New year goals and resolutions - Part 1

I didn't get the wrong month. I know it's the 31st of January - 1 month into the new year. Have you given up on your new year resolutions yet? (Did you even make any?)

If you've been following my blog, you must have noticed that I did not directly wish you a "happy new year" or a "happy new decade". I know it's customary to offer well-wishes but I find them meaningless. If you'd noticed my message in my blog header, what I wrote was actually a new year greeting : "9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1. Everyday is a day to be happy!" Some people thought it was my handphone number. (I wonder how many people tried calling!)

Countdown parties and celebrations are even more meaningless. After paying money to squeeze with the crowd and possibly get molested, everybody counts down together and goes "Happy new year!" and then what? The next day, many people are hung over and after the holiday weekend is over, everyone goes back to their regular dead-end jobs
suffering from post-holiday blues. I didn't want to write this article at the time when everyone was in a celebratory mood; I would have been accused of trying to spoil the mood. Now that we're 1 month past new year's day and we're all (hopefully) thinking clearly again, it's a good time to talk about goals and resolutions. In order to move on to the future, it's necessary to evaluate the past, learn from those experiences and know where we're at today.

2000-2009 - A zero-sum decade?
When I heard a discussion on CNBC about the past decade being a zero sum decade, it made me think whether the same can be said about my life too. Did I gain anything or am I back to where I was ten years ago? What did I accomplish and what did I learn? Did I change for the better?

Financially, I've advanced. I completed my studies, worked in global companies, paid off my study loan, saved and invested a portion of my income, and raised my standard of living. Although I think my financial accomplishments so far have been good, I realised that this is not the path that would lead me to where I want to go.

10 years ago, I knew that:
- money is important,
- to get rich, I need to sell something, and
- I can't become a millionaire by working for someone else.
As written in my article [What do you want to be when you grow up?], I had always wanted to be my own boss.

My experience in the corporate world has reinforced this wisdom that I had 10 years ago. Now, you may be wondering why I took the corporate path if I really had that wisdom. I had spoken to self-made millionaires. They shared with me that they started their own businesses by leaving the companies that they were working in and becoming suppliers to their ex-companies, e.g. one of them who used to work in a hard disk company as a engineer testing circuit boards started his own company that provided testing equipment for hard disks. I thought that this would be a possible path for me.

As for emotional and personal matters, I had tried to convince myself to think that:
- having a life partner was important and worth making sacrifices for and I should change myself,
- I needed to find the someone who could "tame" me,
- to see and focus on the good in people,
- to trust in God,
- to compromise, give and take, and
- people who are older and more experienced know more,

but now I'm sure that:
- a life partner is not worth sacrificing my health and sanity over. My character now is not different from 10 years ago. I cannot change to become somebody I'm not just to please another person.
- what I'm looking for isn't an owner who can tame me but a partner who can run alongside me,
- don't forget to see the "bad" in people and trust my instincts,
- there is no God, [Catholic turned Atheist]
- some things cannot be compromised. I may have improved my communication skills and tolerance level but principles cannot be compromised, and
- everyone has different experiences. A person's advice may be correct and applicable only to his own situation.

Considering my current status, I can't help but think I'm back to square one but 10 years older. But if I had not experienced what I had in the past 10 years, I wouldn't be so sure now. I wish I had known better but sometimes it's only possible to truly understand something after experiencing it.

You may not agree with everything that I've written here. And what I've written may not be applicable to you simply because you are a different person from me. The point, however, was to think about the past 10 years and evaluate whether it had been a decade of progress or a zero-sum one.

[New year goals and resolutions - Part 2]


David said...


An interesting look back at the last 10 years.

What are you looking forward to in 2020?


David said...


Read this post again, and I am left feeling a bit sad for you. There is a hint of sadness in the last two paragraphs or perhaps some regrets on your part.

You are most correct stating that everything you write here does not apply to everyone.

You life situation is unique compared to mine or anyone in SG.

Are no lessons learned that have helped you live better, or do something better than you could 10 years ago?

I look back 10, 20, and even more than 30 years of growth and I am a changed person.

A better person I hope and more loved.

And while you find no compelling reason for a partner, I could not imagine life without my wife!

Best wishes for you in 2010!

Perhaps shared experiences will benefit both of us.


Anonymous said...

Hi Yu-Kym

I agree with you views that after reflecting back about my life in the past decade, I am back on the same grid that I started in 2000, abeit with a pinch of sorrowness and hopefully wiser.

Maybe the Buddhism teaching that we are always revolving in cycles is a qualified truth. Unless we can find peace with ourselves, we will always find ourselves entrapped.

Hopefully one day down the road in this decade that we fully appreciate the virtue of having peace with ourself and break out of this vicious cycle.


Yu-Kym said...

David, I wish I could have known what I know today without having to spend time and energy going through what I did in the past 10 years, but there's no use regretting anything. I am thankful that it's not too late for me to make changes.

Hayek, I think I'm breaking out but I can only confirm it in 10 years' time! :) I hope you achieve your goals!