We can do hard things.
Not that anyone owns this simple five word sentence, but women the world over like myself will recognise this empowering mantra as unpacked by New York Times bestselling author Glennon Doyle in the amazing, life-changing ‘Untamed’. Having spent 20 years lost to bulimia and alcoholism, Glennon has spent the past 15 years proving that she, and all of us, can live by this daily reminder to keep doing the hard and good work. I attribute this powerful affirmation’s place in my headspace in these last few months to Glennon. I’ve repeated it many times a day to myself. Setting up a new business initiative is hard. Setting up a new business initiative in the middle of a pandemic is extra hard. But we can do hard things.
We can do anything we decide to do.
So it may takes months and years of dedication and hard work and we may never do it as well as we picture ourselves doing it in our head, but we can. We can do anything we decide to do. In the year in which I turned 50, I signed up to do the Great North Run, the local but nationally renowned half marathon. I could not run. I had lived with that truth for 49 years. But with nine months of focused daily training, I transformed myself into a runner. On the day, I ran those 13 miles without stopping once and came in under three hours. It was one of the greatest achievements of my life, boosting my confidence and self-belief beyond measure.
This Girl Can
Launched by SportEngland in 2015, This Girl Can celebrates active women who are doing their thing no matter how they do it, how they look or even how sweaty they get – women like me (nearly three million of us to date!) who believed they could not and yet had the visions and determination to prove themselves and everyone else wrong.
I will not listen if you tell me you can’t run or swim or do yoga or whatever your thing you believe you can’t do is. You can. We can. We can do hard things.
Look at all the hard things we have done
This time last year, we had absolutely no idea of what the next year would hold and the huge challenges we would all face. If someone had told you what would be asked of all of us, you would not have believed it. We have adapted amazingly. We have coped with immense heartache and isolation and fear. We now wear a mask in public. We have not enjoyed a night out in a pub or restaurant, cinema or theatre for months. We did not manage to fly away to the sun for our holidays. Apart from on Christmas Day, we have not even welcomed visitors in our home. We have not had a coffee with friends.
We can do hard things. We have proved that this year.
We can keep doing hard things
When we emerge from this pandemic, we will emerge forever changed. And there will be a choice to be made: to return to how things were or to create a new normal. The choice will not entirely be our own: the retail and hospitality landscapes will have irrevocably changed. But we can choose to change our consumer and lifestyle habits. Remember, we have already proved we can do hard things. Back in 2019, in her collection of essays ‘On Fire’, Naomi Klein present the idea of a Green New Deal, citing the period after the Second World War as a time when dramatic change to society happened fast and on a large scale. Now we do not need to look so far back into history for an example of such a change. If we put our minds to it, we can adopt changes that feel hard, if we believe they are essential for health across the globe. We are facing a climate emergency and such radical changes are needed to change the fate of the planet and all its inhabitants.
So don’t tell me that level of radical change is impossible. It is not. It may be uncomfortable but it is not impossible. We have proved this year we can do the impossible.
What hard thing will you choose to do?
On Wednesday 17 February, many people will choose to give something they care about up for the 40 days of Lent, that religiously significant period of reflection and abstinence. And we’ve just emerged from Dry January, in which 6.5 million people in the UK gave up alcohol for a whole month, and Veganuary, where 582,538 people adopted an entirely plant-based diet for a month. Maybe this is the place to start in exploring lifestyle changes that can make a difference to the world in which we live.
‘But I can’t give up cheese, I love it too much.’
‘I can’t live without chocolate.’
‘I can’t wear preloved clothes.’
‘I can’t do without my holiday in the sun.’
You can. You really can. We can do hard things, remember. You may not want to, and that is your personal decision, but it is a choice.
Buy Nothing New
Choosing to buy nothing new in terms of clothes for a set period is a way for you to explore changing your relationship with fashion. By ‘new’, I mean new ‘new’, not preloved ‘new to you’ items! Be warned: most people I know who’ve tried it never look back. There’s a whole community of people out there, supporting each other in their desire to buy nothing new, and they look fab!
It will be hard to change the habit of a lifetime and a dependence on the buzz of shiny new items, but we can do hard things. So how about not buying anything new for the 40 days of Lent? Let me know if you want support and encouragement in your decision and I’ll be there to cheer you on!
Take a look at these two blogs to get you started: