2018 GOALS

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Happy New Year! It seems five minutes since I was thinking about the things I wanted to achieve during 2017, but here we are again!

Before I start, I would just like to say a huge thank you to anyone who has taken the time to support my blog over the past 12 months, I can’t believe I’m celebrating 3 years already.

I don’t really believe in New Years resolutions so I never set myself any in 2017. Instead I set myself a number of things I wanted to focus on or achieve during the year which I found much more motivational. Looking back, some things I have succeeded in, others not so much, but thats okay. The goals I set myself were mainly to do with my blog and growing it. However this year has been BUSY and I haven’t been able to commit the time I had wanted to blogging, I even considered giving it up on more than one occasion but I’m still giving it my best.

In terms of traffic to my site, this year has been the best, and in particular the last quarter has been my best in terms of views and visitors since I started my blog, despite not really posting much! Theres still a few things on my to-do list from last year I’m going to bring forward to 2018, the rest are going to be more personal goals to keep me focused during the year.

01. Blog redesign. I know I have been saying this for sometime now so I really just need to get on with it. Along side this I want to focus more on improving my social media platforms. I feel that I lost interest in instagram this year, however I’m going to start posting a lot more and not concentrate about the images fitting a certain ‘theme’ – I want it to be a lot more personal and hope to see an improvement in terms of numbers and how regular I post.

02. Open myself up to more opportunities. Make an effort to network more and attend events to help support my blog. I went to my first blogger event and have worked with some great brands this year but need to find the time to put ‘myself out there’ a bit more.

03. Get healthy. I wouldn’t say I’m unhealthy but I do have a tendency to over indulge from time to time. Who doesn’t order pizza every week? When I focus on something I can usually achieve it, it’s just that initial motivation to get going again. Ive had 2 months away from the gym now so its time to kick myself back into gear now. Im going to also be more aware of what I’m eating and try to eat a lot better this year!

04. Plan a big holiday. Although I went to Paris, Barcelona and had a summer holiday to Gran Canaria in 2017, I put travelling on the back burner due to saving for the house. I hope we are able to do a big holiday this year and do a few city trips, I think we deserve it! I have a few places in mind so watch this space.

05. Make my house a home. Although we have only just moved in we have started to transform the house into our ideal space already. Theres a few bigger projects which we plan to do in time but house goals for this year would be to finish the downstairs. We are hoping to have a new kitchen at some point and I would love to have the fireplace replaced in the lounge. The areas we are going to concentrate on are the lounge, kitchen and garden. I hope to bring a load of house-related content to my blog through out the year too!

I think thats enough to be getting on with for now. I’m feeling really motivated at the moment so can’t wait to get started.

Have you set yourself any goals this year?

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Spring Goals

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Now the clocks have gone forward an hour, it means we are officially in Spring! Finally, longer lighter days! I don’t know what it is about Spring but it fills me full of life and energy. So, with the beginning of April only a week away I have created a list of goals to help keep myself motivated for the upcoming months…

01. Use time productively. I don’t think I waste time at the moment, but I do think I can achieve more if I put my mind to it. It’s all about pushing myself to get the most out of my time. Im going to set myself weekly goals to help keep me motivated and focused. It’s always a great feeling when you complete a task and can cross it off your list.

02. Redesign blog. This has been on my to do list for some time now and I’m not any closer to achieving it. Changing your blog design can be very time consuming so I Just need to set a day aside and focus on this solely. If anyone has any recommendations  or suggestions I’m happy to hear them.

03. Relax. I’ve been putting so much unnecessary pressure on myself lately so I’m going to make sure I take more time to relax and not let things stress me out.  Although one of my goals for 2017 was to say YES to more things. Sometimes you just gotta say no.

04. Holiday planning. Im off to Barcelona in May for my birthday. As I’m celebrating the big 30 whilst I’m there I want to make sure I get the most from my time there. I have never been before so I need to do some research on places to explore and places to eat or drink before I go. Its always good to have an itinerary in place. We’re also thinking about going to Cuba in September so Spring will be a great time to start looking into that too. If you have been before please feel free to hit me up with some recommendations below.

05. Eat better. I want to feel my best going into Summer so now is the perfect time to get out of those bad habits. I haven’t been on my best behaviour lately but I’m determined to get back on it. I’m quite good at sticking to it when I set my mind to it, so if anyone sees me reaching for anything unhealthy, knock my hand away!

Have you set yourself any goals for Spring?

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Being your best

After taking a much needed break, I’m back and getting all personal on you! The last couple of weeks have been fairly quiet for me. I have pretty much withdrawn from most forms of social media and have had no motivation to post anything, anywhere.

My last post was over a month ago just before I went to Paris. I had all these plans to collect content whilst I was away for future posts, but this never materialised. I just wasn’t feeling it. On return, I got really sick which put me out of action again, but that was two to three weeks ago. Since then I’ve struggled to get going again and create new posts.

It started to feel like the relationship with my blog was coming to an end.

In a time when we are able to buy influence, establishing yourself is harder than ever. I would never consider paying for followers or use an automated system to post on my behalf – that isn’t what this community is built on. However, it’s hard to not compare yourself to some of these ‘influencers’.

With so many people looking to make a living from being a instagram / youtube / blogging personality the market is saturated. And with so many ‘influencers’ looking for the biggest following and best opportunities it makes me  wonder ‘what’s the point?’ in continuing. I guess its just frustrating how easy it seems these days.

Personally, I have never saw this blog as a business opportunity, I post content because I enjoy doing it. My growth has been steady, but organic which I’m proud of. Getting feedback on my posts keeps me motivated (I’m not talking about the ‘such an inspiration’ automated comments).

With growth I have had more and more people present opportunities to me, which is amazing – I feel honoured every time someone wants to work with me! However, I feel I have also have got caught up in this and have got lost along the way.

With a blog redesign on the horizon I recently went through my archived posts to correctly tag every post. It made me realise how much prouder I was of my content a year ago. I am generally happy with the direction my blog has been going in but I am always a lot more happier with a post I have put time and effort into creating naturally rather than working to a deadline or simply reviewing a product. There’s only so many times you can make hair products sound interesting.

I know I sound ungrateful but I’m really not. I’m just trying to find my feet in this community and put out content I can 100% get behind and be proud of. Rather than simply reviewing products I’m going to look for alternative ways to include them into posts which work for me.

The great thing is I can make my own rules. The time out has made me realise I need to stop comparing myself to others. I’m also going to select opportunities more carefully and not put myself under any unnecessary pressure to put out posts.

I’m still working through this slump but I hope to resume shortly… I have a few posts in the works!

Sometimes you just need a bit of me time.

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Getting Tattooed in Thailand

If you follow me on instagram you may have noticed I have spent the last couple of weeks travelling around Thailand with Contiki. Whilst I was away I had a bamboo tattoo on Koh Phangan which resulted in loads of questions about the experience so I thought I would put it into writing for anyone else who is interested in having a bamboo tattoo.

Ever since I had my first bit of ink over 12 years ago, I have slowly been adding to my collection of tattoos over the years. Although a lot of thought has gone into some of my tattoo designs and placements, I am also quite partial to the odd spontaneous tattoo. You’re only young once, hey!

Most of my tattoos don’t have particular meanings, certain pieces remind me of  points in my life, experiences with friends or certain times and places. Tattoos mean different things to different people but for me, if I like the design then that’s a good enough reason to get it tattooed on my body.

Having a tattoo whilst travelling is a permanent reminder of that trip. I have tattoos from my year out in the USA which constantly bring back great memories. So when I booked my most recent trip to Thailand, getting a bamboo tattoo was one of the key things I wanted to experience whilst I was there having always been intrigued by the process. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted or where, just that I wanted one.

So, what is a bamboo tattoo and how does it differ to a regular tattoo?

Bamboo tattoos initially originated among tribes some 2,000 years. Tattoos believed to offer protection and other benefits for the bearer and closely became tied to the Hindu-Buddhist concept of Yantra. Yantra refers to mystical diagrams which are used as an aid during meditation. Buddhist monks would traditionally tattoo these designs to offer power, protection, fortune, charisma and other fortunes for the bearer. Although not carried out by monks today, the practise of bamboo or Yantra tattooing is still widely available throughout Thailand.

The process involves attaching a fine needle to the end of a thin piece of bamboo and tightly wrapping a length of cotton around the two to hold it in place. The needle is then dipped into the ink and gently tapped into the skin.

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Unlike machine tattoos, with bamboo tattooing, the skin is punctured and not torn. This means there is a lot less blood. As the tattoo doesn’t scab, the healing process is a lot faster – usually 3 to 4 days.  Also, as there is little bleeding the ink settles quite deeply and very little colour is lost. resulting in a bright, strong tattoo.

One of the first questions I get asked is ‘what does it mean?’

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The Hah Taew (5 sacred lines) is one of the most popular Sak Yant Thai tattoos with each line having a different sacred blessings for success and good luck. Although the Yants have taken on different meanings over the years, typically the five lines represent:

  1. The first row prevents unjust punishment and leans in your favour when the area is grey, cleans out unwanted spirits and protects the place you live in.
  2. The second row reverses and protects against bad horoscope constellations and bad fortune.
  3. The third row protects you from the use of black magic and anyone who tries to put a curse on you.
  4. The fourth row energizes your good luck, success and fortune in your future ambitions and life style.
  5. The fifth row is to gain charisma and attraction to the opposite sex. It also is a boost to the fourth row.

The next question I get asked is ‘did it hurt?’ or ‘how does it compare to a normal tattoo?’

Having a fair bit of ink work I can honestly say I found the experience to be quite enjoyable. The tattoo itself was just as painful as having a normal tattoo – but tattoos hurt, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Bamboo tattoos take longer than machine tattoos and tend to be quite expensive because of this, but you are left with an intricate design which has been created by hand with a needle and some ink, and that’s quite impressive.

You also don’t have to worry about the aftercare as much either as explained above, which is perfect if you’re travelling around.

If you are thinking of getting some work done during your travels in Asia I wouldn’t blame you. As with all tattoos there are various things to consider beforehand to make sure you get exactly what you want. You don’t want to regret a poor decision so take the time to

  • Decide on a design
  • Decide on the placement of the tattoo
  • Shop around for price, don’t be scared to barter. I got mine 1000THB cheaper than originally quoted.
  • Pay attention to portfolios and previous designs.
  • Make sure everything is sanitary.

and…

Be prepared to want more. Tattoos are addictive.

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One year on.

This week I was kindly reminded by WordPress that it was my one year blog anniversary.

Going back to the beginning my blog started off as a platform to showcase films I had watched, food I had eaten, places, brands, products, you name it, it was there. However, no matter how much I tried I was never 100% happy with my posts.

A couple of months in I revisited a lot of my old posts and found I was no longer interested in the content anymore, subsequently deleting a huge section of my blog. The trouble was I didn’t really know what direction to take it in or what really interested me.

I decided to start again creating content for me and things I was interested in; sure the likes were good, but it just seemed pointless posting things for the sake of it. I took a month or so to figure out where I was heading and decided to focus my efforts on a lifestyle blog combining menswear, grooming and travel – 3 things I am passionate about. I came back with a post about Aēsop Travel Essentials, (my top post to date) that confirmed that it was the right decision for me, and I haven’t looked back since.

I still see my blog as new, there’s still a lot I need to figure out,  but I thank everyone who has stuck with me and has taken the time to read, like and share my content, as well as those who have sent me an email. I look forward to sharing another year with you. – N

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