How to make 2020 count

New year. New decade. New dreams? Or perhaps you're dreaming the same dreams and wondering when they'll come true. Perhaps you're wondering how to make this year and this decade count, without putting too much pressure on yourself. If so, read on.

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I don't know about you but I expected to wake up feeling all shiny and new at the start of the decade. I hoped that I'd bounce out of bed, filled with energy and ideas.

Instead, I felt sluggish, exhausted and down in the dumps, after a draining, emotional Christmas spent driving all over the country, visiting my ailing mum and other relatives.

But slowly, I've got my mojo back, thanks to a major dose of the Great Outdoors - sea swims, beach runs and bike rides.

I've also let myself off the hook.

There's no need to panic. The year's just getting started. The decade is in its infancy. I have time, as do you.

So my first message to you at the start of 2020 is: don't stress. Go gently. You don't have to accomplish everything all at once. You don't even need to know where you're going or how you're going to get there yet. Take it easy. Work with your energy levels. Allow your heart to lead you. Don't push.

That said, it's inevitable that our attention will turn at this time of the year to our dreams and goals, even more so since we're at the start of a new decade. So how do we get clear on our heart's desires and identify the steps that will take us in the right direction?

Use your past to change your future

The first thing is to look back and learn, if you haven't done so already.

What did you make happen in the past year and the past decade? What dreams came true? What skills did you develop and what wonderful qualities did you employ? When did you feel happy, free and in the flow? What are you most proud of and grateful for?

Conversely, when did you feel unhappy or trapped? What dreams slipped through your fingers or fell by the wayside? And can you identify why that happened?

Now, please refrain at this point from giving yourself a hard time or beating yourself up for the things you didn't accomplish or the traps you found yourself in. Instead, use these questions to learn from the past so that you can change your future.

Did you spend time on things that weren't important to you? Did you give away your energy to other people so you had nothing left for yourself? Did you struggle to prioritise the desires of your heart? Did you let fear stand in your way - fear of success, of failure, of commitment, of getting hurt, of being seen, of being judged?

If you'd like help to review your year and deconstruct your decade, I have a free workbook that you can access later in this post. You might also enjoy reading this blog in which I deconstruct my last decade.

Identify the true desires of your heart

Next, I suggest that you get clear on your dreams for 2020 and beyond - I mean those things that truly matter to you. Some of you will know what these dreams are, while others may need to search for them.

We get clues about the true desires of our heart when we notice other people accomplishing something and we long for the same thing for ourselves. Perhaps a friend gets married or has a baby or a colleague quits her day job to start her own business. Perhaps a relative goes on an incredible adventure or an acquaintance publishes a book. Perhaps someone you know turns his or her health around.

What tugs at your heart strings? What makes you feel sad because you haven't accomplished it yet or you don't have it in your life yet?

I used to long to be in a happy, healthy relationship. I have fulfilled that dream and I'm so grateful, as well as being incredibly proud of all the personal development work I did to change my relationship patterns and fall in love.

The dream that's now tugging at my heart strings concerns writing. I have written one book, but for someone who, deep down, has always been a writer, one book isn't enough. I long to write more. I'd like to spend a few days each week writing. I'd like to write fiction and poetry, as well as more personal development books.

So what's your most compelling dream? At the end of the decade, where do you want to be in your life and career, and with whom? Why not visualise throwing a party at the end of 2029 - who's standing by your side, what are you grateful for, how have you grown, what dreams have come true for you?

Identify your skills, your blocks and your support

Once you're clear on your dream or dreams, what skills are going to help you to get there? It's time to celebrate yourself - note down your resilience, your tenacity, your determination, your kindness, your people skills, your creativity, your intelligence, and anything else that comes to mind.

But then what are your blocks? We all have them - external blocks such as financial limitations or family ties, and internal blocks such as low self-esteem and the big one: fear.

Write down your blocks. Get them out on paper. Increase your self-awareness. We can't change what we don't acknowledge and awareness is the first step to change.

Now, what support can you draw on to help you to overcome your external and internal blocks? Whom can you ask for help? Perhaps you need practical help - somebody to take the financial strain, to make the dinner occasionally or to drive you somewhere. Perhaps you need emotional support - friends, a community, a network of like-minded people, a course, a counsellor or a coach.

Don't be scared to ask for help. Remember that vulnerability is a sign of strength. Also, value your dreams enough to invest in yourself, whether that's time or money. Despite a small income since I broke down and burnt out in my first career as a news journalist, I have always invested in my personal development.

Do one thing

Your final step, for today or for this week, is to do one thing - just one thing to move you closer to your goals. What's that one thing going to be?

Do you need to reach out for help? Do you need to explore various sources of support? Do you need to invest in yourself? Do you need to create time and space in your life so that you can prioritise the things that are most important to you?

My one thing to lead me closer to my writing dream begins today. I am going to spend much of the day writing in a library near the beach with a few writer friends. I have ring-fenced my time. I have committed to myself.

It's not going to be easy. The temptation to check emails and social media will be very strong. But I owe it to myself to resist and to spend my time writing, because how we spend our time is how we spend our life. And where our focus goes, there our energy flows.

Why it matters

Finally, why does the new year matter? Why does the new decade matter? Why do our dreams and goals matter? You might have your own answers to these questions.

The new year and new decade matter to me because I'm feeling the passage of time acutely. I'll turn 49 this year, and 50 the following year. I am watching my mum's memory slip away and her mental ability deteriorate and I'm wondering how long I've got.

How long until I can no longer operate a computer or a phone? How long until I can no longer communicate my thoughts clearly? How long until I can no longer run along the beach before sunrise? I ask these questions in this imperfect, vulnerable video recorded a few days ago at the beach.

So there's no need to panic, but how we spend our time and our life does matter. 

I hope this blog supports you as you reflect on your dreams for 2020 and beyond. If you'd like to delve deeper into this process, please download my free workbook, Create Your 2020 Vision & Design Your Dream Decade by clicking here. You'll find a Review Your Year & Deconstruct Your Decade workbook via the same link, as well as the joining details for a free webinar on January 14th.

Wishing you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2020 and the decade of your dreams.

**** Free Resources & Upcoming Events ****

* Sign up for my free How to Fall in Love January 2020 webinars.

* Download your free Create Your 2020 Vision & Design Your Dream Decade workbook and sign up to the webinar here.

* Download the first chapter of my book, How to Fall in Love, for free here.

* Join my free Facebook group Being Real, Becoming Whole for inspiration, hope, and life and love tools.

* How to Fall in Love small group online course starts on January 20th, 2020. Limited places.

* How to Fall in Love Dorset retreat of 2020, Feb 28-March 2. Three residential places remaining.

* The Love Retreat & Holiday with yoga, Turkey, Oct 4-11. Limited places

Katherine Baldwin

Midlife Mentor, Dating & Relationships Coach, Author of 'How to Fall in Love'

I work with women and men who are ready to change their lives or careers and with those who want to find love. I guide people on a journey of inner transformation, similar to the journey I've been on. I know how it feels to be stuck in life and to be reluctantly single, and I know what it takes to change and find love. My book 'How to Fall in Love - A 10-Step Journey to the Heart' describes how I went from being a single woman, living in London, bored with my work and longing for a more fulfilling life to a woman in love, engaged to be married, living on the Dorset coast and doing work that makes my heart sing. I have been in recovery from an eating disorder, workaholism and dysfunctional relationship patterns for 14 years, during which time I've mentored and coached others on their journey to a healthier, happier life. I have a Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy Skills from the Westminster Pastoral Foundation. In my former life as a news journalist, I reported for Reuters from the Houses of Parliament and travelled with the prime minister. I climbed high but despite my external success, I felt empty inside. Since then, I've turned my life upside down in the best possible way. I work 1-2-1 and in groups, run workshops, courses and seaside retreats. I write for the national media and have appeared on radio and TV, most recently on Woman's Hour. I also speak to business leaders, students and school children about the importance of authenticity and of sharing our internal battles. I'm an advocate of wholehearted living. I do my best to walk the walk.