2015 in hindsight
Be careful what you pray for. As I’ve learnt over the course of 2015, God and I had very different ideas about how my prayers should be answered.
Almost everyday in 2015 I prayed and asked God for wisdom, strength and courage to deal with whatever came my way. Over the course of 2015, God has brought into my life people and circumstances that’s brought me exhilaration and pain, comfort and discomfort, love and angst in equal measures. It was only when I listened to Brene Brown’s talk with Tim Ferris that I realised these were all meant to be opportunities for me to grow in precisely the things I asked God for. We need courage to get out of our comfort zone. It’s natural to experience fear when we choose to be vulnerable. Discomfort and courage, fear and vulnerability are meant to co-exist.
Reflecting on how I went with the goals I set for myself for 2015:
- Think as much about what I don’t say as what I do say
I’ve found keeping this goal a huge challenge in the past year, especially in the context of close relationships. In the process, I’ve learnt that I need to listen to and just accept what’s been said at face value, and not to subsequently over-analyse or colour the words with my own judgement or ideas. I’ve had to eat humble pie and acknowledge I’m not as objective as I believed myself to be.
- Slow down
God took my word for it and literally forced me to achieve this goal when I fell very sick in late February and later broke my left arm in late October. Being forced to physically rest for the last two months of 2015 had given my body a chance to recuperate from all the sports I’ve been doing in the earlier part of 2015, allowing certain worn body parts to heal and others to reset.
I unwittingly fell into a wee bout of depression in mid to late November, which was probably the cumulative result of a lack of physical exercise, my body missing the familiar regular surge of endorphins and putting up with the smog in Beijing. The cloud lifted on 1 December when I got back on my beloved bike for the first time after six weeks and rode to the office. And it hasn’t returned since.
Being forced to slow down has forced me to confront many of my cherished values and beliefs and reassess my priorities. It’s also taught me to be careful about what I ask God for. He’s usually given me exactly what I needed, not necessarily what I asked for.
- Regain control of my finances
I could either take the glass-half-full or glass-half-empty view about how I’ve done with this goal. By mid October, I had every occasion to give myself a pat on my back. I’d paid off 40% of my credit card debt, and was on track to pay off a further 20% by the end of the year, leaving 40% to be cleared in 2016.
Then I broke my arm.
Even though my employer’s insurance policy covered 99% of the medical costs (praise the Lord because the hospital bill was a six-figure sum in renminbi), I still had to pay a gap and for scar management medication with my credit card. It’s such an irony that by achieving one goal, I’ve had to take two steps back with another. But it’s silly to put a price tag on one’s health. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have received excellent medical care at Oasis, my employer’s financial support, the care and support of my dear colleagues and friends in Beijing and God’s miraculous healing power.
Looking forward – 2016
I’ve discovered and listened to a myraid of podcasts since getting an iPhone 6 last February. It’s incredible how much I’ve learnt and how my life has changed just listening to podcasts while cycling to and from work and jogging.
In formulating my goals and resolutions for 2016, I’ve been particularly inspired by these two podcasts:
- Recommendations and Resolutions for 2016 by Tim Ferriss and Kevin Rose
Self-Publishing 2015 Round Up. 2016 Predictions Plus My Creative Writing Process at The Creative Penn
Considering past events and my track record for 2015, I’ve decided to keep my list short, simple and sweet, broken into actionable and measurable items:
- Regain control of my finances
Obviously…. since I didn’t manage to achieve this goal last year, it stays on the list. Nuff said.
2. Improve my physical health and fitness
2.1) Limit coffee intake to one cup a day.
This is something I’ve been consciously working on in 2015. I managed to reduce my daily coffee intake to one cup or none during the summer and autumn months, but increased to two cups when the weather got colder and the days became shorter. After breaking my left arm, I’m again seriously considering quitting coffee altogether as I’m concerned about its effect on my body’s ability to retain calcium.
2.2) Train towards doing my first triathlon (sprint) in September.
I’ve just subscribed to the Beijing International Triathlon e-newsletter, so I can get an email when registration opens.
3. Write something everyday
The aim is to get into a habit of practising my writing regularly. Since I started journalling a couple of months ago, I’ve found it easier to find inspiration for my blog and experience less writer’s block. It has also helped me overcome my perfectionist tendencies, and get something down on paper/computer screen. Self-editing has always been a challenge but it’s a necessary skill if I want to grow as a writer.
3.1) Journal everyday.
3.2) Write a minimum of one blog post a week.
3.3) Finish writing my second novel by end of 2016.
I end this post with a reminder to myself and to all of us who’s set New Year’s resolutions….
“And now you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
– John Steinbeck –