How One Woman Changed Her Life In A Year

We all know the feeling of exhilaration when we complete a challenge. We also remember the feeling of desolation when our goals slip away from us. And yet with every New Year, we set ourselves more challenges, knowing that some we will win and some we will lose. For Shelley Wilson, the resolutions she made on New Year’s Eve are still very much at the forefront of her mind. She set herself a challenge to dedicate 365 days, 52 weeks to completing twelve goals. Month One – Lose Weight It’s the resolution that tops the list – Weight Loss. I was horrified to learn I’d put two stone on in just seven months; this painful discovery was made as I teetered on the scales at my local Weight Watchers meeting. My leader gave me a sympathetic look and a smiley face sticker and sent me on my way with clear instructions on how to change my mindset towards food. Taking control of my kitchen cupboards by clearing the naughty stuff and altering my shopping habits culminated in a 10-pound weight loss by the end of the month. A positive start to the year, and by attending the weekly meetings I’d found the support network I needed to keep on achieving. Month Two – Get Fit To Get Fit in one month would be an impossible task after 40+ years living a sedentary lifestyle. I was delusional if I thought I could breathe and walk simultaneously let alone achieve fitness. Moving the goal posts slightly, I changed the resolution to Move More and set my first assignment. Skipping was a past time I enjoyed as a child, however, any nostalgic feelings I had about skipping vanished once I began leaping around my living room, I was like a lava lamp. It wasn’t pretty and after five minutes I’d turned an alarming shade of crimson. For the remainder of month two I included a more sensible regime; walking, Wii fit with the kids and cycling – much better. Everything hurt from the neck down, but I had succeeded in moving more. Month Three – Do Something Creative My love affair with writing began when I was eight so doing something creative had to involve a notepad and pen. I joined my local Creative Writing Class and found the mix of students to be an uplifting tonic. We motivated each other and within a couple of weeks I’d been published in two magazines and my Blog was attracting hundreds of hits. But creativity isn’t just about writing so I had a go at Zentangles™, this is a therapeutic art form where you ‘doodle’ on small cards to create pictures. I made vision boards to enhance my stories and to provide my holistic clients with a way to frame the positive life they wanted, and I also looked at creative ways to fundraise. Month Four – Go Alcohol-Free Thirty days alcohol-free - this was going to be the toughest challenge of the year, I am not a raving alcoholic by any stretch but I do enjoy a bottle of wine at the weekend. I embraced my tee-total month and set about making non-alcoholic cocktails for Easter, my favourite was the Choco-Mocktail, which, in essence, was simply a liquidised Wispa bar. The school holidays were tough as I sat in a quaint Somerset pub, surrounded by jolly holidaymakers sipping pints of beer and glasses of Chardonnay. I made a large dent in the hot chocolate and whipped cream supplies. On our girls night out I became ‘designated driver’, and while we celebrated my Dad’s birthday I opted for Schloer in a wine glass. Month Five – Do Something I’ve never done before When I decided to start this challenge, it never crossed my mind that I would be plummeting through the trees, lassoed to a strip of wire, screaming at the top of my lungs. If nothing else, my New Year’s challenge had pushed me to try new things. Zip wires aside, I also had false eyelashes fitted, and I made a quilt cushion cover that was a proud moment as I can’t sew for toffee. Month Six – Adopt better habits by recycling and growing our own vegetables I am not green fingered, and I worried that anything I tried to grow would curl up and die in defiance. I ended up enjoying this challenge and found the satisfaction of eating our own food (yes it did grow) to be very motivational. The children loved getting involved with digging up the vegetables and shelling peas. Recycling has certainly opened our eyes to what we can reuse and also where our rubbish goes. Month Seven – Appreciate what I have by giving something up If you were asked to give something up what would you choose? For this challenge, I knew it had to be something worthwhile and not just biscuits. So I chose four things that would impact on my day to day life. I live in black clothes. It isn’t a conscious thing, or an ‘I want to look slimmer’ decision, I just like wearing black. So to give up wearing anything that colour for a week was sheer torture, I ended up shipping in clothes from friends and family to achieve this resolution. Giving up my car for a week was easier than I thought, as was going without Facebook but the tough one was no TV. The only advantage was The Vampire Diaries had ended a couple of weeks earlier, so I didn’t have to miss my Ian Somerhalder fix! Month Eight – Get out and about more with the kids My favourite challenge so far. We each have our favourite holiday destination or day trip, but I wanted to choose new places so we could all explore together. I ended up using a pin in the map to decide. We hired a gorgeous cottage in Cornwall, stayed overnight in London and filled our month with day trips to Warwick Castle, Stonehenge, York and Glastonbury. We also enjoyed a ‘stay-cation’ week where we explored our local area. Month Nine – Learn something new I shall never wear a handmade jumper as learning to knit is not my forte. At least I gave it a go before resolving myself to the fact I was ridiculously inept. Signing up for an art course was more up my street and thoroughly enjoyable. Learning a new skill makes you feel incredibly satisfied, whether it’s a simple craft or a whole new language. We are never too old to learn something new, and I so think I’m destined to be an eternal student. Month Ten – Be Happy and Grateful This challenge should have been an easy one, being happy and grateful should come naturally. Being grateful for what’s going on in your life when you’re having a hard time, however, can be difficult, and I saw this in action throughout the month. I smiled more and aside from the aching jaw this simple act almost forces you to be happier. Every dinner time the children and I would say the best thing that had happened that day. Each morning I told myself how grateful I was for ‘the sunshine’, ‘my car’, and ‘my beautiful kids’. Month Eleven – Conquer my fears and do NaNoWriMo. I was clearly under the influence of festive cheer when I wrote this resolution, to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. According to the founders’ website, approximately 350,000 writers take part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) each year, and only 15% finishes. I had always wanted to have a go. Every year I would log on to the site and read the forums and then bottle out at the last minute. By including it on my challenge and publicly declaring my intention on my blog I couldn’t turn back. Month Twelve – Make Christmas Gifts (Or get a book and motion picture deal) My NaNo novel didn’t make it to Spielberg’s desk, so I opted for making Christmas gifts. It was extremely therapeutic; I made chutney, peppermint creams and created some lovely jewellery for my friends. The biggest challenge of all had to be making the Christmas dinner. My wonderful mum is an amazing cook and to step into her shoes and take over the biggest meal of the year was a challenge and a half. I am a speedy dinner kind of mum and so the hours of prep and hot sweats followed by the whirlwind of mess pushed me well and truly out of my comfort zone. When I set my New Year Resolution challenge, I didn’t think I could stay the course. I’m a single mum who runs her own business – finding time for a coffee with friends can be complicated. My children were an amazing support system, and I hope I have taught them that if you put your mind to something, then anything is possible. I can honestly say that this challenge has changed my life, and I’m prepped and ready with my 2016 resolutions. Why not give it a go, set yourself some interesting challenges and tick a few dreams and goals on your bucket list? You may be surprised at where it can lead. I turned my journey into a self-help book, How I Changed My Life in a Year, is available via Amazon as a paperback and eBook. It hit the number one spot on the bestseller list in its category, and I receive messages every week from people who have taken on my resolution challenge. From professional procrastinator to published author, I’d say that was a successful New Year challenge.

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