I have spent the last few weeks in 2018 to rest, relax, and reflect. Mostly, I choose to stay at home or catch up with my closest friends, read some books or plan the upcoming year, clean my space and sip loads of nutmeg and turmeric latte.
I have also gone a bit absent from social media, especially Twitter and Facebook (have deleted these 2 applications from my phone), and for the past week, I haven’t published anything on Instagram (but still checking some new updates from friends on my feed for 10-15 minutes every day).
I would like to simply enjoy the feeling of being me, of being alone, of reconnecting with myself, of doing things for the sake of doing it–not for social media.
This New Year’s Eve, I am at home, reflecting on 2018 and setting my intention for 2019. I always prefer a quiet New Year’s Eve, because I love the feeling of ‘closing the year’ with solitude and serenity–writing how I feel, what I think, and how I’d like the upcoming year to be.
I once wrote about creating a feeling-based New Year’s Resolution, and today I want to write about this topic again–since I have extended my previous approach; making it more effective and efficient for me. It all begins with this question:
WHY MOST OF OUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FAIL?
There are 3 reasons I can think of, based on my experience:
- They are too big/overwhelming. Most of the times, we tend to set up huge goals for the upcoming year and overestimate our capabilities to achieve those goals. On another note, this could also be our way of self-sabotaging ourselves: by setting a goal that is too big, we would feel less guilty if we fail to achieve it–precisely because we can tell ourselves that the goal is just too big/overwhelming.
- They are insignificant. If we set a certain goal/resolution, but our lives will still be relatively okay even if we don’t achieve that goal/resolution, we won’t have enough drive to pursue this goal. Often times, we set goals that would be nice to achieve, but the goal is not that important/significant for our lives. (Think about the goal of ‘losing weight’ because we think it-will-make-us-look-better vs we-can-get-hospitalized-if-we-don’t-lose-weight; can you feel how different the level of motivation would be?)
- They are never ours in the first place. Yes, sometimes our goals/resolutions are the things we thought we should want. Maybe these goals are something the society believes to be great or something our parents would be proud of. It could be something that our peers desire. We choose a particular goal, thinking that is what we want, but actually, it’s what other people want–we just feel as if we need to want that same goal to conform.
ONE MISTAKE I DID IN MY PREVIOUS YEAR’S RESOLUTION SETTING
In the previous year, I also did a mistake of not reflecting or evaluating on my life before making any resolutions for the upcoming year. I would hurriedly list down all my wishes and desires like an impatient child writing a letter to Santa Claus; without being clear about what I really need to focus on.
We need to know where we are to better navigate our way to where we want to be.
So, this year, I started out by evaluating and scoring 12 areas of my life:
- Physical/health. Am I healthy? Do I exercise? Do I eat well? Do I sleep well?
- Emotional/mental health. How do I manage my emotions? Do I have mood swings? Do I get stressed easily? Do I feel tension or anxiety?
- Career. Do I enjoy what I do? Is this how I want to grow professionally? Do I get fair compensation for my work? Do I attract clients I like?
- Financial/wealth. Do I have enough money to fulfill my responsibilities? Do I have enough savings for rainy days? Do I manage my money well? Do I spend my money wisely? Do I feel financially secure?
- Family & friends. Do I spend enough quality time with them? How is my relationship with them? Do I feel comfortable to be around them? Do I like them? Are they supportive or toxic?
- Love & relationships. Do I feel loved? Am I a loving person? Do I spend quality time with my partner? How do we connect with one another? Am I content in this relationship? Can I trust my partner?
- Environment. Do I like the place where I stay/its surroundings? Do I enjoy spending my time here, in this venue/room/house/office? Can I feel content staying in this environment?
- Intellectual/creativity. Do I grow intellectually/creatively? Do I learn new things or master new skills? Do I feel challenged intellectually/creatively?
- Enjoyment/entertainment. Can I rest and relax? Do I have enough me-time? Do I have time for self-care? Am I happy about how I spend my holiday? Do I have a hobby that I enjoy? Do I feel like I have enough time, means, and opportunities to have fun, recharge, and refresh?
- Spiritual. Do I feel connected with something else apart from the material world? How is my relationship with myself, with Source, with God? Do I feel faithful or doubtful? Do I have peace of mind?
- Meaning/contribution. Do I inject meanings in the work that I do? Do I live a meaningful life? Do I have any contribution to anyone apart from myself? Do I make a difference?
- Social/communal. Do I feel like I belong to something? Can I feel at-home and at-ease in my community? Do I enjoy being a part of a certain group/community? Do I share certain interests/concerns with other people/group?
The next thing I do is scoring these 12 areas of my life.
Because when we need to score on a scale of 1 – 5 we don’t have the means to explain how 4 is different from 5, or how 1 is different than 3, I came up with these scoring explanations:
5 – Of course I want things to be better or to improve (who doesn’t?), but even if they stay the way they are for the upcoming year, I am still okay with that.
4 – It’s quite good, actually. But I know I haven’t given my best in this particular area.
3 – It’s okay. Not that bad, but I am not happy if things stay the way they are for the upcoming year.
2 – There are some problems here. I hope I can have a better experience or be more at ease in this area of my life.
1 – I don’t like this at all. I am desperate to see changes/improvements.
With this 1 – 5 scale as a guide, I start scoring the 12 areas of my life.
When I finish, I choose 3 areas with the lowest score that I’d like to work on in the upcoming year. If there are more than 3 areas with a similar lowest score, I will have to choose 3 things I’d like to prioritize and focus on.
THE FRAMEWORK OF WISH/DESIRE – BE/FEEL – DO/EXPERIENCE
Once I have decided on the 3 areas of life I’m not happy about–the ones I want to change/improve in the upcoming year, I transfer that particular area into this 3-column framework:
On the 1st column, I write down my wish/desire about that particular area. How is the ideal situation would look like? What kind of improvement do I want when it comes to this area of life? I just write the ideal vision I have related to this area of my life.
On the 2nd column, I write down how I would be or how I would feel if I have achieved my wishes/desires in column 1. Am I going to be a different person? How? Am I going to feel differently? How? How am I going to change from the inside if I have achieved my desired reality? How am I going to think about myself if my desires have manifested?
On the 3rd column, I write down what would I do or experience on a daily basis if I have achieved my wishes/desires on column 1, and have become the person in column 2. How would I act in different situations (at work, at home, among friends, etc.)? What are the things I could do or experience? How does it change my day-to-day habit/interaction? What can I contribute to others?
>> If until this point you haven’t done the exercise above, I would strongly recommend you to do so! Grab a pen and paper, then do the exercise before continuing reading this post! <<
CONCENTRATING NOT ON THE WISHES/DESIRES, BUT ON THE FEELINGS & EXPERIENCES
Next, I look at my answers in column 2 and 3, and for my resolutions setting in 2019, I ask myself:
What is the one thing I can do in a year, in a month, in a week, in a day, in 2 hours, to get me closer to the things I wrote in column 2 or 3?
To my surprise, a lot of the things in column 2 and 3 can be injected into my life through many different ways or means–without having to rely on the achievement of that particular wish/desire! And look at your column 3, specifically–are there things you can already do right now?
Most of the times, we are blinded by our overwhelming wishes and desires, having no clarity in why we want the things we want. Column 3 is the simple things we want in our daily lives, something that we can do or experience if we choose to do so. It’s the window to have a peek into why we want the things we desire, and surprisingly, most of the times, we only want the simple things. The one little thing that can make our days more meaningful and enjoyable.
So, cheers to a simple New Year’s resolutions, to tiny steps to get closer to the person we have always wanted to be, and to those little sparks of joy that we can bring into our lives any moment now.