As 2017 draws to a close, many of us are looking back at the year that was, reflecting on the highs and lows whilst getting ready for the night ahead to ring in 2018. Well, most people are. Unless, you’re someone like me who has decided to keep it a quiet one this year (thank you work). Nevertheless, whether you’re catching up with mates, hitting the biggest NYE parties in the city, or just taking it easy and preferring to wake up on the 1st of January sober, refreshed and not hungover, it’s no big deal. You do what you want and what you think is right for you personally- which is a concept I’ve really grasped onto this year. In the past two weeks, I’ve been thinking of what the year 2017 has brought me and just from the feelings I get about that alone, I’ve realised how far I’ve really come as a person. I’ve learnt a plethora of lessons this year and I’ve built the foundations that will make my 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021…etc etc….constantly better and better.

1. I’ve really got the travel bug

I went to Thailand- twice- this year and with 2018 just around the corner, one of my number one goals is to travel more. I probably won’t go back to Thailand, but I’d love to travel elsewhere and explore the world. I love the feeling of going to a new place, being away from my day to day grind, becoming rejuvenated and meeting new people from countries around the world. Most likely once I finish writing this post, I’ll write down a list of where I want to go next year and in the years following it. I’ve always somewhat been aware of the importance of travelling, but this year has opened my eyes to what it’s really, actually, seriously about. Until now, travelling was never a priority. Well, it was- but it was more so ranked about 5th or 6th rather than being in my top 3 (honestly, it’s equal 1st).  I looked up travel quotes on Pinterest to include here but there are far too many that resonate with me. For me, travelling is about discovering. Discovering new things about myself that I didn’t know, discovering new places, discovering new cultures, discovering new perspectives.  I believe some of the best lessons you learn in life are when you travel and explore the world, and it’s something I am aching to make a reality for myself.

2. I finally started loving myself- properly

For a lot of people, I come across as a happy, go with the flow, outgoing, confident person. In reality however, I was quite self-conscious. Not in the body image way, but more so about whether I was good enough. I questioned whether I was worthy enough or talented enough. I often asked myself “lol, as if you’d be able to do that” and all those sort of self-sabotaging comments. Although I’d brush them off and not let them affect me seriously, I still didn’t know how to tackle them properly. 2017 was the year I finally tackled my mental health problems and learnt techniques to cope with anxiety. The changes have been immense and I’ve become so much happier. The last two months of 2017 have been when I’ve seen the most change, and it has been since I’ve become more grounded and focused on truly loving myself. I’ve realised that I am worth it, I am good enough, I am a unique person that has the ability to do whatever I set my mind to. I’ve learnt to put myself first and as a result, the anxiety has dwindled. I always thought I practiced self-love, but I didn’t. Not until these past two months and ever since I have, I just feel so much better for it. 2018 will only see me more grounded, calm, grateful and happy and most certainly not letting the thoughts and actions of others impact my wellbeing.

3. Am I officially a gym junkie?

One thing that came out of nowhere (well, more or less) for me was my passion for fitness. Sure, I’ve always loved sport but fitness? Myself and fitness did not go hand in hand. Within a space of a few months, I decided to sign up to study for a certificate 4 in fitness and also seeing a potential future in the fitness and wellbeing business. 2017 saw me go to the gym far more consistently, and not just for rugby purposes. I’ve realised that the gym is my sanctuary. It’s my go to place for when I need to relieve stress and anxiety. It’s where I am most at ease. Another thing is the progress I’ve seen. I said to myself a few times how I didn’t want to get that bulky or muscly, but upon noticing the way my muscles are building, I love it. I feel healthier, happier and successful. There’s something rewarding about seeing how your muscles are slowly building up when you’re lifting a weight and it motivates you to keep going. I have set numerous fitness goals in 2018- both rugby and personal related- one of the most important being to remain consistent in my training and to aim to be fitter, faster and stronger than ever before.

4. Live in the moment

If there has been one thing I’ve decided to aim to do more of, it’s to live in the moment. Much of my teen years were spent dwelling on the future- partially no fault of my own considering the messages that had been drilled into my brain for so long. I always thought about my eventual career, my eventual love life, my eventual everything- but hardly focused on the present. 2017 taught me to just go with the flow. Sure, have your plans set out, know where you aim to go- but also leave plenty of room for other things that might show up or changes that could take place. Since I’ve taken on this perspective, I’ve found that there was less pressure on me and more so, things started falling into place more.

5. Sport is still my life

At some point, I thought that I might have lost my love of sport by the age of 20 or so. Excuse me, I just need to take a breath because I can’t stop laughing at that thought. If anything, my love of sport has only grown and become more prominent in my life. From changing footy teams to starting rugby to seeing my beloved Melbourne Storm win the premiership, both watching and playing sports have only made me happier (stressed out on occasion too, I have to admit- I think I’m still recovering from the Sydney v Bulldogs round 3 match and the Bulldogs v Essendon game in July of this year). Rugby has given me a whole new purpose and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the sport. It’s also helped me meet so many new amazing, inspiring people who I’ve lucky to call my teammates and sisters. I think it’s safe to say that 2018 is going to be sportier than ever before- from my own rugby, to Melbourne Storm to the Bulldogs to every other team I support to the FIFA World Cup, I’m pumped to say the very least.

6. The people around you determine your mood

Most likely one of the biggest and most important things I have learnt from 2017 is just how important the people you surround yourself with are. This year, I’ve become far more aware of the importance of good vibes and how this can affect my life. I’m slowly cutting off ties with people who, as cliche and tacky as it may sound, ‘kill’ my vibe whilst try and spend more time with people who make me feel grounded, confident and are all round, just great company. There’s a reason why I came back grounded and confident when I came back from Thailand 2.0- it’s because I was surrounded by people who have nothing but good vibes and who have a positive influence on me. In 2018, the goal is to finally cut off ties with those producing negative vibes, hang out with the good vibe tribe (sorry, that was tacky) and meet more people who help me grow and make me laugh.

7. Life’s too short to worry

2017 saw me truly try and put the whole ‘life’s too short’ quote to good use. I’d often find myself worrying about things that were non-existent or things I could hardly control or things that really weren’t much of a big deal in the long run. I don’t want to be 80 years old, looking back at my life and regretting worrying about the pettiest of the petty. I want to just be able to live in the moment, enjoy where I’m at, look forward to the future and just be happy and have fun. I’ve found applying this mindset has helped my mental health incredibly and in 2018, it will only make me a happier person.

8. The importance of gratitude

I had seen a heap of people and articles discuss gratitude journals. I always brushed this idea off, thinking it wouldn’t help me nor was it something I would ever consider doing. If anything, I immaturely thought it was for the la di da, zen people who would spend their days at the beach and be irritatingly positive. More or less, that’s me now. Funny how life works. A few weeks after getting back from Thailand, something happened that led me to become less grounded and basically go backwards from all the hard work I had put in to feel as good as I had. When I started a gratitude journal (upon suggestion by my stillness meditation advisor), I felt as though my sanity had been restored. Within one night, my mindset had shifted and it led me to getting back on track to feeling grounded and happy. Every single night, I write down three things I am grateful for and then I write a heap of affirmations about myself. In 2018, I will continue this practice and enjoy the process of allowing it to help me become more confident, calm and happy.

There’s a common pattern in what 2017 has taught me and brought me- and that’s knowledge of how to become, remain and be happy, grounded and calm. When I am these three things, I feel unstoppable. I feel as though I can achieve anything I put my mind to and it makes me know that I will.

When reflecting at the end of the year, many people count the material things they have gotten. Whether it may be a new car, a certain item of clothing, a new house. What I think is more important, however, is realising how much you have grown as a person and aiming to continue to do so in the new year. The same can be said about resolutions. Just because you didn’t fulfil a resolution, doesn’t mean you had a bad year. I had a look at some of the resolutions I wrote down this time last year and I can safely say I didn’t fulfil a few, or at the very least, not to the extent I had hoped for and that’s ok. It’s about becoming aware of what you need to work on and having the willpower to work on it. I think it’s important that as much as we say “this is my year” and have expectations, that we just go with the flow and just take things day by day.

Seize the day, take opportunities, have fun, go outside your comfort zone, just live your life to the best of your ability.