Make Three Wishes

Hi all,

It’s that time of the year again. Time to write a post to reflect on my journey so far.

Obviously, a lot of things have happened since I celebrated my birthday last year. It feels like it was just yesterday that I wrote this “my 10220th day on earth is coming”.

Birthday is a time to celebrate, relax and reminisce. For this post, I’m going to put milestone markings in each month that has passed, the five elements that I always hold dear to my heart;

health, home, love, dreams, friendships

so here we go,

Sep 2014 [dreams]

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Blew these candles on the day itself. It’s a yummy durian cake from my dear sister and her boyfriend. It’s also the beginning of a year-long work and play, building up a hectic but enjoyable schedule of working, teaching, volleyball games, date nights, movie nights and everything else in between. It was the start of a slow transformation and meaningful baby steps towards a better work & life balance.

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Oct – Nov 2014 [health  & dreams]

These 2 months were filled with teaching schedule and volleyball games. Beside the classroom teaching job for Indonesian language, I started accepting some private tuition jobs teaching English to Primary school kids living near my place.

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Dec 2014 [home & friendships]

Organized and attended several gatherings with friends and colleagues every week. They were fun and dine activities. At the end of the month, I flew back home and celebrated the new year surrounded by my beloved parents and siblings.

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Jan 2015 [home & health]

Time to face the  real deal together as a family, we burnt a hole in our pockets but it was for the greater good. Health is always number 1 in my book. Every year, I’d wish for the health of all my family members and loved ones (friends and romantic partner), and for them to be protected from any harm, be safe and  sound wherever they are.

Feb 2015 [home & love & friendships]

It was the peak of uncertain moment in my love life. We were not together yet, I’ve almost given up any hope of ever being together.  It’s been almost a year of dating with no next-level commitment. The situation inspired me to write this post and also made the decision to join my friend on her trip this September.

After an additional confusion on Valentine’s day, I went home for the annual CNY celebration, had fun, met old friends and forgot about it for a while. Several girls’ talks & heart-to-heart later, I returned to SG and determined to (somehow) solve this uncertainty. I was afraid of rejection but still hopeful.

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Mar – Apr 2015 [love]

One fateful night after a usual movie date night, I decided to throw a “bait” at him and he caught it *and subsequently ate ‘it’. Hooray!*. We started talking about us, instead of some other random things. Several questions and phone calls in the next few days, we were finally together as a couple. I still remember that awkward conversation while slurping our noodles. It was one of my fondest memories from our date nights.

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May 2015 [home & love]

We were going steady and got better at discussing the relationship whenever it’s needed. Treating each other with respect, showing our love in various ways (we have the same love language *yay*), being honest to each other and committed to this relationship despite our busy schedules. It’s that kind of relationship that I described in “Respect, Love, Loyalty, Commitment”.

Two months on, inspiration came and I wrote this post,

In between those dates and my busy schedule, you were always around. Hike or bike on Sunday afternoons, little gifts every time we met or after your trips abroad, movie nights spent watching animations, had fun and laugh together on dates, just you and me. There were a lot of those small things that were impossible to ignore. I obviously noticed how you treated me differently. There were “something” more than we care to admit. We were probably afraid of being “friend-zoned” by each other. In those months, we’d talk about anything under the sky, except about love and relationship, EXCEPT about us. Anyway, long story short, you and I have finally overcome that barrier. (l5t, 15 May 2015, Connecting the Dots)

In between all that new-love-fluttering-heart syndrome, I got the notification to move out from my then-room. I searched for new rooms on the web, arranged some viewings and signed a tenancy agreement within 3 days. I was super-efficient. My parents were also in town at the end of May, so I was rushing to close a deal immediately. It was a fun and busy month.

Jun 2015 [home & love & health]

Moved to new place with the help of my sister and the boyfriends. Luckily, my new place was just a few blocks away. Moving my stuff and re-arranging them were a lot easier than expected. Watched some volleyball matches during SEA Games and cycled together with friends.

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Jul – Aug 2015 [home, love, dreams, friendships]

Working and teaching during weekdays; singing, dining and relaxing during weekends. Life went back to its normal pace, no hustle and bustle of finding new place or the crazy jitters of new love *though I believe in giving some surprises once in a while to spice things up* There were plenty of holidays in these two months and I spent my time dipping in and out of holiday and/or working mood; preparing for the long-awaited trip in September versus. re-arranging my teaching schedule for the rest of the year.

Anyway, as I typed this I looked back at what I wrote before and found the same wisdom as before, so I quote,

Life is too short to be spent on worries and regrets and forever going with the flow with no specific purpose in life. I believe in finding my purpose, making plans, executing them and then I’ll go with the flow after I’ve done my part. We should always strive to be a better person and choose what’s best for ourselves and our loved ones. For me, I want to live healthily and happily doing whatever I want in life with integrity. (l5t, 13 Aug 2014)

Now the difference is, I get to share my life with that special someone.

Most importantly, I know that I want to have this kind of relationship one day, with respect, love, loyalty, commitment; and put my heart on the sleeve more frequently, instead of hiding behind a huge wall. When I’ve chosen to be in a committed relationship, I’ll do the same as the 3 points above: be curious about my life (and his life too), re-arrange my priority and be a good person. Hopefully, we could also grow better as a person, walk towards a better future together, hand-in-hand (l5t, 11 Feb 2015, Is what I want the same as what I need?)

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As cliché as it might sound, I just have these simple wishes on my coming birthday:

Birthday wishes (H-5)

1. Stay healthy and away from danger/harm (also applicable to my family, lover & friends)

2. Be happy (refer here: connect the dots and here: prevent boredom)

3. Live life to the fullest (refer here: do what you love)

 

Cheers,

Sien

*Babe, the first time posting our ‘wefie’ publicly. It looks awesome:)

3 Reasons Why I Stop Making New Year’s Resolution

A friend asked me the other day,

X: So, what’s your resolution for this coming new year?

Me: “Oh, my resolution is NOT to make anymore resolutions. I’ll just do what I wanna do. No promises or declaration to myself to do this and that at the start of the year.”

X: “Hemm really? not at all? learning how to bake or something? no new travel plan? any other places to visit? next classes to take?”

Me: “Aaah I think you’re referring to my goals then…not my resolutions. I do have goals…still thinking about them and i’m gonna take baby steps next year. It’s officially my reflection time. 1 more week left”

X: “Huh, I thought they’re the same? resolution and goal?”

Me: *did a quick google search* “Apparently not, here you go, read this.”

Many popular new year resolutions such as “lose 25 lbs” or “run a marathon” are actually goals, not resolutions. If there is a specific achievement it’s a goal, but permanent changes to your life are resolutions since you keep doing them every day and not just until a specific achievement is reached. (lifehacker.com)

When I look back to 4 or 5 years ago, I used to be all crazy about making plans and goals that are either NOT FOCUS or TOO BROAD. like a one-liner resolution stuff, ex: “I want to have a toned tummy” or “I want to save more money this year” or I started making an exhaustive list of what I want to become in the next 2-3 years (they are all so apparent if you scan my old blog here). After a while, around 2010 onwards, I realized that what I needed to do is to JUST DO THEM. Be more specific and put some time/date/values to my plan and choose ONE or TWO items, instead of going for ALL at once. We can’t predict the future, so what’s the point of having such a detailed plan now? I learned to be more flexible throughout these years. I realized that I won’t accomplish anything if I don’t choose my priority for each year. So nowadays, I start the new year with fresh new goals (1 for each area of my life) or recycle the old ones that I haven’t achieved yet and bring them forward. As long as I feel that I’ve done something worthwhile each year, I’ll be happy and grateful for that. I don’t put too much pressure on myself anymore, not overwhelmed by too many goals at once.

I stop making new year’s resolutions and start defining my annual goals *will share my 2014 goals/new habits at the end of this post, so keep on reading guys:p* 

3 reasons why I stop making new year’s resolutions:

1. Because resolution is just a statement of motivation and intention, and (unfortunately) it usually doesn’t last very long for me due to lack of follow-up and real actions (for detail on why we should give resolutions a rest and just do our best, read here).

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In the past, after writing blog posts to motivate myself or reading inspirational articles, I’d feel energize for a few days and then the feeling would quickly fizzle into inaction. I would often write down a solid plan or daily schedule as a reminder to myself. But most of the time, I would break my own schedule and did something else instead *bunch of excuses*. I felt bad afterwards for not keeping it. That’s why I really admire people who can consciously remember and keep their resolution all year long. But for me, I think applying reverse psychology will be better.

When someone discourages you from doing something, you often feel that your freedom is being threatened, which motivates you to regain choice and control by doing exactly the opposite… When someone tells you not to think about something, your mind has a sneaky way of returning to that very thought… When a behavior is forbidden or discouraged, it’s hard not to become intrigued…(www.businessinsider.com)

In this case, that someone is myself. For example: instead of telling myself on Sunday to hit the gym on Monday, swim on Tuesday, jog on Wednesday and etc, I’ll tell myself to stop thinking about my schedule and check in with myself that exact day, whether I want to swim/hit the gym after work. If it’s a good weather outside, I’ll swim. If I don’t wanna wash my hair for too long that night, I’ll hit the gym and do cardio exercise. Stop doing something in order to do something else. Be more flexible. Does it make any sense?

2. Because I found a better way – by setting goals and defining systems (here’s an interesting article on this matter –> goals vs. systems).

Instead of discussing and daydreaming about getting into shape (goal), why don’t we start with a schedule and stick to it day by day (system)?

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For me, when thinking about the next things I want to achieve, I’ll first consider my priority for that year.

Example: in 2011, my priority was to pay off all my student loan, so my goals are all geared towards earning and saving more money (personal finance area) and less about traveling somewhere far and expensive (travel area). Then right after I achieved that main goal, in 2012, my priority shifted to saving enough for my personal emergency fund *gonna talk about it in my other post*. I started to relax a little bit with my expenses (no more scrimping and counting every pennies) and allow some budget for travel (to cheaper nearby places).  Then this year, my priority is to have fun and execute my long-term ambition and prove to my old self that I can do it despite major procrastination for about 2.5 years. So I went to more faraway countries like: Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, while also doing my CELTA.

For every season in life, we’ll have different priorities and different set of challenges to face. Each stage from being a student to becoming a working adult, from being single to in a relationship/stay single by choice/married and start a family. We’ll need to set different goals for each stage and continuously revise them once certain milestones are achieved. At the end of the year *just like now*, when doing my personal reflection, I’ll evaluate it by asking myself these questions: “Has it been a worthwhile year?” (check), “How did I feel in general? Did I feel happy and grateful (check) or bored and unchallenged in all areas?”, Have I done something new for the first time? Have I visited new places for the first time?” (check), “Have I become a better person this year?” (hopefully, check) ^_^

3. Because creating habit is more effective than a one-time new year’s resolution with no follow up (daily process, one day at a time).

I stumbled upon this article on how to stick to our goals by using identity-based habits. And the whole article really rings true for me. It’s about building an identity and becoming the type of person that we believe we are. For example: if I BELIEVE that I’m a person who works out a lot and who’s living a healthy lifestyle, my actions will reflect just that. I will make it a point to exercise regularly (e.g.: gym 2 days, break 1 day, swim 2 days, vball 1 day, jogging/cycling/hiking 1 day) and eat proper meal too *i tend to skip dinner and i know that’s bad for my metabolism:(*. Eventually, I’ll achieve whatever fitness goal I’ve set for myself by just getting into my new habits.  

What is your identity?

In my experience, when you want to become better at something, proving your identity to yourself is far more important than getting amazing results. This is especially true at first. If you want to get motivated and inspired, then feel free to watch a YouTube video, listen to your favorite song, and do P90X. But don’t be surprised if you burn out after a week. You can’t rely on being motivated. You have to become the type of person you want to be, and that starts with proving your new identity to yourself.P

Most people (myself included) will want to become better this year. Many of us, however, will set performance and appearance–based goals in hopes that they will drive us to do things differently. If you’re looking to make a change, then I say stop worrying about results and start worrying about your identity. Become the type of person who can achieve the things you want to achieve. Build the habit now. The results can come later. (lifehacker.com)

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Now after the long-winded excuses above, let’s get real with my own priority in 2014.

My 2014 new and recycled HABITS (NOT in order of importance):

1. Fitness & health

Habit –> Weekdays: maintain my weight by hitting the gym at least twice a week (min 30 mins/session) or swim at least twice a week. Weekend: volleyball (indoor/outdoor)/cycling/hiking/jogging (outdoor).

2. Beauty and well-being

Habit –> maintain daily dental hygiene, monthly facial, bi-monthly singing session:)

3. Personal finance and career

Habit –> continue on with my daily excel file, tracking expenses and re-adjusting along the way. Carry on with my full time Engineering job (doing my best) with English private tuition once a week and add-on classroom teaching weekdays night or weekend (to be confirmed soon^_^).

4. Relationship

Habit –> talk to 1 friend every week by chat or call or face-to-face (different person each time, direct human interaction); talk to Mom & Dad and/or my siblings at least twice a week.

5. Mind and soul

Habit –> read 1 book every month and  publish at least 1 blog post every week.

6. Travel

Habit –> habit??? maybe my habit of buying plane tickets 4-6 months in advance can only start again near the end of 2014:p. Meanwhile, flight back home for CNY 2014 (check), Rinjani (pending plane tix), Penang (check). Hopefully, that’s all for 2014. Saving my annual leave for another long trip in 2015, maybe? *wishful thinking*

So folks, it’s Christmas eve now and 7 more days to go before we welcome another year, have you set your priority for next year? 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! ^_^

Cheers,

Sien

*feeling grateful for an awesome 2013. Enjoying the moment now. Half-day work as usual…:)