It is that time of the year…feeling hopeful and energetic; a time to start using the brand new calendar.
Making New Year’s goals/resolutions, anticipating the great things in the future… All those great future focussed thinking and planning. Time to get excited, right?
I’m the type of person with a four-year plan, yearly, monthly, daily…. you get the picture. Of course, crossing off those items is an entirely different story. However, I always return to my favourite January activity: New Year’s resolutions.
Having a clean, brand new calendar to start the new year energizes me. Of course, by February, seeing many Xs in January does not make me the hopeful/ curious person I was at the beginning of the year.
Just last week (a.k.a. last year), I was thinking about why I created new year’s resolutions each year and realized that it’s a form of control I was craving.
Writing down what I want to accomplish gives me the feeling that I am in control of my life.
In the past, my New Year’s resolution had always been about professional goals. Winning the project proposals, making more money, publishing the work my office produced, or even getting promotions when I was an employee years ago…
Along with these professional goals, I also included everyone’s favourite, lose weight/ exercise everyday/eat healthy goal to make myself even more depressed along the way.
Over the years of trying /failing these new year’s resolutions, I realized many of these New Year’s resolutions were outside of my control.
Winning the project proposal means someone else has to give us that opportunity; getting published on the projects our team had worked on means the magazine editor has to like our work. Or even making more money is an elusive goal that someone else ultimately has to allow.
Going through each year with happiness /hopeful feelings to arriving at disappointments, even sometimes getting angry at the end of the year, makes me not the ideal person I planned to be at the beginning of the year.
Over the years, I started to accept that many things in my new year’s goals are NOT within my control.
Does this mean I should drop my favourite January activity?
I decided to look at the new year’s resolutions/goals from different angles this year. Instead of looking at them as individuals, checking off yes/no items, I look at them as SYSTEMS.
Sunday cooking days
As all my friends would know from my university years, I do not like cooking.
The idea of preparing one meal consisting of many different activities seems like “wasted time. Buying many ingredients to make one dish, and then chopping them, and then mixing/sataying them….takes too much effort.
Next to bread, milk/cereal would be the second best thing in my fast/easy cooking philosophy!
However, with the pandemic in the last two years, I had to venture out into the “more complicated” cooking arena.
With the ever-present “what should I have for dinner?” question, and also not having options for takeouts during the pandemic, I started to venture into cooking land.
I realize there are many preconceived ideas about cooking, at least within my head. First, I tend to distrust the set times for cooking activities: 10 min for prep, another 10 min for steaming…etc. There was no way I could peel tiny shrimps in 10 minutes to prepare the seafood pasta!
However, over the years, with particular constraints (aka the pandemic), I slowly had to adjust my life in new ways.
My cooking adventure had not been consistent last year. With our lives going back to “normal” (restaurants opening), I started to go back to the usual restaurant-hopping/take-out-loving person I once was.
However, I made a new year’s resolution to weekly Sunday cooking time for my family. With newfound knowledge (?), I am no longer the “cooking takes too much time” person, and I know I can whip up something quickly with the “right” (aka fast/easy) recipe.
The best part about cooking is making significant portions for leftovers! (Another plus for unhappy cook:)
Scheduling the weekly cooking time on my calendar gives me the same hopeful feeling I had when writing the 20 lb weight loss goal years ago. I know I can accomplish this simple SYSTEM I built into my weekly schedule, and it just required ME to execute the system!
The bonus to this simple system is that it will finally help(or even accomplish) my forever illusive 10lb weight loss goal!
Monthly meetings with friends/colleagues
This is another system that got developed over the pandemic.
Connecting to old friends through zoom calls kicked off the reconnection with old friends I had not seen since my university years.
Seeing my old friends on my iPad brought me back old memories of how our life once was.
Sharing our stories since those times made us laugh and cry…. Experiencing many things we never imagined in our youth, like a family death or age-related health issues and sharing them with my closest friends brought different kinds of connections.
A hello message from one of my friends on New Year’s eve day this year made me ecstatic! Her message kickstarted my own short/speedy hello notes to other friends and work colleagues since the new year began.
I am planning monthly get-togethers, both online and physical meetings, as another system I am building into my calendar this year.
For the first time in my life, I bought stocks independently.
Without outside help, I finally took the plunge and signed up for my investment account last January.
Although I had investments set up with the financial advisor in the past, I had never actively participated in the process. I guess it was a combination of fear of risk, the unknown and the laziness of learning something new.
Instead of trying to be active in my “make more money” pursuit, I let the fear of the unknown dictate my financial decisions.
In the pursuit of both making money/learning something new goal in the last year, I started buying individual stocks.
Although I have not been “making money” (like everyone else last year), I am learning a lot through the experience. I started reading the business section of the news BEFORE the design /style section of the news!
As I am becoming comfortable throwing the terms like P/E ratio, Market Cap, and Yields in the stock market, I am also becoming comfortable in my ability to learn something new…even if they seem impossible initially.
New Year’s resolutions/goals are challenging to achieve.
If they were easy, we would not set aside time to create these at the beginning of the year or experience disappointments year after year.
Another aspect of these difficulties is that they are inherently outside of our control.
They are given by someone/something else. Receiving promotions come from bosses, career-making publication opportunity comes from publications, and even losing weight is not guaranteed even if we follow the eat right/exercise everyday goals.
With years of disappointment and a low rate of new year’s resolutions, I am trying something else this year: New Year’s SYSTEMS.
Built in 3 systems of weekly cooking, monthly get-together, and quarterly investment work, I know I can accomplish these! These are not the end results but the process I can follow. I do not have to give control to other people; they are within my control!
I don’t know if I will accomplish my other “outside of my control” goals this year…but having these “my control” systems built into my daily, weekly and monthly schedules will help with getting to those goals.
What are your new year’s resolutions? Or should I ask about new year’s systems?
Happy new year:)