Achievements and Resolutions 2016/17

So here it is, a brand new fresh year to start again. New ideas, new focus but also a good time to reflect on all the fantastic achievements from the last year. I always take a day between Christmas and New Year to do this. I usually head out of the house (most likely to my local Starbucks) grab myself a mocha and write two lists. I start by writing all of my achievements for the year, using social media and my blog I start at January and work my way through the year, noting key highlights and achievements along the way.

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This is such a feel good exercise and truly makes you focus on all the positive aspects from the year, opposed to the negative which is often what we tend to do without really meaning to.

The next list I create is my resolutions list. It’s worth noting that both of these lists that I write are kept in my notebook that I carry everywhere with me. It helps me keep track that I am actually on course to achieving my goals for the year. I look back at my resolutions twice in the year. The first is at 6 months – usually when I am on holiday in the Summer. I look at what I have achieved so far and make notes on how I can keep on track to achieve the others going forward. I then look at it again in December when it comes to making a new list to find those resolutions I can carry over into the new year and to produce new ideas for future resolutions.

My Highlights and Achievements of 2016

Passing my driving test – It took a couple of attempts but I’m finally out on the road! Hooray!

Getting a new car – My dream first car, a Ford Fiesta, 5 door in red.

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Moving into a new job – I now am in a brand new college, meeting new people and getting involved in new challenges (which involves learning about a whole new range of careers!)

Visiting beautiful Lake Garda in Italy – On my wish list for a few years now and I finally was able to go and visit this beautiful lake.

Started Hula Hooping – Through attending HulaFit classes.

My Resolutions for 2017

These are a few of my top resolutions for 2017! Hopefully they give you some ideas for your New Year’s resolutions too!

To find a new hobby – I am such a creative person and I think this is something that has truly been lacking in my life. I’m setting out to find a new creative hobby and hopefully I’ll post some of my makes up on this blog!

To go on more day trips – I have made a list of days out in the UK and plan to visit at least one per month.

To walk more – I have set myself the challenge of completing one long walk a month and entering myself into a walking challenge. I am due to have another foot operation so we’ll see how we get on with this one! In some ways in may aid my recovery!

To read more – I have set myself a target of 2 books a month minimum.\

To have a Sunday night movie – I find this is the best way to help me relax for the week ahead. I’m planning to make a record of all the movies I watch throughout the year.

To be more creative – I feel so much better when I have spent a few hours being creative. I would like to draw at least once image per month and also create one collage a month. I’ll be posting these on my Instagram too to prove it!

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What are your new year resolutions? I’d love to hear what you have planned for 2017!

Becky at Pretty & Petit

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#apovgiftswap

So here I am – back with a bang! (or for those who know me well, a crash, bang, wallop! Either way, I have left you all for so long and I am terribly sorry to have left you in a lurch wondering if I would ever return but more on my little life update soon enough!

Today I want to let you know about a fabulous initiative I’m getting involved in after stepping back into the beautiful world of blogging. This fun opportunity involves swapping Christmas gifts with fellow bloggers whilst being able to network with one another, sharing ideas, happy thoughts and general positive vibes!

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This was something that I got involved with last year and I found it so much fun! It also enabled me to find out more about different blogs and writing styles which was so inspiring.

You’ll be able to see what I received closer to Christmas and I can’t wait to share my favourite Christmas gift ideas!

This year the gift swap is being organised by A Piece of Viola who has a fabulous Travel, Lifestyle and Fashion blog! Take a read by clicking here and if you fancy reading and discovering the blogs of those involved make sure you follow #apovgiftswap on Twitter.

Becky at Pretty & Petit

New Year, New You – Focusing on myself one breath at a time in 2016

As part of my ‘New Year, New You’ series this month I’m asking bloggers to share their plans, tips and resolutions for 2016! 
So we’re approaching the end of January, and it’s gone so fast! With that, how are you getting on with your resolutions? I’m keeping on top of mine quite well, although healthy eating went out the window one morning when I decided to indulge in a packet of Mini Eggs for breakfast with the only valid reasoning of their limited supply on the supermarket shelves… 
Today Pouria is sharing his resolutions with us which I hope will provide some more inspiration on how to be more aware of our mind and social awareness in 2016! Let me know about your inspiration in the comments!
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Spending less time on social media and more on myself
I spend most of my day browsing Facebook status updates, posts, tweets and images. I follow friends, celebrities, influencers and every now and again random people on social media. I research them every day; I know them better than I know myself. That is not ok!
Fear of judgment and stigma prevented me from expressing myself and reaching out
I had a lot of ups and downs this year: personal, family and work. One pattern became obvious to me: I was scared of people judging me so I kept everything to myself. I never express things fully to my parents for obvious reasons! and I didn’t feel that close to my friends to share what was bothering me because they had judged me in the past. I opened up to my girl friend once and later on she used it against me! don’t see myself doing that again. 
In 2016, I would like to get closer to my friends and to also make new friends. I also like to share without the fear, even if they end up judging me. 

I now use Paralign to journal my thoughts, express myself, feel supported and support others.

I will meditate more

2015 I was pretty mindful but I could definitely be more. There were times where what happened on the outside, influenced my inner peace and clarity. I often dwelled on the past and things that were outside of my control made me anxious and sad. in 2016, I would like to learn more from this and let it happen less and less. in 2016, I will spend more time on my inner peace and harmony. I will try to listen more to my body and I will try to practice how to be more present. I will set aside 30 minute meditation time before going to bed and after waking up. Before going to bed to observe my day and assess what I learned. After waking up so I can start my day with a clear mind.
I tend to think just focusing on the breath can give us so much power; It is a simple phenomena yet it is so significant.
I will give back more
In 2015 I did a few volunteer work, donated money here and there and stood up for different causes. But I think I did that to mostly show off. I wasn’t authentic and I didn’t try hard to change some else’s life for the better.
In 2016, I would really like to dedicate good amount of my time to help others. Help high school students wanting to go to college. Helping lower income families make better decisions and helping unprivileged people live happier.
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Pouria has spent 8 years in health care, starting his career at UCSF and VA medical center helping advance predictions of Alzheimer’s, parkinson and epilepsy diseases through MRI and imaging technologies.  He built Paralign (http://paralign.me) based on his own journey and how he started to improve his life one thought at a time. He usually writes about powers of the mind and holistic approaches towards health.

New Year, New You – How to Gain Instagram Followers That Stick Around!

As part of my ‘New Year, New You’ series this month I’m asking bloggers to share their plans, tips and resolutions for 2016! 

Today is the turn of the lovely Louisa Rogers, who has a vibrant and beautiful blog accompanied by a fabulous and equally stunning Instagram feed. She shares her tips on how to use Instagram, how to gain followers and most importantly how to keep them. Make sure you take a read of her blog by clicking here.

Contrary to popular belief, Instagram is not an easy business. Amongst the meme pages, the self-obsessed 12 year olds and the Russian spambots lie real people who are interested and passionate about your content. The only problem you have to get around, is finding them, and keeping them interested. I used to notice that my follower count was volatile and I would lose 5 people overnight for no apparent reason, now I only ever notice the odd person unfollowing and I can put that down to one thing only…

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My Instagram pre-overhaul… as you can see there was no over-riding aesthetic style, and the whole thing looked messy and a bit crap!

I used Instagram (@louisagrogers, if you’re curious) for a long time without taking any notice of aesthetics: I guess you could say that I used it for its’ intended purpose, as a real-time photo-sharing app with an emphasis on the social! However as I became more serious about my blog, I realised that if I was going to gain a decent number of followers on Instagram like my influences @Helibells and @LisaMcconniffe (amongst many others!) I was going to start making sacrifices.

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My Instagram pre-overhaul… Once you realise how important the cohesive feed of images is to followers, not just individual photos, it’s a lot easier to use Instagram more wisely and make your whole feed look awesome and appealing.

I stopped posting random, funny moments with friends and only posting from my camera roll. I started considering using the same filters for every post to keep things quite coherent (Ps. I use Clarendon, that’s mine now, no touching) and making sure any images I post fit my colourful, slightly vintage, slightly funny aesthetic.

I do make the odd exception for a hilarious meme because they are uber-shareable, people always tag there friends in them, thereby increasing your visibility and I think humour and fashion should be placed together more often!

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My Instagram post overhaul… My new approach is still as quirky and varies, but I make sure to use similar colours and filters throughout to keep things relevant. I can thank this change of attitude for all my new followers!

I now wholly understand why many bloggers have separate blog and personal Instagram profiles , as the ultra-curated content of influencers who have over 10,000 followers is often very glossy and impersonal, almost business-like, and I understand them wanting to retain Instagram for those fleeting, semi drunk moments with friends that we all used it for back in 2012.

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My Instagram post overhaul… I even feel happier looking at my feed when it’s nicely composed!

Curating your Instagram may be upsetting at first, and I still sometimes hate how disciplined I’ve become, especially when I upload a photo that I think will fit and it suddenly throws off the entire photo-feed with the wrong colours or composition, but it does pay off. I had about 300 followers on Instagram for the first year and a half that I used it. Since changing to a more carefully considered use of the app, and hashtagging mercilessly in my comments (yes, I’m that girl – but it works) I have garnered over 600. This number is by no means impressive or putting money in my bank account, but I think it does prove that anyone is capable of gaining followers and therefore exposure by making a very simple choice.

So what will you do? Do you want to keep Instagram as a platform as light-hearted and spontaneous as Snapchat? Or are you looking to boost awareness of your blog and personal brand by stepping up your #instagame? Let us know in the comments section below!