A Year of Wellness | How I figured out what I wanted from life

I decided that 2019 would be the year that I worked on my Wellness. Each month I wanted to set myself a challenge and get around to doing something that I’d always wanted to, or actually needed to do. Month 1 has been and gone and I’m pleased to say it was a success. In January, I spent time working out what I wanted from life and what was important to me. A pretty daunting task if I’m honest (and yes I did Google the phrase how to work out what you want from life). There are a handful of things I tried (some as a result of Google)  and found really useful so I thought I would share my journey with you.

Shelley Beth sitting on the steps thinking

After a week or so of getting back into the swing of things, I booked myself a mediation session which was part of the Moore & Moore day retreat. Unbeknown to me, this was invaluable for helping me work things out and kick-started the month in style.

Meditation 

According to the dictionary, Meditation is merely ‘thinking deeply about something.‘ Whilst that may occur in a meditation session, it’s not the be all and end all. Headspace has a fantastic definition on their website “It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.” 

Meditation can be guided or unguided, it can be completely silent or involve a calming soundtrack. I opted for a guided meditation, outside of my house. I’d tried using Headspace before but would get distracted and think about all of the things hadn’t done that day. I put that down to being at home. 

A Meditation session begins with a few words on what to expect and what’s normal. You will then sit comfortably and begin to focus on your breathing. The teacher will guide you into a meditative state via breathing and thought exercises. Depending on the reason behind the meditation phrases and affirmations will be repeated whilst you’re meditating. After meditation you may well find that you cannot remember a thing the teacher was saying to you – that’s perfectly normal! 

How it helped me 

There’s something so incredible about the ability to clear your own mind, ditch the distractions, the worries and all of the other fog that’s floating around in there. Sitting there for a while, (I literally have no idea how long I was meditating for,) focusing my gaze on a spot on the floor and listening to Catherine, completely cleared my mind. Occasionally things would pop into my head – these tended to be things that I didn’t know were important or were what I wanted. Catherines’ soothing voice encouraged us all to believe in ourselves and set intentions for the year ahead. Without even consciously thinking about it, I was able to do it.

Notebook on table with a candle and skull

After the session, I felt incredible – all fuzzy and warm and full of life and joy. (A sentence I never thought I’d write on here.) I was in a complete state of calm and bliss and I felt oh so good. I decided pick up some healthy food and walk along the river home. When I got back, I made some notes on the bits that stood out to me during the meditation. It’s odd, I know I was there and paying attention, but I cannot remember much about what was said to make things appear in my head.

Post-meditation 

With a completely clear mind, I decided that it was the time to take a few psychometric tests. These are designed to help you understand your personality and you traits. I thought it would be interesting to uncover a little more about the way I think and make decisions.

Meyers-Briggs Test. 

This short questionnaire is based on a theory proposed by Karl Jung. He speculated that humans use four functions to experience the world – sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking. He also thought that one of these four functions is dominant for a person most of the time. The test will tell you whether you are an extrovert or introvert, use sensing or intuition to perceive the world, whether you process your perceptions by thinking or feeling and whether you implement your perceptions by judging or perceiving.

I turned out to be an INFJ – one of the rarer personality types. I’m an introvert who is intuitive (imaginative, creative and introspective – good at analysis, thinks about the future and trusts their gut.) Feeling, which means I use personal values, feelings and subjective criteria to make decisions (heart not head) and I’m judging, which means I’m organised strategic and disciplined. The test came out with a lot of other personality traits which were spot on for me. A couple I’d never thought about before but did make complete sense.

Writing in a notebook

The Five Point Test 

This Open Psychometrics test is a quick and simple one to do, it measures five points of your personality. Extroversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness and intellect/imagination.

Similar to Meyers-Briggs test I discovered that I’m an introvert, I’m agreeable (friendly and optimistic), conscientious (careful and diligent) and that I’m open to new experiences. There weren’t any groundbreaking revelations in the five point test, but it was really useful to read and take notes from.

Zodiac Signs

Writing in a notebook

Now, this may sound a little ‘out there’ to some of you, but bear with! I was lucky enough to see Shelley Von Strunckel (famous newspaper and celebrity astrologist) speak at WOMAD Festival last year. She was discussing how birth charts could explain some of the behaviours of influential people. She discussed Meghan Markel, Trump, Theresa May and many more. As I sat listening to her, the whole horoscope thing started to make sense and I figured there must be something in it.

Each of the Zodiac signs is said to possess a distinct set of personality traits that set them apart from the rest of them. You can drill down into this further by looking at the position of the planets at the exact moment when you were born. This would be a more accurate way of looking at things, however, I ended up guessing my birth time and discovered I needed some sort of a degree to actually understand the results. So, instead I just looked at my sign generally (I’m an Aquarius, if you were wondering) and it was bang on!

Values List and Manifesto 

Values list on a laptop

After getting to know myself a little better, I looked into values lists and personal manifestos. Mind Tools had a long list of values and I decided to read it quickly and take notes of anything that jumped out to me. I then turned some of these into a personal manifesto. 

In short, a personal manifesto is a declaration of your core values and beliefs, what you stand for, and how you intend to live your life. It’s basically a list of affirmative and empowering sentences, starting with phrases like ‘I will’ ‘I am going to’ ‘It’s important to’. The idea is that it is all positive too. 

If I’m honest, I barely skimmed the surface of personal manifestos, but it was good to get my values and beliefs out of my head and down on paper. 

Going forwards…

Now that I have all of these notes written down in a notebook, I plan on looking at them from time to time and checking in with myself. I imagine they will come in handy when I have a big decision to make or when I’m second guessing myself, too. 

Vision Boarding 

My vision board

The final thing I did, was to go to a vision boarding workshop. I had heard a lot about these and wanted to give it a go. But, like Meditation, I knew I needed to do it in a class and not on my own.

What is a vision board? 

To put it simply. A vision board is a visual tool that you create to showcase your dreams and ambitions. It is often made up of images and phrases. Vision boards have been linked to the law of attraction and are also useful tools for giving yourself a bit of clarity, or understanding what your subconscious wants. I was more interested in the latter.

I’m going to do a full post on vision boarding with Susannah Elizabeth, who ran the free workshop, soon. But, I thought I’d just do a brief overview of what we did here. After coffee, tea and chatting we settled down into the workshop. Our first task was to answer the question – what we would do if we had the day free and no obligations. We then made lists of what we want more and less of in our lives this year.

Next, we sifted through magazines and sheets with words and phrases on and cut out anything that jumped out to us. We sat cutting for just under an hour before we edited down our selection into a board. In between, we had lots of conversations about what we thought the images on our board meant, too. To end the session we had to write down what we could do today that would help us become the person that our boards had depicted. This bit was so hard but I got there eventually!

After the session I felt like a weight had been lifted, my mind was calm and clear and I finally had a visual representation of what I (and my subconscious) wanted for the year.

Goodbye January

Shelley Beth standing on some steps smiling

As we kick start February I now have a clearer idea of who I am, what’s important to me and what I want from the year. Granted, I have no concrete plans, targets or goals, but I don’t think I work well with those. I don’t like the idea of piling on the pressure and setting myself deadlines. What I have, is an idea of what I need to do over the coming months. I also have a renewed sense of self which is invaluble. We all have those moments where we doubt our decision or get wrapped up in something. I now have my little notebook filled full of notes about me and my values to look oat and reassure myself. I also have a beautiful vision board to look at and remind myself what’s really important.

So, as you can see, January has been a fruitful and interesting month for me. I’m armed with the tools I need to clear my mind and achieve my goals.

Speaking of goals, this month (February) is going to be all about sleep for me. I’ve set myself my a mission to sort out a sleep routine and hopefully I’ll be able to get a better night’s rest. Sleep is vital for so many things, including reaching January’s goals!

Have you been setting yourself goals monthly goals? How have you been getting on? 


A special shoutout to my friend Rachel who pointed me in the right direction with the personality tests and zodiac stuff.

Photos of me – Laura Stafford-Smith

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