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2021 goals

I usually have a succinct theme for the start of each year. But for 2021, I couldn’t phrase it in a way that didn’t sound pretentious. (Haha.) So, the gist of what I want to happen, is to strengthen my self. To make sure I have a solid foundation of my thoughts, habits, etc.

I was inspired after reading Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography (which took me 3 months to complete – it’s not long at all, I’d just get distracted about other things). In particular, reading about his personal project to improve himself using 13 virtues. Each week, he would focus on a single virtue, trying his best to live it. He cycled through the 13 virtues continuously from when he was 20 years old.

I don’t think I’m ready to cycle through virtues weekly and hold myself to the same standard. But I like the idea of focusing on a single aspect of self-improvement. So for each month, I’m going to deep-dive on one thing of improving my self. While I feel like doing the “little bits every day” is helpful for some things, I think there are other things that I could devote a bigger chunk of my time and energy to.

For January, I’m joining an online Vipassana course for 10 days, starting two days from now. There’s an option for people who can’t get away from work or family commitments and that’s what I’ve signed up for. Even then, I’m a little overwhelmed looking at the schedule. Even with the “lite” version, there’s around 5 hours of meditation each day, plus rules to follow for when I’m not working/needing to do the “essentials”: not exposing myself to content with the outside world, refraining from interacting with others, etc. Still, it is only 10 days, and I’m excited to see what I’ll learn.

(Obviously, writing blogs is out of the question for that time, so see you all in two weeks or so!)

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“Brick by boring brick”

If there’s anything to describe 2020, it’d be this phrase nicked from one of the readings on “The Daily Stoic Journal”. (It’s also one of the reasons why I managed to finish the journal in the first place. I started it in 2019, but only completed only around 5% by the end of that year. Oops.)

With everything going on, there was a lot of waiting. And putting plans on hold, if not cancelling them entirely. While there were milestones, there were no big celebrations. It just felt like a quiet, subdued year. Plodding along slowly, steadily.

This year, I learned how to do things little by little. An hour of exercise a day, and I’ve now done heaps more exercise than the previous year. Fifteen minutes of EspaƱol each morning and I’ve completed several online courses (and feeling a lot more fluent than when I stopped studying years ago). Thirty minutes of sewing and I’ve made around a dozen items of clothing in 2020, more than I made from the past years put together (and that’s not even counting masks). This year had more baking, more cooking, more piano playing, more meditation.

I always thought that I never had as much time as I wanted for my hobbies. I used to want to wait for long stretches of time to do things and complain that I never got to complete the projects I wanted to. But now I know, this small, steady bit of effort, no matter how unexciting it feels, all adds up sooner or later. Brick by boring brick.