Why this year I'm celebrating my achievements, not making resolutions
How about we celebrate the achieved, not the unachievable?
I have always hated New Year’s Eve (too many bad memories of disappointing nights out, or queueing outside clubs in the snow, only to be denied entry due to being, ahem, 15…). But I LOVE the concept of the new year. I love the newness of it all, the fresh possibilities, the option to start again. A bit like Mondays, I love the freshness that comes with having had a bit of a break, the idea of a clean slate.
There is always a temptation to make a list: of all the places I want to go, the work goals to achieve. But if you interviewed me in December, or even at the end of January, you’d find me so overwhelmed, so exhausted with the pressure I put on myself, that it’s time to take a healthier approach.
So, instead of writing resolutions for 2023, I've decided to review my achievements from 2022 – a sort of super-sized gratitude list, if you will. These are not all work-related; I think it's important to look at our achievements across the board, from parenting to mental health to simply surviving. Here goes…
1. Having my first novel published
Single Bald Female came out in hardback last April, six years after I first started writing. It was a long slog full of setbacks and tears, but I'm eternally proud of the end result. It's had a solid 4.7 stars since it came out and has featured on various end-of-year Best Of lists, from people other than my mum. I am so grateful to everyone who has read it and shared the love.
If you'd like to buy the brand new paperback in all its beautiful yellow glory, you can pre-order it here, for Jan 19th. Thank you!
2. Starting my podcast
I launched Life in Food with Laura Price last March after incubating the idea for a couple of years. I'd wanted a podcast for a long time, as a space for people to talk in-depth about things, rather than squeezing it all into a 600-word article.
I've published 18 episodes on everything from Food and Love to Food and Heartbreak, and there are four more episodes to come in season two.
I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if this podcast is worth all the time I spend researching, editing and creating social media content to promote it, and I’ll write a post on my podcast learnings at some point. But according to Spotify, the podcast is in the top 10% most shared globally, which is an incredible statistic, even if I have no idea how they came to it. Listen here:
3. Celebrating 10 years 'cancer-free'
While it may seem laughable now that we know my cancer was quietly lurking in my body all along, I’m still celebrating the fact that I actually LIVED for a full decade after my first breast cancer diagnosis in June 2012.
The night before my cancerversary in June 2022, I cried myself to sleep, because I knew the new diagnosis was coming. The next day, I jumped into the ocean, then had a really wonderful meal with my soon-to-be fiancé. We raised a glass to life, whatever that life may be, and we tried to enjoy the last two weeks before we knew-knew.
4. Being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer
This might not sound like an achievement, but Christ it was hard work getting that diagnosis, and without that diagnosis I would be in very deep waters indeed by now.
Recently I found a hospital letter from January 2022 where I was discharged from cancer care, despite mentioning difficulty breathing and suspected metastasis in my sternum bone. Despite saying all the right things, I somehow slipped through the net.
It was almost seven months later that I finally got the right tests and, in turn, the right treatment, which is now doing its thing. So yep, my diagnosis was the achievement to end all achievements.
5. Getting engaged (and becoming a step-mum)
Anyone who's ever been single and looking for love will know that finding the one is HARD WORK. As much as you might want to be a hermit, you won't meet The One while watching Love Island in a porridge-stained hoodie on your sofa.
In some ways, lockdown was a blessing for me because it paved the way for video dating and I was able to meet the love of my life from the comfort of my own living room, with a cat on my lap. Somehow, after many years single and very much set in my ways, I've not only managed to see a relationship through to engagement, but I’m also soon-to-be official stepmother to three wonderful young women.
6. Turning 40
Cancer tried to kill me when I was 29 and again at 39, so every birthday is an achievement. As Tiffany Philippou writes in her memoir about her boyfriend’s suicide: ‘To celebrate birthdays is to celebrate life.’ I love the idea of embracing old age, grey hairs and all.
7. Writing for my favourite magazines
When I went freelance, one of my goals was to write a certain amount of magazine features. I’d written about food for a bunch of amazing magazines including Foodism, Noble Rot and Condé Nast Traveller, but in 2022 I opened up my heart and wrote some incredibly intimate pieces about my cancer experience for two of my favourite magazines, Red and You, and another for the Irish Sunday Independent.
This, for me, was a journey outside my comfort zone because I was sharing something so personal, but the responses to those pieces have been amazing, and they’ve shown me that anything that feels really scary is probably a risk worth taking. There’s another piece coming out soon, but in the meantime, if you like my writing, you can read the published articles below…
‘Ireland saved my life’ for the Sunday Independent
‘A story of friendship and breast cancer’ for Red
‘This is what incurable cancer looks like’ for You
Resolutions vs achievements
Resolutions and new year goal setting can be good if you set yourself measurable, achievable targets and make a plan to check in on them. But alongside this, I highly recommend reviewing the achievements and progress you’ve already made.
It’s like the difference between looking at someone else’s aspirational Instagram and flicking through your own Facebook photos. You can beat yourself up over everything you’re yet to achieve (which everyone else is seemingly achieving) but the chances are you’ve already accomplished more than you know. Now give yourself a pat on the back.
What were your main achievements for 2022? Hit me with them!
A rundown of the stuff I’m loving right now.
What I’ve been reading:
— Fling by Joseph Murray. This is the debut novel from an Irish writer, about a couple who turn to a cheating app when their marriage goes stale. It’s hilarious and absolutely BEGGING for the big screen. Out Feb 2nd.
— Preloved by Lauren Bravo. My fellow food writer has written her first novel and it’s heartwarming and delicious in equal measure. It’s about a lonely young woman called Gwen who finds community in her local charity shop. I’ve also recorded an episode of my podcast with Lauren and I can’t waiiiiit to share it with you. Out April 27th.
— Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley. Gritty and sickening, yet incredibly readable, it’s the story of a 17-year-old girl turns to sex work to survive. This was recommended by the now-defunct Pandora’s Books, but the good news is Pandora Sykes is launching a books newsletter in January, and I’m here for it. Out now.
What I’ve been eating*:
*aside from Quality Street and endless roast potatoes
— We celebrated Mark’s birthday with a truly outstanding tasting menu at Jöro in Sheffield. We also stayed at House of Jöro, which is a brilliant value boutique hotel with an incredible breakfast, for anyone who fancies a staycation.
— Lisboeta. I celebrated my 40th here with a friend in the summer, and was invited back recently to try a few more dishes. It’s such a special place, led by the talented Nuno Mendes. Don’t miss the Goan-spiced pork pies and the seafood rice.
— Lima London. I was invited back many years after my last visit, and loved it, particularly the classic ceviche, the otoro tuna, and the fancy desserts. Chef Roberto Sihuay has done a great job, and he’s also revamped sister restaurant Lima Floral.
A few bits and bobs… Firstly, I’ve been writing regular updates about my breast cancer treatment, which you can catch up on under the Chapter Two tab on my homepage. There’s another update coming in a week or so.
Secondly, I plan to offer a paid subscription option on this newsletter in the coming months. I will still be offering some content for free, but it’s time to ask you to support me as a writer, in return for some great content. (Details soon)
In other news… please pre-order the Single Bald Female paperback! It’s out in less than two weeks and it’s as cheap as the cost of two greetings cards!
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Hooray to that!
"As much as you might want to be a hermit, you won't meet The One while watching Love Island in a porridge-stained hoodie on your sofa."
How dare you call me out like this, Laura!! Ha, but in all seriousness, what an amazing year you've had. I hope writing it out like this helped you see the good in 2022. I did the same and was amazed to read it back. Hope you'll have lots more exciting and brilliant things on the list for next year!