I once read that somewhere that “will, imagination, faith and reason are the only states of consciousness.”
With this in mind and with the New Year, I had asked friends, family and associates about their resolutions and goals for 2016. It was interesting to hear the intentions behind them and the unique approach to fulfilling these.
Some of the people have started working on their goals right away, while others are taking a slower pace. One person I know has a list of 100 goals that he would like to achieve for the year, and at the opposite end of the spectrum, another person made only one or two short-term goals. The rationale for focusing on a few short term goals was that he is dissuaded from making long-term goals because they are harder to achieve and he believes we have little or no control over the ever-changing external factors that affect our lives.
Personally, I feel the best New Year’s resolutions are those that we are actually able to realize. Here are the top five resolutions that stood out for me as worth noting for this year:
- Health: There is a lot of truth in the saying “if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.” My cousin told me that she wants to be able to put on her own socks when she is 80 – so health is her number one priority and it is a good one!
To achieve good health, movement is key. We can easily add standing, pacing, and other forms of activity into our daily routines. Opt for a stand-up desk, park your car at the furthest spot, and take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. These are just some of the simple steps we can incorporate into our daily lives to help us achieve the goal of leading a healthier lifestyle. Not fully convinced that small changes can have a big impact? I read somewhere that standing up three hours a day is the equivalent to completing 40 marathons in one year!
- Be in the moment and connect: Often we are so focused on reaching our destination, we forget to enjoy the journey. Make the time and take the opportunity to connect with others; after all, there is great fun to be had and memories to be made and shared. A friend told me one of her resolutions is to take more pictures and to take the time to connect one-on-one with people already in her life and those she will meet in 2016.
Sherry Turkle, author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, writes that texting or not paying attention create disengaged conversations that lead to a lack of empathy. “Face-to-face conversation is the most human and humanizing thing we do,” writes Turkle. “It’s where we develop the capacity for empathy. It’s where we experience the joy of being heard and understood.”
People, she adds, “(are) not learning about each other and not learning to empathize with each other because they are time-sharing.” There’s a term for when people can’t get off their phones even when with their significant others: “Pphubbing.”
It was coined in a 2015 study conducted by Baylor University that showed, of the 453 adults surveyed, 46.3% were being “Pphubbed” by their partner, leading to lower levels of satisfaction in relationships.
Seek opportunities to show you care like taking the time to put the phone away and truly give the gift of your attention and ears to someone else. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.
- Balance: The individual who shared his 100 goals, when asked further about his goals, said his number one goal is balance! Having a very busy job, he spends a lot of time at work, and when not at work, he is constantly thinking about work – leaving very little room for anything else.
This is a challenge most of us face right now, but it is in fact possible to achieve balance. The first step is to take the time to simply reflect.
According to a new working paper from Harvard Business School, setting aside 15 minutes to write at the end of the workday is enough to make you better at your job.
“When people have the opportunity to reflect, they experience a boost in self-efficacy,” says HBS professor Francesca Gino. “They feel more confident that they can achieve things. As a result, they put more effort into what they’re doing and what they learn.”
It’s a magical key to happiness even at the workplace and learn how to practice mindfulness in such a way that you can create moments of happiness and joy for your own nourishment. Our branded journals can help you capture beautiful moments. They make useful and purposeful giveaways with your company logo.
- Fun: Simply take the time to be less serious, and have fun. Whether it is by yourself, with a dear friend or loved one, take the time to have fun and joy in your life. By doing so, you will also be succeeding in fulfilling goal #2 – to be in the moment and connecting with others.
- Think BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal): Earlier I mentioned one person told me they only focus on short-term goals as they are easy to achieve. Yes, there is some truth to that but large long-term goals may not be easy to achieve but are always worth the hard work. When you think BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), you not only set your sight on a challenge but also you extend your comfort zone – which is an excellent way to progress and grow on this journey called life.
There is no short supply of BHAGs – learn a new language, write a book, climb Mount Kilimanjaro are a few examples. Difficulty in learning new things is not only to be expected but it can be beneficial because it increases your intellectual abilities (not to mention add a new skill or talent to your list of achievements).
Regardless of what your goals or intentions are for the New Year remember to have fun. And while on the subject of the New Year, Chinese around the world will be celebrating the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival on February 8, and it’s the year of the Red Monkey, the 9th animal in the 12 animal cycle of the Chinese zodiac. People born in the Year of the Monkey are characterized as quick-witted, curious, innovative and mischievous.
The Chinese Spring Festival
The Chinese New Year is a time for big celebrations to show off Chinese culture and traditions and to let both Chinese and non-Chinese alike learn more about Chinese New Year and its history. Families get together and have huge meals. Firecrackers are let off to scare monsters and chase away bad luck. Parades and festivals pop up all over the world as pretty much everyone wants to be Chinese, even if just for a few weeks.
If you are visiting a Chinese friend for the New Year, remember to bring a small gift. Food items are always welcome, especially if they are wrapped in red, gold or orange to symbolize prosperity. Some suggestions for gifts: Fruit baskets that contain tangerines, oranges or peaches; food hampers; decorative ornaments for the home in warm colors of gold and red.
When it comes to gift-giving for Chinese New Year it is just as important to know what NOT give. Here is a list of gifts you should avoid for Chinese New Year:
- Mirrors: not a popular gift in general is Asia. Not only are they easily broken, they are believed to attract malicious spirits and ghosts.
- Pears: giving food items is generally a good idea; however, stay away from pears. Although nutritious and delicious, pears are not considered a good gift because the Chinese word for pear sounds the same as the word for parting or leaving.
- Shoes: Not a good idea for Chinese New Year. Again, it is to do with semantics as the Chinese word for shoes sounds exactly like the word for back luck or evil. Even if the person on your list is an avid shoe lover, avoid them at all costs.
- Anything to do with the number ‘4’: The number 4 is not well received as it sounds similar to the word for death. So stay away anything to do with the number 4, this means even gifts that are in multiples of 4 (such as wine glasses).
- Black or white: These colours are associated with death and funerals in Chinese culture so best to avoid gifts that largely in those two colours. However, red is a very well-received colour – so don’t be afraid to go wild with the colour red including red wrapping paper!
If you would like our Insider’s Guide to Gift Giving© please click here to request your copy. You will find useful information on how to show you care and how to avoid cultural blunders in a multi-ethnic society.
If you need help with your Chinese New Year gifts, please call us at Tel: 1-800-397-2882 to discuss your needs.
All my best,