how I’ve planned my wedding planning!

2021, organisation, wedding

Hello!

My partner and I have technically been engaged for a year now (we picked a date we wanted to get married this time last year but we didn’t ‘propose’ to each other until much later in the year, I could write a whole blog post about it…), and after two wedding fairs and a pandemic, I’m starting to think more seriously about planning.

I’d say ‘we’ but anyone who’s planned a wedding with a man knows they probably don’t have a lot of opinion. I know mine still doesn’t feel like it’s real because it’s nearly two years away. To clarify: this isn’t me saying he isn’t allowed an opinion, oh no no – he just is vastly indifferent to anything I try to talk to him about.

But now that we are inside of two years away from the day and we’ve paid the full deposit on our venue, it’s time to really start thinking about planning! I know nearly two years in advance is probably a bit eager, but surely the earlier I start the less stressful it’ll be right? Apparently wedding planning is super stressful and I’m sure I will get stressed and nervous the closer the date gets, but the more I can plan it advance the better, right?

So starting from the beginning, deciding what date we wanted to get married was a very casual decision, we told our parents over the next month or so and immediately my mum booked us tickets to a wedding fair in Birmingham and another local one near our home town and luckily we managed to go to them both in the two weekends before the first lockdown in the UK. Mum also treated me to a wedding planning folder which has been helpful! I found a venue I loved at the local wedding fair, then after showing it to my fiancé we booked a viewing tour thing in July and confirmed the contract with the final part of the deposit this month.

One of my 2021 goals was to make some progress on planning the wedding, so over the New Year I went through and made a long list of every step and every task I’d need to do to plan the wedding – not including payment deadlines and things like that because those are finer details that I’ll know more about closer to the time.

Knowing what I’m like I’ll make a spreadsheet of some sort because that’s who I am as I person.

I made my master list using the wedding planning folder I got from Paperchase and the recommendations from Bridebook which I’ve found really useful, but I’m not using every suggestion it makes (it’s been very useful for budgeting guidance though). I then split that up into tasks that can wait until 2022 and what I want to do (or at least start) this year and now I’ve got 10 tasks I want to start this year (and I’ve already ticked one off).

My 2022 list currently has 19 things on it but it makes sense that there’s more tasks in the year of the wedding right?

I still don’t know how the heck to plan a wedding. How are people ‘good’ at this, or do they just get wedding planners?

I’ve found having a longer list and knowing everything that I have to do in the long run makes it easier and feel less daunting. Wedding planning is daunting – it’s such an unknown and it’s not something you tend to get practice in, as well as being a huge financial commitment. And if you’ve been following any of my other posts, you know I love making a list more than anything!

I’m excited to start planning and for it all to feel more real as we get a bit closer, fingers crossed 2021 takes a different path to 2020.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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tracking joint finances + setting savings goals!

2021, goals

Hello!

If you’ve read any of my bullet journal, goals or organisation posts, you’ll know how much I love planning and making lists. Tracking my finances is no different – I implemented finance tracking in my bullet journal when I decided I wanted to get out of my overdraft before I left uni (still one of my proudest achievements). I set myself a weekly budget and used my weekly spread to make sure I stuck to it, in third year I kept receipts for everything because it was easier to remember how much I spent and I managed to buy myself a new phone outright before I went to New York in 2018 so I used to be quite good at managing all my finances!

At the end of 2020 I saw this video from Hannah Witton about tracking her joint finances with her husband and when I’m shown a pretty spreadsheet, obviously I want to make my own.

So I made it one of my 2021 goals to monitor our spending – I thought this would be especially helpful as we’re saving for a 2022 wedding and we really need to get some money together to pay for it and it can give us a clearer idea of where we’re overspending, where we can save and how we can reach our financial goals (which makes us sound way more grown up than I really want to be).

To set up my spreadsheet, I essentially watched Hannah’s video through really slowly, pausing often to type categories and things in my own Excel document and decide which colours I wanted for each heading.

 

Once I had the basics of income, savings and expenses all set up with our own personalised categories suitable to our life and expenditure (I didn’t know I knew that word tbh), I then got to my favourite bit – using equations to automatically add things up.

At first it was relatively simple – addition sums at the bottom of each column to calculate monthly income/savings, addition sums at the end of each row to calculate yearly totals in each category and then in the bottom right hand corner of each section, another addition sum to see our total income, savings and spending for the year.

But there’s more…

I then thought about being able to include a running total of our bank account – knowing how much we had leftover at the end of the month and using that as a starting point for the beginning of the next month. And in conclusion – this is my beautiful spreadsheet that I have to work with.

It might be harder to appreciate how beautiful and efficient it all is without any of the data (there’s some things I know I definitely shouldn’t share online) but I’ll talk you through it.

The top category – where we track what goes into the account, starting with what was leftover from last month and any additional finances we pay into the account (not necessarily everything we get paid). The total figure here helps to calculate the remainder figure at the bottom of the sheet which in turn becomes the ‘balance on the 1st’ figure the following month.

The last category is the fun one purely because there’s more data to put in and balance and equations and it makes me feel clever, but it’s simple enough – put what comes out of your bank account in each of the categories, total expenditure is an addition of the savings and expenses category and then remainder (or current bank balance, however you want to word it) is total income minus total outgoing, and that remainder uses a very simple ‘=[CELL NUMBER]’ equation to carry over to the next month.

And then I did it all again for my personal finances.

In all honesty, it’s not complicated – it’s a few addition equations, remembering to continuously update it (hence the cell that says ‘Last Transaction Input’ at the bottom) and maintaining everything I’ve already learnt about budgeting and not spending more money than I have.

I’ve been finance tracking for a long time on paper, but it’s never really had a purpose – it’s just been for the sake of being aware of what I’m spending. Doing it this way means I can see a generalised view of my year and I can see if I notice any changes in where we’re spending more or less, perhaps where we could save money and hopefully where we can save more for the wedding and one day getting on the housing market and all the other gross adult things that cost too much money.

Like Hannah said in her video, I’m the one that does all the finance tracking – I tried to show my fiancé and he said ‘that’s nice’ and went back to his video games, so as long as I can tell him how much we need in the joint account and whether he can justify buying the new Samsung phone (he can and he’s very excited that it’s arriving three days before it’s official release).

I love tracking a lists and this spreadsheet means that my finance tracking in my bullet journal is completely unnecessary, but I think I’ll keep doing it because there’s something really demoralising about having to put it in writing when you did a sad spend and ordered too many things online. Although demoralising sounds like a bad thing, sometimes it’s the nudge you need to stop unnecessary spending and avoid popping into McDonalds after I’ve finished the Asda shop (which is good for both the diet and the bank account!).

It’s not life changing – it’s not going to make me a Saving Wizard and give me more money than I have, if anything it’s depressing to think about how much money is spent on boring adult things like bills but it’s helpful in the long run, just in that boring ‘adulting’ way.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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learning to work from home in a pandemic | graduate job

2021, career

Hello!

I’ve not written about the graduate job market or ‘post graduate life’ since I finished my undergraduate degree in 2018, since then I’ve finished a Post-Graduate Certificate in Professional Development Planning, a MSc in Digital Media Production and I actually got a job! Two months after my masters dissertation hand in I’m actually working!

As we’re living in another nationwide lockdown in the UK, my work has been exclusively from home and navigating mentally reassigning my home environment into a work space as well as trying to figure out a new workload is a challenge and a half. I know personally it takes me a little while to adapt to change and figuring all this out virtually is challenging for anyone who’s had to adapt how they work.

There’s a lot to figure out – not only a new group of people and procedures and responsibilities, but doing all this in the place I’ve been spending days and days on the sofa since my dissertation was handed in. It sounds easy enough in theory – all the things you usually have to do without the commute to sit in an office with less than comfy chairs, probably at least one person who annoys you a little bit and where it’s not socially acceptable to wear a blanket  cape when it’s freezing outside. Working from home should be almost fun with the fridge 15 steps away and no one to judge you for it, right?

By now, anyone that’s had to work from home knows it’s so much more than that – for me, my downstairs living room and kitchen area is all open plan. If I really wanted to I could probably dive bomb the sofa from my desk and I have snacks within arms reach basically everywhere. Today I tried working at my make-up vanity upstairs and I found a lovely little cosy nook to sit in, but the bed was two paces away and it was challenging enough getting out of it without the temptation to get back in.

It’s an entirely different mindset that you don’t very often have to get into at home. Being that switched on in an environment that’s usually associated with slowing down and relaxing? It’s why some students are finding online learning so hard – because it’s not their school environment.

I’d like to think it goes without saying that it doesn’t mean I think that offices should be open and kids should be in school, I’m not saying that at all, I’m just saying it’s a difficult transition to figure out.

Starting a new job without being able to meet any of my colleagues properly, separating my work and home environments and sometimes feeling a little lost with no one to turn to is strange, but at the end of it all I’m grateful to have a job – after my undergraduate experience of applying for over a hundred jobs and not getting anything and then worrying about being able to get a job at all when the job market is so minimal in a pandemic, the fact I have any work is lucky and I really do feel lucky to have it.

If anything, the thing I’m finding more difficult than working from home is being ‘switched on’ for 8 hours a day, being awake and functioning at 9am (anxiety ruined my sleep schedule) and navigating not being a student. I’m grateful that I can roll out of bed at 8.45am and start dinner as soon as I finish at 5pm (or lounge on the sofa before I shove something in the oven). Today my fiancé had a day off and I got to pop downstairs for cheek kisses and the occasional cuddle (don’t tell my boss) but it was weird that he had a day off and I was working because that hasn’t happened for about a year?

So my tips from working for home after four days of doing it – stay hydrated, have a to do list to try and stay focused, plan your lunch because half an hour for a break isn’t actually very long, set an alarm for the end of the day if it helps and today my phone popped up with a thing called ‘focus mode’ and it essentially blocks a bunch of apps during work hours and it’s a little annoying for procrastinating but good for not procrastinating.

And at the end of the day, we’re not working from home – we’re at home, trying to work in a pandemic and that’s not the same.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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new social media plans

2021, creativity, lifestyle

Hello!

My relationship with social media has been through what feels like a large change over the last two years or so – as a teenager I put all of my feelings online because I desperately wanted sympathy and attention (heads up: it didn’t work and just made me look whiny) and it definitely took someone telling me that they deliberately don’t put all their feelings online to start reevaluating my own relationship with the internet.

Cut to two years later and psychologically retraining myself not to turn to Twitter every time I get sad/stroppy and to actually communicate with the people around me, my social media platforms are infinitely less depressing than they used to be!

Pair this with no longer pretending to be an influencer with my blog, YouTube and Instagram content and just posting for fun and we’ve got a brand new SophieCountsClouds (still kind of hate the name, but the brand’s the brand y’know). I don’t feel like I have to post on Instagram every day, I don’t try to ‘promote engagement’ (that I never got anyway) and the content I do make I make for fun; because I love writing, I like coming up with new and fun videos ideas and I love watching social media evolve and develop (hence the beginnings of a career in marketing).

But there are two new profiles that I want to develop in 2021 – having really reinvested in social media as a personal hobby and not a ‘professional portfolio’ (that’s separate) I’ve got two new projects that I want to work on and I’ve definitely mentioned them both already.

My new book Instagram account and tiktok! I’ve kind of fallen headfirst down the tiktok rabbit hole as lockdown and pandemic has persisted, both from an entertainment and a marketing point of view (how someone can gain 99 million followers in a year is astounding) and now I just want to make fun, silly little videos.

The book account has been one of my new years goals for a little while now – 2020 may have been shit but it was the year I full on fell in love with reading again and I wanted somewhere to connect with people who love books and stories as much as I do and somewhere for me to write about the books I’m reading and my thoughts on other things (important discussions like hardback vs paperback and whether the spine of a book should be cracked).

It sounds silly to keep using the word ‘fun’ but doing Vlogmas and watching so much tiktok, making content is fun again for me now! While I was at uni I spent a lot of time thinking that to be a ‘proper blogger’ I needed to be scheduling tweets for every hour of the day and writing really stagey, fake sounding captions with a million hashtags to ‘reach the right people’ but it felt wrong when I did it and it feels stupid looking back on it now. If my blog or YouTube was ever going to be successful then 1) it would have been already and 2) I’d rather people found my content organically and subscribed because they liked it, not because I tweeted three billions times asking if they’d remembered to subscribe.

I’ve had so much fun finding people to follow on my book account and making that tiktok the other day made me feel creative in a way I never expected to!

In between new social medias and setting up my new sewing machine, knitting and sitting with a blanket over my knees 24/7, I think I’m finely balancing on the line between millenial/gen z ‘keeping up with the trends’ and ‘Grandma’.

I still don’t understand tiktok dances, how do you know which are the trendy ones and which ones are people just boogying in their living room? Did I really use the words ‘trendy’ and ‘boogying’ in the same sentence?

Conclusion? I’m having fun with social media and content creation again and I think that might be one of the best things that came out of 2020.

If you’re interested in books or, like me, can’t get off tiktok I’d love it if you followed me! If that’s not what you’re into, I hope you love the creators you are watching and you have content that makes you smile.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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My 5 Star 2020 Reads!

2021, books

Hello!

The end of year content isn’t over yet! Whilst lots of people are posting achievements, Spotify wrapped, beauty favourites and how far they ran on Strava (tires me out just thinking about it), I thought I’d share all the books I rated 5 stars in 2020!

I read a total of 39 books (I finished warm bodies about 4am on January 1st and Goodreads hadn’t reset yet, so I’m counting it) out of my goal of 12 and there was a huge variety. Some books I didn’t rate at all because I was so vastly indifferent to them, some books that made me stop reading for three months (looking at you Noughts and Crosses series…) and some books that immediately made me want to write my own stories and get excited about creating. Let’s jump right in!

  • The Future for Curious People, Gregory Sherl

I picked this one up from High Peak Bookstore (available on bookshop.org during the pandemic!) which is a massive discount book shop near where I used to go on family holidays. The concept of being able to glimpse into your own potential future with someone and how it could change is so interesting, it would definitely be incredibly tempting but dangerously addictive.

I love storylines with seemingly unrelated characters that all come together at the end and it was all very sweet, as well as being a relatively short easy read! Very cosy.

  • Turtles All The Way Down, John Green

This is the only book this year I managed to read in a day! I had a long train ride to Birmingham and back to my first wedding fair of my engagement and whilst that should have been the highlight of my day (and don’t get me wrong, it was amazing), this book just took my peak interest.

I generally find John Green a little hit and miss and that’s why I put off ‘Turtles All The Way Down’ for so long but there was no way I was going to not finish this in a day. It absolutely gripped me, there was an element of murder mystery and the way that he writes about OCD and mental illness is just beautiful. I don’t know how he writes from the perspective of teenage girls so well but it’s one of the most immersive stories I read in 2020. Absolutely adored it, but perhaps one not to read if you’re a bit funny about germs or hand gel in a pandemic…

  • All The Bright Places, Jennifer Niven

Another one about mental health with a duel perspective, but ‘All The Bright Places’ lived up to all the expectations I’d seen about it. It was beautiful and real and heartbreaking in equal measure. It felt quite similar to a John Green story in that respect and sometimes I muddle up this book and ‘Turtles All The Way Down’ in my head. ‘All The Bright Places’ is definitely a read with a very sad ending, but the message of hope throughout is just stunning.

  • Love, Rosie, Cecelia Ahern

I think this is the most cleverly written book I read this year – to tell a story exclusively through written communication, texts, letters and emails, with no external narrative or third person perspective was so clever. I loved the way the story consistently progressed and the character’s got older almost effortlessly. It was a long book but the only way it felt long was how heavy and awkward the paperback was to hold. I read ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls shortly after I read ‘Love, Rosie’ and I can definitely see that Cecelia Ahern has taken a very similar concept but, I think, made it much more accessible. ‘One Day’ was lovely, but felt a little formal in places. ‘Love, Rosie’ was so wonderful and I really need to watch the film.

  • The Eve Illusion, Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

The ‘Eve of Man’ trilogy (or, will be trilogy) firmly placed itself as my favourite book series ever (sorry ‘Harry Potter’, but JK isn’t that great). I think ‘The Eve Illusion’ was the only book I pre-ordered this year and I was obsessed. The last page has stuck with me more than I can comprehend but I can’t say why without massively spoiling it…

This trilogy has the vibes of being as successful as ‘The Hunger Games’ or maybe even ‘Harry Potter’, I just adore it, I want to be in the movie but I’m 100% the wrong age. This is the book that made me want to create and work on my own novel.

  • On The Other Side, Carrie Hope Fletcher

I’ve tried reading this book twice before and never made it past the same point, I know now that ironically if I’d read one more chapter I’d have been hooked right through to the end.

love how Carrie writes – so whimsical and magical but so raw and real simultaneously. I now want to work my way through her entire back catalogue of novels and I’ve got ‘All That She Can See’ on my list for this year and I’m waiting for the paperback of ‘In The Time We Lost’ to be released.

‘On The Other Side’ is a fantastic interpretation of life after death and gives a wonderful insight into a woman’s life who is almost too perfect – too kind, too talented, too loving, but still I couldn’t stop reading her story. It’s a lovely read, a wonderful cosy tale of family, sacrifice and a little bit of magic.

  • Love at First Like, Hannah Orenstein

I picked up this book in a 3 for £5 deal at The Works thinking it would be the kind of cringey chick lit that I hate, but the story being about social media peaked my marketing interest. But then it wasn’t cringey at all, it wasn’t as completely orientated around lies as I’d thought it would be (bad communication and not being honest really grinds my gears). I love stories and characters that feel real and aren’t beyond the realm of realism and the cast of this story were just wonderful and the ending was so sweet and fun. Made me excited for my own wedding, if I’m honest!

  • Our Child of the Stars, Stephen Cox

The second of the 3 for £5 books (I’ve used this deal from the Works far too many times) and a very different story – an alien ship crash lands in a small American town and a Nurse takes care of the little alien boy who just lost his mum. I know I just said I like realistic stories and characters, but my favourites within that are fantasy/sci-fi stories that are so well integrated they could be real, or a story universe so well established that I feel I could live there.

This tale of finding family, protecting what’s right and taking control of your own power is so much fun and I’m really excited for the sequel which I think it being released this year.

(also the author followed me back on Twitter when I posted my review, so thanks Stephen Cox)

  • If I Stay, Gayle Forman

My only re-read of 2020 because I wanted to read the sequel ‘Where She Went’ but it had been so long since I read the original and boy I love ‘If I Stay’.

Teenage romance just gets me, even though as a 24 year old I have a much more cynical view of ‘love’ and I often think they’re children they don’t know enough about life to really love each other but we’ve all been there, whether it was a first relationship or an imaginary relationship with a boyband (definitely not speaking from experience…).

When tragedy hits teenage romance the supernatural kicks in and the female protagonist I can’t remember the name of (oops?) is essentially a ghost and can hear everything going on around her. It was an incredibly well written take on the impact of tragedy and the persistence of young love. ‘Where She Went’ was also good and I’m pretty sure I ranked it at 4 Stars, but it just didn’t quite hit the same as ‘If I Stay’. That’s another film I need to watch I think!

  • Blame, Jeff Abbot

This is another one from the discount warehouse that I took a chance on because it was discounted. I never thought I was that into murder mystery or crime book but wow it turns out I am. Although in the adult section (not in a naughty way), I’d definitely consider it to be a YA novel as the protagonist is in her first year of college and I think that’s part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much, because I’m only a little bit older than that (let’s not think about how much older please).

Not only a crime novel, but a protagonist with amnesia who can’t remember why she was in a car accident that killed her neighbour’s son – with backlash from her mother who wants her in a mental institution, ‘friends’ who know more than they say and a murderer who wants to stay hidden, the story is an immense revelation of a girl who just wants her memory back. I loved Blame and can’t wait to read the other book from Jeff Abbot that is on my tbr!

  • Noughts and Crosses, Malorie Blackman

I know I said the ‘Noughts and Crosses’ series inadvertently stopped me reading for three months, but I mean the other three books following the first one. I loved ‘Noughts and Crosses’ (hence the 5 star review) but the rest of the series was awful and because of who I am as a person I put too much faith in giving the other three books a chance only to be disappointed by whiny characters that are all melodramatic and annoying and don’t communicate properly.

‘Noughts and Crosses’, though, was an incredibly interesting take on if racism was reversed – if white people were considered the minority and treated unfairly due to their skin colour. The story follows Sephy and Callum as they grow up together, falling in love despite their differences and Sephy’s superior position in society. The ending is beautifully tragic, it made me think so deeply about the systemic racism in our society and the internalised racism that I’ve grown up with in a position of white privilege.  I have a couple of other books about racism that I bought around the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and they’re definitely on my tbr for 2021.

  • A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, Holly Jackson

I thought this would be my last book of the year and I picked it out despite my system (read alphabetically by author’s surname because I hate making decisions and choices) because I’d been struggling so much with reading and needed something I was excited about. And boy o was that the right decision – another crime murder mystery book I didn’t think I’d enjoy but make it YA about an aspiring journalist doing an EPQ and applying for Cambridge University then I get (good) flashbacks to my school days and can get behind someone who’s really enthusiastic about school.

But the murder mystery itself was so clever – I didn’t predict the end until it was happening and the conclusion and bravery of protagonist Pip was exhilarating. I read the last 100 pages on Christmas night because every chapter was just another cliffhanger. I’m trying to keep myself on a book buying ban until I’d read all the ones I’ve got, but ‘Good Girl, Bad Blood’ is right up there on the list of books I would like to read immediately.

  • Warm Bodies, Isaac Marion

I really didn’t think I’d finish this in 2020, but 4am on New Years Day before the Goodreads app challenge has reset counts, right?

A friend recommended and leant me her copy of ‘Warm Bodies’ and having seen and enjoyed the film, I was ready for a good zombie story. I remember the internal narrative of protagonist R compared to the characters limited speech and movement being incredibly interesting from a storytelling perspective and it was only enhanced in the book. Knowing the ending meant I could spot his changes and developments more easily, but it still made it so rewarding to see him as a character noticing and being very self-aware.

In some ways it gave me kind of ‘Twilight’ vibes but in a much better way. The characters aren’t very ‘romantic’, per say, but their relationship is sweet. A really good book to tie off the year with, for sure.

If you like reading my thoughts and words on books, I’ve just set up a new book instagram account called @sophiesreading where I’m really enjoying posting and finding new people to follow.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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2021 Goals

2021, goals, organisation

Hello!

It’s my favourite time of year – goal setting time!

If you’ve been following for a while, you’ll know I love all things organisation, goals and planning (even if I am also a Queen Procrastinator and spend more time making lists than doing the things on them… it’s a work in progress) – every month I make mini goals that help keep me focused and working on my yearly goals, every week I make a spread in my bullet journal that helps me work on the tasks in my monthly goals and I’ve been setting yearly goals ‘properly’ (as in, actually tracking them) for probably three or four years now? So I’m getting better at figuring out what I actually want and what’s achievable.

And if we’re learnt anything from 2020 is that something can always throw a massive spanner in the works no matter how hard we try to avoid it, so I learnt a lot about being okay with not ‘achieving’ my goals and knowing that it’s not always a personal failure if I don’t do something. As well as knowing that goals and priorities change – last year I wanted to learn website design and photography, but actually, that’s not a priority for me right now so I didn’t make the time for it.

It’s all about balance and making ‘SMART’ goals. I know I sound like a University Careers officer, but making Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound goals takes practice and breaking bigger tasks into smaller (smart) goals will make them more achievable in the long run. Sometimes waiting for the long run or seeing ‘the bigger picture’ is the real challenge. Whether it’s your career, health and fitness, personal hobbies or anything else, a year isn’t going to perform miracles – I’m not going to reach my goal weight healthily in a year no matter how hard I try, I’m not going to reach my long-term career goals and I’m not going to be able to grow my hair down to my butt – they’re not achievable and that’s fine. But I can set a smaller healthy weight goal that aligns with long term weight loss, I can work towards certain career aspirations that are steps towards my long term aspirations and I can promise myself I’m not going to drastically cut my hair.

The key for me is writing everything down – whether it’s the big life-time goals or the little tasks to do next week, having a note of it makes it much easier to remember.

With all that said; here are my 2021 goals. Because I’m a little bit of an organisation nerd, I have three categories each with three goals (I also like the number three) and then a list of ‘bucket list’ goals that aren’t category specific.

PROFESSIONAL GOALS:

  • Start my new job!
  • Make a proper portfolio – on my blog, on Instagram and an up-to-date Showreel
  • Adapt a book into a screenplay (to learn about screenwriting from experience)

PERSONAL GOALS:

  • Start a bookstagram and get involved in the book community online
  • Make a cosplay costume – a mix of buying and making things
  • Find a therapist

HOME GOALS:

  • Savings goals – wedding, house and personal
  • Organise wedding – complete 2021 tasks list
  • Travel (pandemic allowing):
    • International Holiday with fiancé (if safe)
    • Centre Parcs with family (if safe)
    • MCM Comic Con London (if the con is even on)

‘BUCKET LIST’ GOALS:

  • Read 25 books
  • Writing challenges – January 30k, April 35k, July 40k, September 45k, November 50k
  • Monthly date nights!
  • Find a dance class (COVID allowing)
  • Knit myself a Weasley inspired jumper
  • 1 Second Everyday 2021 video
  • Limited spending; less personal spending
  • Actually go to the dentist/doctors when necessary
  • Sew more – finish t-shirt blanket, fix clothes, make new things, learn about making clothes!
  • Get another tattoo (COVID and finances allowing… but please I really want one)

To make my goals more specific, I do have savings goals and spending limits on the finance related goals but finances are so personal and these are what are (hopefully) achievable for me and I don’t want to give the impression that my savings goals are ‘normal’, so I’ll keep them private.

But other specific goals like my wedding organisation list – I know exactly what tasks I have to achieve this year to be on track and I have a 2022 list for all the final planning, my writing challenges are assigned to months with word goals, rather than ‘more’ date nights it’s ‘monthly’ date nights – I’m not by any means suggesting I’m an expert on goal setting, but having specific and time-bound tasks make it all feel more achievable to me at least.

Regardless of whether you’re setting goals or not, I hope there are at least some positive aspects of 2020 you can look back on and I wish you the best for 2021, in your goals and aspirations but primarily your health and happiness – Happy New Year!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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self care tips for when getting out of bed is hard

2021, lifestyle, mental health

Hello!

I’m not qualified to give advice on mental health, but I have been living with a mental health condition that has been somewhat deteriorating as the pandemic goes on, so I thought I’d collate a list of tips and tricks I’ve been putting into practice over the past few months that can make day to day life a little bit easier, when life is already hard enough.

  • if you need to shower, have a 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner so you only really need to use one product and it feels less intimidating. It’ll only take a few minutes (depending on how efficient your shower is) and hopefully you’ll feel better for being all fresh and clean (clean, new pyjamas are always wonderful after a shower too).
  • sticking with the theme of washing, doing dishes is one of the things I find so hard when I’m feeling low but the longer you leave it, the more it piles up and the worse it feels. If you do feel up to do anything (no judgement from me if you don’t), fill one washing up bowl, fill it with hot water and some bubbles and make your way through that one bowl. Put on some boppy music, get the washing up gloves on and just get through the one bowl. I find having a definitive end makes something much easier. If you’d rather, set a ten minute timer and do whatever you can in ten minutes – even doing a little bit is better than nothing.
  • You’ve got to eat even if you don’t feel like it, but this one is worth a bit of preparation on a good day in advance – either, batch cook and freeze a portion of something easy that you can defrost and microwave or have some microwave meals or easy frozen food like chicken nuggets in the freezer, that way you know you can feed yourself without it becoming a big hurdle to climb over. If it’s got vegetables in, that’s a bonus, if you just need some oven chip potato-y goodness, you do you.
  • Download a habit app for the basic things – not only will it serve as a physical reminder to do them every day, but ticking it off can be a great hit of endorphins when you really need them! I have reminders every day for brushing my teeth, moisturising and taking my medication and it’s useful not only to remind me to do those things, but it lets me know when I’ve stayed up too late as well.
  • Little tasks like watering any house plants, painting your nails or writing a new to do list are smaller things (at least for me) that feel more achievable and avoid doing the ‘big scary tasks’ for a little bit. If you’re feeling a bit more motivated (or want to do another one of those productive procrastination tasks like making lists) maybe you can take the ‘big scary’ task and break it down into smaller ones to make it feel more manageable. Then if you want, set a timer for an hour or so to work on whatever it is you need to do, but know that end he end of that hour you’ve achieved something and that’s enough!
  • Change your clothes – even if it’s from pyjamas you’ve slept in to clean pyjamas and taking your hair down, brushing it and putting it back up again can make you feel so much fresher.

These are only little things, but on days where you can’t bring yourself to get out of bed till the late afternoon, little things like this can make all the difference. The psychological impact of feeling like we need to be on it 16 hours a day is so damaging and so hard to get out of.

When I drafted this post I wasn’t working a 9 to 5 job from home and now that I am, this kind of self care on bad days is much more difficult to implement. But I think taking it slow, communicating with your managers or whoever when you need to, and just doing what you can is enough to get through it.

Being gentle with yourself is the only way anyone can get through a pandemic – take it one day at a time, do what you can and advocate for yourself when you need to. You can to this – this will end.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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New Year, No Plan

2020, goals, mental health

Hello,

Like many of us at this time of year, December often gets my thinking about setting goals for the next year – call them New Years Resolutions, 2021 goals or anything else, a lot of people really like the turn of a new year to be able to adopt a fresh new mindset and try and make lifestyle changes.

If you’ve read any of my goal blog posts, you’ll know I’m a massive goals person and won’t be surprised that I’ve been thinking about and making notes about what I want to achieve in 2021 for a few months now. When inspiration hits I have to write it down, or I will not remember!

And whilst setting goals and the New Year can be a great new start and a chance to refresh, it can also be really intimidating if you don’t know what the year is going to hold. When I planned this post I’d been applying for jobs with no reply (though I’m now in discussion about potential work starting next year… but I don’t want to speak too soon) and not knowing what could fill each day can be daunting, lonely and hopeless.

And after the year we’ve all lived through, lonely and hopeless have a whole new meaning.

People throw around phrases like ‘it has to be better next year!’ but if we’ve learnt anything is that we don’t know what’s coming and we can’t expect it to be better. 2021 can’t be this beacon of hope where we expect everything to return to ‘normal’ – this week, the British Government have announced a lot more places moving into Tier 3 (very high risk) measures and despite a vaccine being given, there’s a whole lot of talk about things getting worse before they ever get better. So putting too much hope on 2021 is the kind of optimism my realism can’t get behind.

So 2021 is a mystery, like every New Year is, but with the experience of 2020 behind us it feels a bit different this year. Thus, going into the New Year with no plan feels impossible.

Granted, there’s always things to be grateful for – having our health, a roof over our head and food in the fridge has meant so much more this year, being with someone who’s not lost their job and is still working is a privilege and even just living with someone and having company feels like a luxury. But that doesn’t make not knowing what could come in 2021 any less scary.

Not knowing is the worst kind of not having control and for the control freaks among us, that’s where a lot of feelings of intimidation come from. But there are ways to make it easier – I’m a huge advocate for to do lists, setting yearly and monthly goals to help with consistent progress, adapting how daily to do lists are made to suit what makes you feel productive and learning to check in with yourself to learn what makes you feel calmer and happier and working on it.

Looking ahead is always scary, whether it’s a year, a decade or a lifetime, but being able to reign it in, take it a week, a day or even an hour at a time feels more achievable. Working on mindfulness to tune into our psychological and physical needs and intuitively get to know our bodies can be hugely beneficial to our wellbeing. Even things like a skincare routine and a healthier diet are short term things that are worth focusing on.

I’m not saying this from a position of someone who’s ‘perfected’ any of this – my to do list today is about 14 tasks long because I’ve been feeling a bit low this week and not sleeping well, I’ve not opened my meditation app in months and I 100% do not regularly use any of my skincare products, but I know that when I feel ready, spending time on these things will be good for me. And I will be okay.

New Year’s is a strange time of year – it can be incredibly sad to end, excited for a new beginning, grief for those we may have lost, anticipation of plans for the coming year; a whole host of emotions, good and bad. When I was younger, I hated New Years because I was so depressed I couldn’t see my life getting better, then when I was at uni I worried that things would get worse and the evidence of the passing of time scared me. But now? The New Year is going to come and go anyway, so I’m learning to accept that the year will bring whatever it brings and I can only control what is in my power.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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giving up on my 2020 goals

2020, goals

Hello!

Today’s blog post was going to be all about setting some goals for the ‘home stretch’ of 2020 and prioritising what’s important for me to work on at this end of 2020 (inspired by Hannah Witton and her yearly series!) but when I sat down to write it, I couldn’t think of anything that I wanted to pressure myself into doing by the end of the year.

I looked back at the 2020 goals I set myself in January and I actually made surprisingly good progress on the ones I could – out of 18 total goals in different categories, seven (and a half) of them are making really good progress. But many of them have been impossible with the pandemic – travelling, getting a tattoo, finding a fitness class; all these things were not a financial or a health priority in a pandemic so many of my goals have been written off.

I think I say this regularly in my monthly goals posts but it’s important to remember that setting goals takes practice – I’ve been regularly goal setting for three or four years now and I still find myself making plans that are too broad or too big or too general.

I’ve already started planning my 2021 goals (I had a moment of inspiration a couple of months ago and basically wrote them all, I’ll be honest) and I can see where I’m going to need to be more specific and where I’m setting more realistic and achievable goals. But as we learnt this year – the world can flip upside down and we can be in our second lockdown of the year in the middle of a pandemic! Being adaptable is so important in goal setting otherwise you may keep working towards something you don’t actually want.

So I’m not working on many of my goals now – some things like learning website design, film photography and listening to more new music I’ve realised just aren’t what I want to do anymore, even though at one point I did. Savings goals are put on hold because I realised fairly early on that I couldn’t save when I had no income (sounds dumb, but I’m very stubborn) and I need to prioritise making myself financially secure in the present before I can start thinking of the future. And goals like a fitness routine and a new tattoo were unnecessary trips to public places to spend money I don’t have.

And not achieving these goals are okay – it’s not like I still desperately want them and I didn’t work hard enough to make it work; things change, I’ve recognised that change within myself and I’m responding to it.

If anything, my home stretch goals are to focus on my mental health and allow myself to relax – now I’ve finished my masters, I am back to job hunting (holding back the 2018 flashbacks) but I’m taking it slow, putting more time into the jobs I am applying for and really trying to listen to my body and what it needs.

I’ve been using a scheduling app called ‘tiimo’ that I saw on tiktok (I know, who have I become?) and it’s a way of planning out your day with reminders and cute emoji icons, but it’s not in your face about productivity – I set a schedule, I get reminders, but it congratulates me on doing things even if I haven’t done them! I consider it a gentle guide to try and give my day some structure and it’s helped me with waking up earlier, not feeling overwhelmed by my to do list, actually getting the things I want to do done and feeling satisfied that I can relax at the end of the day! I wanted to do NaNoWriMo this month (a 50,000 word writing challenge in 30 days) and because my extended dissertation deadline was on the 5th, I didn’t pressure myself to write at all, but on the 7th I started. On the 12th as I write this, I’ve written nearly 15,000 words and I’m nearly caught up to the daily word target.

This year has been a bloody rollercoaster and everyone’s got their own hardships as to why it’s been so difficult, but making sure we are flexible and adapt with our goals means we can still achieve what we want to achieve, rather than working towards things that don’t mean anything.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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