Yearlong Personal Projects

2012 brought its share of joy and sorrow, love and pain, exultation and frustration, luck and misfortune. While we’re probably grateful for whatever the last year brought us, aren’t we just glad that that part of our lives is over and we’re now embarking on a new beginning? I know I am.

But, can I also be honest? We may be in for a fresh start, but 2013 will not exactly be that different from 2012. The new year will bring its own share of joy, sorrow, love, pain, exultation, frustration, luck, and misfortune too. Sure, circumstances may be different, but all of them will be present again – both the positive and the negative. There will be a lot of blissful moments, but there will be certain occasions of gloom as well. As the days of this new year pass us by, the causes for grand celebrations will come just as frequent as the occurrence of devastating disasters (though we, of course, hope that the latter will be rarer than the former).

Success and failure will both dominate, as always. Lives will both be born and lost, as the natural cycle of life has always been. Wars will continue to ensue, crimes will still propagate, corruption will still be present, and the human race will still be enslaved by its own vices; but, at the same time, altruists will still continue to fight and inspire the rest of us to work towards a better world, technology will still grow at an overwhelming rate as it innovates for our convenience, lives can still be touched and changed every day by all of us  though unbenownst to us sometimes, and we are still on our way to improving who we are as we work on our empathy, as we become more human by remembering to respond to the humanity of others.

In short, the world is still the same even after all the fireworks, all the countdowns, all the celebrations, and the turn of the year as the clock struck 12 midnight on New Year’s Eve. It was just like you slept and partied through one night and woke up another day, rising to the same sun, the same sky, only a different year.

Photo courtesy of idlewild.org

But, there is always that sensational belief that a new year signals a new beginning, isn’t it? So, while technically speaking, the new year brings no new beginning, there is nothing wrong with starting the year caught up in the magic of such a belief. We may be set to simply continue what were and what have been when the first year of the new year comes along, but nothing drives us more to want to begin and spend the rest of the new year in the right fashion and with a hopeful and bold disposition than to believe that we are beginning afresh as new people who desire nothing more than to get through a year as perfectly as we can.

And so, as we enter 2013 – well, we have already entered it, I suppose – continue to hold onto the magic of a new you but, at the same time, remember that this new you still lives in the old reality filled with despair, gloom, and every kind of slavery and malevolence, calling out to you to initiate and spread hope, joy, and change. Use this new you, whatever it may be, to an advantage. Use it to help create a “new world” or change this old, rotten world – a new, a better world will never be attained without the effort of every member in the society to change what’s rotten in himself/herself first.

However, let’s face reality: the magic of  a new you is not always there to hold and last because we will soon get caught up in our chores and work. Soon enough, we will be thrown back into our cold, boring cubicles or back into our dull classrooms. And things will return to what they have been before – the old you living in the same old reality. It is only when the last second of 2013 ticks away that we drown ourselves again in the sea of fantasies, of resolutions, and of the magic of starting the new year with a new you. Don’t let that belief of a new you be simply a feckless cycle every turn of the year. Make it happen; you know you can.

So, here’s a piece of advice.

To help you make it happen and to remind you of the magic of ‘Project New You’ (for the lack of a creative mind) throughout the year or when the luster of the New Year’s Eve has vanished, look for a motivation that will carry you through the next 362 days. Embark on a yearlong project that will remind you to become better, to inspire you to always remember to respond to someone or to something with warmth and a smile, to teach you to be bolder and kinder, and to awaken that new you each day you rise from your bed.

Photo courtesy of Todd Clarke

Take a moment and think about a project you want to join or begin this year. There are several out there, such as Project 365, 50 Leaves, the Pay It Forward Movement, and Random Acts of Kindness. As for me, I’m working on a project that I call ‘Project One-on-One’, where I want to do at least one good or meaningful thing every week. I got inspired by this thing that I saw on Facebook, where the original idea was to write down each good thing that happened to you on a piece of paper and you collect everything in a jar. At the end of the year, you empty the jar and you look back at all the good things that happened. I really liked the idea, so I transformed it into something more meaningful for me. With ‘Project One-on-One’, I want to be able to remind myself to do something nice amidst the busy schedules and self-pampering, like splurging on food and getting a facial. The project does not necessarily mean going to a charity every week or donating to an institution every week. The deeds done can be anything from spreading awareness to donating to visiting an institution to doing something nice for complete stranger to genuinely listening to a troubled friend to giving extra to a taxi driver to giving food to streetchildren. There are no boundaries or concrete definitions to what a good deed can be. As long as it is genuinely done for another, then that’s it.

Photo courtesy of swiss-miss.com

You can do something similar or make your own twist to these projects or even make your own. Be inspired by what you do in these projects to be a beacon oflight, so to speak, to others who are grappling in the dark; to give voice to those who lost theirs to pain and suffering; to be a source of strength to the feeble; and to let yourself grow in the process. Be inspired by the photos that you take, the books that you read, and the deeds that you do. Translate what you have learned, read, and seen to something bigger, concrete, and meaningful. Let the project drive you to care more and hate less, to work more and whine less, to live more and be idle less. Hopefully, the project will make us all less ignorant, less insensitive, and less indifferent.

Now, here’s a common misconception that I hope you don’t treat as a blunder to the completion of your project: Many people tend to think that working on a project, especially those that involve acts of kindness, as some sort of an obligation. There is a very fine line between obligation and commitment. It may seem like an obligation, a self-serving one even, but it’s really a commitment. You desired and chose to do it, and the presence of choice makes the act not an obligation.

It is a commitment, so finish it.

Good luck, learn and grow from it, and most importantly, have fun. Here’s to a “fresh start, a “new you” and to hoping that the magic of a new you never fades as you get motivated and inspired by the project that you choose to work on.

Photo courtesy of wendibwrites.wordpress.com

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Have you worked on any yearlong project before? Or, are you working on one now? Tell us about it in the comments section or tweet it with the following hashtag: #personalproject.

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