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A Fresh Start - Lets Move It Move It!

I can't help myself from sharing this particular thought as the year comes to a close, hoping to lift someone's spirits and maybe inspire positive change in the upcoming new year.

It’s not a myth that we humans look forward to a fresh start. It's more than a feel-good myth. We all have chapters we'd rather leave behind, hoping to craft a brighter future ahead. Guess what? This is where the concept of 'temporal landmarks' comes in handy. It's like a psychological magic wand that "karate chop" a separation between our past imperfections and our current self to motivate us to achieve our aspirations, helping us leave past mistakes behind and focus on our future plans. That is called the Fresh Start Effect. Sounds good isn't it?

Many of us tend to eagerly anticipate making New Year's resolutions as the year draws to a close. It's worth noting that January 1st comes with a significant dose of social influence, often referred to as the "social bandwagon effect", which can be quite interesting as well. During our gatherings with family and friends, we can expect to be asked the customary question, "What's your New Year's resolution?"Recently, I enjoyed a dinner date with my girlfriends where this question was naturally the main topic of conversation at the dinner table. We reflected on the events of 2023; our shortfalls, our small victories, and our lessons learned, followed by a more refined resolution for 2024.

It's perfectly fine to embrace a bit of social influence when it's the kind that motivates us to become better versions of ourselves. So, grab yourself a journal, a trusty pen, and a steaming cup of tea or coffee, and let's get down to business - planning for a brighter you! I'm all in for setting new aspirations on the self-growth train, but here's a little secret: if you miss that initial boarding call, fear not! There are plenty of pitstops along the way, enough to carve out that path to your goal, no matter where you hop on during the year.

So, how can we harness, and take advantage of the Fresh Start Effect all year long?  We don't need to wait for another fresh start that's going to be 365 days long. Research has shown that any demarcation of the passage of time can create “fresh starts”. These include personal meaningful events like birthdays, anniversaries, general breaks like public holidays, and work holidays, and any occasion that allows us to have a break from our routine. Sounds even better isn't it?

For me, honestly I'm so over the whole New Year's resolution thing. You know, it's that magical time when work, family, and a gazillion other things decided to throw a party in my schedule . Making new year's resolutions at this time is stress city! But hey, I'm not going to skip out on all the fun social gatherings, so here's my secret: I craft super vague, one-size-fits-all resolution for all those gatherings. It's like my way of "tai-chi"-ng all those new year's reolutions thingie when they come at me. That has been my best solution so far and it works like a charm! Feel free to plagiarise my tai chi move.

However, I have kinda ride on these numerous "fresh starts" throughout the year. I'm telling you this because it was quite a game changer for me. It has given me many chances to redeem myself as I made mistakes or gets derailed in my plans. I know this "fresh start" gives me extra boost to get back on track when I stumbled. The most used "fresh start" for me is Monday; that's the beginning of a week. I will usually have a review of my weekly tasks to evaluate my efficiency of getting tasks done, my capacity to shoulder on, and my overall wellness in handling all these tasks. Every Monday is a fresh start for me to add new plans and tweak old ones or even let go or delayed those that drained too much of my energy and not showing enough progress. However, this is only one behavioural factor by which we can take into consideration when we want to kickstart a new aspiration. There are a few more that we can ride on (I'll talk about them in my later blogs. For now, lets focus on "fresh start")

But remember, it's important to balance this with self-kindness. Meaning, plan according to your capacity at this present moment. It is OK to just start with baby steps. You will progress as you become consistent and confident. For me, I tackle big daunting tasks by doing the most basics, like recently I wanted to learn coding skills. It was so daunting and overwhelming knowing I have zero knowledge and to get to the level of it being usable felt like impossible. It was like trying to climb a mountain with no gear. Although it will take a long time until I can use it productively, which is a downer I know, but every inch of my body tells me it is worth it. It was very emotionally discouraging, I was battling with my frustration the most and started to tell myself it's a waste of time. But what gave me the push to dabble on it was the value this skill can bring to my larger goal.

Also, one very important reminder, is to include downtime, cheat day, breaks or whatever you may call it into your new system. The rationale is when we build our system with a downtime allocation, it is assimilated as part of the plan. So, schedule those breaks guilt-free! It is not an excuse to slack off. It is definietly unsustainable to be working a 100% all the time. If you take a deeper look into everything around us, there are periods of downtime, even machines need maintenance, our phones need to be restarted, marathon runners take water breaks...etc. So, keep going, but don't forget to pause and recharge when needed!

Well, I'm sounding like a naggy aunt now, so I'm going to leave this last bit with a gentle reminder to use this time to acknowledge our past, learn from it, and step confidently into a new year with hope and a gentle push towards our goals. Here's to embracing our journey of improvement with kindness realism! 🌟

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