The New Year doesn’t have to be daunting

The New Year doesn’t have to be daunting

Guest editor Carol Vorderman looks at the New Year through the slightly different lens of “joined-up thinking” now she’s in her fifties.

Guest editor Carol Vorderman looks at the New Year through the slightly different lens of “joined-up thinking” now she’s in her fifties.

I’m not going to write about the inevitable “post-Christmas slump”. We all know what it is, why it happens, and you don’t need me to explain it to you. We’ve all been to that party.

Yes, maybe we could have eaten fewer mince pies, written more Christmas cards and gone on a morning run before gorging on pigs in blankets. But let’s face it, most of us didn’t and I am not going to spend any time dwelling on it, for all our sakes.

But what I do believe is that the highs and lows of Christmas and New Year can have a very powerful effect on us, in all sorts of different ways. I think it can really concentrate our minds.

What I have noticed with many of my friends who are of a similar age or older, is that Christmas is a changeable beast – one year you have the kids, another you don’t; you might be with a partner one year and not the next. So getting your head around what this time means to you, and how you then charge forth in to another New Year, can be, well… interesting.

For us, the biggest change at Christmas was that it was our first without my Mum (she always spent Christmas – and nearly every other day of the year – with us, all of my life). So, what did I do? I made sure it was a busy one and surrounded myself with wonderful, loving people. We laughed a lot, which meant we didn’t give ourselves time to be maudlin… and it worked.

I’m now looking at the New Year as out with the old ¬– and the not-good-enough-to-make-it-through bits and pieces ¬– and in with enjoying exciting opportunities in all parts of our lives.

But how do you look at the New Year? According to pretty much everyone, it’s THE moment to change absolutely everything! But I say, rather than waiting till one of the coldest and gloomiest months of the year (ugh, January!) to tackle every issue we have with ourselves, big and small, and looking at it as a rather overwhelming metaphorical mountain to climb, try this: spend more time each day evaluating what works and what doesn’t. This will make it all slightly less daunting.

At the start of 2016, I decided to live my life as if a doctor had told me that I had 10 years left to live. I made the choice that I would be healthy so I could do things, happy so I would enjoy things, and imaginative so I would explore things.

When I really thought about the idea of only having 10 years left, it inspired me to write a ‘Jenga’ list. Yes Jenga, as in the game with a tower of wooden blocks, where each player removes as many blocks as they can without the tower collapsing. It dawned on me that most of us wake up each morning to find someone else has adjusted one of our metaphorical life blocks and we then have to reposition ourselves to balance the new centre of gravity – a bit like Atlas holding up the world.

Well, I got fed up with that – fed up with the constant few who are always nudging at the bricks – and I thought about this: what are the blocks I want in my 10-year Jenga tower? What is it that excites me and who and what needs to disappear permanently?

I wrote it down, and from that list I wrote another one with actions to take. And I can tell you that by the end of that first year, it worked. I had made a really positive change in my life, I had dumped all things and people and assets that were constantly trying to rock the boat, and I took back control.

My kids are familiar with it now, and at the end of the year I celebrate what ‘Jengas’ have been done. I make my kids do it too, to remind themselves how far they’ve come. Our busy lives mean we can easily forget everything that we’ve achieved.

All of this really reminds me that we can only live in the present. The future is unknown, undetermined and (in my experience) mostly out of our hands. The past has been and gone and, although it can give us wonderful memories, the past doesn’t get us out of bed in the morning.

The present is exactly that. It is a gift for us to enjoy each day and get out of it what we will. That’s not to say we won’t get some stinkers, but we should be getting the best and the most out of our lives, one day at a time.

So to us all, let’s concentrate on feeling excited and looking forward to some amazing experiences. For me it’s a surprise holiday, spending wonderful moments with my funny friends, a walk along the coast, a morning coffee, the year of raf100 and all that it brings (I’m an honorary group captain as ambassador for the air cadets, a role which has changed my life so much for the better), a drink on the barge bench in Bristol harbour… I keep tabs on the present, and make sure that I enjoy what I can at the time, and rely on no (hu)man to get the best out of life for me. My life is mine and I’m the one who switches on the ‘buzz’ button.

I’d love to hear how you look at the New Year as a woman of a certain age. What are you looking forward to, and how will you get joy from each day? Make sure you register to add your own advice and keep up to date with the wonderful Victoria community. There’s lots of us don’t you know!

Carol x

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Not Daunting

OnlyMe1 01/02/2018

I'm sorry, but I want to live my life as each day comes, no-one knows what's around the corner and I don't find a new year daunting!

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