is fun to cook if you approach it with the right positive attitude; starting with something quite easy and building up new techniques as you gain confidence. I’ve enjoyed cooking for years, but am still working through some techniques that are new to me – making my own pasta for example, and getting good at making bread by hand. (My rye and wheat loaf with caraway seeds and ale was a masterpiece!) Again, it’s about enjoying learning new skills and the results of your work.

So, don’t set yourself up to fail by setting too big a challenge for yourself. Start small-ish, but keep challenging yourself. Above all, find a way to make what you want a pleasure, by focusing on the positives, and you’ll find it much easier to get where you want to be.

Looking for somewhere nice to sit?

In amongst all the terrible news this week, it’s good to remember that most people just want to live peacefully and well – in the broadest sense – so I enjoyed coming across a great new site called A nice sit down. It’s simple and it’s sweet. Upload a photo of a public bench you like, add the coordinates and pin its location on a map. You may like the bench itself, or you might love the view it affords, but it’s a great way of sharing a simple pleasure with others.

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I took a few more photos of my favourite benches today, but I was using a wide angled lens and hurrying a bit, so they aren’t as good as I’d like. The above is one of my favourites, although being stone and a bit mossy it can take a moment or two to realise that you are looking at a seat. It would also be a little cold and damp to sit on in most weathers! I expect that in the past it had a wooden seat attached to the top.  I also took a photo of a bench near St Andrew’s Church, sat on by David Tennant and Olivia Coleman in the first series of Broadchurch, but I may have to retake it… not up to my usual standards!

Please do get posting your bench photos at www.anicesitdown.co.uk. We’ll be able to see the network of photos grow, and who knows? It may prove to be a good way to plan your next expedition into the British countryside, or discover a new place in your home town.

The bench above is on one of my favourite walks in Clevedon, Poet’s Walk. I love the fact that the walk is on a proper pathway, so you don’t have to get too booted-up as you won’t get too muddy even after heavy rain, but you are also far away from traffic and noise. You can properly enjoy the views and the wildlife, while knowing that you are having a gentle work out getting up and down the fairly steep paths. The only way to get properly fit is to find an exercise that you enjoy and therefore want to do. I’ve explained this all much better in my short Kindle book, A beginners guide to walking for pleasure, available on Amazon.

A final self-promotional plug is to say that a lot of my Clevedon and other photos and art are available through my RedBubble shop at http://magsart.redbubble.com Please do have a look – your support is hugely appreciated!

A short hiatus (break or interruption in the continuity of a series, action etc.)

That’s what I’m having today. A  little space between things.

It’s easier in many ways, isn’t it, when you are flat out busy, because then you have so many things you have to do, you just get on and do them. Of course it’s stressful when you are busy. Tempers become frayed and you don’t have time to do the things you really want, to see or talk to friends and family properly, or to do things as well as you would like, but at least you don’t have that moment of weighing up your options and really looking at what you should be doing. Necessary from time to time, but not easy.

I’ve been lucky for ages, in that my projects have naturally moved themselves along so that just as I have finished working on a series of paintings, I have had freelance writing to do, and when there is a gap in the writing I have had a chance to work with Alec on our website. Currently I have several projects just simmering away on the back burner, and I need to finish off a few things.

  • alecarte – just needs occasional tweets to keep things interesting. Check.
  • magsart – ditto. Check.
  • A beginners guide to walking for pleasure – published on kindle. Tweet regularly. Check.
  • Write ezine article on the need to find pleasure in an exercise if you are going to be able to keep up a healthier regime. Check.
  • Complete read through of my second book, and publish. Decisions to make on how to publish – this one needs to be available in hard copy as well as Kindle I think, so a different form of publishing. I’ve done most of the thinking and just need to finish off. That should be the main task for today, obviously, but I need to be in the right mood!
  • Push forward my photography. Try some new techniques and work out the extra kit I need. A couple of filters at least.

The Ezine articles are an interesting idea. Alec (my better half) came across them in his reading, and the idea is that you write short articles on your area of expertise, which you then offer for people to use them as they wish. You aren’t paid for the article, but it draws attention to you website/product/service. I’ve had a three of my photography articles published on picturecorrect.com, most recently Can a photograph ever be perfect, which has drawn quite a bit of business to alecarte, and readers for this blog. I’ll be interested to see if referencing my book in an article increases awareness and sales.

But all this is really more of the same, and I know by now that I am a starter rather than a finisher. I do love new things to get my teeth into and the thrill of challenging myself to master new skills. So what I really want is something new to start, and that is where the problem of a hiatus day lies. My thoughts are going in circles and inspiration is not forth-coming. Finishing off things is not my preference, or indeed my forte. What I really need is to go for a good long walk to straighten my head out, but it’s been raining quite heavily here. The good news is that the weather is improving, and the forecast for the next few hours is pretty good, so I think that’s my plan made.

Good luck with your Sunday! I hope that whatever you are doing it feels like something positive and not treading water!