Between Christmas and New Year, we have seven days. While I could have certainly spent an entire week deciding where to go for NYE, I have always believed these 168 hours should go into thinking about the best things we can promise and do for ourselves.
Can we expand our New Year’s resolutions beyond losing weight and saving more? On average, it takes only 32 days for people to abandon their resolutions, according to a 2020 report. So, what can we do to make these ‘self-promises’ stick? How do we keep them? Just be realistic, they said, and never choose a battle you cannot win.
2013 will always be one of my favourite years — because it was when I ticked all three boxes on my New Year wish list: Travel alone, learn a music instrument, and adopt a pet. For a change, I decided to actually set ‘goals’ instead of making a long list of habits I wanted to change to become a ‘better’ person.
Three months later, on my 23rd birthday, I flew to an island resort in southern Philippines — on my own. I booked a small house on stilts and spent a week waking up to the breeze bringing the waves right under my bed. I savoured the quiet, and the company of the sweetest people who knew nothing about me but treated me kindly nonetheless. I swam to my heart’s content, and listened to the birds sing. I travelled alone — and found peace.
About halfway into the year, I reconnected with my high school music teacher and asked if she could teach me how to play the violin. “I just wanted to play Pachelbel’s Canon in D major,” I told her. I squeezed the weekly classes into my news desk life, and went back to the basics of reading notes. I practised a couple of hours every single day. My neck ached, my shoulder froze, but every note I was able to hit was worth it. I was able to play a few pieces, including some parts of Canon, but I’m far from being good at it. Still, I learnt the violin — and saw how discipline and diligence can do wonders.
One night in the same year, a puppy welcomed me home. Dad got us our first-ever pet, Jack, which was half Shih Tzu, half Shiba Inu. Before he came, I was scared of dogs, but Jack changed my life. He tested my patience by wreaking havoc day in and day out at home. He was moody and bit me sometimes. Yet, I never gave up on him. I potty-trained him and researched how to correct certain behaviours. I walked him every night after my shift, no matter how tired I was. He died of a bacterial infection a year later, but I will never forget those 13 months I had with him. I adopted a pet — and fell in love.
In that year, I did three things I had never done before and, in the process, I rediscovered life. This 2022, may we all find the will — and the time — to do even just one thing we’ve always wanted to do. May we all live our best adventure ever.
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