I know you don’t feel as though you achieved much in 2016.
I know you feel as though you had one goal at the beginning of the year, a goal you only shared with those closest to you because you didn’t want the secret spilling out and ruining your current life while you were trying to start a new one somewhere else, but that goal? It’s done. Ticked off the list.
You did it.
You had the courage to say ‘do you know what? No. This isn’t it for me. I want something else’ and actually went and did it. Not everyone can say that they have done that. So be proud. Be proud that you have courage.
I know you want to achieve a lot this year, but I want you to also know that you don’t have to do everything all at once. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Plan your time a little better. Be more disciplined with how you spend your time. The feeling of having written, of having created, cannot be bottled, so you’re going to have to actually do the work to feel that sense of achievement. There are no shortcuts.
Be kinder to the people who love you the most.
Invite people over a bit more. Cook for friends new and old. Bake those biscuits you like baking and serve them with a pot of tea. You’ve got really good at spending time on your own and, honestly, that’s a good thing. It is. Four years ago your six year relationship ended and you thought you’d never be able to travel alone, eat alone, live alone. But here you are now, at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Don’t hide away. Don’t make it hard for people to be friends with you.
Keep noticing the small things that make you happy, like the way the light streams through those floor to ceilings windows you’ve got in the flat or a perfect cup of tea in your favourite mug.
Keep dancing in your kitchen because you’ve got your own place now, no-one’s watching. Keep singing your heart out. Maybe sing in front of some actual people this year like you used to.
Get callouses again. Your guitar misses you.
You’re a night owl, you work better, write better, create better things when everyone else is asleep, but the world does not work to your sleep schedule so please start going to bed earlier. You don’t have to become a morning person, just get a bit more shut-eye. You’ll feel better for it.
Lean into the things that bring you joy: travel, writing, reading, working on your own terms, running.
Book the flight.
Write your story (it is worth telling, despite what you tell yourself sometimes).
Read books you love and don’t waste time finishing ones you don’t.
Do the work now so you can be the boss later.
Run because it’s therapy, because it’s meditation.
You need to stop beating yourself up about still feeling a little out of your depth. Yes you’d lived in Leeds before, but moving is hard wherever you are. Remember how crazy it felt moving to Sydney, then Melbourne, then Auckland? Just because you’re back in the UK it doesn’t make it any less of a big deal.
It’s OK to still be finding your feet. It’s OK to not be OK.
Oh, and on that note: tell your friends when you’re not OK. They won’t be able to fix you and many of them are miles away, but you need to tell them anyway. Don’t struggle on alone. Ask for help. No-one is going to think any less of you.
You’re so much more creative when you take a break from your routine. Give yourself permission to let your mind wander, to do nothing. The words will come, don’t force them. In the meantime, live.
You will have nothing to write about if you don’t go out and live.
Take baby steps. Sit down to write 500 words, 500 more will probably follow. Go out to run for 10 minutes, you’ll probably be out for 30. And if you don’t? That’s OK.
Achieving something small is better than achieving nothing at all.
You do not need to change to be loved. You do not need to be thinner or quieter. Don’t make yourself smaller for anyone else. You know this, but everyone needs a reminder sometimes. Take up the space you’re entitled to.
Keep being brave, keep learning, keep your eyes and your heart open, keep being yourself.
And most of all, stay focused.
Oh, and remember to water the plants.