Think back to what you were thinking about during New Year’s Eve in 2014..... You’ve vowed never to repeat the same mistake, you’ve promised to be a better person. If everything worked out as what was vowed and promised in the New Year’s Resolution, things would look brighter. But this is when reality steps in and lets you know bluntly what you haven’t accomplished. Have you kept up with your promise? Are you a different person now? If you’ve answered no to both of the questions, it’s time to do some major reality check.
Among the proverbs I’ve learned in Korea, the one that I find most brilliant is “작심삼일” or “a resolution that is only good for three days.” It puts my point in a nutshell. Why do people have such tendencies? From my experience, this happens when your goal is set too high. In other words, if your goal is unachievable to begin with, it would be virtually impossible for you to reach it. Reflect on your most recent resolution, perhaps the one you’ve made at the beginning of the semester. Better time management, less partying with friends, getting better grades... Do these sound familiar to you? Have you achieved them? If you have, congratulations! You should definitely share how you’ve achieved them with others. If you haven’t, you need to consider the factors that made it impossible.
For me, my all-time enemy was, and still is “procrastination.” I’ve mastered the art of procrastination at a very early age when I began to learn how to cram right before the deadline. At one time in my life, I actually thought that this was the only skill I need in life because of my ability to spark an unbelievable level of focus and attention at the last minute. The more my cramming skills developed the more I procrastinated. My hallucination of me thinking that I can get by everything with my cramming ability finally came to and end when I entered the university where I was bombarded by the workload. I felt like I was on the treadmill with the speed that was set too high. By nurturing my procrastinating tendencies, I realized that I had terrible time management skills. So, I vowed never to be “lazy” and I planned to type up all of my class notes and review everyday rather than right before the exam. I also planned to start working on my research paper as early as possible since I had to write 5-6 research papers in a quarter (10 weeks). Needless to say, this was never achieved. So I fell off the wagon of diligence and went back to what I knew how to do best: procrastinate. Around that time, I went to discuss my concern with my advising professor and he suggested that I take baby steps toward an achievable goal. I knew that was the answer in my head, but it was somehow crystallized when my professor suggested it. After days of reflecting, I was able to admit my strong and weak points and found a way to complement each other. I set my own deadline which is usually about a week before the actual deadline. This way I can activate my cramming skills within a deadline with a reasonable comfort zone. To this day, I still abide by little rule I had made with myself.
There is nothing to boast about in my story, but I did learn something that helps me in life: Don’t be too ambitious. Being overzealous in improving yourself won’t get you anywhere. If you are going to be on a diet, don’t eat meals (like egg whites, chicken breast, and a salad without dressing) which you won’t be eating for the rest of your life. If you want to improve your studying, don’t start something that you won’t be continuing for the rest of your life. Resolutions should not be a one-time event. It should be a meaningful turning point in your life which can help you become a better person within a few years ahead rather than transforming you straightaway. And most importantly, rather than trying to add a new trait, it would be more useful and economical to develop what you already are good at.
As the Christmas Carol goes, “’Tis the season to be jolly~!” But at this time of the year, it might be better to say, “‘Tis the season to reflect and make achievable goals for the upcoming year.” If you find yourself not being able to keep up with your New Year Resolution 2~3 years in a roll, chances are, you were too ambitious.