2020: Stop and smell the roses

Busy, that was my motto for 2019.

So many things happened last year which added colorful experiences in the chapter of my life.

In January, I went on a pilgrimage to Panama for World Youth Day where I experienced the love of a grandmother for the first time in my life. Living in their home in Chitre, also reminded me of the warmth of sharing breakfast with a family. This was something that I have forgotten because I have lived independently ever since I graduated from university back in 2012.

A picture with my foster sister, Angelica.

I also started my master’s degree in Business Psychology at Heriot-Watt University. My nights and week-ends were spent sitting in the living room, poring over journals and writing course works while being powered by cups of coffee. Sleep became a luxury as I would stay up late until one a.m. and wake-up at seven in the morning to get ready for work or to prepare for my morning classes during the week-end. It was difficult, but I enjoyed it.

On top of that, there was Toastmasters. As Vice President- Education, I juggled preparing the agenda and attending meetings along with my studies and my job. However, it was worth it. There is nothing more fulfilling than to see people grow as they gain more confidence with speaking in front of an audience.

Execom meeting with Committed

Then by September, I accepted a new role at work.

In 2019, I was as busy as a beaver that was nestled in a hive of productivity . I was chasing dreams and grabbing opportunities that would bring me an inch closer towards my vision for a better life.

However, it was in the midst of activity that I realized the importance of pausing.

Back when I was active in Toastmasters, I was advised to master the art of the pause.

Yet, mastering the pause isn’t a skill that is just applicable in public speaking. It is also applicable in life and it is known by the popular advice which encourages you to ‘stop and smell the roses’.

Stopping to smell the roses wasn’t my priority in 2019. I was a junkie for activity and I intentionally kept my plate full. Nothing made me happier than ticking off a task from my to do list. However, as the year passed, I became drained as I was snowed under stress of having too much to handle.

It eventually reached the point where the zest was gone. The days felt empty and I had to drag myself out of bed every morning.

I was inching closer towards my goals but I was also spreading myself thin and it showed. I would chug coffee by the gallon every morning, I had eye bags that refused to be ignored and I was constantly tired.

Instead of being happy, I was stressed with my mind constantly humming the rhythm of tasks that I had to accomplish.

I didn’t want to take a break, because in my head time is gold and there was simply so much to do with so little time. However, this all changed when I made my wheel of life during my coaching class.

The wheel of life is supposed to have eight points. These eight points represent the eight key areas of your life which matters most to you. So I noted down eight areas of my life but when I joined the dots, I didn’t end up with a wheel. It didn’t even vaguely resemble a circle. Instead, it looked more like a skewered polygon…hahaha clearly, I was far too focused on specific areas that I forgot about everything else.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am grateful of everything that happened in 2019.

The seeds that I have sown bloomed and this was a blessing. However, I was so busy that I didn’t to take a moment to pause, breathe and inhale the fragrance of abundance. To be grateful of what life has offered. To quiet my mind, to give my soul a time to rest and to be thankful.

Nope, what happened was I became fixated on setting goals to bring me an inch closer to what I was aiming for. The moment one was ticked off my list, I set sights on a new one.

This is the danger of goal setting. Overly specific goals with an unrealistic timeline can shift focus away from important but unspecified goals, such as the importance of doing things that you simply enjoy, and it can also impact interpersonal relationships (Ordonez et al., 2009).

Yet, I am not against goal setting. Goals are important. They help you reach what you want to achieve but at the same time, they should be set carefully and realistically.

2020 has just rolled in. It’s the New Year and the start of a decade. Dreamers worldwide must have crafted resolutions in abundance.

As for me, I will still cling to my dreams and I will still work for them

I still have plans that I wish to accomplish but now, I will set my goals more wisely.

Wise goals that are specific but flexible, measurable, attainable, realistic, and set within a reasonable timeline. Armed with the perspective that creating the life that I want is a lifelong process. Along with the hindsight that it is the intangible things that give life meaning.

So I am still a dreamer and a doer as I step into 2020. However, I will not let it reach the point where I become too busy chasing my dreams that I forget to live life. That’s not going to happen because now, I am armed with the knowledge that it’s okay to stop and take a break every once in a while.

Taking a break and starting 2020 with a smile!

Therefore, as the year starts and goals are set. Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. To live in the moment and be grateful for what life has to offer.



  • Ordóñez, L. D., Schweitzer, M. E., Galinsky, A. D., & Bazerman, M. H. (2009). Goals gone wild: The systematic side effects of overprescribing goal setting. Academy of Management Perspectives23(1), 6-16.

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