This new year, I’m gonna lean into what scares me!

small kid standing on planked footpath

I’m probably going to regret publishing this.

Oh well, as dame Doris Day once sang (yes I’m that old), “Que Sera Sera…Whatever will be will be”.

After all, the start of a brand new year is typically the time lots of people say lots of things right? Things that sound like resolutions. Or a promise to change, improve, venture, learn, re-skill, exercise, diet, and everything in between.

Sadly, most of these will likely end in pain, shame, failure, defeat, neglect or amnesia!

I’m no different; having made plenty of new year resolutions before, but rarely fulfilling most of them.

Kinda like the many luggage bags everywhere in the world these past couple of years. Filled with ideas for a great holiday just waiting to be unpacked — except that they never left the house! Because a Delta here and an Omicron there sorta put a spanner in the works.

Of course, I could just be making excuses, blaming it on externalities like the little coronavirus.

Or maybe what’s missing all this while with my new year resolutions is what authors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras once described in their international blockbuster of a book “Built To Last“.

Big Hairy Audacious Goals”

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Collins and Porras’ bestseller unpacked ground-breaking research on leadership in major MNCs. Their research led them to conclude that companies which “last the distance” succeed because they set BHAGs (pronounced “bee hags”) or Big Hairy Audacious Goals.

These are large, lofty ambitions that challenge and enlarge one’s vision to strive for the seemingly-impossible. The idea being that if we shoot for the galactic stars, even if we miss, we’d at least hit the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

So the question for me in this new year is simply this: what IS my BHAG when it comes to writing?

Well, a line that coincidentally appeared in two completely unrelated reading sources I came across last week, nailed it for me.

“Lean into what scares you!”

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The first was an audiobook called “Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations” by brothers Alex and Brett Harris. The book for teens is all about how they should have their own BHAGs rather than succumb to the low expectations society places on them.

(Hey don’t judge me ok?! After all, I’m now a parent of a newly-minted teenager; gotta do my homework right?)

As with many an audiobook I’ve been listening to over the past few years, I occasionally let it drone in the background while I’m folding clothes or packing my son’s messy desk.

Or in this case while I was about to take a shower.

I wasn’t even sure which chapter it was at, but the narrator said something that hit me like the shower I was about to go under. “Resolve to lean into what scares you.” (Or something like that).

It sounded simultaneously scary and scintillating. Lean into what scares me? Hmmm…now who in the right mind would do that?!

Someone probably heard me because a few days later, while clearing emails, I saw the following quote from Sarah Schuster (editor for a digital health community called The Mighty):

When I thought about the intentions I wanted to set for this upcoming year, three words came to mind: Confident. Brave. Authentic. I’ve been letting fear take the driver’s seat a little too often lately, and I want to challenge myself to do more things that scare me in 2022.

Coincidence? I think NOT!

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Now if you’re a writer like me, then you know inspirations for writing don’t just happen. And even if they may appear happenstance at first, they soon take on a life of their own in often mysterious ways.

Like how this “lean into what scares you” line came to me not once, but twice within a few days! And just before the start of a new year too. A time when, like an old fool, yours truly once again makes new year resolutions.

Call it what you will. Coincidence. The Twilight Zone. A goosebump moment.

For me it’s always a signal to observe and pay closer attention; observing and attending being the twin currencies we writers use to transact daily with life and living.

And so I asked myself: were I to pick a writing BHAG for this new year that will scare the living daylights out of me, what would that be?

Having picked it, would I then push ahead and fulfil it, given my track record and the fact that it is a scary BHAG?

So here comes the part where I think I could regret publishing this post.

This is the year I finish my book!

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There, I said it.

Can’t retract now can I? Cos the Internet never forgets.

Having begun my maiden memoir book project two years ago, it’s time to “bring it home.”

After all, once set, there’s no U-turn for the path of a writer. Unless of course you desire pain, shame, failure, defeat, neglect or amnesia!

And to be fair to me, I’ve learnt so much about writing these two years and documented them for posterity in numerous blog posts. I’ve even completed a first draft of my manuscript within the span of six-seven months in 2020. Proving that I can finish the race when it counts.

But all first drafts are messy. So I’ve since been embarking on the agonising process of rewrites (and blogged about the arduous journey more than once).

And procrastinating all the way!


So to make this bold declaration now that I will finish my book this year (rewrites and all), is me indisputably leaning into what scares, no terrifies, me in 2022!

Yet, if nothing else, surely this is the time to move for things that truly matter, no?!

Fine. Now that I’ve leaned, it’s time to dive in!

Wish me luck ok?

Oh yeah, and Happy New Year to you too! May all your BHAGs this year come true; even or especially the scary ones!!

3 thoughts on “This new year, I’m gonna lean into what scares me!

  1. Aw yeah, no taking that back now. I’m fully behind you though. This will be the year that you finish your book indeed! Maybe it’s time to set up some SMART scaffolding to ensure that you tip the needle in the correct direction every day?

    Anyway, I appreciate the term leaning into my fears, because as hard as they are, doing that actually makes me feel better at the end of the day. Basically, doing hard things make me feel better than just chilling, as much as I hate it. Anyway, thanks for this post, Kelvin!

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