PERSONALLY, I LIKE A SPOT OF GOAL SETTING, AND I’M NOT ADVERSE TO THE NOTION OF ‘WORKING ON YOURSELF’.
Whether you’re putting yourself through your paces at the gym, making it your mission to read more books or trying to generally be a nicer person, once you know what you want to achieve in your life, it’s amazing how much you can change just by tweaking your daily habits to reflect your goals.
Over the years, seeing my friends’ career, healthy eating and exercise goals come to fruition, or watching them finally move into that dream house, has always seemed like some kind of everyday magic to me. It’s amazing to see how that little weekly commitment to running one day powers someone through a marathon, or how all that extra work and saving eventually adds up to living somewhere lovely, or just how sending the occasional thank you card is worth infinitely more than the price of a stamp.
In brief, I’m a very big believer in the impact of small daily efforts compounding. So if you give me a recommended daily amount of water to drink, or fruit and veg to consume, steps to take or sleep to bank, I will endeavour to hit those targets, like a big geek, at least until I move on to measuring the next thing.
It’s this kind of thinking that led me to ‘invest’ in eye creams and wear sunblock in my teens, at a time when I probably should’ve been enjoying the illusion of invincibility, in the hope that I’d ultimately look a little bit younger for a little bit longer as a result.
And it’s one of the reasons why aiming to stay as flexible as possible for as long as possible with yoga and Pilates appeals to me.
Essentially, if you’re doing anything daily to make yourself feel better about your body, mind or life in general, no matter how tiny, insignificant or un-glamorous it may seem in the moment, I salute you! After all, who doesn’t like a sense of progress and achievement and of daily habits paying off?
For me, taking small steps (like making time for skincare in the evening) can make me feel a little more confident about my appearance (and a good haircut and colour always works wonders!)
Like most people, I have so many barely conscious little daily rituals, from spritzing my favourite fragrance as I leave the house, to dabbing a little Touche Éclat under my eyes and donning heels to add the extra inches to my height that nature didn’t.
And I’ll occasionally look in the mirror or, more troublingly, inadvertently flip my ‘phone camera and give myself a critical gaze as I suspect most of us do every once in a while. Sometimes it’s hard not to chase those elusive good hair / good skin / good everything days.
However, when you’re flicking though old photographs, as I did the other week while packing up boxes ready to move house, I think it’s so much easier to be kind to yourself. Suddenly rather than looking for things to fix, you might look at your younger self and notice the beautiful quality of the light that hit your face on that particular day, or the way you were looking at someone you loved, or perhaps that genetics were actually being pretty kind to you at a particular age.
It’s a good reminder that even if it’s tempting to treat ourselves as a project, taking all those little daily steps to look younger, or more toned, or perhaps just like we’ve had a decent night’s sleep and time to wash our hair once in a while, there’s only so much that we can ever really control.
On some days, the light will hit your face just so and you’ll be bathed in its glow, or someone who loves you will watch you when you’re completely absorbed in an activity and they’ll wish that they could stop time just to hold that moment. Or you’ll go out dancing and for that one night, some bar will be more beautiful because you’re in it. For countless tiny moments, whether you’re 18 or 84, you’ll pass through this world and make it more beautiful. And you probably won’t even know it most of the time.
Perhaps that’s the way it should be. Anyway, for everyone who’s lit up the path I’ve travelled on, starting with my parents, perhaps I should’ve mentioned that on some of those days when you were probably worrying over some tiny wrinkle in your clothes, or barely perceptible line on your face, or wondering whether you looked as tired as you felt, there will have been countless moments when I was looking at you and seeing none of that, because I was just so happy and grateful to be sharing those times with you.
You can change your haircut, get that dream wardrobe or maybe just enjoy a good hair, good skin, good everything day and I’ll be rooting for you (and maybe sharing the love on Instagram). But it’s those elusive days when someone you love looks at you and sees so much more than the sum of your parts that change everything. That’s the bit you can’t choose or control or even necessarily spot in the moment. But it’ll mean everything. Here’s to a lifetime made up of those moments. In the meantime, you’ll find me searching for the holy grail that is the perfect eye cream and drinking plenty of water.