By JOSEPH TAN
“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes.” — G.K. Chesterton
Should I even bother myself with celebrating the New Year? After the party is over and the resolution statements are crafted, I usually find myself exactly where I ended the year before – nothing much has changed and I am back where I was the year before.
The New Year then is only a definition of time and not a measure of transformation. What is all this hype about new beginnings when I have not even overcome old baggages?
If measurement drives behaviour, then it follows that the unit of measurement will determine the intensity of my drive to change. As long as I view the period as a new “year”, I will be focusing on generalities with no specific focus for progress.
However, if I look at the New Year as a period of new “time”, then it re-orientates my perspective in such a way that change is possible. Perhaps, there can be a new beginning, after all.
Perspective 1: Time is a trust
Life is a funny thing – the moment you start living for yourself is when it starts to diminish.
Have you ever had that surge of motivation to rise to the occasion when you are entrusted with the responsibility to execute on a significant task or project? It is as if you are now thrusted into the arena of accountability where your actions and how you spend your time will have a significant impact on what matters – not only to you but also to the organisation as well.
Now, as you think about the New Year, think in terms of what aim you are entrusted with. The stronger this sense of “entrustment”, the higher the likelihood of the New Year having a great beginning.
Here are three “trust perspective” questions for your reflection:
- Is my job merely a series of tasks to be completed, rather than a purposeful assignment?
- Do I have the mind-set of serving others because I do not want to let them down?
- Do I see my time as a given trust by which, what I do will significantly impact those around me?
Perspective 2: Time is an investment
Life is the accumulation of memorable moments.
As you look back at the many years that have passed, what brings a smile, what is it that causes you to savour the joy of living? The meaningful conversations, the fun vacations, the special celebrations, the walk in the park – all these represent intentional time investments which resulted in the reaping of its fruits.
The law of sowing and reaping is the fundamental premise for this perspective of time. Without an intentional investment of scheduled and planned time, none of these memories would be possible.
So, as you peer into the New Year, have the same attitude as that of a wise funds manager – how shall I best invest the limited resources available for the maximum possible returns? With the 365 resource-days which you have available, what sort of investment plan do you have and what returns do you desire to have when you finally reach Dec 31, 2016?
It is not about how you have spent the New Year, rather it is about how you will be sowing into the New Year for results that can be reaped for many more years to come.
Here are three “investment perspective” questions for your evaluation:
- Begin with the end in mind – What type of “fruits” do I want to see in my life by Dec 31, 2016? This will set the tone for my investment activities for the year ahead.
- With the limited resources which I have, what is it that I need to stop doing?
- With the limited resources which I have, what is it that I need to do differently?
Perspective 3: Time is a treasure
What I treasure, I pursue.
When it comes to cliché advices on decision-making, the common one which I hear sounds like this – “follow your heart”. Nothing could be further from the truth. My heart is not a device for navigation rather it is a bundle of emotions which must be led by the determination of my mind.
What my mind determines, then my heart will follow. Here is the principle – where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. How 2016 will turn out for you depends on your “treasure” decisions i.e. what I decide in my mind will then direct my heart.
Here are three “treasure perspective” questions for your evaluation:
- List down what really matters. For example, it is not just about wealth but what do you plan to do with your wealth. It is not about health but what you want to do with your state of well-being.
- List down who really matters. It is a paradox that often, those closest to us are those we take for granted – we do not realise the value of certain relationships until they are taken away from us.
- List down work that matters. Instead of being constrained by your job description, have you ever thought of growing in your area of talents – how you are naturally inclined to think, act and feel? Ever thought about exploring an expanded job area that leverages on what really motivates you? Remember, no one can read your mind until you speak it.
The privilege of creation
Why should I begin? As a self-aware being, I have the privilege of being a part of the creation process – in fact, all things are created twice – first in the mind, then it is expressed through my outward actions. I begin with a dream and then I execute with a plan.
Why should I begin? As a responsible leader, I have the privilege of creating a better future and environment for those under my care – both in the workplace and also at home. If for reasons of laziness and apathy, I do not embrace the creative possibilities of the New Year, then I have just entered into the New Year with an old mind-set. There is too much at stake for me not to begin.