26 years and 26 goals

Post contains sponsored links¦ Last week, I celebrated my 26th birthday. I can’t believe that this year, my husband and I have been together for a whole decade! I’m also very scared of how close I’m getting to the big three-oh. It feels like time has just flown terrifyingly fast since I left school.

Anyway, it seems like a good time to set some goals for the following year. So, why not do that cliché blogger thing and think of 26 as that’s how many years I’ve been on the planet?

1. 30 before 30

Last year, I wrote a blog post listing 30 things I want to do before the age of 30. I’ve managed to complete 2 or 3, but I’d like to take things up a notch this year!

2. Get better at makeup

For a while in my teens, it seemed I was pretty good at makeup and people would compliment me. As I got older, this lessened – I think my skills just didn’t grow with me! I’d like to get more practice in this year and I’d like to blog about makeup more often. At the moment, I don’t really step into the beauty blogger niche that often as I just feel like I’m a bit rubbish, really.

3. Be greener

I’d like to be more environmentally friendly this year. I’m not the worst person on the planet when it comes to being green. However, I could do better! Just simple things such as remembering to put vegetable peel on the compost heap instead of in the ‘normal’ bin. One of my biggest battles with this will be trying to encourage my husband to do the same, as he’s not very good at being green at all.

4. Read more

Growing up, I loved reading. I’d read every night and much of my school holidays would be spent with my nose in a book. I remember my mum taking me to the library and getting a little annoyed with me because I would get through the books so fast that we’d need to go back into town again sooner than she’d wanted to. As my teenage years came, nights were spent doing homework and talking to friends on the internet. I no longer had the time for reading, or rather, I no longer made the time to read. This is something that saddens me and I still haven’t fixed it. Autumn loves reading so much and I want to set a good example for her. I’m not the world’s best writer, but I’m pretty good at spelling and grammar. I rarely use spellcheck and have quite a good vocabulary. I put this down to reading so much when I was young. It would be wonderful to give myself the gift of reading more this year. If anyone has any book recommendations, I’d be very grateful!

5. Keep writing

Writing a blog has been great for me. It’s been a way to make that all important ‘me time’ with a young baby. It’s been an emotional outlet and it has distracted me when my mental health has taken a hit. Like reading, I grew up writing. I was always writing stories when I was a child and I didn’t realise how much I’d missed it. Having a blog has opened many doors for me and I’ve done things I never imagined I could do. However, it has been increasingly tough in recent months…

6. Find a balance

Since going back to work at the beginning of October, I’ve been finding it tougher to keep the blog going. Many people don’t realise that having a blog is basically a job in itself. Writing, photographing, editing, search engine optimisation and promoting on social media takes hours. I have been ill with one thing or another almost constantly since the end of September and I don’t think that’s any coincidence. My stress levels have increased and I’ve been sleeping less in a bid to get everything done. As such, I desperately need to find a balance in my life. It’s frustrating, because I always have so many ideas, but it seems I’m going to have to decrease how much I post on my blog. Hopefully this will end up being more of a quality over quantity approach! I’m going to be a lot pickier about what projects I work with on brands.

7. Stop and watch

Autumn has grown so fast over the last 15 months. I often feel like she just changes a lot all of a sudden, without me really even noticing. Life is so fast paced and it’s far too easy to take time for granted. She’ll only be this small once and although I’ve felt I’m savouring it, it’s still just slipping away from me. I need to make myself more mindful and stop what I’m doing, listen to her babbling and just watch her more.

Toddler playground at Bluestone Wales

8. Get out more

I think there’s a correlation between my mental wellness and how much I get out of the house. Since October, I’ve got out far less. On most weekdays, I work in the mornings and collect Autumn from her childminder at lunchtimes. She’s always very tired and I give her her lunch, before laying her down for a nap. As it’s so dark so early at the moment, she usually sleeps until it’s dark or almost dark. This keeps us indoors, whereas in the summer months we’d sometimes go to the park as late as 7pm for a quick go on the swings. The cold doesn’t help either!

When I was recovering at the beginning of last year, I loved my little routine of going out, with a baby group for each day of the week. I had such a zest for life as I woke up each day, but I’ve lost it again. Even if Autumn was awake in the afternoons, all the groups are in the mornings. I need to work out how I’m going to go out more, but I think it’s important. The spring and lighter evenings will be very welcome!

9. Be tidier

Hahaha, if my parents or husband are reading they will be laughing their heads off right now! I’d like to be tidier. Unfortunately, I’m not one of these people who is naturally tidy. As such a busy person, tidying is right at the bottom of my to do list. It doesn’t help that I don’t like it. Cleaning, I don’t mind, but tidying…forget it. Funnily enough, my husband is the other way round. We have this kind of system of him tidying things and me cleaning things. Anyway, it’d be nice to take some of the stress off of him. Anyway, messiness is a sign of being intelligent. That’s my excuse!

10. Work things out

There are a few things up in the air that I really think I need to sort out this year. I’m half way through a degree with the Open University. I’m studying social sciences and it’s really interesting, but I’m not sure how to find the time to complete it. It’s the age old problem of me having so many interests and so much to do, but no time for it. I need Hermione’s time turner, please!

11. Time with hubby

Since we had Autumn, hubby and I spend barely any quality time together. Our lives are stressful and we get a bit short with each other on a regular basis recently. I’d like to try to spend more quality time with him. Perhaps we should schedule some technology free time each evening. It’d help our brains to go to sleep better and be good for our relationship too.

Laura's Alfred Angelo wedding dress
Credit: Robert Marriott Photography

12. Improve my blog

I have only been blogging properly for a year later this month. I have learned so much in that time, it’s unbelievable. However, there is so much more to learn and things I can do to make this site better!

13. Improve my photography

This links in with #12. I feel like my photography is lacking. It’s something I’ve always been interested in and I actually tried to study it at A level. However, my school messed things up and I never got to do it. I’ve just never really found the time to work out what I’m doing properly. I’m so scared of touching things on my camera in case I totally mess things up. I feel like I need to go on a crash course in photography with someone, or something. At the moment, I read stuff and practice it, but then forget it by the following day. I want to be able to capture Autumn growing up with stunning photos to do her justice.

14. Reach 10k Twitter followers

I started out with no followers on Twitter at all when I began blogging at the end of January 2017. By the end of 2017, I had in excess of 6,100. Some people in the blogging world BUY followers, but I don’t think that’s fair on anyone. It’s also pretty pointless, as you’re not going to get engagement from them. Anyway, I’d love to reach 10,000 followers on Twitter this year. I’m not sure how achievable this is, however!

15. Reach 1,500 Instagram followers

Instagram is notoriously hard to grow on (again, without  using an Instagram growth service to gain Instagram followers). Algorithms have been changed so much that it’s ridiculous. I hardly see most of the people I follow on my feed and I’m shown posts from 5 days ago. I started out with no followers at the end of January 2017, but had over 1,060 at the end of the year. I’d like my goal to be a higher number. However, with things the way they are, I really don’t think it would be realistic at all.

16. Reach 500 Facebook follows

At the end of 2017, I had over 300 follows on Facebook. I have around 100 friends on Facebook and only around half of them follow my blog’s page. As such, around 250 of those are other people that I don’t know in real life. It still amazes me that people care about what I have to say in my little corner of the internet!

17. Help a charity

I aim to help at least one charity every year. I’m not sure who it’ll be this year. In October last year, I helped 3 charities, which was quite a tall order. As such, I’ll only focus on one at a time this year. I haven’t run the Race for Life for a few years, so I might consider running it again this year. However, I know some people don’t like to sponsor me for it as they don’t think it requires much effort. Running actually triggers my anxiety, so it is actually quite an effort for me, but there we go… Anyway, we’ve lost a few more people we care about to cancer since I last did it in 2013, so it would be good to support Cancer Research UK.

18. Learn C++

I’ve wanted to learn some sort of coding for years; since I was about 9 or 10 in fact. I taught myself HTML and coded a basic webpage on Neopets. I was so proud showing my mum what I’d written and how it looked, but I don’t think she shared my enthusiasm! Regardless, something had been triggered and I wanted to learn coding and work in the IT sector. I was so disappointed when we didn’t learn anything about hardware or coding at secondary school, instead just doing stuff in programs like Microsoft Publisher. Anyway, I would love to finally teach myself some coding – although this will require finding some more of that elusive ‘time to myself’. I’d choose C++ as it could help me in my job as a software QA specialist. It’d be great to be able to identify where exactly in the code the software was broken, before passing it on to developers if I needed to.

19. Save money

Last year was bad for us financially, as I was on maternity leave. I am only back at work part-time currently, so our income is still much less than it used to be. I drained my savings, so I’d like to try and replenish it to some extent. I’m not sure how yet, but I’m hoping to work out a way!

20. Rest more

I’m writing this at past 2am, despite having a terrible cold that has absolutely knocked me for six. I need to rest more and go to bed earlier for my wellbeing. I burn the candles at both ends all the time in an attempt to keep up with everything.

21. Help the homeless

I really worry about homeless people, especially when it’s so cold at this time of year. I’ve always instinctively wanted to help. I remember walking along the high street when I was a little girl and feeling for change in my pocket whenever I saw a homeless person. It was only ever a few pennies, of course, but I thought I was making a difference. I’d let my parents get a few steps ahead of me and slip my change to them without my Mum and Dad noticing in case I got told off.

A few months ago, I accidentally bought an extra pasty from the bakery. I didn’t realise until just after I’d paid and left the shop. A few minutes before I’d apologised to a homeless person who’d asked if I had any spare change. I took this as a sign and asked her if she’d like a pasty. She seemed so grateful and ate it straight away. I always worry about whether people are legitimately homeless or not, as I’ve heard of people faking it and making money. However, I figure it’s better if I offer them food and drink. That way, I’m helping to take care of them and not enabling these sorts of scams or drug/alcohol use. I’d like to buy lunch for more homeless people this year.

22. 100 days of happiness

A few years ago, I took part in 100 days of happiness. In the winter of 2014/2015, I found my mental health declining. I often begin to suffer from some degree of depression in the winter months, but fortunately I am high functioning (aka. I manage to work and live a pretty normal life, regardless). Anyway, I decided to take matters into my own hands when I saw the 100 days of happiness challenge. Basically, you take a picture of something that has made you happy each day and post it to social media. Some people got fed up of my daily posts and thought it was a bit weird, but whatever. I found that it really lifted my mood that winter and the depression melted away. It was very challenging at times, but I did manage to think of something every day. I am hoping to do this for the first 100 days of this year to hopefully help me get off to a good start!

23. Care less

I have wasted so much time over the years worrying about what people think of me. I’ve altered the way I speak, the clothes I wear and my behaviour according to how I think they’d like me to act. I’ve nodded along with their views, even when my opinion has differed (often for them to suddenly change their mind when it fits in with someone they’re trying to get in with). I am sick of it. Why, at the age of 25 was I still desperately trying to be likeable to some people that clearly just don’t ‘get me’ and have no intention of getting to know me even after many years? This year I think I’m going with less “treat people how you’d like to be treated”. I’ll respect people and treat them how I’d like to be treated initially, but if I’m treated like rubbish? Well, you reap what you sow!

This year I owe it to myself to give less s***s and unbottle the sass.

24. Write a children’s book

As well as my IT aspirations, I have also always wanted to be an author. I used to spend hours in my room when I was as young as 5 writing and illustrating books. They were quite nonsensical and my writing style was heavily influenced by Roger Hargreaves of Mr Men and Little Miss fame. By the age of 10 or 11, this still hadn’t faded. When Red House Books wanted children to write in and ask Jacqueline Wilson questions, I was straight on it. She was my favourite author at the time and I had just one burning question for her: “What advice would you give to someone who wants to be author?” At least it was something of that ilk, sadly I have long since lost the magazine page. I don’t remember her advice either, but I believe it was something like “Keep writing and practicing”. Well, now I feel like the time is right, but my lack of time is an issue once again. I have what I think is a great idea, but I don’t know whether I’ll be able to get it to come into fruition or not! Also, my illustration skills aren’t the strongest, so I’d be inclined to use Freelance Book Designers to help get a good finish.

25. Buy some local art

I’m always seeing beautiful local art in the shops I go to. However, I can never afford any of it. I would love to make this the year that I actually obtain some. Mind you, I don’t know where I’d put it as I’m running out of wall space in our small house!

26. Friend & family time

I’d like to spend more time with friends and family. It often feels like we don’t get to see each other enough. It certainly hasn’t been helped over the last three months, as I keep being ill! Hopefully I can shake it off and make more time to see the people I care about.

What are your goals for this year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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