8 Things That Take the Stress and Bring the Gold Out of New Year’s Resolutions

the face

If there’s an adjective that can accurately describe me at any day of the year, it’s “dissatisfied.” I am not just talking about this year (2014), but all the years of my life. Yes, I find myself difficult to please. No, this is not to say that I am very dissatisfied with people, and no I am not judging you all my readers right now. Geesh. But I am often disappointed with myself. I am a perfectionist and I am my worst critic. As you can see, this habit has it’s pros and cons. It helps me in my work as a writer, but it also makes life a bit more miserable than it should be. If you’re like me even just a bit, I feel yah…

Moving on though, with 33 years behind me, I have also come to seasons of learning to be more gentle with myself. I try to celebrate myself now more often, my victories, my successes, but this is often very difficult because I am hardly able to meet most of my ideals, goals, and plans. Hurray to disappointments right? But I’ve learned to become more accountable for my own misery as well as learned to device ways to become more productive (rather than wallow in regret and disappointment). Perfectionist or not, we all need this. We all need the skill and ability to move on from mistakes and disappointments, if only to seize our next chance at success. Do I hear an “Amen”?

And with this new year coming up…. we all need something ultimately refreshing. We need to see HOPE. We need a sense of having the opportunity to start anew. However, with all the glitches and failures of 2014, how do we move forward with MORE hope than FEAR of repeating the wrongs of the past year? Believe me, success has nothing to do with pounding your fist and banging your head against the wall until you get this right. It has nothing to do with how strict and intense you dive into your new year’s resolutions and goals. No, no, no. If you want to start anew, you need a new formula to success. “Goal setting” and “new habits formation” are good, but beyond our intelligent plans and formulas, what perfectionists like us need (if you are one) is a NEW way of seeing. We need a new way of treating ourselves. We need to love and celebrate ourselves a bit more. And yes, yes, I’d like to share my little secrets with you. Here’s how I survived 33 years of being my own bitchy boss.

Probably, you’ve noticed by now, the key word: CELEBRATE. As the year closes… (it’s December 31st on my side of the world, hello), here are 4 things I choose to celebrate.

celebration party balloons

#1 CELEBRATE blessings in disguise.

Pleeease read carefully. I’ve encountered people use this phrase wrongly so many times!!! Arrrgh, the editor in me cringes and wants to make a tantrum. Ahahaha. Just kidding! Sorry for sounding arrogant right there. A blessing in disguise is NOT SIMPLY an unexpected blessing; neither is it SIMPLY a bad incident that was followed by a blessing. For example, you were sad and then suddenly someone sends you chocolates on your birthday, or you lose in a contest somewhere but afterwards someone gives you a free vacation to Europe. A blessing in disguise is something you really consider a misfortune (or undesirable) but after a while (it could be a day or even a year), something shifted and it turned out that if that undesirable thing had not happened, something far greater would not have become possible, therefore cancelling whatever negative effect the bad event had caused. Yay!

For example, you got fired by your boss so you looked for a job. After a few months, your old company got sued and you were saved from the negative consequences of that misfortune. Or something simpler than that. Have you ever experienced something like that?

why___a_blessing_in_disguise_by_thedefectiveturret-d5bx51h

About this time last year, my Macbook laptop crashed on me. I mean, it would make this loud humming sound when doing certain tasks (even not so tough ones) and it would just freeze or take forever to recover. That’s such a downer since I wasn’t able to save enough money yet to get a new laptop. But it’s really well overdue for replacement. The battery is no longer working so I would stay plugged in to a power source all the time. Hello inconvenience! Also, it’s kinda heavy for a girl who takes the train and walks to meeting venues a lot. But because it was December, someone bought me a MacBook Air. Oh yes, who doesn’t want an upgrade? It turned out that losing my old laptop became a blessing. After that also, I learned to save money every month to be able to buy a new one when this new one eventually gets overworked. Do you have bad stuff happening? Maybe they are “blessings in disguise” in the making… Keep your hopes up!

#2 CELEBRATE things you did right this nth time around.

i did it

Tell you what, I came across jamesclear.com and this blog has a lot of productivity tips that I’m learning so much from. One of them is to not overreact when you miss a routine or habit you’ve been trying to form. This is one thing I’ve learned to do right this year! Instead of feeling bad when I missed my workout, I would remind myself that I was at least able to move from 0/week to 1x/week or 2x/week, then I would resume and keep that consistency or increase it until I reached my goal of say, 5x/week. 🙂 I used to give up on myself altogether or get really disgruntled that I spend too much energy feeling bad. This energy spent distracts me from just focusing on getting back up and trying again.

Celebrate something new that you overcame this year, or something you started to do right after doing it wrong for quite some time!

#3 CELEBRATE the difficult things that have failed to crush you even thought they are still there!

This is important. Some of us want to quit running just because we don’t see the finish line yet. For example, my parents have been fighting a lot this year. I live with my parents. I work from home. Fighting parents is not good for home based work. Why? Environment. It sets the tone for a lot of things we do. I really should move. Well, I can but then it’s not practical. My Dad wants to retire. I’m starting a company. I really can’t afford renting a new place it right now. Maybe I can sleep at the office when we finally get to have one. Haha. But you get the point. I’m still alive. I wrestle everyday. Before going out of my room, I make sure I more filled with positive vibes, enough to counter any negativity out there. That’s just how it works for this season. And I choose to celebrate the fact that I’m still alive and kicking despite. Things may not be perfect, but we continue to thrive! That’s worth celebrating!

What are the things that oppress you but are not crushing you? Don’t give up just because things aren’t changing so fast around you, celebrate the fact that you have the strength to keep on. You may not see the light yet, but it sure will appear soon if you don’t quit! As long as they still don’t suspect that you’re a real cat, remain standing! You got this. (See image below.)

via http://weknowmemes.com/tag/standing-cat-meme/
via http://weknowmemes.com/tag/standing-cat-meme/

#4 CELEBRATE the times when you’ve been rescued!

No words could express how stressed I was trying to figure out how to prepare gifts for “everyone” this Christmas. Mind you, “everyone” on my list does not include “everyone.” I’ve practically cut my list short like a business streamlining due to recession. Chop, chop, chop. After shopping for my nephew and niece (Thank God there’s only two of them!), I literally took out a few more from my list. No more moolah! So as it turns out, I just baked cookies for most of them but since most of “them” included people on my parents’ list, my parents requested me to add their names on the gift tag. I know, I know, this may not be acceptable on other parts of the world, but “business in recession economy” remember? Besides, things should light up next year. Going back, I ended up not paying for the expenses. LOOOOOOOOL. In short, I took care of the baking, they took care of the ingredients. OMG. I know, chocolate chip cookies, right? I’m sorry, but that’s all we can afford this year. As for me, I’ve been rescued of $100 worth of gifts. I know, just $100. That’s how bad it was this year. Don’t worry, friends, we’ll make it up to you next year. Eh?

i declare bankruptcy

So there, celebrate times when you’ve been rescued. God loves you. He makes a way when there seems to be no way. You don’t always have to pretend to be the strong, “I have everything under control” super girl or superman that people think  you are. God sees your struggles and he’s ready to catch you when you fall. Sigh.

So after the celebration, don’t forget some tough girl or macho guy decisions you have to make at the beginning of this year. But this list has a lot to do with the above “things to celebrate” list, because this list has a lot to do with ACKNOWLEDGING the fact that there is what we call GRACE and it works miracles in our lives if we know how to use it. You see, I leave the strategic goal setting to management and success coaches out there. This is a list of things that will add the missing touch to all your goal setting. It’s a list of things you do to open your life up to miracles and breakthroughs.

#1 IDENTIFY areas for surrender.

give-up

Okay, don’t overdo this one. List one or two or three. Don’t list 10 or you’ll get overwhelmed and get swept right into the cycle of self-beating. But we all have at least one area that we need to LET GO! What is that one thing you cannot change and only a miracle can change? Tell you what, the world teaches us to NEVER GIVE UP. Well, there are SOME things we CAN NEVER change but it does not mean these things CANNOT change. What??? For example, the weather, can you change the weather? Okay, maybe you can but some of us can’t. Next, addiction. Can you change substance dependence? No, you can’t. You need help to get free from it. Yes, that’s it, for some things in life, WE NEED HELP. We need to surrender the things we cannot change to someone who can change them. For me, the ultimate miracle worker is God. I’ve surrendered my parents’ relationship to Him. I try my best to be cheerful at home. But the rest is for God to change. I can’t change people, I can only LOVE them and help them be better. But change them? Cannot lah.

#2 IDENTIFY risks to make.

take risks
image via http://iambeejay.com/howto-tips/why-we-need-to-take-risks-2.html

Oh yes, baby. It’s time to take some risks. For me, it’s actually launching our business. We’ve been brainstorming and planning for more than 1 YEAR! Would you believe? It’s time to step out into the Red Sea. So please pray for us. Thank you!

What’s your chicken line. Oh come on. Don’t tell me you’ve been standing there for a decade waiting for the chicken to cross the line without lifting it’s feet. :)) Now, do the world a favor and turn that chicken into a risk taker. The rest of the world will thank you for it, believe me.

#3 KEEP at it!

We should not let go of the things we earned for ourselves last year. Let’s build on them instead. So if you were able to start a blog and gained a few following last year, continue to celebrate it by posting quality entries faithfully. Makes sense? Sometimes we plan too many new things that we forget to build on the ones we’ve started. Wink wink.

For me, it’s my commitment to read in the morning. I sometimes still miss it but heck have I become so much more consistent last year more than ever. So I celebrate it by being thankful for where I am (especially each time I fail again – just to keep me from that old habit of putting down myself). So yeah, don’t get sidetracked by distractions and discouragement!

keep walking cats

#4 IDENTIFY things to keep an eye on and to persevere at.

When I say “keep an eye,” I mean to say things that are in the danger of sliding back the old, unacceptable way. For example, you overcame cigarette addiction last year and you want to keep that freedom this year. Staying free is just as important as breaking free. So don’t throw the towel on this and just “let it go.” Don’t just build momentum on new things, let’s keep the momentum we’ve started.

keep it up

Personally, I need to avoid entering into a chain of negative thoughts. I’ve caught myself a number of times starting this early in the morning when I wake up. I gain awareness and boom, a negative thought with a series of other thoughts tied up to it. What I did? Boom again. Haha. I shut them out and gave them no entry. I declared a Bible verse and went on to focus on truths rather than bad thoughts.

So there, what a long post! I hope there’s something here that you find helpful, and I hope trying these out will also bring some freedom to your life the way they brought freedom to mine. And by all means, also share you secret ingredients to getting geared up for the new year. Would love to hear them!

Cheers to 2015 then!

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And Suddenly, 2012 :-) (Reflections on the life of Naomi)

I would say, “while there’s life, there’s hope.” But how do you say such an optimist’s motto to an old woman who once ‘had it’ but now has ‘lost it’? Opportunity is rich for the young, but what kind of doors would open for the aged? I remember asking my office mate, “Would you still apply in another company even if you find a (second) husband who can provide for you financially?” She said something like, “Well, I think, the right question to ask would be, ‘Will there be  a company still willing to hire someone my age?'” I laughed but I realized also that she had a point. Life may be ahead of you when you are young, but opportunity lessens as you grow old?

And oh, even the young can feel like they’ve “missed it.” Imagine Michelle Kwan, in her early twenties, missing the Olympic gold medal. She contends for it again, years later, with a nagging injury that forced her to make a painful yet needed choice to let go of what had become her last opportunity for an Olympic medal in Women’s Figure Skating, Singles Division.  She is so young and yet at such a young age, a possibility had already passed her by. She is now a professional skater. There is no turning back into becoming an amateur Olympic contender.

But then again she is blessed. And many would say that she did not miss the gold, but she won the silver. To prove which one is true is not the goal of this particular post. I am trying to paint a scenario, a feeling, that which we experience upon reaching a most dreaded conclusion, the conclusion that there is no way we can pick up the pieces anymore, or turn back time, or regain what had been lost. When we have lost hope, and time and favor are now both against our whim and future.

We change our name from Naomi to Mara. From one who is glad into one who is bitter, because the Lord has turned away His blessing from her. Naomi lost her husband and two sons. She is old and it would be impossible for her to remarry. For a woman during her time, such state is as good as hope-less. No more hope for an heir or future family that will give meaning or purpose to your life, no way to extend lineage.  (Read Ruth 1-3)

But come the next chapter of her life, the part where the novel is supposed to say, “and she lived the rest of her life miserably without a future or hope…,” God makes a sudden shift (italics and underscore mine):

Ruth 4

Naomi Gains a Son

13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

And may we add that Jesus came from the line of David.

And who would have thought, right?

May the hope that God’s Word bring, awaken us into GREAT HOPEs for 2012. 🙂 Shalom!

My First Shaky Step

A day after I posted an entry describing my first step (that seemed more like three steps already) to raiding 2011, I almost want to edit the whole thing and say that I think I overdid it. I had made it too complicated and wordy. I guess I was partly rambling. With the first hours of January already lapsed, and with 2011 so “already here,” I want to re-focus my readers to this one phrase. What I’m basically saying in my previous blog entry – 4 steps to raid 2011 – is that I NEED AN ENCOUNTER WITH GOD. I need a FRESH encounter.

Despite the exceedingly precious opportunities that God had opened for me this year, I am not satisfied. I am grateful and honored by God’s trust, but I am not satisfied at how things are.

Because of the sometimes overwhelming challenges that I face, I need a strong handle that will keep me grounded in promise and revelation. And, by promise and revelation, I do not mean a mental discovery, but a spiritual encounter that roots me firmly, almost miraculously, in a manifested reality and witness of the power of God to gift me with faith.

And since God has already shown himself mighty to save me from my Egypt, having struggled with it for the entirety of my childhood and teen years, I know that another miracle is not beyond fulfillment.

We all need that FRESH ENCOUNTER that moves mountains into the sea. By such, I mean not another spiritual experience, but THAT spiritual experience that launches Gideons into a battlefield, that turns adulterers into worshipers, that pops us out of the deceptive bubble that our lives are limited by what our ‘best’ can offer.

Happy New Year to all. Be this the year when His glory shall shine through our faces. Let us encounter God.

Read continuation: 4 Steps to Raid 2011 – 2nd Step

4 Steps to Raiding 2011 – Step 1

In 14 hours, 2010 is about to close. Well, at least on my side of the planet. I have been doing some serious thinking these past two weeks. (Gee, as if I haven’t been serious for the most part of my life.) But yeah, I had sooo many realizations. And God had specific words ringing in my head.

I woke up this morning, with words bidding to be written right away. If my brain had been a bit more quick in handling the thoughts, I could have written the entire blog. But as soon as I became more aware that I’m awake, the flow started to dwindle. Haha. Thankfully, I was able to jot down some. 🙂

Without further ado, here are my X steps to do before plunging into 2011. I might not be able to completely do all of them before midnight, but January 7 might be a good deadline. 😀 Here we go.:

1. SEARCH MY TREASURE BOX. Continue reading “4 Steps to Raiding 2011 – Step 1”