So now you are really ready to do it. 2016 is coming round the corner, and you find yourself all hyped-up, being more than ready to tackle it, and (FINALLY) be productive this time.
“This is it. This is the year. I can feel it,” you told yourself while thinking back to all the times in the previous (and many more previous) years when you have failed to keep up with your new-year resolutions.
Obviously, new-year resolutions are super hard to keep. That’s why you need to be very thoughtful from the very beginning.
I have followed through with most of my 2015 resolutions which is why I have the audacity to post this in the aims of giving you some tips, to hopefully guide you toward one of the right directions. Since we are different, of course there are many more ways out there to write new-year-resolutions and keeping them. Again, this is the method that has worked for me, and the most hopeful I can get is to get you to try it. Just try it out.
- Where are you heading?
Now, to business. Before you draw up your plan for 2016, you should really spend some quality time reflecting on your life in general.
- What sort of person do you wish to become? Do you wish to be…
- What sort of achievements do you wish to gain in the future?
- Win a marathon
- Have a group of best friends
- Hold a PhD degree
- Own a puppy
- Raise a healthy family
The list goes on and on and on. It is up to you. What kind of person do you respect?
Maybe you respect that senior who is so chill, yet so studious in her studies.
Maybe you want to be like Bruce Lee who was very hard-working and so sure about himself, yet maybe you wish to be like your crazy uncle who has mad adventures all over the world.
This is your life. This is your vehicle, and you are the driver. Make sure you know the general direction of where you want to go.
A very useful tool to find out the ultimate purpose you want to achieve (for now at least) is an exercise from 7 Habits of Effective People by Stephen Covey. It’s pretty simple.
Just find somewhere nice and quiet. Have a paper and pen in hand in case you think of something. Lay down. Breathe, and try to imagine yourself residing in a coffin. This is your funeral. Around you are people- your friends and family. Then it is time for each and every-one of them to read out loud of how they feel about you.
Now… think. What sort of descriptions do you want them to describe about you? What achievements do you wish to have achieved before you lay down your wary bones? Be honest with yourself, and write them down.
For me, last year it has been this:
- The person I would want to become:
- Possess critical-thinking
- The achievements I would want to have:
- Remember more experience
- Meet new people
- Travel to new places
Yes, they are very vague and general, but that’s the point. It’s only the general direction of where you want your life to be headed to. Don’t be so nervous about not finding the right path. The sin here is to not go anywhere at all. Just choose a path and go. If you think being kind is what you want to be, work for it. Some 20-somethings are so afraid of possessing a trait that they would find “uncool” later on. I say, fuck it. People change all the time. Maybe, you won’t want to be adventurous when you are inching into your thirties, but who cares? You might not even live that long, so just embrace the person you want to become RIGHT NOW, and the achievements you value RIGHT NOW.
Now, reflecting this can sometimes be very confusing. You might feel lost in the wide-sea that is full of options and choices. Which ones should you choose? I don’t know. It really depends on you and what you want out of life. Sometimes, you stand stupefied by the mere number of countless possibilities you are facing.
I’ve got an advice from a 70+ year-old professor, “whatever you do, have a goal and work for it.” I had thought about it for a long time and came to the conclusion that we should just pick out a goal and work for it, whatever it may be. If it turns out to be a mistake in the end, at least we will have earned a valuable lesson in life. Especially, for you, college students. You are young, and energetic. You should just pick up a path and trot down. If it is wrong, turn around! At least now you have a cool story to tell your friends at the bar, or your children 20 years down the road. “Remember that one time when I tried to do ballet-dancing? It was awful, but awfully hilarious.
2. After having a general sense of where you are leading your vehicle of life to, let’s get a little realer with yourself. Assess your current situation and find opportunities that align with your life direction.
If you want to become kinder, for example, you might want to look into volunteer work in your community that is devoted in helping the poor. You might want to start closer by being nicer to your siblings and family, or you might want to make sure you remember all your friend’s birthdays and give them appropriate gifts. The possibilities are endless. I am sure if you put time into it, you will find some ways that you can arrive at your sweet destination.
As an illustration, here is what I have brainstormed:
- The person I would want to become:
- Kind: blood donation, charity events, volunteer work, gifts for siblings
- Intelligent: books, speeches, documentary
- Possess critical-thinking: textbook, critical commentary, talk with people who possess critical thinking
- Funny: puns, memes, one-liners, parodies
- Hot: fit body, nice skin, hairstyle, clothes
The achievements I would want to have:
- Remember more experience: living in the moment, journaling, sketching, no smart-phone
- Meet new people: social events, volunteer work, school, internet
- Travel to new places: exchange programs, roadtrips, volunteer programs
3. Now it’s time for the real resolution-writing. I am sure you have heard of writing SMART goals, and it works pretty much the same way here. Remember to write Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound resolutions. (Actually, I didn’t do the time-bound thing because a resolution has a one-year expiry date already.) Develop SMART new-year-resolutions using the ideas you have brainstormed in part 2. Here are my 2015 resolutions:
- Get abs
- Get at least 8.0 on IELTS (preferably early)
- Get to at least 1 exchange program
- Master caricature drawing
- Read at least 50 books with reviews
- Study at least 3 online courses
- Donate blood twice a year
(Like seriously these were my resolutions. I still have that piece of crumbled paper with me.)
Be as specific as you can get, and don’t try to put too many things. You might overwhelm yourself into stop doing it altogether. Just choose the things whose benefits you need/want the most.
Now that the writing are finally done, half the work is over. The other half is just pure hard-work. You’ve gotta work to make it come true. Yes, you. You alone, and nobody else. Make smaller goals for each resolutions. I won’t get into details here. It has been preached by anyone who has ever read a self-help book. Here is only an illustration:
Since I want to get abs, I must first lost some weight and then get the core running. After spending some time researching, I have decided to do 30 minutes of walking on the Air-Walker thingy and 20 minutes per day on Yoga for muscle tone and core trainings. This must be done every single day. (Though let’s be real. There are of course those days where I just skip it altogether, but let’s keep that to a minimum).
I have just learned about an exciting concept called Kaizan.
Basically, it’s the concept that you shouldn’t really try to stuff everything into your planner. You only have to do 1% better than what you did yesterday. In other words, let’s take a look at the exercise plan. You don’t have to start doing 30 minutes of aerobic and 20 minutes of Yoga right away on the first of January. You can start doing only 1% of that. Maybe start by doing 1 minute aerobic and 1 minute stretching for yoga. On day 2, do 2 minutes of aerobic and 2 minutes of yoga, and you just keep adding it up until you have reached your goal where you only have to maintain it and not add up anything anymore. You just ease yourself into the implementation. This method really helps decreases the pressure one feels when one attempts to achieve anything. It also makes you less critical of yourself when you fail to follow through with your plan, because if, for example, you miss the workout for a day, you are only doing 1% worse than 2 days ago. All your accumulation of efforts are still there, and ready to be picked up when you are ready.
5. Frequent Reviewing and Adjusting
The thing is that future is unpredictable. You should frequently check your resolutions, say once a month and do any adjustment you feel appropriate. For example, I lost interest in caricature early in the year, so I just simply crossed that out of my list. You can also add more into the list if you feel you can do it because at the end of the day, time and essentially year is just a human-construct.
You can have new-year resolutions anytime, anywhere for whatever reason. It’s never not the right time.