New Year, New Me! Can you believe we are already near the end of the first month of the new year? I am sure you have had your fair share of hearing the phrase “New Year, New Me” being tossed around within your circles or maybe you have been the one using it. In fact, if I am to be completely honest, I am guilty of using the phrase at every opportunity I have had over the last few weeks – especially since I have been consistently playing tennis every weekend this month. However, often times, the “New Year, New Me” wave sadly dies out almost as fast as the the December holidays become a distant memory. Why? Could it be that “New Year, New Me” is based on a fallacy that the turn of the year year automatically ushers in a new self, which eventually proves to be untrue?
When I was a pre-schooler, I remember my old man telling me that every year, at the point of crossing over into a new year, the sky would flip over. I believed him. Sadly, back then, I was scared of fireworks displays meaning that I always missed out on the New Years eve spectacle. By the time I would have mustered enough courage to step outside of the house and look up to the sky (typically fifteen minutes into the New Year), my dad would say that I had just missed the sight of the sky flipping over. Fast-forward a couple of years, I eventually figured that the story of the sky turning was one of the many stories that he had made up, as many parents presumably do. However, looking back at the story, I realise that the flip of the sky is analogous to the turn of the year. At the turn of a year, there is a general sense of anticipation. Anticipation at what the year holds. A new year ushers in renewed hope. This is evidenced by changes such as spikes in gym attendance and new member registrations, as well as increased church attendance among others. A bit closer to home, one of my work colleagues has suddenly (or should I say ambitiously) decided to switch to a six month no meat diet since the start of this year – kudos to them whilst it lasts.
Earlier, I mentioned that the “New Year, New Me” gusto starts to wane over time. Come February and then March, time reveals those who have stayed the course, when the wheat has been separated from the chaff. It would perhaps seem like I am taking a pessimistic view of “New Year, New Me”. Not necessarily. After all, I am one of them. What I am trying to do is figure out how to stay on course with the New Me – to be counted among the tough that get going, when the going gets tough. This leads to my inspiration for this blog post. During the December holidays, I finished reading The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman. The book has various ideas and principles on business, life and work. One of the chapters in the book, 49 Questions to Improve Your Results has a series of questions ranging from productivity to fear to happiness . What if by asking these questions, at the start of this New Year, one can set the wheels in motion for a sustainable “New Me” in the long run? Whether you are one who subscribes to “New Year, New Me” or not, I am convinced that these questions will at the least prompt some beneficial reflection see below.
Do I use my body optimally?
- What is the quality of my current diet?
- Do I get enough sleep?
- Am I managing my energy well each day?
- How do I manage daily stress?
- Do I have good posture and poise?
- What can I do to improve my ability to observe the world around me?
Do I know what I want?
- What achievements would make me really excited?
- What “states of being” do I want to experience each day?
- Are my priorities and values clearly defined?
- Am I capable of making decisions quickly and confidently?
- Do I consistently focus my attention on what I want vs. what I don’t want?
What am I afraid of?
- Have I created an honest and complete list of the fears I’m holding on to?
- Have I confronted each fear to imagine how I would handle it if it came to pass?
- Am I capable of recognizing and correcting self-limitation?
- Am I appropriately pushing my own limits?
Is my mind clear and focused?
- Do I systematically externalize (write or record) what I think about?
- Am I making it easy to capture my thoughts quickly, as I have them?
- What has my attention right now?
- Am I regularly asking myself appropriate guiding questions?
- Do I spend most of my time focusing on a single task, or constantly flipping between multiple tasks?
- Do I spend enough time actively reflecting on my goals, projects, and progress?
Am I confident, relaxed, and productive?
- Have I found a planning method that works for me?
- Am I “just organized enough”?
- Do I have an up-to-date list of my projects and active tasks?
- Do I review all of my commitments on a regular basis?
- Do I take regular, genuine breaks from my work?
- Am I consciously creating positive habits?
- Am I working to shed non-productive habits?
- Am I comfortable with telling other people “no”?
How do I perform best?
- What do I particularly enjoy?
- What am I particularly good at doing?
- What environment do I find most conducive to doing good work?
- How do I tend to learn most effectively?
- How do I prefer to work with and communicate with others?
- What is currently holding me back?
What do I really need to be happy and fulfilled?
- How am I currently defining “success”?
- Is there another way of defining “success” that I may find more fulfilling?
- How often do I compare myself to my perceptions of other people?
- Am I currently living below my means?
- If I could only own 100 things, what would they be?
- Am I capable of separating necessity and luxury?
- What do I feel grateful for in my life and work?
Since the turn of the year was not too long ago, I hope these questions cause a turn in how the rest of the year goes. A turn for the better – a sustainable “New Me”. Of course these questions alone will not necessarily result in a change, they need to be accompanied by corresponding actions with a long term view! So, do I think that “New Year, New Me” is based on a fallacy that the turn of the year year automatically ushers in a new self? I think so, but I do not know for sure. What I do know for sure is that as the year progresses, I hope I will still be a regular at the tennis courts.
All the best for 2019 and remember to put your best foot forward, everyday!
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