December. The month where unfulfilled goals come to haunt me.
All the things I could be in 2022 arrive and remind me of what I could have done and become.
Over the years, I have adjusted new year’s resolutions towards principles and mini goals. Getting friends to help me stay true to the goals I set for myself has been a real game-changer!
I hope that these 10 ways help reduce that December resolution haunting in 2023.
1. Find an activity that challenges you
Cal Newport, a Digital Minimalist, talks about finding flow in meaningful activity which has to be challenging enough for you to feel you have accomplished something. However, it should not be so challenging that it discourages you.
For example, if I am an expert maggie noodle cook, I should try to first make maggie goreng rather than trying to cook up a Din Tai Feng level of noodles. This extends towards other areas such as sports, hard, and soft skills.
What is something incremental you can try that challenges you in 2023?
2. Find an accountability buddy
It is not enough to announce on Instagram that you are changing something about yourself for the new year. Consistency is more crucial than sheer proclamations.
Finding a friend that knows when you are slacking and stretching will help you along the way. Free apps such as Habitshare alerts your friend when you have completed your habits. Vice-versa, you can also develop mudita (Sympathetic joy) for their wins in their habits when they complete theirs!
Who is the best person to find for accountability?
3. Be part of something bigger than yourself
It is easy to slowly sink into our own worlds as we trudge along the work life. However, finding a cause that resonates with us can make widen our worldviews. Volunteering to help the underprivileged requires less time commitment than we think.
Most volunteering opportunities provide the flexibility to ramp up or ramp down our commitments according to our availability.
By volunteering for bigger causes, our problems may seem smaller than we perceive them to be. In addition, by giving to others, we expand our feelings of solidarity and hearts to greater things we may never have never noticed.
We also develop our virtues of dana (generosity) and nekhamma (renunciation). We give and renounce our ego and preconceptions.
What causes do you resonate with? What is a mini step to participate?
4. Know where you can find peace
Returning to a place of shelter when the storm is too great for us.
Most of us know what is our comfort food but how many of us know where we can find comfort/peace for our mind? Knowing a physical place (such a temple/ quiet space) can bring solace when the world gets too noisy. Seeking that place out in ‘peace’ time helps us navigate tough times better.
At a deeper level, do we know what can bring us mental peace quickly? Is it a particular teaching/ sutta/ song that helps you? For me, listening to wise monastics like Ajahn Anan, Ajahn Brahm or Dhamma songs like this or this helps me rebalance.
Where do you find peace best?
5. Clear the space for peace
I am naturally a messy person. However, over the years, I have seen the benefits of being a minimalist. It makes the probability of a mess less likely. *Big brain thinking ikr..*
In addition, after clearing the space, I feel a sense of calm when I enter the same space again. Often, we think that the sentimental stuff that we hold is impossible to let go of. But as we slowly try to store them away and finally throw them.
We feel a sense of gratitude for what that item did for us rather than the loss to us. Learning from Marie Kondo can sound cliche but it is highly recommended for a more peaceful space.
When was the last time you cleared the space you live in?
6. Be aware of the friends you keep
Friends and social groups are important. So important that Buddha highlighted them as an important pillar of blessings.
Do your friends lift up, and inspire you to be a better version of yourself? Or do they engage in belittling your achievements, and mock your attempts to be better? Do they encourage you to be moral?
If we are truly the average of the five friends, how far can we push ourselves to be peaceful and happier if our environment limits us?
Do our friends celebrate our achievements and support us in times of need?
7. Get to know people who encourage you
A 2021 survey done during the pandemic found that 47% of people lost contact with a close friend during that period. Nearly half of Americans reported having fewer than 3 close friends. This used to be 20% of the population in the 1990s.
Going digital on friendships limits our true human connections. Finding Dhamma friends when we are dizzy with work life can be difficult.
However, once we find others who are striving for the same path towards peace, it makes our journey so much easier. Young working adult groups such as DAYWA, SBM’s Fellowship Circle, Rainbodhi are active social groups that you can find in your journey.
Have you made new social connections recently? Is it time?
8. Try going for short meditation retreats
With the relaxing of covid measures, there are many more opportunities and teachers doing meditation retreats. There are many to check out for varying meditation experiences! At lost where to start?
Try out day retreats, they are typically over a weekend and have different rules to observe depending on the organisers.
Don’t let the idea of Hollywood movies scare you away (must be in the mountain with days of silence and a monk hitting you with a stick for bad posture).
Check out this WhatsApp broadcast group for various Buddhist SG activities and meditation opportunities. A rule of thumb is that meditation retreats should expound on the joy of meditation and unlearning our preconceived notions. There is no ‘secret’ method that only one master knows. Rather, the teachings should be open and accessible.
Note: attend retreats consistently when you can and not when you hit emotional roadblocks. It is easier to stabilise the mind in peacetime rather than when your defilements are at war within you.
9. Have a daily grounding activity
We often have routines in our day for our physical body. From taking a cup of coffee at 3 pm daily to brushing your teeth before sleeping.
However, how often do we have a routine for our mind? Having a defined space and time to do that singular grounding activity for our mind. It could be ringing a singing bowl or to take a gentle bow to the Buddha statue at home.
What grounds your mind?
10. Become a better communicator
Asking for a higher salary range can be tough. Going for interviews can be nerve-racking too. However, learning how to become a better communicator isn’t as tough! Being a better communicator is not only useful at work but also in our friendships and relationships!
Handful Of Leaves is organising a workshop to help you with that! Spend half a day learning and practising how to become a better communicator! Your journey starts right here!