2019: The Year of Practicing Wellness

As the new year starts, my theme for 2019 is wellness - practicing it and being more mindful of its eight dimensions.

Happy New Year to all my readers, my friends, and my family! I’m excited to start 2019 with so many people by my side. Whether you’re someone I know in real life or someone I’ve connected with online, I want to thank you for being a part of this journey with me.

Continuous Improvement

For those of you who know me in real life, you’ll know that one of my most important values is a concept called “Kaizen”.

I came across the term for the first time several years ago in a business seminar, where the lecturer explained how Toyota applied it to all aspects of their manufacturing and management pipeline. The goal of Kaizen is simple — to make incremental improvements that produce large results over time.

Kaizen(n): a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices, personal efficiency, etc.

I try to apply this philosophy to all aspects of my life. As more of an introspective individual, I tend to reflect a lot on the decisions I make. I think it’s important to step back and analyze different dimensions of my life and evaluate what I can do to improve them.

Looking Back

At the beginning of 2016 and 2017, I published two posts listing my resolutions for the year.

In 2016, I committed to 20 different resolutions — some big and some small. I completed 15 of those 20 resolutions. These resolutions were specific and definitely achievable, but didn’t have any common thread between them. It felt more like a to-do list rather than items that would help my self-growth.

In 2017, I simplified and condensed my resolutions into five top-level items that I thought were important to me. These resolutions were too vague and over the course of the year, my goals had shifted slightly. I ended up only achieving a portion of each resolution.

In 2018, I chose not to make a list of resolutions. Looking back, I was discouraged because I was unable to achieve all my goals in 2016 and 2017. In addition, throughout the previous two years, I created this looming sense of artificial pressure that created more stress than motivation. Instead of being compelled by my goals, I felt discouraged by the burden I placed on myself.

This year, I’m trying something new. I originally wasn’t going to make this post, but hopefully, publishing it will make me more mindful of what I’m trying to achieve this year and moving forward. If I become lost throughout the year, I hope this post can ground me and bring me back to what I originally envisioned for myself.

The 8 Dimensions of Wellness

8 Dimensions of Wellness: Emotional, Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical, Environmental, Fianncial, Occupational, Social
Diagram from SAMHSA

Wellness is not something I’ve really written about or focused on in my articles and posts. It’s a term I closely associate with mental health — a topic that has been stigmatized in the past several decades for being somewhat taboo. In recent years, it’s become more acceptable to open up about mental health, and I’m pleased that people across the world are starting to write about something that can be uncomfortable, yet so important and central to each one of us.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines wellness as being in good physical and mental health. Wellness and stress are not mutually exclusive, which means that even when I’m extremely stressed, I should continue to strive for wellness. These are my thoughts on the following eight dimensions of wellness.

1. Emotional

My goal for 2019 is to develop better solutions on how I can cope with my emotions. This means being able to effectively cope with negative life events and create satisfying relationships that I can count on for the future. I want to get better at opening up to others and voicing my honest opinions and feelings to those that are willing to listen.

2. Environmental

A large part of my emotional well-being will come from immersing myself in supportive environments — people and places that support my personal growth. I want to get better at eliminating toxic and unpleasant relationships that hold me down and focus on developing ones that matter to me.

I know part of improving the environment around me will involve placing myself in uncomfortable situations and require me to step out of my comfort zone. I hope to be more cognizant of these crossroads and choose the decision that helps me grow in the long-run.

3. Financial

In previous years, I’ve been somewhat financially irresponsible. I tend to spend a lot of my money without analyzing where it goes or how I can better utilize it to set myself up for a more comfortable financial situation in the future. This year, my goal is to learn more about responsible saving and investing to apply it to my own financial situation.

4. Intellectual

The intellectual part of wellness is something I’ve always focused on in previous years. It’s always been at the forefront of what I think is important for self-growth. This year, I will continue to develop my knowledge in areas that I deem as important to my creative growth — design, technology, and business. I’m also challenging myself to add new skills and knowledge to my toolbox — learning Korean, improving at guitar, and reading more books.

5. Occupational

Putnam Investments has been a great place to work at for the past year and a half. They’ve provided a great platform for me to jumpstart my career, and I’m grateful to be able to work at a company that provides me so much opportunity to make an impact. As I exit the company’s rotational program and my title changes from Technical Associate to UX Engineer, I’m excited for the new challenges that will accompany my role in 2019. I especially look forward to developing deeper relationships with my coworkers and others I work with.

6. Physical

Nearly five years ago, I made a life-changing decision to improve my physical appearance. Five years later, I’ve become more complacent with my physical situation and have stagnated. I’ve realized that physical well-being is much more than just the way I look. It’s recognizing that physical well-being is comprised of exercising safely and correctly, eating the right foods, and sleeping well.

In 2019, my goals include improving my eating habits, obtaining more sleep (and taking fewer mid-day naps), and getting stronger at the gym. In addition, since picking up basketball my freshman year of college, I’ve gotten considerably better, but still lack the confidence and ability to play consistently in regulated league games. This year, I look to build upon my fundamentals to become a better overall player.

7. Social

Social wellness is one of the dimensions of wellness I think about a lot. 2018 has been a pretty turbulent year for my relationships. Since graduating last year, a lot of my friends have moved across the country and it’s been more difficult to connect with them. I know a lot of these relationships will slowly decay with time and distance, and although I’m disappointed that these friendships will most likely not be the same as they were in college, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to develop deeper relationships with the people around me.

Friends, coworkers, and previous partners that I’ve had the fortune of knowing — thank you for being a part of my life at one point or another. Although our paths have diverged, I’m grateful that we’ve crossed paths. I value the laughs we’ve shared, the lessons we’ve learned, and the relationships we’ve built. In 2019, I look forward to building stronger connections with those around me and fostering an elevated sense of my belonging.

8. Spiritual

I’ve never thought of myself as a “spiritual” person, but as I read SAMHSA’s definition of spiritual wellness — expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life — I realize that this is something I think about a lot.

For those who follow a sect of religion, it’s easier to connect meaning and purpose back to a higher power or objective. But for me, I’ve never really been a religious person. I was raised Buddhist, but not a very devout one. My family celebrated Christmas, but we were never Christians. The town I grew up in was predominantly Jewish, but I never bothered to learn about Judaism.

Through high school and much of college, I identified as nonreligious, holding science as the ultimate truth. However, after discussing the topic of spirituality with several of my friends who identify as religious, I’ve discovered that my views on the purpose of life are less firmly grounded than those of my peers who believe in a higher power. This year, I look forward to having more of these conversations to better understand my meaning in life.

As I move into 2019, my goal is to conduct more self-exploration and achieve higher levels of satisfaction across all eight dimensions of wellness. I’m excited for a new year with new opportunities and new people.