How to have a new start in the New Year

skipping rope at music festival’s Victoria Mietchen suggests some easy ways to approach your life in a fulfilling manner…

Some years are great, and some years – not so great. For all our planning, we cannot anticipate everything that what will happen – it’s a simple fact that sometimes the hand we receive is flush – – we’re healthier, happier and there’s more to be excited about, while sometimes, we’re forced to take a step back or lay low, the unaccounted for happens, we’re faced with hard challenges or simply suffering through a run of bad luck.

I’ll be candid – last year was the latter for me – a resoundingly strange year. As a freelance writer, I wasn’t writing as prolifically as I had been the year prior, I had projects but not motivation to jump into them, I didn’t have my signature joie de vivre about me and my boundless optimism had trickled away. I was then dealt the card of a health scare, with a routine procedure finding growths in my stomach that had the potential to become serious if not treated immediately. My relationship with my boyfriend was good, but patchy – he was wrought, navigating the gruelling world of a family law case, fighting to give his daughter the best and, naturally, with such a battle comes a depleted emotional and monetary reservoir, and as we know, they are mutually exclusive when it comes to ones sense of security. It was a rough year all around. On top of these issues, I was challenged financially with debt, and working through grief – my parents had died years ago, and for some reason during 2013, their giant loss in life became acute, like an ever widening hole, and I had just about fallen in. Hello, depression.

I was stressed. Rationally, I could recognise this was what was going on, but I hadn’t the emotional spectrum or strength to deal with these things. I was stuck between intense sorrow, and exhaustion, for months. I was quick to flare up, feeling incredibly sensitive and trying to stop an increasing sense of hopelessness. During December, I decided to slowly restock. I was sick of myself. I decided that I couldn’t allow myself to feel so desperate forever – the health problem had been resolved and for that I was wonderfully lucky and grateful, and everything else bar my boyfriend’s battle, were matters well within my control. Sometimes you need to change your perspective and sometimes you need to adjust your sails, and sometimes, you need to do both.

We become what we subject ourselves to – whether it be our habits, vices, our thoughts or the company we keep, and it occurred to me that the more curious and hungry we are for life and knowledge and experience, and the less we focus on ourselves, the happier we are. What we choose to consume, in all ways, determines what will consume us. I was at my happiest when I was running and writing regularly – several times a week, I had less time for wallowing – if I wasn’t at work, or with my loved ones or friends, I was running, or writing, or doing something that fed my soul. I read an article early last year that took a long time to settle in with me, but it was the idea of applying compound interest to your life. By investing in the people around you, the opportunities, and your passions that compel you, you will soon see things develop– relationships and networks flower and you will feel a sense of purpose and direction. Essentially, it’s the idea that we need to water our own garden – we need to nurture our friendships, our partners, our families, our colleagues, our job, our bodies, our minds, and feed our passions – and if you’re doing all these things, and you are consistent, they beget one another, and that’s when you feel better, and often, serendipity walks in the door.

Several years ago I worked a job that saw me on six day shifts, starting at 8am and not getting back home until at least 9 30 most nights. 7pm, if I was lucky, on a Saturday. My colleagues were two-faced, my manager patronizing, cruel, and the job itself demanding in all facets. It wasn’t until a friend of mine said “that’s not life, that’s suffering” that I realised something had to give. What I was experiencing last year was the same thing; only, this wasn’t necessary like a job was (for obvious reasons) and was self imposed.

Over Christmas, my boyfriend, who might I add came out the other side of his tribulation with primary care for his daughter and a renewed self confidence, dignity and grace given all he had dealt with, gave me a bicycle. He is an encouraging role model, as someone who had encountered great hardship due to a difficult situation yet stands resilient, and persistent – and he is the same person who helped restore my optimism, by giving me the bike, which has become my freedom.

Don't be delicateSo, at every opportunity I can get, I take my bike out and I ride. I’m writing again. I’m investing in life again, and taking the focus off of myself. Even though I cannot anticipate what will happen, the good, and the not so good, I can direct how I will act and what I will do about those things. By investing in life, whether it by rediscovering the free-wheeling fun of a simple bicycle, or a passion such as that which flows from the pen, or spending quality time with my family, or getting my nails painted by my boyfriend’s five year old daughter, I’m investing in happiness. Slowing down, twinkling my toes in the grass.

Forged from the experience of 2013, I’ve put together a list of ways to invest in your life, to savour moments, and to remember that you get out of an experience what you bring to it – a big part of that is your attitude.

– Don’t take it personally; take it in your stride. It is character building. Even the bad stuff!
– Focus on the good points. Of everything.
– Remain curious. About people, about places. Read magazines you don’t normally read – New Scientist, Time, and National Geographic are all fabulously rich with intriguing texture and detail about the world, and beyond it, and delicious for the brain. Or, subscribe to a blog or e-magazine, such as upworthy or buzzfeed, to stay abreast of the world and content that is meaningful and educational, rather than hollow and trendy.
– That said, a good meme is a good meme. If something tickles you, seek more content like it. Laughter (and a good sleep, for that matter) is healing.
– Read. In general. Be expansive. Colour your life with knowledge. Your brain has no inventory limit.
– Don’t be so serious. There will be times that will call upon your need to be so, don’t add to them. Choose to experience life openly. Bring levity to situations and lives. Be an agent of vibrancy and vitality.
– Rediscover what makes you ‘tick’. The bike I received is perfect example of this. I had forgotten how beautiful it feels to have the wind rushing over your face, through your hair, flying through the streets. It’s exhilarating, especially getting caught in the rain! Plus, there’s the by-product of fitness!
– Perhaps you used to skateboard? Or used to be a killer at the piano? Whatever it is, just do it again. You might discover that the thrill for it still burns in you.
– Remember, “You’re too old” is one of the biggest lies anyone will ever tell you. Don’t believe it. If it makes you feel alive, sexy, on top of the world, perfect, then do it.
– … But not if it hurts anyone. Including you.
– Watch “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Once you see it, this will explain this point sufficiently.
– Run. Walk. Schedule time for you to get fresh air daily.
– Plan for a trip to do something you have always wanted to do. No excuses.
– Engage with those you deal with daily – whether it is your bus driver, barista or boss. Work on these relationships – build them, evolve them, you never know what you might have in common with someone, or where that connection might go (to a job opportunity, or a romance!) or your effect on that person’s day just by showing you give a damn.
– Compliment someone, if something about them intrigues or arrests you. Again, you might make their day, and you’ll walk away feeling a little more awesome too. Putting light in someone’s eyes is never a bad idea.
– Find the humour in the little things. Sometimes accidents can be happy.
– Listen to music that energises you. Spent less time with music that drains you or makes you feel sad. Like those stressful times, there will be enough occasions for sadness in life. Your life has space for one-person dance parties in your lounge room!
– Leave a post-it note in a book at the book store with a note to the reader – something that you think would make them smile. I do this, all. the. time. “You’ve got a great smile” or “you rock!” or “never forget how beautiful you are.
– Believe in magic. Miracles do happen. Nothing is for certain, and that includes the bad things we fear. If you believe in a good outcome, while you can’t control every facet, by choosing to believe in the best result, you’re orienteering yourself and therefore your thoughts and actions towards a happy ending. And if that doesn’t happen? Refer back to my first point.

These are all very easy ways to approach your life and get more out of it, by putting some more into it. When we’re productive, and satisfied, and purposeful, and move through our days with joy, our best selves, we are enabled to give more back the world. We can, to that degree, control what kind of year we have.

victoria michelle


Words by Victoria Mietchen. Skipping photo by Sophie Metcalfe.