journal/

on-going mostly unedited stream of thoughts

2023: aspirations

I have always written long-form for previous years’ new year’s posts, but I thought for this year I will adopt the bullet-point format like my year-in-review. Also previously I had focused on the psychological state I wish to cultivate for the year, but I have realised my psychological state hinges heavily on my physical state, so 2023 will continue 2022’s focus on my health and fitness. The rest will be a bonus.

I used to be a snob and thought goal setting for the new year was rubbish – the year markers are arbitrary and everyone is free to set goals every day not just on one day a year, but now I guess I see the value in rituals? I write morning pages everyday as a ritual to clear out my mind and set my aspirations for the day, so it is in line to set my grander aspirations for the year too.

Overall aspiration: improve metabolic health

My overall aspiration for 2023 is still to improve my metabolic health. Over the past year I have learnt that our metabolic health is basically the fundamental building block to the rest of our health. Poor metabolic health leads to poor energy and chronic diseases because of cascading hormonal effects. For me, it manifests as chronic migraines and to a large extent, chronic fatigue and poor recovery. I have improved my aerobic fitness and glucose metabolism for 2022, so for 2023 I would like to:

  • continue zone 2 training regularly
  • run my first 10km
  • incorporate resistance training into my routine

Bonus aspirations

Hopefully improved physical health will lead to improved energy, and that will allow me to expend more energy creatively. The past few years have been difficult for me to generate creative stamina and momentum due to my frequent migraines and energy crashes. Last year my physical energy improved, but I still found my creative stamina lacking. I feel like there is an order of priority in terms of energy allocation:

illustration of energy triangle getting filled bottom up
my energy triangle: it gets filled bottom-up

Nevertheless, I can still aspire:

psychological state

  • I hope to continue getting better at regulating myself. I feel like I still get deeply affected by my moods, innocuous events still trigger me, and I am still not really coping well with being sick. I guess you could say nobody copes well with being sick, but I do think one can be sick and still face the situation with equanimity. I would like to be able to heal well and not suffer the “double arrow” of being sick and then feel frustrated and depressed about being stick.
  • I think one of the greatest skills in life is to be able to switch contexts and psychological states quickly: not holding on to the past or dwelling on things longer than we should, being able to recognise a rut and know how to dig our selves out of it (thought about this when replying to a comment) – I tend to wallow and be really harsh to myself when things go wrong which most of the time is not helpful to the situation, the people involved and myself.
  • the answer to the above according to Buddhism is meditation, but maybe there is something more on top of developing awareness and regulation that comes with regular meditation – being aware of an issue, then knowing how to respond to it. Maybe that is the whole point of teachers, mentors, therapists, coaches assuming we can meet the right ones, but for people who don’t have such opportunities I wonder if we can develop our own frameworks.
  • related to the above I wonder if one can become better at directing ourselves to widening and deepening our soul. By soul I don’t mean it in the woo-woo sense, just the essence that is left after you take away the biology that powers us. That thing that drives our interactions with people, our creative output, our decisions.
  • I would like to have a regular meditation practice, but I think this every year/month/week and it almost never happens. Still good to aspire though?

writing

  • I would like to publish more frequently, not because I think more leads to better outcomes, but rather I would like to capture as much of my self as possible before I run out of time.
  • I would like to set aside time daily for writing instead of always leaving it to the last minute – i.e. every sunday to both write and publish. For some reason this has been challenging for me. I think I am semi-consciously aware of the psychic energy it takes to write and I have been trying to avoid the feeling of being mentally taxed? But I end up being really mentally exhausted every sunday instead. I wrote this post in chunks and it feels better?
  • write more poetry?

website

  • right now most of the content is reverse-chronological, and then there is the curated section. I would like to work more on collating the content meaningfully into interlinking themes. I’ve mentioned this probably a dozen times before but I could never find the mental space for a proper attempt. Organising content is hard!
  • take my learning seriously and capture more of what I’ve learnt into notes. I still don’t have a note-taking habit, so I consistently get amazed at something new I’ve learnt, and then forget all about it.

photography

  • take more photos and better ones.
  • get better at manual settings.

creativity

  • do something unexpected.
  • work on more combinatory projects? Would love to do something involving photography and poetry for example.

It seems like a long list but it is not meant to be a list of things I must get done in a year. It is just setting the direction my current self would like to move into. I would be glad to just be able to run my first 10km because that would mean successfully getting my fitness to a certain level. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll continue to avoid covid so it wouldn’t set back my aerobic fitness…though I also accept that this is not something that is within my 100% control, especially with the infectiousness of the new variants.

There will be misfortune, I anticipate. I can only hope if it comes I can meet it with as much equanimity as I can muster.

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