Category Archives: Year Review

What Have You Learned This Past Year?

A single day can offer multiple lessons. When you consider this, it’s amazing to realize what an entire year can bring.

Amidst 365 days, you’ve probably experienced all the human emotions this world has to offer. A mixture of happiness, satisfaction, love, regret, pain, disappointment, depression, and whatnot, have all crossed your path one way or the other. A year is too long and at the same time too short not to experience everything you needed to experience.

From these wide range of experiences, we all learn.

We learn to be a little bit more cautious when trusting people. We acquire skills we never thought we could through our work. We rekindle passions and yearnings in life that we thought were long gone as we grew older. We learn, we develop, and most importantly, we grow.

On one hand, it may be difficult to pause and reflect everything that’s happened to you in one year. Some keep a journal or maybe even a blog, but somehow, no one can truly capture a year’s worth of experiences. Instead we remember moments and the emotions that stick to them. We remember them not just for this year, but these are memories that we will remember for many years to come.

It’s okay to forget the details. What’s essential are the lessons we’ve learned along the way. This may all sound cliché, but you have to admit the learnings we’ve all gathered do mean something. We might have forgotten the exact day or the time, but we won’t forget who we were with or what we felt when we were with those people.

As we move forward into another year, now is the time to look at the lessons we’ve learned, and think of ways on how to apply them moving forward. This isn’t merely undertaking a New Year’s resolution or a vow or anything (although those will help), but the way you approach the upcoming year’s challenges will be a testament if you’ve learned your lesson or not. Inevitably, you will fall. In the same way, you will also grow and rise from your mistakes and failures. The unending cycle of learning will not or should not cease.

As humans, we continue to grow, we continue to move forward.

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What’s Your Season Finale?

All the good TV show nowadays have a season finale. With the season finale, the series can have its closure, its climax or a turning point, or it can even breed new scenarios and possibilities for the upcoming season. We’ve probably all experienced the joy, sadness, suspense, and excitement of watching a TV show’s season finale.

In a way, the end of a year can be a season finale. Every human being in the entire planet can experience a LOT of things over the course of a single year. You may not notice it, you may not even admit it, but a lot has happened to you this year. Think about it. Even if you’ve been doing the same thing or being in the same job the past couple of months, you can’t say that the same thing exactly happened, right? I don’t think it’s possible at all. Things change, people change, and your own self has changed.

With the New Year upon is, what can you expect in your personal life in the next two weeks? Will you end on a good note? A sour one? One filled with redemption or forgiveness? There are a bunch of possibilities and it’s up to you to reflect and think what this past year has given you.

We all know time moves quickly, but we mustn’t forget to pause and reflect. The holidays is the perfect time to think about what you’ve gone through the past year. Think of all the hurt, pain, as well as the joy and happiness that you experienced.

The thing about season finales is that there’s always the next season. We’re not taking about a series finale or anything like that. One season can end but a new season is waiting right around the corner. Sometimes we just have to accept all the things we’ve gone through in the year and prepare for the next one.

It’s up to you to make your season finale of 2014 memorable.

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How’s The New Year Going?

We’re nearly seven months into 2014. Can you believe that? Just a couple of months ago I was writing about the upcoming year and if it was going to be better than the last. Maybe now is the perfect time to stop and reflect on the past seven months. Were you able to complete the goals you set aside? What about the resolutions you decided to make? How different is this year from the last?

The fact that we are seven months in brings about different reactions from people. Some are excited, some are already feeling regret, while some just didn’t realize we’re more than halfway into the year.

A lot can happen in a couple of months, what more in a year?

Maybe time is relative. Our own personal timelines are totally different from the universe’s. Let’s say our definition of one year can be simply just one month and not longer.  We won’t know for sure really. I mean, we don’t know what the Egyptians or Romans or some ancient ancestors thought when they made the calendar.

Maybe we shouldn’t base our progress in a calendar. The longevity of a job, of a training, or even a relationship can be subjective. To some a day in the office is a rush and just a blink of an eye while some feel like it’s an eternity. In the same way, can’t a year feel like the same?

On a personal note, I’ve let things flow more this time around. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not just a “I’ll see how this goes” kind of perception. I’ve been letting things flow in a sense that I’ve been more trusting on what God’s been giving me. I’m tired of just making my own plans and somehow plugging in Christ into whatever I’m doing. This year I think I’ve learned to trust more. Trust on the future because I’ve been working my butt off in the present. Trust on tomorrow because I’ve been living in the today.

I don’t really know how my New Year’s going. I’m not richer than I was a year before, I’m not smarter, I’d like to think I’m wiser but I guess not really. But somehow even though those things seem the same on the surface, there’s a different sense of calmness and acceptance this time around.

A lot of things can be the same but how you view them can be totally different.

Maybe you are getting better in each month. And praise God for that, good for you. If you’re reading this and feel like you don’t know where you’re going, that’s okay too. I pray that you find peace in the uncertainty. Live by faith and not by sight.

Nearly seven months in. Good luck to the rest of the year!

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Is Next Year Going To Be Better?

This is a question that you’ve been probably wondering. Even if you don’t want to expect anything next year, I’m sure there’s something deep inside of you that makes you hope. Besides, who wants to have a bad year anyway? Sometimes we don’t even want to expect anything so that we won’t get disappointed in the end. Among life’s numerous lessons to us is the fact that most of the time, we don’t get what we want. That isn’t really a depressing fact, it’s just… a fact. In the course of one year, a lot of things can happen. It won’t be always sunshine and rainbows and you can be sure it won’t be bad all the time. It’s just a matter of when these things will happen. It’s like one of those Keeping up with the Kardashians episodes wherein you’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen but there’s a 99.9% chance that Kim will bitch around. (Did I just use a KWTK analogy? And did I just an acronym of the show? Oh yes I did!)

In my research (basically pestering other people), I think a number of individuals can be categorized into the following subsets with regards to their approach to the following year:

a)   “2014 will absolutely be better! I know it! I’m filled with so much hope and excitement! Bring it on!”

b)   “I don’t really care. I’m just a go-with-the-flow type of person. Whatever happens, happens.”

c)    “I don’t want to expect anymore. If you don’t expect anything, you won’t get disappointed that much.”

d)   “Okay, I’m now X years old. I’m mature. I’m an adult. I don’t want to get my hopes up too high or too low either. I’m just going try to do my best and see how it goes. It’s just another year for crying out loud.”

e)   “Wait, it’s New Year’s already? I didn’t get the memo! Time flies so fast!”

These are logical, reasonable, and even normal, for anyone. I’ve been pondering this question on how do we become assured that the following year will be better than the last. Is it the fact that last year sucked so bad that the next one couldn’t be any worse? Or is it the other way around wherein 2013 was so good to be true that you’re afraid that 2014 will be the exact opposite? Do we go with the psychologist Francis Galton and factor in here the whole “nature vs nurture” thing? Do you solely rely on your own abilities on how you can make next year better or will fate play a much bigger role? We not only don’t know what’s going to happen around us, but we also aren’t sure on how we’ll react when certain things happen.

Ergo I came up with a little theory on a person’s character and the bricks that life throw at you:

If you are younger than 22 years old: Certain situations help you build your character

If you are older than 22 years old: Certain situations reveal your character

See the difference? When you get old enough, things that life throw at you will show who you really are. You’ll either be a Kobe Bryant who’ll persevere through victory and especially in defeat or be a Lamar Odom and cover yourself up with defense mechanisms and drugs that your wife Khloe will leave you and you won’t be on a reality show in the next hundred years. (Yes, I just placed an NBA analogy together with a Kardashian. Someone shoot me now.)

That being said, by the time you’re an adult, circumstances make you realize the different sides of your personality. So for next year, I’m about to try something different. Well actually, this isn’t necessarily new; I just didn’t have the follow through to have the mind set for the entire year in the past. I’m not sure how to explain it. I even think it falls under one of the aforementioned categories of people above. In any case, I’d like to share a song here by Kendall Payne. Kendall is a Christian singer but her songs are actually used in the hit TV series Grey’s Anatomy. Take a close look on the words of the song. I actually came across this when she sang for Cornerstone Church in California. If you want to listen to the song, you can just search it on YouTube. (Before she sang, Kendall shared a story about Mother Teresa, inspiring me to write my blog entry, “Are You Sure Where You’re Going?”)

 Pray by Kendall Payne

I will pray for you now, for you have been my faithful friends
While the road we walk is difficult indeed
I couldn’t not ask for more than what you’ve already been
Only that you would say these prayers for me


May your heart break enough that compassion enters in
May your strength all be spent upon the weak
All the castles and crowns you build and place upon your head
May they all fall, come crashing down around your feet
May you find every step to be harder than the last
So your character grows greater each stride
May your company be of human insignificance
May your weakness be your only source of pride


What you do unto others may it all be done to you
May you meet the One who made us
And see Him smile when life is through

May your blessings be many but not what you hoped they’d be
And when you look upon the broken
May mercy show you what you could not see
May you never be sure of any plans you desire
But you’d learn to trust the plan He has for you
May your passions be tried and tested in the holy fire
May you fight with all your life for what is true


I have prayed for you now all my dear and faithful friends
But what I wish is more than I could ever speak
As the way wanders on I’ll long to see you once again
Until then, would you pray these prayers for me?
Oh, that you would pray for me

Take a second and read the lyrics again.

I know right? There’s so much power and truth in the entire song. So, who cares if next year will be better or not? There’s a temptation that when we pray for ourselves or even for others is that we can hinder the things that God wants to experience for us. You understand what I mean right? I strongly believe that this will probably the hardest (and scariest) prayer you will ever pray. I mean, if you think about it, who asks for this stuff? I hope my heart breaks enough so that compassion enters in or may my blessings be many but not what I hoped they’d be? I’m not saying that you should pray that you’ll go broke or anything like that. Instead of just praying for circumstances to change, ask God to have a change of heart. It’s difficult, but I’m sure it’ll build character. It’s seems impossible, but of all the things you’ve been through, doesn’t this sound more hopeful than anything else? It’s uncommon, but in a world wherein everybody goes for something popular, this may be the most reasonable thing one can do. It sounds weird if you pray it, but I’m sure God will listen.

In the coming year, let whatever it is that suppose to happen, happen. Fall in love or fall out of love. Stay in your job or find another one. Accomplish your New Year’s resolution or fail. Get married and settle down or stay single. Forgive those who’ve wronged you or cower in hurt. Go on an adventure or realize that you’re already in an adventure now. They say life’s a journey, well because it’s true! Maybe you’re not over with a break up you had this year and frankly next year you might be still doing the same thing in trying to get over that someone. Maybe it’s a two-year journey not one. You have to welcome these things with open arms. But not in an arrogant way wherein you say “Bring it on 2014!” Oh yeah, what if 2014 strikes back and you’re not ready? As Rocky Balboa said, “it’s not how hard you hit; it’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

Hopefully I’ll keep this attitude for the rest of the year. As I pray for myself, I pray for these things for you too. Is next year going to be better? Let’s check up on each other as the year progresses. Happy New Year everyone!

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How Do You Make New Year’s Resolutions Work?

In my previous entry, I explained that accomplishing a New Year’s resolution is indeed possible. There are ways and tips to help you through a long and unpredictable year. Below are some of those random tidbits to aid your cause or in any case, something to think or smile about.

1.    Set realistic goals –

First off, don’t get ahead of yourself. Make simple and rational resolutions that you think you can actually pull through an entire year. This seems a fairly common sense type of advice but you really ought to look at it more seriously.

Imagine you had a friend named Bobby. Now Bobby wants to trim down for 2014. Seems like a normal and healthy goal for the year ahead. So how realistic should his target weight be? Should Bobby try to lose 90 pounds in 12 months or is it more reasonable for him to try to lose just 10 pounds every 2 months? For huge life changing resolutions, Bobby can simply take baby steps to attain his goal to lose weight.

2.    Don’t get into situations to be tempted –

From my previous entry, I gave an example of how distractions can deviate you from your goal. These distractions can come from friends, relatives, or even your own husband/wife. Sometimes we get into situations wherein we can’t help but join in. Peer pressure was evident in our youth, but I believe there are still forms of pressure from our environment even as we get older. Let’s say your goal for the year is to cut down on your drinking. That being said, maybe you shouldn’t go to bars or clubs for a little while. You can’t go out on a Friday night with your friends and kid yourself by saying “Oh, I’m just going to drink iced tea tonight.” I say don’t go out at all if you think the temptation is too much. Get away from distractions and anything that will allow you to be tempted. Stay home for the night or go watch a movie.

Do not go testing yourself either. You may have a strong will but don’t punish yourself by getting into situations where you have to question it. That’s silly. It’s like handing your enemy the gun and mock him by saying “Come on, hit me!”

3.    It’s a constant decision –

A New Year’s resolution is a constant decision that you have to make all throughout the year and not just on January 1st. It’s a decision that you have to make again and again if you really want your year to be a different.

A concrete example are people who flock to the gym by the first week of January and not see them again by February. It’s an on going commitment between you and your resolution.

I remember the movie, Keeping the Faith, wherein Edwin Norton who played a priest, was pressed with a dilemma of falling in love with his childhood friend and drop all his priestly vows or to stop with the nonsense and remain a priest. He confronted his senior and asked for advice on what he should do. The elderly priest said that being a priest is a commitment that you have to make again and again, and not just when you decided to follow this career.

Okay, maybe the priest example is a bit too extreme but you get the point.

4.    A vice is a vice –

Another piece of advice is to realize what kind of resolution you’re dealing with. Let’s go back to Bobby for a second and think about his goal to lose weight. It’s healthy, positive, and something he can really pursue. It’s not smoking, drinking, or even drugs. However, I think it’s a different ballgame when you’re dealing with an addiction or even a “sickness that you have.” Convincing yourself to quit smoking is very different to try to lose weight. There are not only the distractions from external factors, but it takes a whole deal of your internal demons.

You can’t just flip the switch and all of a sudden stop inhaling all sorts of things into your lungs (well technically you can stop immediately) but it’s different from losing weight or trying to be more charitable next year or spending more time with your family. There are some people who can do a cold turkey but 8 out of 10 times it’s really difficult. You’re dealing with a vice and more often than not, vices can consume you. Maybe you need a different approach that involves more people around you.

5.    Make room for adjusting your resolution –

Though time is relatively fast, a year can be long. A lot of things can happen that can either hinder or help you towards your goal and you have to give yourself for changes along the way. For instance, a common New Year’s resolution is to travel to a different place. The possibilities are endless for travel lovers that can go from Japan, Cambodia, Australia, Europe, and more. But what if it’s already September and you find yourself short on budget? Maybe it’s time to cut down and try for a local trip. You’ll still travel to a new place and who knows, maybe it’s the adventure you’re looking for.

6.    Don’t put too much pressure on yourself –

New Year’s resolutions deal with the concept of “me” and how the “me” can accomplish set goals. It is through the person’s determination and perseverance that he or she is able to achieve the promises that were made. However what if you don’t get to do what you set out to do at the beginning of the year? What if you didn’t get to save money and you’re still in debt? What if you didn’t spend more time with your family than you should have had?

Resolutions are made to have a better version of you after a year. Even though there is a possibility of you not getting them done, think of it as a journey that you’re pursuing. Maybe Bobby will lose just twenty pounds, or maybe instead of smoking one pack a day you’ll end just consuming half a pack, or maybe you won’t get to travel at all next year but you spent more time with your family. These little victories are still victories. Resolutions, big or small, take time. Maybe it will take a year or two, but keep pursuing them. You will learn, you will grow, and you will change.

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Do New Year’s Resolutions Really Work?

More than anything, a New Year brings hope to everyone. Whether you had a good year or a bad year, there’s so much anticipation of what the next year will bring. You don’t know what’s going to happen and that’s exactly the reason why it’s so exciting.

Along with hope is the concept of having New Year’s resolutions every year. These are promises, ambitions, and maybe even dreams we aspire as we look forward into the coming year. But do these self-made proclamations really work? If so, how do they work? On the other hand, if not, then why do people still cling to a hope? As you get older, you slowly realize that things don’t turn out quite the way you planned it. I believe that a lot of these plans begin at the start of every new year. So, do these resolutions really work? Well, yes and no.

YES

New Year’s Resolutions come in all shapes and sizes – losing weight, quitting cigarettes or alcohol, starting a new hobby, traveling to a foreign country, reading 50 books, and so on. I honestly believe that there are people out there who are really good in setting out goals for the year and actually achieving them. They have the dedication and the sheer will power to pursue what their set their mind to. I’m not just talking about the Michael Jordans or the Warren Buffets or the people you can find in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. I’m pertaining to more personal experiences like your boss who said that finally he won’t be late ever again, your younger sister who really saved money for a year, your boyfriend who said he won’t cheat anymore, or even yourself when you said you were going to read more books than watch movies this year. These acts take a lot of sacrifice and hard work (though maybe not the boyfriend cheating part because that’s pretty much a given).

If you really think about it though, achieving a New Year’s resolution shouldn’t be all that difficult. You set it, work hard for a year, and then reap the benefits. It’s supposed to be easy as one two three. And that’s why we see people change over a course of a year. We see a 200 pound friend slim down to size 30 waistline in just a couple of months. It didn’t happen overnight. It probably took a lot of sacrifice to not get that extra steak during his mom’s birthday party.

It’s truly possible and we’ve all seen it.

NO

At the other end of the spectrum, we also realize that, well, it’s pretty damn hard to set a year goal and actually see the results twelve months after. A whole year is pretty long if you think about it. A lot can change in your day-to-day schedule and we can forget the goal we’ve set at the beginning of the year. You may not notice it, but a year can fly by as quickly as the last one. It’s like you blink even for just a second and you wake up and realize you’ve just had a 3-hour nap. Old people say that life is fast and they’re exactly right. It just breezes past you. The moment you take a break from your goal, you might lose sight of it. This is also the reason why there are people who have the same New Resolution they had the previous year(s).

Aside from your own laziness and blindness, there are also distractions during the year. Take for example a friend of mine a year ago when he said he won’t eat McDonald’s for a whole year. Sounds great right? You know what I did? The next day I told him I’ll treat him to a burger and fries. Boom. Resolution over within two days. Sounds evil I know, but hey, I wanted to test the guy.

In most cases, I think people put a lot of pressure on the whole concept of doing a New Year’s resolution especially when they’re going to change a huge part of their life. Saying “Next year I won’t smoke anymore” will be such a big transition in your life that you bet on just because the numbers switched from 2013 into 2014. We all know it doesn’t work like that. It’s not a light switch you can just flick on or off. It takes time and a whole lot of effort.

The answer to “Do New Year’s Resolutions really work?” is in fact yes or no to various people. There are those who achieve success in the end and there are those who feel disappointed. On my next post, I’ll give a couple of tips on how to achieve a New Year’s resolution. They are just random tidbits to help people get through the year. Hope you keep reading!

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How Do You Measure A Year?

As 2013 is coming to a close, every person has probably already started to look back at the year that has gone. It is human nature to always stop and think if the year that you’ve been through is essentially good or bad. But how exactly do you reflect on the past year? A single year can contain multiple memories of happiness, regret, peace, loss, heartache, or love.

Do you measure… through Success?

This year may have been a good year for you professionally. You might have gotten promoted or you finally got the dream job you’ve always wanted. We all know how difficult it is to find your place in the world let alone a career that you can truly pursue. Through dedication and hardwork, this year may have been the one that made things click.

On the other hand, maybe you’re just in the middle of the journey, finding your niche in a career that you can call your own. In whatever point you are in your professional life, a year is a long time to gauge whether or not it has been a good one for you.

Do you measure… in Moments?

Normally, when people reflect about this year, they remember them in moments – the overwhelming feeling of excitement at the beginning of the year, the valentines date that had gone so perfectly, the summer trip you and your friends had, your memorable birthday that marked another milestone in your life, that difficult event you had for work that took away so many hours of your life, the feeling of losing someone you love dearly, the Christmas you spent with your family, and many more.

Reflecting on something, especially as long as a year, come in moments; moments of impact that changed the course of the year whether you notice them or not. They can be brief or even a long period of time, but be it as they may, these are the flashes in your memory that light up when you look back. You probably don’t remember what happened on a specific date, but you do remember what you did and the experiences that you felt. Good or bad experiences, these moments in a year are precious, momentous, and unforgettable.

Do you measure… in Love?

Do you know the song Seasons of Love from the Broadway Musical rent? “Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes – how do you measure a year in the life? How about love?” Yeah that song. It makes perfect sense right? Well, how do you measure in love? Do you measure the love that came your way through a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife or a birth of a child? Do you measure the love of your family and the growth you experience with each of your siblings or parents? Do we also measure through the friendships with other people that have been forged in the course of twelve months? On the other hand, did you experience the loss of a love this year? Do you measure your breakup or losing someone in death?

We measure in love – how much we have loved and how we are loved in return. We love when we are happy and fulfilled, and we also extend that love especially when we’ve been hurt or lost.

As the year comes to a close, measure the love that you experienced in the past and the love that envelops you now. Remember the people who loves or have loved you and the people you love yourself. Though love can be intangible and even immeasurable, we always choose to love because it is worthwhile. Hopefully, by the end of the year, you and I can say that we have loved and have been loved by others.

 

 

Of course, you can measure your year whatever you like – success, moments, love, or any other thing. It is your year. In looking back to a long year, you not only relive the memorable moments that you’ve experienced, but you also assess the person you are now. You look back to the instances that shape this exact moment in time. You look at yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually and try to measure how far you’ve gone compared to twelve months ago. In the end, you’re the only person who can measure your year so measure it with an open mind a patient heart.

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