Hud gaun – our Yes goal is within touching distance

Last year was a challenge, but all challenges create a time to build strength and resilience.

The hope of a fresh start and a wishing for better times to come gives us an opportunity to look at things with a fresh perspective.

I love making plans and setting goals and when there is a new beginning – such as a new year – to grab and make my own, I take full advantage of that.

I have seen a few people already setting their goals, and I fully endorse them. When we have a plan and a vision of what we want to achieve, it makes it easier to act on it.

I was also telling a friend that having goals and a set path I want to follow helps to ease anxiety, as it gives a core purpose to what I want to achieve.

When you have that core purpose, it is a secure foundation to build on.

Even when life gets chaotic, you can judge and determine how far from the plan you have wavered.

Then, rather than being thrown around aimlessly by the chaos that life can bring, you can always re-assess and have a foundation to get back to.

I started to think about my 2023 plans around November when the diary was getting closer to changing years.

A priority for me is to have more quality time with friends and family. It’s so easy to neglect this area, our relationships, and our connections to those you love and who love you.

A running theme I see when talking to others with mental health concerns is a lack of connection to others, so I have set aside time that is completely blocked off to have those moments.

I said goodbye to a few people last year and that puts into perspective the fleeting nature of life and the importance of nurturing the connections with those who are here now and treasuring that time.

Facing a blank canvas can be daunting but for anyone considering making plans and setting goals, I would say never go too big, but be ambitious in what you want to achieve and never let anyone tell you it isn’t possible, as anything is achievable one small step at a time.

I would never have imagined even five years ago that I would become an elected parliamentarian – I would have considered that notion outrageous, but here I am and I did it one step at a time, with the knowledge that some things were out of my control.

But I also did it with an acceptance of help and support from others. We cannot do things in silos. No man is an island, after all.

One goal which is never off my list is, of course, Scottish independence.

One of the ways I want to achieve that is by helping to create a Scotland in which people can have confidence.

A country that sets itself apart from the archaic, backwards-looking, and quite frankly uncaring, cold and uncompassionate institution that is Westminster.

The UK is drifting away from where we are, or vice versa – and our goals are opposites regarding what kind of country we envision. Voters confirm that support for a fairer system time and again.

The independence movement has gained a lot of traction these last few years. Recent polls have been extremely positive in our favour.

Talk to our voter base to hear why they choose independence and we will hear reasons based on fairness, democracy and on having full power over our own decisions.

I am extremely grateful to all the people who have been working tirelessly since 2014 to keep the progress of our independence alive and more mainstream.

We have the momentum and that hasn’t been by accident. It has been won by setting goals and planning all the way along.

If we hadn’t done a thing, we certainly wouldn’t be where we are now and our goal would have been much further away.

I hope this year we really focus on what matters to the independence cause – and that is convincing others to join us. It is creating an environment of positivity, of inclusion and friendship.

We must ensure nobody gets left behind as we progress towards our goal.

We must be able to show those who are swithering that what we’re working toward is possible and it’s the secure option.

It’s a future where we do not take the path of old like Westminster, which steps on the backs of those who are vulnerable, treats its citizens with contempt and gambles with their lives, which risks the whole economy on the back of ideology or which stirs up hate to bolster its own support.

We are not them – we are a Scotland that cares and a Scotland that can.

The world is watching, make no mistake – and we are a progressive and a socially just country in their eyes.

We must get that message out loudly to those who live here and who have not seen or cannot see that yet.

2023 is a crucial year for us and it’s one that will truly highlight the need for us to go our own way.

The chaos which we are tethered to is going to toss us around while we mitigate the impacts, only this time the impacts are getting untenable to mitigate.

I am looking forward to one day reaching my – and I am sure many of yours – independence goals.

Until then I continue my path towards it one step at a time, only this time it truly is within touching distance. We all have different ways of achieving our independence goal and that’s a good thing, as we will ensure a well-rounded effort, from all angles.

Working together doesn’t always mean taking the same path. We need to spread far and wide, but it does mean not working against each other.

Hud gaun, almost there, the goal is in sight.