Striving in 2020

by | Jan 4, 2020

Talking with a friend about his plans for the holiday season, he shared with me that other than resting, his other major task was to do some ‘emotional admin’. By emotional admin he means reflecting on achievements and disappointments of the year, and  setting goals for the upcoming year. A common practice, this time of the year, evident by the plethora of headlines broadcasting: ‘best… of 2019’, ‘worst… of 2019’, ‘top New Year’s resolutions ideas’, ‘how to make and stick to your New Year’s resolutions’ and ‘declarations for 2020’. I stopped paying heed to this practice many years ago, just as in my teens I abstained from Christmas celebrations (Yep! I’m Bah Humbug. But I still accept presents). I realised that resolutions are ephemeral, forgotten by Valentine’s Day–the elliptical machines in the gym fully occupied the whole of January, come February are free again. 

This doesn’t mean to say that I don’t reflect or set goals. I do, but it doesn’t happen in December or January. Besides, I’ve found that when you achieve goals can’t always be fixed to a calendar year as there are so many factors at play, and mostly out of my control (myself included). So I approach the beginning and end of the year the same way I do every other day of the year, thankful and striving. 

Striving to listen to and be accepting of perspectives different from mine–like the bogus reasons one of my dearest friends gave for voting for Brexit. 

I strive to be open. Open to learning–gotta get through the gazillions of books I buy. Open to the surprises and discoveries of life. Just today walking in the park I noticed how beautiful trees such as Maple and Chestnut are with their bare crown; on full glorious display are wrinkles, lines, cracks and cavities they have earned over hundreds of years, no longer overshadowed by leaves, flowers and nuts. It really surprised me because for so long I  lamented how winter robs deciduous trees of their crown jewels–their leaves. Open to talking with strangers with some of the guilelessness kids and dogs accept other kids and dogs to play with in the park. 

Striving to cause minimum damage. I accept that as an urbanite, globe-trotting, meat-eating, Amazon Prime member human, I contribute not an inconsiderable amount to the impairment of the world. I offset this by buying more locally and less. The vast majority of my food come from shops within 10 minutes walk from my house (even if they are grown in more exotic and far away places. As Tesco’s supermarket ad says: “Every little helps”).  Apart from the yearly pair of sneakers I buy (they usually last a year of daily wear and tear), I’ve only bought one other pair of shoes in three years. Not for lack of wanting! But I’ve had to begrudgingly admit to myself that I actually own enough shoes (that go mostly unworn) to last me a good decade or so.

I strive to be a better human being. Be the best friend I can be–not text friends when I can just call. Put back the equipment I use at the gym even if nobody else seems to do so which really annoys me and makes me wonder why I should. I acknowledge those who make society more livable but usually are ‘invisible’ such as garbage collectors and cleaners– whenever I see them I say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’. I try really hard to do work that truly benefits my clients, and hopefully society as a whole.

All this is easier said than done. As the old saying goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Hence, why I’m always on the lookout for ideas and tools to help me act out my intentions. My latest discovery is from the book The Art of Taking Action which discusses getting things done using principles of Japanese psychology. I figured since the Japanese gave us moshi, hot sake, Yohji Yamamoto, SKII Facial Essence and the temples of Kyoto that they are certainly worth emulating.  You can read about the concepts that most resonated with me here.

So, here is to more striving in 2020!

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