GOALDIGGER: How To Achieve More

how to achieve your blog goals

Goals are everywhere at this time of year. Most of us really enjoy writing down the to-do's, bullet lists, agendas, and blog-post schedules; ticking things off as we go. It energises us. It gives us a sense of achievement. We have strange relationships with our goals; there is guilt, excitement, hope, envy, self-doubt all tangled in together, pasted on a page marked "Resolutions". Contrary to popular wisdom, I know I often achieve the most when I am...free-styling, as it were. Not crossing-off a scheduled list of actions, but simply following my gut, getting things done with passion and only a vague idea of where I may end up. This approach often leaves me feeling as if I have achieved very little, even when I've accomplished a great deal; there is no completed agenda to look at and be reminded by, no scribbled-on page to tell me I've done well. And because I get no satisfaction, I keep going.

I was unsure whether to write a post about my goals for 2015. This little voice inside me kept nagging "but why do you want to share them? what are you really after?" and when I watched this video, I figured it out. I wanted the happy feeling you get when you share your goals, and receive encouragement and validation from your peers, without having actually done any of the work yet. I've decided I'm not going to bore you with a itinerary of Drink More Water, Do More Pilates, but instead, give you what little knowledge I have to quietly, and effectively, achieve your own goals.

how to achieve your blog goals

Stop Looking At What You Want To Achieve: Most goals require you to get into the mind set of a creator, not a consumer. When a novelist is working on a new book, they don't spend their days browsing Waterstones. If we spent as much time in the gym as we do looking at fitspo accounts on Instagram, there would be a lot more six packs around, that's for sure. We can kid ourselves that it's for "inspiration" for only so long, and then we have to admit it is simply straight-up procrastination. One of the best tips I ever read for online-content creators, is to look at less online content, so that you can focus on your own. Looking at people doing whatever it is we want to do is actually counter-productive, as our mind can't distinguish between seeing and doing, and so it leaves us bored with our goal. It can also interfere with our individual style or voice.

how to achieve your blog goals

Switch On Your Best Self: It's been proven that people who make one positive change are more likely to make others. People who set out to eat more healthily end up drinking more water and doing more exercise, without even really meaning to. This is partly because if we are working hard in one aspect (going to the gym etc) we don't want to sabotage it by making a terrible choice in another (eating cake for breakfast etc); it's also because we are creatures of habit, and as we shift one habit, all of them become a little dislodged, allowing real change to occur. Once we flick on the switch to our best self, the self who really gives a crap about our health, happiness, and standards, letting things slide becomes much less tempting.

Look To Your Past For Clues: Most of us have an activity or something tangible that we associate with our best self. "When I did yoga every morning, that was when I had my shit together"; "I never felt better than I did as I redhead, I really should try that again". I hear these kinds of statements all the time, and want to shake people into realising that that very thing, thrown out so glibly, could be the key to their happiness. If you remember a time when you felt better than you do now, return to it. Take that hard-earned knowledge about yourself into the future, and don't let your best self be a lost identity.

Good luck to everyone setting themselves goals and resolutions for 2015. Share the love, and give us your best goal-setting and motivation tips below in the comments! Happy New Year.

Why I Only Want To Smell Like One Thing At A Time

the body shop vanilla perfume
There is something about single-note scents that I've always loved. When I was younger I used to douse myself in Dirt by Demeter Fragrance Library; a wet rocks and dry earth kind of smell that actually makes my mouth water (wanting to eat dirt, sand, rocks, and pavement is one of the many ways in which I am mad). Discovering that The Body Shop do amazing cruelty-free single-note perfumes has been (zero exaggeration) LIFE-CHANGING for me.

There is something so literary about single-note scents. Characters in novels are hardly ever described as wearing an intricate and confusing combination of jasmine, juniper, lily of the valley, and ylang ylang, because that is not memorable, and it doesn't appeal to your own memories. They are described as "the girl who smelt like green apples" or "the boy who smelt like cut grass", instead. Single-note scents, by their very specificity, are more descriptive. They tell you more about a person. Wearing a single-note scent allows you to define yourself absolutely. 

The notes that I think best suit my personality are rose, vanilla, watermelon, cherry, lychee; usually anything along the white-to-blush-to-pink-to-red colour spectrum. During the day I often wear my Flowerbomb dupe, but at night I've been switching to this warmer, sexier vanilla eau de toilette. I plan on going back to The Body Shop to get cranberry, strawberry, and coconut. Part of me really wants to be "the coconut girl". 

Christmas: Expectation VS Reality

vegan red velvet cupcakes

I'm going to tell you a little story about a girl. Let's call her Polly. No you don't know her, shut up.

All Polly wanted to do was bake some vegan red velvet cupcakes for Christmas. She'd never made them before but for some reason assumed it would be easy, and that she would simply put on her little red apron, play some Michael Buble in the kitchen, and whisk together a few dairy-substitutes, whistling like Snow White the whole time. So she downloaded the first recipe she found (from a blog she'd never read) and skipped to Waitrose to buy soya cream cheese and cocoa powder. And for a while, everything was perfect. She put up her hair and indulged in the idealic domesticity, sighing with pleasure as she folded together the butter and powdered sugar in her new, shiny kitchen. And then something went a bit...wrong. And then everything went a bit wrong.

Poor Polly had a proper little freak out, and as she got more and more upset, more and more things started going wrong. She had invested so much into these fucking cupcakes and the experience she thought she would have making them, that something as small as curdled frosting was enough to push her over the edge. Which, for most of us, is what Christmas is really like.

We build things up so much in our minds, and never let thoughts of lost presents, shopping mayhem, cooking disasters, uncooperative in-laws or mountains of washing up factor into our big dreams. Before you know it the whole thing has gone tits up and you're fighting with your Mum over cream cheese. And in this way, our pursuit of happiness begins to sabotage our actual happiness. Unless we can laugh. Laughter is the thing that changes the ending to this story. If you can laugh, like Polly did *cough cough* and just start all over again (with a different recipe, and maybe some lower expectations) then things might not be Instagram-perfect, but they will definitely be more fun.

The £15 Biker Jacket

Pleather biker jacket and snood, both Primark

Primark has always reminded me a bit of Dante’s Inferno. It might sound like I’m making loose analogies just to take the piss, but bear with me. Both have many levels, all with their separate tortures; both have wild beasts roaming them, on the hunt for fresh meat; they have aimless wanderers too, people who don’t quite understand where they are or how they got there in the first place; and they both seem to exist outside of space and time. An hour inside them can seem like a hundred years, and if you’re not careful, you’ll probably faint from the heat, get trapped underneath some rubble and have other aimless wanderers treading on you for eternity.

But you can’t get a £15 biker jacket in Dante’s Inferno. You could get one made of wilderbeast, maybe, if you killed it yourself. Or you could steal something cool off Cleopatra (she’ll be on the level for adulterers, I should think *presses for the elevator*) but you’d have to fight her for it. So best get to Primark while you can and start practising your powerslam.

Being Watched Online: What Happens When You Write For Your Stalkers

There is an old American saying that I think of often. When a woman has been beaten down by life or her commitments, they say she has “gone too long in harness”. This expression means that in maintaining the status quo, something of her has been captured, until she lost touch with her true nature. Most modern-day people call this burnout. But it is more than that - this phrase means a woman has lost her connection to her essentially free, wild self.

holly cassell

My blog has changed a lot these last few months. I’ve become less melancholic, I hope, and featured more fun and practical material. You may think this was a shrewd career move on my part, but I’m afraid I’m not that forward-thinking. Neither was it a result of blogger peer-pressure; I felt no need to fit in that led me to write more about make-up. I did it because I was being watched, and when you’re being watched by people that left you bleeding, the last thing you want to do is hand them your exhausted, haemorrhaging heart. You may ask why I ever let this surveillance bother me - why I didn’t assert my internet space as my own, and be damned with their opinions. And you’d be right. Self-imposed censorship has cost me dear, and I have gone too long in harness.

We all, at times, wish to appear perfect. I fight my hardest against that wish. So hard, in fact, that it took me a while to understand my real fear behind the fight; the fear that without even knowing, anyone could share in the small, intimate things that make me who I am – my face, my smile, my daily ups and downs – and that they would have a piece of me, through a one-way observation that always sends the observed quite mad. This fear cost me my freedom to show you the little details of my world. I made some heavy shackles in my attempts to be free.

Ironically, there are many who will think I have written this post for them. One of them Googles me daily, while another downloads all my pictures so he can look at me, without his girlfriend’s knowledge. It is a common phenomena in life that humans will feel entitled to each other, no matter what has happened to estrange them. It can be as simple as the girl who bullied you in school keeping tabs on “what you’re up to”. This kind of stalking without interaction isn’t really frowned upon in society, it's been accepted as part of our technological culture. We even convince ourselves it is romantic, or flattering. We’re reluctant to complain in case we appear too sensitive, or like we forgot we’re writing public blogs, after all. I have to be honest with myself and say it has gotten to me, and at times it’s made me want to give up - but I'm not going to give up.

We can’t control who reads our words, or what they take from them. The only thing we can control is how we write. The little details in life – the little details that are small, but universal, and break all our hearts in recognition of their larger significance – are the reason I started writing, and without them we are nothing. Without them, we are in chains.

Christmas Break (Making Time To Do The Little Things)

blogging addiction
November was a good month here on TPC. In terms of hits, it was my best month ever, and I worked bloody hard for it. I probably worked a little too hard, in fact; staying up all hours of the night answering tweets and emails when I definitely should have been sleeping. Writing posts at 3am and then waking up at 8am to carry out my day. If I remember November 2014 as the month of anything, it will be the month of blogging addiction. I started posting three times a week, I founded a new blog chat, I hosted a giveaway, had my blog hacked (and then fixed) and as absolutely wonderful as it has been for the most part… I’m knackered.

After doing some deep soul-searching over my peanut butter toast, I realised that I’m not enjoying myself as much as I want to. I want to spend more time doing the things I love (including writing, and taking photos) and less time on the never-ending demands of social media and blog promotion. I want to stop and smell the roses. I want to be present for December. I want to put down my phone and have a better quality of life, and be aware of all the beauty and cuteness that’s around me over Christmas, without missing it because I’m hunched over a laptop all evening. I will still be blogging - I’m just going to take my foot off the gas a bit. I realise I’ve let a lot of things slide as I’ve gotten more serious about blogging. Like eating. And taking baths. Not good things to let slide.

I want to bake red velvet cupcakes in my new shiny kitchen. I want to enjoy my first Christmas in (gasp) my own apartment. I want to get some sleep and maybe even MOISTURISE (is there such a thing as dandruff of the skin? Because I have that). I want to read more books, especially wintery fairy-tales and Victorian classics. I want to do more nail art, and all the little luxurious things I never make time for. And I have got to do something about my posture.