16 in ’16.

The concept of 16 in ’16 is simple; an opportunity to sit down, reflect on the past year and think about what things we did well, what things we’d like to do better in the future and, more importantly, what things we’d like to achieve in the coming twelve months.

Regular readers of BLF will remember that I’m not one for New Years Resolutions as such – I don’t like the idea of setting unrealistic goals and filling life with unnecessary pressure – but I do love any opportunity to take stock and motivate myself with some realistic goals. So here they are: 16 things I’d like to achieve in 2016. I don’t think they’re unrealistic or unreasonable, and I definitely don’t think they’re too overwhelming. If nothing else, I can’t believe that this time in a year I’ll be ready to start my final term of University before I graduate! Say whaaaat?!

A three bedroom house
This is kind of an ongoing goal, really. We’re living in a two bedroom, second floor flat at the moment. While it’s great and we really appreciate having a family home (especially as we were awarded this house after a couple of months of homelessness at the end of my pregnancy), the kids are two and nine and it’s really stressful to have them share a bedroom at such different stages of their lives. On top of this, we’d love to have a garden. Not only for the children, but we have three animals living in this flat who we would love to have easy access to the outdoors. In all honesty I think this is the most unattainable of my goals this year, because private rent is far out of our price range and there is a real limit on what is available in public housing in this area. We’ll keep trying for swaps, but not many people want to swap a three bedroom house with a garden for a two bedroom flat three floors up.

At least one A
In my first year of University it became a bit of a running joke that I would get straight Bs for everything, and I’d really love to be able to push it just that little bit higher and get an A. Last year I was really disappointed every time I got a B because I’m such a perfectionist, and because I desperately wanted to prove I was good enough to get first class honours. I’ve had to realign everything in my head though; I’m a Mum, a wife and I have a job as well as University. If I have to spread myself between those things, maybe its okay not to be perfect. But at least one A would be nice.

Write the kids a book
We almost did it this year, but by the time the idea was solid in our minds we were almost out of time. Basically, we want a Christmas book for the children. I will write it, James will illustrate. We have an idea for a very specific Christmas adventure featuring members of this family, and I hope to get it written up when I have more time over the Summer.

Vlog at least twice a month
I’ve been enjoying putting vlogs together recently, but its not something I’m in a regular habit of doing. I figure twice a month isn’t too much pressure. And hey – if I don’t do it, who cares? It’s meant to be fun, and I don’t want to ruin it for myself.

Have draft of dissertation by the end of 2016
Here it is. The big one. I’m in quite a lucky position because I already have my idea in mind for my dissertation; I’ve even bought new stationery for it and done some very primitive research. I’d like for the next 365 days to be spent doing small amounts of work on it regularly, so that by the end of the year I have a complete draft and I just need to tweak over my last term. Let’s be honest, it won’t happen that way. But its always nice to have a goal. 

Make plans for 2017 home education
I spoke in the past about the possibility of home educating Mikey, and the more I have looked into it the more I have felt that it is the right decision for our family. I have joined some Facebook groups, made friends with some home educators and looked through various resources and now I am confident that it would be a positive lifestyle for Michael. Now it’s time to start collecting my material. I also need to work on my patience. That’s a worry of mine.

Manage finances
I also spoke this year about money traps that I just kept falling in to. This year I need to be more responsible with my money; plan ahead, stop with impulse buying. I have started a birthday list in Evernote where I’m planning ahead what I want to get people for their birthdays instead of picking up lots of little presents so they have loads to open. Quality over quantity in all aspects of life.

URB@N – Nail it!
This is quite an exciting development (for me – not for anybody else!) in in terms of my University career. URB@N is an undergraduate research project ran by my University and I have been selected to represent one of the projects. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say online, but I will be working with a really cool history website to create an online exhibition, as well as working with students to find out how the University can make online research more accessible to them. It’s a really cool sounding project and an opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone, throw myself into a project and hopefully get something awesome to put on my CV (as well as receive a bursary for the pleasure). I know it sounds crazy to put something else on my plate when it is already so full, but I feel like it’s a waste to let an opportunity like this slip by. I won’t be in University forever – if not now, then when?

Sit down as a family for dinner once a week
It’s a bit crap that I even need to set this as a goal really, isn’t it? Back when I was working full-time, I didn’t get home until 8pm so I always ate late. We’re still in the habit of making something for the kids, getting them off to bed and then making something for ourselves when we’re able to relax and enjoy it together. While it’s nice for us to have a kid-free (and therefore stress-free) dinner each evening, I understand it’s important for the children to be able to sit and eat with us. So at least once a week we will sit together. I won’t set a day. because I have quite a few late nights at University until the Summer. But I will definitely do it at least one day a week.

Learn five new recipes
I just feel like our range of dinnertime options is getting a little stagnant. James wants to buy a pressure cooker in the new year and get rid of our slow cooker – it’s so heavy and cumbersome to wash, a pressure cooker is quicker to cook things and easier to clean. Along with that I want to learn some quick and easy recipes that the whole family will enjoy. Part of eating later than the children is also cooking two different meals every night. I’d rather offer lots of little things (cold meats, olives, salad, breads, cheeses, pasta salad) so that things are quick and easy to make, we don’t get bored of what we’re eating and I don’t have to re-do everything later. That way, the kids can plate up their own food and take ownership over how much they eat. No more staring at full plates and moaning they don’t want to eat it if they plated it up themselves!

Wardrobe overhaul – quality over quantity
See? Quality over quantity in all aspects of life. Instead of buying cheap bits and bobs on eBay which are ill-fitting and fall apart after a few wears, I want to gather quality pieces of clothing that I totally love and which fit like they were made for me. I am so done with the majority of plus size brands (more on that at a later date…) so I want to seek more independent plus-size retailers. Sure, it might cost a little more. But it’s important to support small businesses, and you know your clothing was made with passion and not just the drive to milk you for cash.

Fashion blogging
With nice clothing comes the opportunity to blog about it! I want to get out more to take more outfit pictures. I really enjoyed my first fashion post last month and I got a really good response from readers, so I’d like for that to be something I can continue next year. Plus, what better excuse is there to buy more dresses?! Yes please.

Work on my brand
I’ve got a big overhaul of this blog coming up, including a totally new design and hopefully a new feature or two that I think you guys will love. Once my new design (and therefore new logo) is good to go I want to get myself a set of good quality business cards and work more on getting my name out there. 2015 has been awesome for me in terms of establishing myself on the body positive and plus size scenes, so I just want to build on that more and more wherever I can. This will also include attending more events!

Help other people more
In the last few days I have received some amazing messages from fellow bloggers about the impact my body positivity (particularly on Twitter) has made on their lives. That feeling is just immeasurable. I’d like to team up with more ladies this year, offering more positivity and hopefully helping more people see the brighter side of life. That’s what it’s all about really, isn’t it?

Topcashback
I’ve set myself a little goal to use Topcashback for every online purchase possible in 2016 and see how much money I can make. I have set the release date for all cashback I earn as 1st December 2016 so it will be a little bit extra in my account over Christmas time. I’ve been using it a month and have made £30 so it’d be nice if I had £100 or so by Christmas 2016. If you’d like to get in on the action and earn cashback on your online purchases, you can sign up here! (Not sponsored, but I do get cashback for referring somebody – and you will too!)

See more of our family/friends
This is just standard really, isn’t it? The majority of my friends live in ‘internet land’, so I’d like to be able to meet up with more of them on a more regular basis. I’ve already got a pancake breakfast date set up for next month, which is awesome! Our family members are dotted all over the country too, so it’d be good if we got to make a trip or two to see some of them this year. My family 700 miles away are maybe a bit far, but my in-laws live in Dorset so a trip to the seaside definitely needs to be on the cards this summer.

I’d love to hear your 16 in ’16 if you have one – and either way, I hope you have a happy new year and a wonderful 2016.

What my friends would like to achieve in 2016
Obviously our goals won’t always be in sync with eachothers (although sometimes they are!) – good luck to each and every one of these gals. Whether their idea of a perfect 2016 matches mine or not, I hope they fulfil all of their wishes for this year.

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