Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess!
What do the last few days of your 2017 look like? To me, it’s been a mix of slight panic and “keeping it together.” I’d look at my calendar, gasp because 2018 starts THIS MONDAY (!!!), and I still haven’t lost the weight I wanted to lose or save the money I wanted to save. I’ve also been putting off some personal writing projects because of my biggest excuse: work! Feeling a bit discouraged, I look at the same calendar and feel more hopeful now that 2017 is coming to a close and that 2018 is finally nearing.
I also have this thing where I call the last few days of the year as my “last chance days.” Last chance to indulge in my cravings, last chance to splurge on makeup, last chance to trade hours of working on my project with Netflix binges. Why? “Because it will be 2018 in two days naman eh!”
But let’s get real—if I devoted these last two days of the year to working out, eating healthy, saving money, and working on my project, I will gain more than I will lose. Every day is a chance to add progress to your life, but of course, that’s up to you. I realized that my 2017 was filled with all these lame “slips,” and I was always spewing excuses just because I could since I was only accountable to myself.
However, I was able to meet some of my goals. My career goal, for example, was the biggest positive shift this 2017. I started working in Singapore with the mindset that I needed to adjust to corporate life because I can’t be as picky, and my career options are not as flexible given my need for a visa sponsorship. As a result, I ended up miserable for a good one and a half years before finally throwing in the towel and finding something that was really in line with my passion. It wasn’t an easy process, but I’m stoked to finally be back in F&B.
New Year’s Eve for me is the biggest milestone of the year. Perhaps it’s the idea of hope and starting over that really gets me. I still haven’t furbished out my goals—going to do that on New Year’s Eve! But here are some things I learned on how to reach them this coming year:
Start by Focusing Small
It’s awesome to have big goals, but it’s even better to achieve them through small steps than taking the giant leap, pressuring yourself too much, and not reaching the goal altogether. Center your energy on small focus sessions, doing one thing—whether it’s 15 minutes of writing, 15 minutes of working out, or saving 10 percent of your income. Then, once you get the hang of it, increase it by just a bit. Maybe from 15 minutes of writing, you can do 30. From 15 minutes of working out, you can do 25. From saving 10 percent, you can slightly increase it to 12 percent or 15 percent. What’s important is you get to build the habit and then make the positive adjustments from there.
Track Your Progress
I used to have a small notebook where I’d write down my goals and track my weekly progress. When I planned to get a job in Singapore, I’d make it a weekly goal to write in to 10 companies, list them out, and then plan for another 10. This helped me to really make sure that I got my CV out the window and build connections even just through LinkedIn. The same goes with weight goals and savings goals. I’ve started using an Excel sheet lately to track my expenses and savings, and it made me wonder why I never did it before.
Stop Renegotiating with Yourself
This is my biggest challenge. It’s so much easier to let go of activities that cause discomfort. But what I’ve learned is that we are expert negotiators with ourselves. Just the other day, I was supposed to go out running, but then I got sucked into the black hole of YouTube and recovered three hours later when it was already midnight. I also like to “treat myself” with a bag of chips or packets of M&Ms because “I deserve it” and because “the diet can wait.” Rubbish!
If you feel that you’re too tired to do something, or worse, that you’re too lazy—take a break for 15 minutes to clear your head, then jump on the task head-on.
Remember that Sometimes, Discomfort Means Progress
And in line with that, there is a lot of truth with the saying, “No pain, no gain!” I read somewhere that a lot of what happens in our lives comes because of luck, but also, choice. Most of the time, it’s the uncomfortable things that cause us to grow the most. We just need to choose to see it in a better light.
Things like setting aside time for writing and working out (instead of watching Netflix), or saving instead of eating at a fancy restaurant can make you feel that you’re missing out. However, your future self will thank you for it.
Find a partner you can trust and rely on with your goals and be accountable to them. This way, you know you have an increased responsibility to “show up” to your weekly tasks because someone’s watching you! But really, being accountable to someone (other than yourself!) is one of the best ways to stick to your goals.
Eliminate and Simplify
Now this is tough. There are a lot of barriers and distractions that are hindering us from living the lives we dream of, and most of the time, we fail to see it because we’ve become too comfortable. To spot these distractions, do an awareness check and see what hinders you from accomplishing your goals. Sometimes, it could be a toxic relationship, a wandering mind, and the biggest culprit—social media.
Sometimes, it will entail difficult conversations or something as simple as downloading an app to block your social media sites for a certain amount of time. Find ways to remove these barriers so your focus can flow freely.
Remember Why You Started in the First Place
And yes, there will be days when you just want to give up. It could be that the weight you’ve intended to lose hasn’t melted away yet or the savings you accumulated ended up being spent because of an unexpected circumstance. Don’t lose hope. It pays to think two steps ahead than just giving up in the moment and spiraling back to where you started.
Remember your WHY, and what your intentions were when you decided to set your goal.
Show Yourself Some L-O-V-E
Lastly, messing up is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bounce back. When these days happen, remember to show yourself some extra love and kindness, but don’t be too relaxed either. We’re only human after all; mistakes happen but don’t beat yourself up for it. If your goal is to wake up 30 minutes earlier, but you’ve overslept, don’t carry the mistake with you throughout the entire day. Decide to do better tomorrow morning and meet your goal.
I’ve had so many experiences where I had to manage projects, and most turned out successfully. However, I’ve always wondered why, when it came to myself, my self-improvement goals always fell short. I tried to zone in on the problem, and I realized that it was just me and my constant renegotiation with myself that was preventing me from being the best person I could be. And that sucks because it shows how much self-control I lack, how much discipline I lack, and how I am failing to take care of the most important person in my life—myself. But yes, it’s a new year soon, and we all have a new start and a new beginning. Let’s end 2017 with hope, and start 2018 stronger and without regrets!
Let’s make 2018 the best year yet. Cheers to the New Year!
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Lara Intong
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