Full disclosure, I’m not the best at follow-through. I forget to text people back, I’m awful at replying to emails, and I’m constantly giving up on tasks that aren’t immediately easy. Not surprisingly, my New Year’s resolutions usually go the way of my unanswered texts and emails and failed tasks.
Most years, my resolutions end up being fairly cliché ones: drink more water, eat healthier, actually utilise my gym membership, go to all my lectures—you get the idea. Perhaps I’ve failed at most of them because subconsciously I don’t really want to achieve them; I have no impetus or particular motivation to stick to them. Or maybe it’s because they’ve all been focused on extrinsic things. That’s why this year I decided to indulge in a little bit of introspection to find something that I genuinely, truly wanted to change about myself.
Of course, I’m far from perfect, so I had a lot of less-than-ideal attributes to choose from. I need to be more patient, more conscientious of my surroundings, more environmentally-aware, less selfish; the slightly embarrassing and very confronting list is as long as Santa’s naughty list (which, after this introspection, I’ve decided I’m more than likely a part of). But the one thing that I’d been noticing increasingly over the previous few months was how pessimistic I’d become.
I’ll admit that I’ve never been a totally glass-half-full kind of girl. I’m not the first to find a silver lining or to look on the bright side of a situation. My motto has always been “expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed”; I’m my father’s daughter in that way (and in most other ways, too). While that was a pretty fail-safe outlook—I was rarely surprised when things didn’t work out for me—it also cast a very dark cloud over my life. I was always anticipating things going wrong; so much so that when something went right, I couldn’t even enjoy it because I was so busy wondering when the other shoe would drop.
So there it was. I decided I would be more positive. No more expecting the worst. No more anticipating failure. The funniest part was that once I had settled on my resolution, my first thought was, “I wonder how long this will last before I give up”. It took effort to push that out of my head and tell myself I could do this.
I’m proud to announce that I’m still sticking to my resolution. It’s not quite halfway through 2018 yet, but this is probably the longest I’ve ever kept a New Year’s resolution. And let me tell you, it has worked wonders in my life.
I started by encouraging myself when I felt like I couldn’t do something. I forced myself to go places and do things I didn’t particularly want to go to or do. I made sure I was speaking more positively about others as well as about myself; it’s made me feel good about those around me and my relationships with them, and also about myself. I put a real effort into consistently building up myself and everyone around me. It has made me infinitely more confident and optimistic.
I’ve come to realise that my pessimism was preventing me from achieving so much. There were tons of things that I wouldn’t even attempt because I thought I would fail or because “what’s the point anyway? I’m just one person, how can I make a difference?”. In the past few months I’ve become more conscious of my environment and of those less fortunate than I am. I understand now that although I’m just one person amongst billions, my actions have impact and can create change in the world, even if that change is small.
My newfound positivity has made me more patient and empathetic toward others and myself. I’ve learned the difference between “thank you” and “sorry”. I used to apologise for everything—I assumed I was being a burden on those around me. Now I realise that although I sometimes need to apologise for something I’ve done—”sorry for making you do this for me”—other times I need not apologise for my actions, but instead thank someone for theirs—”thank you for helping me do this”.
I’ve even noticed physical changes! I sleep better, my skin is clearer, I get fewer headaches (they used to be as frequent as twice daily), and I have more energy. I find it easier to interact with people I’ve never met and I’m more receptive to others reaching out to me.
In sum, a seemingly small adjustment of my outlook has created positive changes in pretty much every aspect of my life. I’m blown away by the massive turnaround I’ve experienced. The good news? You don’t have to wait until 2019 to do a little self-renovation.