How Mate & Fish Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Last Longer

Ok, let’s get serious now. New year is approaching fast. We better get ourselves ready for ‘new’ resolutions.

Often we recycle previous year resolutions. In fact, we might do that again next year (nothing wrong with that). My new year’s resolution in the last 2 years has been losing weight (lost 12kg so far!).

Or, we might have entirely new goals, and that’s fine too. 

Whatever the goals are, let’s work together so our new year resolutions will last longer. 

Are you ready?


I have a simple system, even created an acronym to make it easier to remember: MATe FiSh.

Let’s get started.

My ambitious goal and my ambitious goal only

MATe FiSh – My ambitious goal

Your new resolution should excite you. It should be ambitious. 

You want it to pull you forward towards it.It needs that extra gravity to do that. It must be exciting, powerful, and amazing.

But more importantly, make sure it’s yours, not anyone else’s (not your partner’s, wife’s, husband’s, parents’, etc, etc). You can talk about it with friends and family but it is important that you OWN this goal.

It is your ambitious goal.

When the going gets tough it is common to find excuses to jeopardise the resolution. If the goal is not yours often a slight obstacle will be enough to excuse yourselves away from achieving it.

Some common excuses:
I didn’t even want to do it in the first place.
They talked me into it.
My shoes are dirty, no running today then.

In order to help you with these simple steps, I will share my goal with you. My new resolution will be, you guessed it — losing more weight!

My doctor told me to lose around 35kg. I have managed to lose 12kg in the last two years. This time (or next year) my goal is to lose twice that in half the time, which is 24kg (yeah).

Ambitious? Yes!

What is your goal? 
What convinces you that this goal is yours?
Do you really 
OWNthis goal?

Achievable goal is the only goal that is achievable

MATe FiSh — Achievable

Sometimes the goal is set too high. It is so high up that it is almost impossible to achieve.

If the goal is almost impossible to achieve, then what are the chances of you achieving it? Almost zero it seems like.

So why do we set ‘almost impossible’ goals?

Are we setting up ourselves for failure?
Are we trying to build a red-face-safe exit (for when the going gets tough)?

Maybe we are afraid of failing our resolutions (again). Hence, we set them up so high it is not possible to achieve anyway (perfect excuse).

Set up a goal that you can actually achieve — no more excuses now!

Some common excuses:
No one can do this. Definitely not me.
I knew it’s too hard to do.
I guess I aimed too high.

In my case, hmmm, maybe 24kg is too difficult to achieve. I’ll make it 12kg then. Wait a minute, not so fast. It is still too vague. I cannot confidently say I can achieve it, yet.

What about this. Losing 12kg through eating 30% less per meal (real advice given by my doctor). Wow, now it grips me, it is concrete and practical.

It’s not easy but it can be done!

Do you need to refine your goal to make it achievable?
Do you need to break it down into more practicable chunks?
Are you more confident now that you know you can achieve this goal?

Time elements to make it alive

MATe FiSh — Time elements

So now you have an ambitious goal and you know you can achieve it. But still, often the goal just sits in your mind, not moving. It stays quietly in the ‘new resolution’ section of your brain.

It is nice to think about the goal though. But it is not real until you put time elements on it .. tick .. tock .. tick .. tock.

‘Running’ and ‘Running at 6am’. What is the difference?

What about ‘Running at 6am on the weekend’?

Let’s add one more element: ‘Running at 6am this Saturday’.

Can you see that by adding time elements, suddenly the goal is real? It becomes alive. It is so real you can almost touch it.

Why?

When a goal lacks time elements, it is just sitting in your mind waiting to be realised. 

Time elements move the goal to cross path with your life.It is not an idea anymore, it’s part of your life.

Some common excuses:
I’ll get to it later.
Life has been so busy lately, I don’t have time.

Let’s look at my example. I want to lose 12kg next year by eating less. Adding time elements and the resolution will be: ‘starting to eat 30% less on 1st January’. The goal will cross path with my life next year, on 1st January.

How would your goal look like with time elements?
Can you see how your life will cross path with the goal now?
How does it look like now that it is part of your life?

First step will set you up for a good year

MATeFiSh — First step

Your goal is now a part of your future. But we still need to smooth out the crucial moment when it crosses path with your life. Think of it as a starting point of a long walk.

A good start will set you up for a good walk.On the other hand, a bad start will discourage you. This is your first step in achieving your new year resolution.

Make it as easy as possible to take that first step. You just need to start, that’s all. It does not have to be a big leap. A small step is enough.

Some common excuses:
I am supposed to start running tomorrow but it feels so hard.
I don’t even know where to start.

So, back to my example. I will start eating 30% less on 1st January. My first step will be eating less breakfast. It’s easy enough to do. I just need to use a smaller breakfast bowl.

What is your first step?
What can you do to make your first step as easy as possible?
How do you see yourself completing the first step?

Share the goal with someone you trust

MATe FiSh — Share the goal

You have the artilleries you need to achieve this goal. Now, let’s get some supports. Share the goal, the time elements, and the first step with someone you trust. Ask him/her if it’s ok to be your accountability partner.

The act of sharing alone is beneficial. It is like a semi-public declaration of your intention. It can be very motivating knowing that someone else knows what you want to do next year.

However, the real power of sharing your goal with another person is ‘accountability’.

Now you are not alone. There is someone else watching over you. His/her role is to be your accountability partner as you move forward to achieve your goal.

How is this helpful?

There will be obstacles along the way. There will be times when you are unsure about yourself.

Your accountability partner is the one who will help you get back on track.

Some common excuses:
I cannot do it by myself.
This is too difficult for me.

As with my goal, I have shared it with you guys here as well as with my wife and kids. They will keep a close watch of what I eat next year. No more second or third portion for me.

Who can I trust to be my accountability partner?
How do I share my goal with him/her?
How will this ‘accountability’ relationship work?


So that’s all folks.

Follow the steps: MATe FiSh.

And do it.

I am confident (and I am sure you are too) that your new year resolution will be a success!

Are you ready to make next year a fantastic year?

Cheers!


“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” — Carl Bard

A Gift That Soothed An Anguished Heart

Well, Christmas is around the corner. Tis the season of giving. It is time for dinners, jingles, carols, and everything else Christmassy. Everyone always seems so happy.

Not everyone. Not always.

My name is Jim, and I was born around 50 years ago in a little city called Perth.

It was Friday, December last year, and I managed to finish work early. My wife asked me to buy a roast chicken on the way home.

“Jim, you finish early today. Have you got a special plan?” Derrick, my boss, asked me.

“Ahh .. buy a roast chicken, then probably clean up the gutters,” I said.

“Not going to the shop for some presents?”

“No, I am not into gifts.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, my wife is not into it either.”

“Not even something small?”

“Well, I am not really into Christmas.”

Derrick was a lovely person. He had known me for almost ten years. He knew why I hated Christmas celebration so much. Around three years ago, my only son, Clement, was killed in a fishing accident. Clement was mentally disabled. He went fishing on a boat with his cousin. Somehow, they both decided to dive, and, he never came to the surface. It was highly unusual, a freak accident.

The accident happened just a few weeks before Christmas, before his birthday. He was born on Christmas day.

We did not celebrate Christmas that year and never did since.

I parked my car and started to walk to the shop to get the chicken. It was windy and dusty. I saw a homeless man sitting in front of the shop. He looked like he had not showered for weeks (or months).

As I stepped into the shop, I could not help thinking that I knew that homeless man. His face was familiar.

I got the excellent, toasty, roast chicken, and went back home.


Photo by Jonathan Radoson Unsplash

My wife, Joyce, was waiting for me at home. She was making salads to go with the chicken.

“Ahh you’re finally here,” she said.

“Yes, I am here, finally,” I said, not sure what she meant.

“My phone is nowhere to be seen. I was going to tell you to get milk and coffee as well.”

“Ooh yes. Ok, I can drive back to get those.”

“Sorry about that.”

“No problem at all.”

I went back to the shop. The shopkeeper recognized me immediately.

“You’re back,” he said.

“Yes, forgot the milk and coffee,” I replied.

“Well, we cannot live without coffee.”

“Haha, yes.”

“Hold on, I almost forgot. I have something for you.” He handed me a hand-written note and I read it quickly.

“Where did you get this note?” I asked, with my eyes wide open. “I used to say this to my son, Clement.”

“A homeless man asked me to give it to you,” he said. “He was sitting in front of the shop before.”

I rushed out of the shop.

He was not there anymore. The homeless man was gone.

I went home. I did not tell Joyce about the note. We had dinner, watched some shows on TV and started to chat.

“I feel like we should do something different this year,” she said to me.

“What do you mean?” I replied.

“Well, it’s been three years since the accident.”

“Yeah.”

“Don’t you think we should move on?”

I didn’t say anything. I tried to smile.

“It’s been hard for me too,” she said.

“I know,” I said quietly.

“But we can’t do this forever.”

“Yeah.”


Photo by RU Recovery Ministrieson Unsplash

We went to church on Sunday.

I kept thinking about the note. “Should I tell Joyce about it?”

The preacher was saying something about an afterlife. About how our life on earth is only temporary. And how Jesus came down to earth so that we would have eternal life.

“This is what Christmas is all about,” he said from the podium. “Christmas is not just presents. It is about the birth of a saviour.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

After the service, our pastor Paul, came around to talk to us.

“Jim and Joyce, how are you two doing?” Paul asked.

“Ah well, we’re still here,” I replied.

“Thank you for the sermon, Paul,” Joyce said.

“Yes, I thought about you two as I was preaching.” Paul pulled us aside. “I know things have been very tough in the last few years. But there are greater things up there in Heaven. Christmas is about hope for eternal life. Jesus came to the world to bring hope and salvation.”

“Yes, that’s true, Paul,” I said. “Hope for eternal life. I like the sound of that.”

I decided then it was time for Joyce to know about the note I got from the homeless man.

We went home, and I asked her to sit with me.

“What’s going on, Jim?” she sounded a bit worried.

“Well, I have this note. A homeless man gave it to me.”

“A homeless man?”

“Yes, he was sitting in front of the shop where I got the chicken on Friday.”

“Ok.”

“I’ve been wanting to tell you about it.” I tried to calm myself. “But only today after hearing Paul’s sermon that I had the courage.”

“It sounds serious, what is it?”

“Remember what we used to tell Clement when he was still a little boy?”

“Yes?”

“Look, here’s the note.”

Someone else was born on Christmas. He was born in a poor family but went on to be the saviour of the world. You can be great too, Clement. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Underneath the note there was a small writing: “I am safe with Him now”


Merry Christmas 2018.

Thank you for reading.

I hope your Christmas is filled with heavenly miracle, joy and blessings.

Two Toxic Failures And A Poisonous Win

I was sipping my morning coffee when I felt somebody tap me on the shoulder.

“Morning, Fred,” Zach, the cafe owner smiled. “You’re super early today.”

“Ahh yes, I have a lot in my mind,” I replied.

“Do you want to tell me about it? I am a good listener,” he said.

“Are you sure? I won’t say no to that.”

“Yes, of course.”

“Well, my work has been less than spectacular lately.”

“Ok.”

“Honestly, I feel like a failure.”

“How long have you been feeling like this?”

“Ever since I lost my biggest customer last month,” I said. “I am a senior sales executive but I feel defeated and helpless.”

“Let me tell you a little secret, I am an expert in failing.”

“Haha, ok, I’m listening.”

“There are three things I am going to tell you. I call them: ‘Two Toxic Failures and A Poisonous Win’. Remember Fred, they might seem normal.” He looked rather serious. “But they are as dangerous as venomous snakes.”

“You mean we don’t see them as out of ordinary?”

“Exactly!” Zach sat next to me. “The first toxic failure is called ‘I Will Fail’. This is the time when you believe you will fail regardless of the situations.”

“Ahh, that is how I feel now. Hmm, it does feel normal.”

“Do you know why? Because you are telling yourself that. Your self-talk convinces your mind.”

“Yeah, I’ve been telling myself how much of a failure I am. So, you’re probably right.”

“You said you feel defeated and helpless. What makes you think that?”

“The world is obviously against me. I worked hard but I still failed. It’s not fair. What else can I do? It’s better if I stop trying.”

Zach poured himself a cup of coffee. “Fred, the world is neither fair nor unfair. Sometimes we get lucky but misfortunes happen too. You don’t get a special exemption, you know.” He sipped his coffee. “Staying where you are, doing nothing, will only yield nothing, nill, zero. Moving forward, on the other hand, carries with it the possibility of a brighter future.”

“The way you put it kind of makes sense. So, I don’t know if I will fail or not, but I need to try because doing nothing will yield nothing.”

“Yes, that’s the gist of it.”

“What’s the second toxic failure?”

“Haha, not so fast. I want you to go and dwell on it first.”

“Seriously?” I sighed.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I went to work thinking about how I kept blaming everything around me when I lost that customer. I blamed the product, customer service, bad timing, even my aftershave cologne for not smelling ‘right’. The more I thought about it the more I realised how utterly ridiculous it was.

The world was not against me. I could move forward.


The following morning, I was back at the cafe, eager for the next lesson.

“Fred, you’re back. Are you ready for the next toxic failure?” Zach smiled at me.

“Yes, I am,” I smiled back.

“The second one is called ‘I Have Failed’. This is the time when you still blame yourself for your past failure and it paralyses you. It is different from the first toxic failure which is ‘I Will Fail’.” Zach stopped for a second. “I Will Fail’ looks at a bleak future where everything is against you while ‘I Have Failed’ is about past failure and regret holding you back.”

“Whoa, I was doing that yesterday, here in the cafe. Regretting, being glum and gloomy.”

“Remember Fred, the past is physically unalterable. What we said and did, and everything else, happened because all the factors that were required for them to occur were present at the time. You cannot change the past, but you can change your perspective on it.” He poured more coffee into his cup. “Learn from it. The past has happened. Now it is merely data for your perusal.”

“That’s amazing Zach, I never thought about it that way. You’re right. I cannot change the past, but I can use the data to better my future.”

“Fantastic!”

“Tell me about the poisonous win. Wait, you want me to go and ponder about the second toxic failure, don’t you?”

“You read my mind.”

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

I drove my car out of the cafe. I realised what was paralysing me all this time. It was the overwhelming regret of losing my biggest customer. The past was meant to happen and there was nothing I could do about it.

I could finally let go of the past and it was liberating.


Zach was waiting for me at my favourite table. He was reading the newspaper.

“Fred, you look fresh!” he said to me.

“Ahh, yes, I have been feeling much better in the last few days.”

“My pep talk seems to work then.”

“O yeah, it works!”

“You’re ready for the final lesson?”

“Yup, I am all ears.”

Zach put his newspaper away. “Ok, so this is the other side of the coin. This is the time when you feel you cannot fail. That you will always win.”

“Guess what, that’s how I felt before I lost my biggest customer.”

“Yup, it is common to feel that way before you fail. It’s the pride that comes before the fall. Those who believe in their invincibility will come to a shock when they realise that, like everyone else, they can break too.” He looked at me sharply. “Falling apart in the face of major stress is normal. It is humbling, and humility is an important ingredient to build resilience. Through humility, you are able to fall gracefully, only then you will come back with strength.”

“Wow, that is intense. I did feel deflated after I lost my biggest customer.”

“Yup, the fall must be hard.”

“It was.”

“Fred, I hope it helps. That is the last lesson. Let me know how you go in a week.”

“It does help. I have to go now, but I do feel much better. I think I am ready to move forward. Thanks, Zach!”

Photo by Jake Hills on Unsplash

The following week I pushed myself harder. I kept telling myself that losing my biggest customer was an unalterable past and that’s ok. I had to leave all that behind. I must move forward to achieve a better future. There was no other way.

And I did.


I looked for Zach in the cafe. It was cold and I was so ready for a hot cup of coffee.

“Fred, good morning! How are you feeling?” Zach appeared from behind me.

“Hi Zach, you scared me a little there. You know what, our conversations really changed me.”

“Keep going.”

“First, I pushed myself to take a step forward, just one step. That one step then led to another one, and another one. Now, I am moving with speed and confidence.”

“That is great, Fred! Remember how gloomy you were last week?”

“Yes, no more of that. Thank you for helping me out.”

“Wait, wait, hold on. Do you want to know a little secret?”

“Yes.”

“You did it yourself. You convinced yourself to take that step forward. And you did.”

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill

As published on The Ascent – Two Toxic Failures and A Poisonous Win