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I have always looked forward to the New Year. It has been a magical time for me, where overnight all my troubles and bad habits would disappear, giving way to the “new me” – a better, more disciplined version of myself that followed through on her resolutions and dreams. This year however has been a bit different.

2018 has been a long, and quite frankly hectic, year for me. I started a new job, which was pretty intense, bought a flat and moved, as well as continued a number of personal projects and life battles. In many ways it was an exciting year too, a year of drastic changes that improved my life, but it required me being on the go most of the time. Even the travels I’ve done in 2018 were not the relaxed kind.

Travel-wise, 2018 was definitely the year of Asia for me. Following my business trip to Thailand, I had a chance to visit Cambodia and then shortly after returned to Bangkok, this time in order to fly to Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia. It was an amazing trip, but like my trip to Pakistan later on in December, there was a lot of city-hopping which kept me constantly in the planning mode. Don’t get me wrong- I love all the places I visited and I got some amazing experiences; I’m just not sure I would call any of these trips holidays. As great as traveling is, I think I overestimated my body’s need to just switch off and relax, preferably by the pool or on a sandy beach somewhere. I learnt my lessons though and this year, instead of focusing on the new resolutions, I will spend my time finding ways not to repeat the same mistakes.

  1. Listen in

My travels in 2018 taught me how important it is to listen to my needs. If we are not careful, it is easy to fall back on the beliefs we have about ourselves. Perhaps like me you’ve always wanted to see as much as possible when away and by default tend to plan busy trips despite your mind and body craving some lazy beach holidays? Or maybe you’ve gotten used to thinking about yourself as an Introvert and are not always noticing how much you miss spending time with others? Whatever it is, I do wish you (and myself) for 2019 to be the year of listening in. I hope this year brings even better connections with ourselves, so that we can understand what we need and how to nourish our bodies and souls in the best possible way.

2. Find the routine that works for you

You may remember from my post at the start of 2018 that one of my travel-related New Year’s resolutions was to post every weekend. While it certainly helped me to write more regularly and post more often, it did not always work and was sometimes more stressful than helpful. Following a schedule began to turn my writing into a chore at one point. It made me feel like my working week was extended to the weekend and filled me with guilt every time I failed to post on the weekend as planned. By the end of the year when life got busy again, I completely neglected my writing altogether as I felt I didn’t have it in me to do any more “work” on the weekends. This year therefore, I will try a different approach. Rather than forcing my creativity into fixed formats and deadlines, I will focus on amending my habits in a way that creates time and opportunities for writing. I have started a morning and evening routine that is a bit calmer and creates a bit more of free time for me to focus on the things that matter to me. I shall try it out throughout January and see how it works for me. If it doesn’t, I will tweak it and again look and how I spend my time and energy. But I won’t be turning something I love into a chore anymore. Not in 2019.

3. Continue on the minimalist path

After discovering minimalism in 2017, I spent 2018 fine-tuning my minimalist lifestyle. I decluttered some more and continued to travel light, but I haven’t always been great at keeping the other aspects of my life to a minimum. The list of my New Year’s resolutions itself had 18 items and once again I tried to do too much, which resulted in doing too little. So in the spirit of continuing my minimalist journey, in 2019 I will do my best to keep focusing on only three top priorities for any given day, week or a month. I can’t do everything in 24 hours, but working steadily on three things you deeply care about should be doable. So no more frenzied sprints, it’s time for a marathon training instead.

There’s a saying I came across in Thailand – “same same but different”. I’ve seen it used anywhere from street vendors trying to sell me something I didn’t need, to colleagues highlighting similarities between our cultures, but I think this universal phrase can also have a deeper meaning. To me, it is the perfect summary of the transition from 2018 to 2019. There’s a lot I want to keep from the old year – from some good habits to wonderful new friends. But while keeping a lot of my life the same, I want to continue to improve, to learn, to adjust. I’m hoping my 2019 will be “same same” and yet a little bit different.

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