Every First Days: New Year Resolutions

Every First Days: New Year Resolutions

It's 1 Jan 2018. I've written about New Year resolutions before, a lil' introspection on why we make them in the first place and why it's important to ensure these resolutions don't die as January resolutions. It's interesting to look back at words I wrote 2 years ago at the start of 2016, and what amazed me was how I would still steadfastly stick by what I wrote. 

Every beginning is fraught with uncertainties. Be it a new day, or a new year. And in our individual dynamics with the concept of the “new (beginning)”, it’s a constant conversation with ourselves, asking ourselves what our Purpose is for doing something, how strong our Intention is, and how much we are willing to Give to get what we Want.

On New Year's Eve this time round, my brother asked me what New Year resolutions I had. For a moment, I was stumped. I didn't have any. I used to be so excited whenever the new year came around, as I stared at the fireworks above me I would in my heart make a few wishes I hope would come true. This time, I hadn't any. In fact, I didn't feel the fanfare of the new year. I did wish my family and friends a blessed new year and a great year ahead, but it was me mostly going through the motions. As the clock struck 00:00, I stared passively at the fireworks streamed live on TV while repeatedly peering out of my window to see if I could catch sight of any in the distance. 1 Jan 2018 felt like any other day. My mind was still on 2017, not quite believing it's really over, while being filled with discomfort and distrust towards the newcomer ("What do you want from me, 2018?") As for resolution-making? We can do it any other day. As long as we're clear on what we want.

As with every day of 2017, I wished for my parents' good health and the safety and happiness of my brother who lives in the States. These things don't change. And I guess these are the only things I truly want for these people who are most dear to me. With every day of 2017 I exercised weekly, ate consciously healthily, all while battling unhealthy food temptations and laziness at times. Nothing will change in the New Year. I'll put on my trainers as always, hit the park, eat salads then burgers then chocolates then jog again. I guess this is me having found the things I want to do for myself and sticking to them, new year or not. 

Yet, while reading the previous post on resolutions which I wrote 1 Jan 2016, I realise some things remain unattained. I am no closer to writing that book I wanted to do 2 years ago. Unachieved goals like this make me slightly disappointed, but I guess because we change as people (based on the contexts we live in which change all the time), our goals can change and that's okay. Instead of a book, I'm currently working on a podcast (first episode isn't due to be out till mid- to end- Jan so I won't divulge much yet. Watch this space ;) ) 

We all love new beginnings, and it’s perfectly fine to make declarations. But with each attestation we tie ourselves to, we’re instilling in ourselves this hope and confidence that makes us feel good about ourselves, the “Yes, I’m going to do this”. Yet, it is also with this new commitment we place on our shoulders that the discomfort starts creeping in. “Did I really say this? I wish I didn’t. It’s so hard/uncomfortable.” No one likes being tied to something foreign or uncertain, not for a long time anyway. I may have said that I wished to lose 50 pounds this year. But when the runs appear to get harder, and this commitment feels heavier with each step I take, I may tell myself, ”Let’s give up”. This is when we have to call to mind our intention and commitment behind this certain resolution we made. What do we want for ourselves?

No one likes being tied to something foreign or uncertain, not for a long time anyway. Doing a podcast, as with any other challenge like the writing-a-book challenge which filled me with doubt and had beaten me down (for now), was a declaration I made to myself which I bound myself to. With every minute I spend working on it, I face an equally strong push to just give up and find the easy way out. Ironically, things get easier the more time we spend working on it. I'll call this the "First Days" syndrome, a kind of state where we're filled with excitement and trepidation to embark on a new journey, yet we encounter equally powerful pull and push forces simultaneously calling out to us to "Keep Trying" and "Just Give Up". 

And with this, I draw a parallel to the new year resolutions we persistently make every year, but never quite successfully stick to them. It's hard making them in the first place cos we're held accountable to our words, be it by others or by ourselves (who more often than not are our harshest critics). Yet, we fall prey to the "First Days" syndrome if we don't push back against Fear with an even stronger conviction. There's no point repeatedly telling ourselves "we can do this" if we are also telling ourselves "we can't". This is different from not doing something stemming from crystal clear certainty that "we don't want to". What we need, to achieve our 2018 resolutions, is an even stronger conviction to keep making hard things easier. 

A few weeks ago, I read an article on Instagram Founder Kevin Systrom's 5-Minute rule to combat procrastination. By telling ourselves we'll just take 5 minutes to do a certain arduous task rather than putting it off, that 5 minutes is all it takes to quieten the fear in our mind that comes up as we handle this difficult assignment, making it easier for us to complete the entire task - of course, taking more than 5 minutes to do so, but with a boosted mood and an achievement under our belts. Perhaps, all we need to tackle 2018 and many other 2018s beyond this one, is just 5 minutes. 

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