In the past, religion was a much more prominent part of society and the majority of people put their faith in an ethereal being that existed outside of themselves.
For the most part, people believed that the amount of control that they had over what happened to them was limited because their life was ultimately shaped by external forces.
Nowadays, due to scientific discoveries and technological advances, fewer people believe in a greater power or all-seeing omniscient entity.
Today, society is much more individualistic and we are encouraged to believe entirely in ourselves, a trend that is fuelled by widespread distribution of inspirational quotes on the internet.
Instead of looking outward for validation, we are more likely to look inward.
Some people find this empowering.
However, it can also be quite overwhelming.
Although I think that self-belief is a positive thing in many ways, I sometimes find that relying on myself to be the sole engineer of my own success can cause me to put a lot of pressure on myself.
I sometimes feel underqualified to deal with the task of leading my own life as if whoever is responsible for bestowing the gift of life forgot to include the instruction manual when they gave one to me.
I often try to be more proactive and make plans in an attempt to map out my future in a structured way.
Making plans makes me feel momentarily powerful as if I am the sort of person who can effectively navigate life and exert control over the things that happen to me.
However, what normally happens is that I end up sitting with the plan in front of me with absolutely no idea how to implement it – which is a bit like trying to use a map with faulty navigation equipment.
I tend to make most of my life plans in January.
Like most people, every January, I decide that I am immediately going to reconstruct myself as a new healthier, happier, more productive human being.
For a brief period of time, I genuinely believe that I possess the ability to do this.
However, it soon becomes apparent that this is not the case.
It turns out that making a change in your life requires more than temporary resolve.
It involves taking your initial motivation and transforming it into habit – it is a commitment to continue performing behaviours that may initially feel unnatural and are sometimes the complete opposite of those that you have exhibited your entire life until they become integrated into your daily routine.
It is easy to make a strong statement on January 1st, experience a setback a few weeks later and immediately assume that your entire self-improvement endeavour is doomed.
So this year, I am resolving to not to put too much pressure on myself, accept that setbacks are part of the process and to remember all that I can really do is try my best to navigate life whilst attempting to be the most functional, together version of myself that I can be.