The problem with New Year's Resolutions.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

New Year's Resolutions: we all make them at one time or another, very few of us continue them throughout the whole year to reach December 31st thinking "I'm sure glad I stuck to those resolutions!" Most of us are usually trying to figure out how the next time around we're going to make it work. Except that it's not going to work the next time around, not unless you figure out what's not working. 

The problem with New Year's Resolutions is that New Year's Resolutions are only intentions. 

When we say "I want to be healthy" or "I want to work out more" or "I want to be more productive this year" all we're actually doing is setting an intention. That's what we're hoping to gain from the year - and then what? Intentions are great as they orient you in the general direction of where you want to go, but setting this intention doesn't tell you how to get there. Saying "I want to eat less chocolate" and not saying how much less you want to eat, why and how you're going to do that is the equivalent of standing in your bedroom and saying "I want to go to Cannes." That's very nice, but how exactly do you plan on getting there? And actually, why do you want to go to Cannes?

When we make our New Year's Resolutions, we often forget to clarify why we're making the resolutions - what is your overall intention of the year? 

I've read articles that argue that resolutions don't work because we set too many - I'd argue they don't work because they're not tied together with a common purpose. For example, if your overall intention for the year is to graduate in the summer with honours and spend the rest of the year interning in preparation for landing your dream job, your resolutions will be something along the line of:

  • I want to study regularly and get started on my assignments ahead of time
  • I want to be healthy so that I never miss a day of classes or work when I'm interning
  • I want to work out more so I look good and feel comfortable and confident on graduation day and in office clothes

Alternatively, you can set a word for the year that will shape your year. My word for the year is "persistence" so I know that I need to be persistent in everything I choose to do and see it to the end, but this is very little use to me unless I have goals I want to achieve. 

Most New Year's Resolutions also fail because they're never turned into goals. 

Once you've set your New Year's Resolutions - your specific intentions which contribute to your overall intention for the year - it's time to turn them into goals. This is where that little S.M.A.R.T. acronym comes in helpful, because once you have your resolution, which is your intention, you have to turn it into something that is Specific - Measurable - Attainable - Relevant - Time-specific. For example the intention "I want to work out more" becomes "I want to practice 20 minutes of yoga on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays until the 31 March".

Now you have a specific goal and a date in mind that you can thrive towards. I personally prefer to break down my goals into three months chunks, especially as my theme is persistence, because thinking about putting in work every day for 90 or so days feels a lot less overwhelming than thinking about the 300+ days still to go until the new year. It also gives me a date at which I can review what I've done and decide what's working, what isn't and what I can do to stay on track for the next three months. 

So if you're struggling with New Year's Resolutions, double-check that:

  • you know what your overall intention for the year is;
  • that your resolutions/intentions are orientated towards this overall aim;
  • and that you've set S.M.A.R.T. goals towards achieving them. 

Do you set New Year's Resolutions for yourself? What is one challenge you're facing in sticking to them?

One Lovely Blog Award.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

I was surprised to find that I had been nominated for another award: Thank you Ladreena J of Heartdreenie for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award

The guidelines are: 
  • Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
  • Add the One Lovely Blog Award logo to your post and/or blog.
  • Share 7 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 bloggers you admire and inform nominees by commenting on their blog. 

So, seven facts about me:

I | I grew up in South East London but am currently live in a village in TheMiddleOfNowhere, Belgium. I'm slowly plotting my return to civilisation. 

II| I bought my first concealer last year because until the Maybelline Fit Me Concealer came out, I'd never really seen affordable drugstore concealers in my shade. 

III | I am, and shall forever be, a massive Harry Potter fan. 

IV | The first blog I ever fell in love with and made me think 'that's what I want to do' was Susie Bubble of Style Bubble It was around the first time magazines began taking fashion bloggers seriously, and I love how much she, and the entire blogosphere, has grown over the years.

V | I love tea. And by "I love tea" I mean that on average I need to have ten different types of tea in the house or I am more than likely going to stare into the kitchen cupboards and say "we've run out of tea". 

VI | I hope to one day write for a living. I haven't figured out whether this will be because I'm a full-time blogger, a freelance content writer or a novelist (or all of the above) but I'm enjoying the journey towards figuring that out.

VII | In the meantime, I'm a law student. Whilst I don't think law is the career for me, I'd love to use the skills I've learnt to eventually help others by volunteering at a Citizen's Advice Bureau or helping immigrants and refugees understand their rights. 

I nominate:

Definitely check out Ladreena who nominated me and the other blogs I nominated. If these awards have made me realise anything it's that I don't spend enough time finding new blogs to read. 

Are there any blogs you think I should check out? How do you keep up with your blog reading? 

Liebster Award.

Thank you Hannah from Hanniemc for nominating me to participate in the Liebster Award! 

The rules are as follows:
-Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog
-Answer the questions given by the nominator
-Nominate 11 other bloggers who have less than 200 followers and link them
-Notify all the bloggers you nominate
-Create 11 new questions for your nominees to answer

The basics of a skincare routine

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Skincare is something that has been important to me since about the age fifteen, and my face was breaking out in all its hormonal teenage glory, and my mum got me some anti-bacterial face wash and face cream and said "put this on every day. It doesn't matter if you don't see a difference at first, just keep using it until it's finished, then we'll get you a new product." I thought this was odd advice, and in the beginning was frustrated by the fact that I was putting in all this effort, washing and moisturising my face day and night without seeing results, until one day - when I was about 3/4 through the products, I woke up and my face was the clearest I had seen in a long time. 

I doubt that this drastic improvements was due to a miracle product but rather that I had gone from desperately buying whatever new product a television advert promised to help with my skin and then discarding it when it didn't produce immediate results, to having a regular consistent skincare routine, however spartan it was. As I've grown older, I've slowly added elements to my skincare routine, and these are the five products I need to keep my skin looking relatively clear and healthy.


A clean face is a happy face, and I have found that the best way to get there is to have one cleanser that can both remove your make up and clean your skin without leaving it feeling stripped. Recently I have fallen in love with the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser which does a wonderful job of breaking down the make up in the first wash, and then leaving skin soft and thoroughly clean on the second was. Most face cleansers don't stand much of against waterproof mascara and stubborn lipstains though, so I'd recommend a such as the Elizabeth Arden All Gone Eye and Lip Remover. You could also use two different cleansers or a micellar water, but I prefer just having the one product. 


Personally I like to use natural-based toners, and am currently using the Evoluderm Rosewater Toner. Rosewater is said to have a whole host of benefits such as soothing irritated skin, balancing out the skin oils, adding moisture and bringing a glow to the face all the while getting rid of the last bit of dirt that your cleanser might not have gotten to, and I'm inclined to believe it. I definitely find non-natural toners harsher on my skin now. Camomile-based toners are also a godsend to calming down inflammed or irritated skin. 


I don't think serums are necessarily essential, but they are a great way of targeting a problem area. For example, my Yves Rocher Sebo-Vegetal Pore-Minimizing Serum is really good for when my skin is on the oilier, spot-prone side, keeping my skin matte and breakouts under control, but when the weather is harsher and my skin grows dryer, nothing restores moisture and softness like The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-in-Oil


The importance of moisturiser cannot be overstated, especially for those with oilier skins. I have learnt the hard way that the drier my skin becomes the oilier it is, and so will use something as rich as the The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream in the winter months, balancing out any unwanted shine with a decent primer and fixing powder. If I want to use a more mattifying face cream, I'll use a cream-based cleanser instead, or switch serums to make sure that my routine always has a moisturising element. 

Face mask or scrub 

Once or twice a week it is good to use a mask or a scrub to really give the skin a deep cleanse, ridding it of impurities and dead skin cells. Whilst I have shied away from scrubs, and have yet to try chemical exfoliation, I do love a good face mask. The Body Shop Warming Mineral Mask is one of my favourites: it feels amazing, smells delicious and really keeps excess oil at bay without stripping my skin. 

What are your skincare routine basics? Does your skincare routine look like mine? 

Dear Diary | How I'm journalling this year

Sunday, 25 January 2015

I've always loved diaries. I never quite managed to write in them consistently, but throughout my teenage years, every year I bought a new blank notebook to regularly scribble down my thoughts about my day, the things that were bothering me and to contemplate the likelihood of the boy on the bus I had a crush on knowing my existence and one day acknowledging it. As I grew older, and the academic deadlines increased, I felt like I just didn't have time to journal, though I would always end up finding some sort of outlet for my thoughts. In short, keeping some sort of diary or journal has always been, and I suspect will always be, important to me.

This year, I'm using these two beautiful goodies from kikki.K: the Reflection Journal and the 365 Days Journal. At the end of each day, usually a little later than I'd like (though I'm working on this) I sit down and write in these two. At the beginning, I thought that I wouldn't have time to keep up two journals, but it usually takes me about 30 minutes, and they serve two different purposes.

The Reflection Journal  allows me to just do that - to reflect on the day by filling out a premade form that allows me to note what I am grateful for, the highlight of the day, the overall feeling of the day and what kind of moments I experienced, to determine what area of my life my actions impacted on and to jot down what I learnt from the day. I really like that there's only room for one or two sentences, especially on days when I feel didn't go particularly well; since I only need to write one thing, I can usually find it, and makes me realise that even on the worst of days, there's something good in it. I find that it's a great way to stay mindful of the present and grateful for what you have, whilst also being able to see areas that you can improve in a positive light.

The 365 Day Journal I use to expand on the day, or how I'm feeling. I initially wanted to use it as a sort of scrapbook, collecting bits and pieces from my day but realised that this wasn't feasible for every day, so I just keep it as a daily journal for my thoughts. I don't always journal every day, but since I'm used to skipping entire months in diaries I've previously kept, I don't worry about skipping a few days: I just fill them in with quotes, song lyrics and wishlists. 

What's most important to me this year is doing journaly consistently as I've noticed that staying mindful and also dumping all my thoughts on a page before I go to bed really helps to keep my mind clear and just that little more positive. 

Do you journal?

Answers To My Questions #2

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Another week, another round up of this week's 'Answers To My Questions'. As you may have figured out this new feature is essentially a round up of blog articles this week that I found interesting - just a slightly different take. I'm one of those people who reads to learn something new and that doesn't change just because it's a blog post - in fact I think that gives me even more reason to read (not that I need any more reasons to spend my time perusing the blogosphere).

Whole Lotta Chubby | Clinique Chubby Stick Intense Lip Balm Gift Set

Friday, 23 January 2015

When my sister asked me what I wanted for Christmas, as you can expect, I responded with a long list of beauty products, and on this list was the Clinique Whole Lotta Chubby Gift Set, comprising of four shades from the Clinique Chubby Stick Intense Moisturising Lip Colour Balm range . The Clinique Chubby sticks are a range that I've heard so much about in the beauty world so I was really happy to finally be able to try them out.

Inside a pink and silver little make up bag, the gift set came with the shades: 06 woppin' watermelon, 15 pudgy peony, 05 plushest punch and 08 grandest grape. 'Woppin' watermelon' and 'pudgy peony' are two similar pretty pinks, but woppin' watermelon is quite a pale pink that is quite cool, looking almost grey on my skintone. I was also quite surprised to find the similarity between 'grandest grape' and 'plushest punch' when I swatched them, but obviously one has pink undertones and the other has purple undertones. 

I've been trying to find ways to wear these lipbalms for a couple of weeks now, and honestly? I think they're just not for me. The Clinique website allows you to compare the original Chubby Stick lipbalms with the Chubby Stick Intense, which are the ones that I have, and I think I would have been more suited to the originals. The Chubby Stick Intense promises: 'vibrant shades' and 'moderate-to-full colour coverage', which are things that I tend not to like on my lips. I often feel like bright colours look odd on me, so bright, lipbalms are not really up my street.

I also tend to have chapped lips during the winter months, and this product unfortunately does that wonderful thing of highlighting any dry parts on your lips without really doing anything for them...? It's even worse if like me you have pigmented lips, so that the colour really pops on any uneven parts of the skintone. Another thing is that the Chubby Sticks are 100% fragrance free: this is great for allergies, but bad for the smell of the actual product, which I am most definitely not a fan of. If there was ever a 'raw lipbalm' scent, this would it. 

I'm quite disappointed that these Chubby Stick Intense lipbalms didn't mark the start of a great love affair with Clinique Chubby Sticks but  I'm still holding out hope for the originals!

Have you tried out the Clinique Chubby Stick Intense range? The original range? What did you think?

Stepping up my organisation game for 2015

Thursday, 22 January 2015

I started flirting with organisation at the end of last year. As I mentioned in this post, I was finally putting to good use my Moleskine Weekly Notebook. As someone with a track record for buying planners that I only use for a couple of weeks every couple of months, I was determined to break out of the circle and actually use my planner for planning (and not as a decorative piece or a coaster). I also got into a bullet journalling, which is a way of keeping all your to-do's, thoughts and ideas in one place, and this got me into the habit of creating daily to-do lists and jotting down things.

However, when I delved into the vibrant planner community thanks to the #planneraddict hashtag on Instagram, I really began to see how delving deeper into the world of organistion could have a positive impact on my life. The kikki. K planner that I had first seen in a post over on Amy's blog A Little Boat Sailing (it was the gold hardware - how could I resist gold hardware??), was instantlyadded to my Christmas wishlist as I saw the customisation potential that comes from having a 6-ring binder as opposed to an already bound yearly diary. Plus, I tend to be the kind of person who has to justify the cost of a slightly more expensive item (to myself) through use, so the price of the kikki. K Personal Planner in this gorgeous lilac dictates that it will need to be put to good use. I'm still settling into it, trying to find a system that works for me, and also getting past the "it's too beautiful to write in" phase of owning a pretty stationery. 

To accompany my planner and to guide my endeavour in getting more organised, I also picked up the Epic Blog One Year Editorial Planner created by byRegina. It's a planner and workbook combined to help you get on top of your organisation game when it comes to your blog. Her website is also packed with useful content, so I should really make a note to consult it more often!

On a whim I also picked up 'Your Best Year 2015' by Lisa Jacobs which is a productivity workbook and creative business planner. I really wasn't sure what to expect and was a little worried that it would be more geared to creative entrepreneurs who sell products, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it is more about guiding you to setting your goals, and providing goal and planner pages that allow you to constantly keep your goals in mind. It's easy to get bogged down with the ideal of productivity and begin to struggle with mounting to-do lists and never-ending tasks when you lose sight of what your end-game is - this helps stop that.

I will probably have more in-depths reviews of my planning systems in the coming months when I've gotten enough use to figure out what I like and don't like about each of these - definitely let me know if it's something you'd be interested in. How are you getting organised this year?

Answers To My Questions #1

Friday, 16 January 2015

Today I want to introduce a new feature to my blog that I'm pretty excited about. I love reading weekly round ups on other blogs, and seeing what they've been up to during week, what products they've been loving and what they've been reading around the blogosphere. I don't think that I get up to enough during the week to document (I'm such a hermit, ha), and I am dangerously behind on my Bloglovin' feed (something I need to rectify immediately) so I couldn't do a decent round up, but I do occasionally find answers to questions that I didn't know I had whilst I'm just browsing the internet, doing my thing

And so that is what this new feature is about: 'Answers To My Questions' shares bits and bobs that I discovered over the week, and presents them in question and answer form because it seemed like an interesting way to do it. Sometimes you don't realise you had a question until you see it asked, and you find the questions surprisingly illuminating. Or maybe that's just me. Without further ado, onto the answers and questions!

Q: How can I link recommended posts at the bottom of my blog?

I discovered this little gem in Cluttered Closet's article 'Blogging Tips They Forgot To Tell You' which contains tips that I would have liked to have had in a little handbook that they should give you when you decide to start blogging. Except that might suck the fun out of blogging, which is a large part about discovering things for yourself: blogging is a journey, not a destination, after all. 

Q: What is the best way to get cheap indoor lighting?
A: LED camping lights apparently. 

This tip came from London Beauty Queen's '5 Piece Blogging Photography Kit', in which she includes an LED light strip as a way to get better lighting when the weather just isn't cooperating with you. Also, I think it's taken for granted that we all live in houses that get great natural light. My room only has great natural light in summer. The rest of the time? Not so much. This post also contains some other great little tips (Blutack has saved me so much hassle now) so it's definitely worth a read. 

Q: Where can you get simple, pretty, affordable premade Blogger Templates?

I wasn't happy with my blog layout, and though I kept telling myself that I could DIY it and learn HTML soon enough, in the meantime I was feeling quite uninspired with my blog design. So you can imagine how ridiculously happy I was to stumble across BloggerTemplate on Etsy, where Bard Jeda makes great templates, that are instantly downloadable, come with clear step-by-step instructions and best of all, don't cost a fortune. My goal is to eventually have a Pipdig design, but in the mean time I am very happy with my BloggerTemplate. The templates are also on offer for $2.99 until the 18 January, so definitely check him out if you were hoping to give your blog a new look for the new year.

Q: Is there something that I can get to beat the winter blues?
A: Yes - Lumie Light

The winter season with its short, often gloomy, days plays havoc on my moods, and I've heard wonders about light therapy, but I'd also heard that the special lamps were super expensive, and so regular exercise, healthy eating and supplements was your best bet for fighting off them winter blues. So you should have seen my face when I saw the Lumie Light on ViviannaDoesMakeup's 'Evening Detox Routine'. I was like 'Yup, gotta have it'. It's a bedside lamp that you can time so that in the mornings it'll gradually grow brighter so you can wake up to light and in the evenings, you can time it to gradually get darker, so you can wind down for the night, and hopefully have a better night's sleep. Unfortunately, since they're a UK-based company, the prices go up when it's from their international stockists, so I'm putting this on my 'to buy' list for when I move back to England! 

So that's this week's Answers To My Questions. What interesting things did you come across the internet this week? 

Wanderlust vs. Fear

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Oxford dictionaries define wanderlust as a 'strong desire to travel' and fear as 'the feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something or the safety of someone'. As you can probably imagine, these are not two things that co-exist peacefully. Fear is such a powerful emotion, that when you are gripped by it, you are going to need a whole lot of wanderlust in order to overcome it, otherwise you stay transfixed in place, unable to travel anywhere because you are so worried about venturing out beyond your comfort zone that you don't do it at all.

When I was younger, we had this globe that I used to love to spin and then stop it my finger, and wherever it pointed to, I would tell myself that I would visit this country one day. I was fascinated by what the countries in the South American continent that I knew so little about could offer, or if Iceland was covered in ice and Greenland lush with greenery. Later, on a school trip to a random museum I don't remember, I acquired a smaller globe, encased in  glass that was lost when dropped in a childhood clumsiness. I didn't acquire another one, because that was the time when childhood bullies began to tear away at my self-esteem and I stopped believing I could do anything that I wanted to do. Somewhere along the way, I stopped seeing curiosity and a longing to discover things as something that was good and therefore to be encouraged, and instead equated it with something that I couldn't do, something that I was afraid of doing.

As someone who suffers from anxiety, I am regularly trying to find out the 'why' behind the feeling, behind the fears that grip me, and that to most will seem completely irrational but to me feel very real. Yet, sometimes there is no why. There is no particular reason that you are afraid, and all you can do is expose yourself to that which you fear so that over time you realise that what you feared was nowhere near as bad as you thought. It's helpful then that wanderlust is a desire. I see desire, and passion, as flames, and if you add enough fuel to it, it will rise and burn so brilliantly that your fear will seem so trivial beside it. 

That's one of my hopes for this year, that I will take small little steps to remind myself what it is that brought me so much joy in spinning that little globe and the longing that grips me when I see pictures of far away (and not so far away places) and hear a little of the stories behind them. Fear may have won the battles thus far, but wanderlust may yet win this war.

Do you have wanderlust? Do you love to travel? Or like me, would you travel more if you were a little less afraid?

An Alternative To New Year's Resolutions

Monday, 12 January 2015

Happy belated 2015! I hope you have had a wonderful start to the new year, and if you've made a resolutions at the start of the year, I hope you're holding strong - we're only twelve days in! If you're finding that resolutions just aren't your thing and you can feel the same pattern beginning to emerge, then perhaps it's time to consider an alternative to making a list of intentions such as  'get healthier' 'work out more' 'eat less junk' 'be less lazy' 'do more xyz' which in themselves are great, but they tend not to last long (for a whole host of reasons that will be the subject of another post), and come November you regret the gym membership you never used, the junk food that is still a dear friend to and lament all the bad habits have yet to be broken, and the good habits that have yet to be taken up. 

I am no stranger to failed resolutions, so this year, instead of having new year's resolutions, I am going to have a word for the year.

I first got the idea from Vienna of myplanner who created a wonderful worksheet to help guide you in creating your goals that she guides you through in her video. What struck me the most was the section in which she asks you to choose a word for 2015 that describes how you plan  approach the year, and to explain why you chose that particular word.

The word I chose for 2015 is: PERSISTENCE

I already had this word in mind from reading Napoleon Hill's 'Think and Grow Rich' at the end of last year, where the word is a recurring theme throughout his teachings, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that there was a reason this word resonated so much with me: I am one of those people who has no problem throwing themselves into a new venture but has great difficulty seeing it through to the end, as my dozens of unfinished stories, projects and ambitions can attest to. Though I can roll my sleeves up and get through a tough time, I am more inclined to back away when things get rough and go back to find the easier route rather than continuing along the road less travelled. 

Basically, I have a problem with seeing things through to the end, and if all the goals I have for 2015 (and beyond) are to be accomplished, I need to have persistence in all my actions. 

Picking a word for the year is a great alternative to New Year's Resolutions because: 
  • there is only one word that you need to remember. For whatever goal you set, whether it's big or small, your one word shapes how you're going to execute it, acting as a guideline. Though it is important to regularly review your goals to see what progress you're making, in the moment of doing something, all you really need to remember is your word. 
  • it provides you with the necessary 'why' behind your actions. Motivation is hard to come by sometimes, especially when the alarm goes off, it's dark and the cold world beyond your duvet doesn't appear particularly inviting. The past couple of days when I've woken up and the last thing I want to do is roll out my yoga mat, I remember that this is the year of persistence. I set myself the goal of exercising every day this month, so that's what I'll do. I don't need any other reasons or motivators: I set myself a goal, I am going to persist to the end, and out of bed I roll.
  • it can shape who you are. Usually you'll pick a word that describes a trait that you're lacking in or that you hope to improve on, so that at the end of the year, instead of having a list of things you've ticked off, you now have a character trait that you've worked on and developed throughout the year that is relevant to all your goals, to every aspect of your life, that you can carry with you into the next year as you tackle a fresh set of challenges.

If you struggle with sticking to resolutions, then this is definitely an approach worth considering. Then again, there's nothing that says that you have to do any resolution setting at all if you're perfectly happy with the way things are, or if you're not ready to change. Change in your own time, not because it's a particular date, and explore all your options to see what fits you best.

Did you set resolutions this year? What do you think of just setting one word for the year?