Each year I like to share the lessons I learnt in the year gone by and this year is no different. I'm pleased to say that during 2017, I can only think of one occasion where I feel I made a truly terrible decision, which means that I really must be learning from my mistakes! Here are seven lessons I learnt during 2017.

1) It's very surprising when you're placed in a situation where you get to learn who really cares about you 

When I went into hospital at the beginning of 2017, I was pleasantly surprised by the love and support I received. My family went above and beyond to visit me a lot and keep me as comfortable as possible while I was in there. Even better were the gifts, cards, flowers and messages of love I got from very surprising sources. Perhaps the most standout thoughtful gesture was the bouquet of chocolate bars I received from the bloggers I went to Center Parcs with. At this point I'd only known the girls a few months and was overwhelmed by their kindness.

Of course, there's a darker side to this lesson because whenever something bad happens, you also learn who definitely doesn't have your back. I was disappointed in the lack of response from one or two people but at least it taught me who was and wasn't worth my time once I was better and ready to start living my life again. Plus, there were far more people who did care so that outweighs any negativity!

2) Appreciate the people you love while they're still around to appreciate

Unfortunately my grandpa passed away in 2017. Although I've lost people before, this is the first time that I've really felt like it happened before their time and it's really hammered home that life is so precious and you should show people how you much you care about them while you still can. In 2018 I want to spend as much time as possible with my loved ones and make sure they know I love them.

3) Plans are no good, you've got to take action 

I am a planner. I love to sit down and write plans. I plan my budget each month. I write blog plans. I write life plans. I write daily plans. Weekly plans. Monthly plans. I'm sure you get the idea.

Unfortunately, it seems that at some point in the past few years I have fallen into the trap of always planning, but never taking action. Towards the end of 2017, I realised I was so guilty of never putting my plans into action and as a result of this, I spent my life looking forward to things that were never actually going to happen.

My mum and stepdad came to Reading to visit me in October and I was talking to them about "when I go to America" but I realised that unless I actually booked the damn holiday, I never was going to go to America. When they left to go back to Wakefield, I fired off a few emails and when I got paid, I finally booked that damn holiday.

This is a theme that I want to continue in 2018.

4) You have to give yourself what you need

Over the past few years I have become utterly obsessed with productivity. I had somehow convinced myself that unless I was spending every waking minute doing something I deemed useful, then I was wasting my time. It meant I was resenting myself for watching TV or spending time scrolling through social media. I was becoming exhausted because I wasn't "achieving anything" and my inner monologue was just me constantly berating myself.

I don't know exactly when my mindset shifted, but I think it was around August which is when I stopped blogging in 2017. I realised the reason I never managed to hit my blogging goals is because I just didn't feel passionate about it anymore and I decided to step back and take a break. I think because I did that, I realised I needed a break everywhere else in my life as well.

I decided to stop writing daily to do lists with an insane number of tasks. I decided to do "useful" things when I was in the mood to, and rest when I felt like I really needed it. I tried to embrace a more intuitive way of living where I gave myself what I needed, when I needed it, and so far, so good!

5) Regular exercise is one of the best medicines 

My mental health during 2017 was the best it has been since before I went to university. I would never say that I am "cured" and there were certainly a few dark moments where I worried everything was going to go to hell again, but overall, I was much, much better.

I've also noticed that whilst I still don't have as much energy as I would like to have, my energy levels were a little improved during 2017 and I didn't seem to need as many naps as I used to towards the second half of the year.

Why is this? I'm pretty damn sure it was the amount of exercise I was doing. At the end of April when I finally felt like I'd recovered from my surgery, I started going swimming 1-3 times per week and I also made a long walk a non-negotiable part of my weekends. I think doing this has worked wonders.

6) Life's too short to read rubbish books

Since around 2016, I've been setting myself a goal to read 52 books in a year, an average of one book per week. I failed dramatically in 2016, but in 2017, I reached 41 - a significantly better effort. The reason I got so close to my goal last year is because I finally realised that life is too short to read boring books.

As an English graduate, I put a lot of pressure on myself to read the classics, or more "serious" literature. Unfortunately, the truth is, I don't always enjoy the classics. This means it takes me months to read them whereas I devour other genres in a matter of hours.

I decided that it's time to drop my internal prejudices about so called serious literature and just read what I truly love reading - young adult fantasy fiction. I think this year I will manage my 52 books.

7) I want to have a more positive impact on this planet

I really don't think I'm alone in this, but in 2017, I really started to learn about the impact my life has on the planet and unfortunately, it's not really a positive one. My lifestyle isn't great for the environment, it isn't great for animals and it isn't great for my health. In 2018, I want to make some positive changes to my lifestyle so that I live a life that doesn't harm the planet as much as I have done in the past. I want to be more compassionate towards animals and other human beings.

My morals and ethics versus the way I actually live my life really started to clash in 2017 and in 2018, I want to bring them in line with each other. It's definitely something I'll be exploring in the blog too.

Did you learn any important lessons last year?