When this post goes up, I am staying away from my phone, tablet and laptop as much as I can and I am immersing myself in non-digital activities – readings books and magazines, having a walk around my city, watching passers-by, taking notes on paper, cooking, talking to my friends and to my husband, watching films – you know, all those old-fashioned things that people used to enjoy before we became slaves to devices. I know I won’t be able to fully get away from all technology – I rely on my phone for maps, information, music and sometimes camera – but I am giving up on social media, news, e-shopping and just brainless browsing for a couple of days.
Pay off all debt
I got a grip on my finances and spending habits last year, and my savings are comfortably above my remaining debt. The latter sits on a 0% ARP card, and I slowly pay it off, but I just want to get rid of it so that I can focus solely on savings and investments. For me, it’s all about shifting my mindset from “I have debt” (= I am poor) to “I am a regular saver” (= I am rich).
Save as much as I can.
Related to the above, this change is all about putting myself in the saving mode. In the UK, people are more likely to be borrowers than savers, and that’s so short-sighted. I know that for many people saving is impossible because the cost of living is so crazy. And I know the interest rates are so low that they seem like a joke. But save you must. Whatever you can put aside, however little it is, do it and do it sooner than later. Just like keeping fit, it’s all about making it a habit that pays off in the future. I’m not setting myself a precise saving target in April: I merely want to see how much I can save when it’s a priority and get strategic about it later.
Treat myself to small things
“You’re worth it”, “you’ve deserved it”, “you worked so hard, you can have it now”. No. No, I don’t need a reason to treat myself to small things like a bouquet of tulips or a piece of good chocolate or a cup of coffee in a nice cafe or an hour with a book in a nearby park. I deserve all that by default just because it makes me feel good. From this month onwards, I’m no longer looking for reasons to enjoy small things in life.
Stop looking for negativity
I don’t even know why I occasionally do this, but I’m a sucker for moments of negativity: seeing a negative comment from another reader on a book that I disliked, opening a post by a toxic blogger, thinking that my colleague hates me when I read his / her email where he / she disagrees with me about something. Really, I don’t know why I like to waste my time on such things – they’re useless and joyless. Next time I catch myself dwelling on them, I will bang my head against a wall to kick those thoughts out of my mind.
Tick off things to do off my London list
In March, I wrote down a whole list of things I want to see and do in London: explore Little Venice, walk down Bermondsey Street, visit Thamesis Dock, eat at Bubble Dog, go to Columbia Road and so on and so forth. Living in London is a blessing, and with the weather getting better in April (fingers crossed!) I cannot wait to be a tourist in my city again.
Run in the morning
Since I cancelled my gym membership, I realised that I prefer to exercise in the morning. And now that it’s light enough at just after 6 am, I want to try and run before I get ready to go to work. I’m not training for a marathon, my usual 1.5-2 kilometres take no more than 15 minutes – this should be a great way to start a day.
3+ hours of French a week.
I have a funny relationship with French: I love the language, I love the culture, I love the idea of myself speaking French…. but I’m lazy to properly learn it. Deep down, I know I need a tutor, but I also know that I need persistence and determination more, and I will try to get disciplined about my French before committing to external sources. Bonne chance à moi!
Meat-free for more than 50% of the month
Ten years ago or so, I didn’t eat meat for 3 months to see if I’d feel any different. I didn’t, so I went back to being carnivorous again. I cannot not live without meat, but for me, good food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and some meaty dishes are too good to eradicate from my life. But I want to reduce my meat consumption for two reasons. One: the level of meat consumption globally is unsustainable and the whole industry is evil when it comes to animal welfare, and I want to contribute to it as little as possible. Two: while meat isn’t unhealthy, there are healthier foods out there and I want to eat more of those.
Reduce plastic use.
The amount of plastic in our lives should be made illegal. I was cooking something the other day, and nearly every single ingredient was wrapped in single-use plastic – not only was it unnecessary but it was also a non-recyclable kind of plastic. I recycle religiously as much as I can but feel I still produce too much plastic waste just through my usual buying choices. There must be ways to change that? I will find out.