Stephanie on Broadening Your Horizons

New years resolutions come in all shapes and sizes, but topping most peoples lists are the usual suspects of; drink less, loose weight, give up chocolate, stop smoking and so on. For me each year these aims are usually futile. I give myself a few days of “recovery” when treats are still allowed. Excuses the likes of; “allowing my New Year hangover to subside in the most painless fashion”, or to constantly be eating cheese for the sake of “not letting it go to waste”. This year however, I have not submitted myself to a list of rules of what I must not do. Instead I have chosen to make it a positive experience to try broadening my horizons.

I have a rather annoying, (albeit endearing) habit of not being able to “not do”. I’m sure if you have had the pleasure of spending ample amount of time with me you would have noticed my constant need to be doing something, slightly like an inexhaustible puppy. Free time is often a daunting thought; instead of relaxing, enjoying an hour or so free a day, I tend to be filled with notions of guilt of wanting to be doing something productive, instead of starting to watch yet another TV series. Therefore in 2014 I have redefined my resolutions with the aim of taking-up, instead of giving-up.

My first endeavour was to learn to play a musical instrument, with the aim to keep costs low and also teach myself, I chose the Ukulele. Having cheated getting the instrument as an early Christmas present I have been learning for just over two months and have mastered the basics. I am now able to play a handful of songs to a decent level (no shame in the fact that a couple of them happen to be Taylor Swift) and enjoy the reward of being able to play an instrument, and to have learnt a new skill!

A second thing I have taken up is meditation; using www.getsomeheadspace.com I have followed the Take10 series of guided audio meditation. Taking 10 minutes out every day to help achieve a healthier and happier mind by allowing your mind to have a break. Just as you would stretch your leg muscles after going on a run, mediation relaxes your brain after lots of work and thoughts, I have found it to be an excellent way of ‘taking a break’ while also actively doing something.

Instead of grabbing my go-to film, Harry Potter when hungover, I have started trying to watch films I have always wanted to watch but never seen, or something that will educate me in some way. Choosing a classic Laurel and Hardy film, or a documentary series uncovering the world’s worst gangs so I make my lazy times productive in some way.

This attitude of taking-up, not giving up, is enabling me to learn new skills, and fuel my desire of ‘doing’ in a positive way. If like me you suffer from the strange affliction of being a timewasterphobic then I urge you to do the same. Instead of submitting yourself to re-evaluating the arrangement of your desk drawers for the umpteenth time, make the conscious decision to use the time to do things that you actually want to be doing. Learn a new language, take up knitting, work out what all the snazzy shortcuts on your laptop do, or simply start a blog and subject your acquaintances to take interest in the fascinating musings of your everyday life.

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