Did you know that newborns rob their parents of 400-750 hours of sleep in their first year? And need over 15,000 nappy changes during that time, since they wee every 20 minutes? Or that babies get scared by their own cries? And when they sleep, they sometimes don’t draw a breath for 5 to 10 seconds at a time, causing their panicked parents to almost stop breathing themselves?

The facts are terrifying enough to put off any would-be parent. And yet, some 250 babies are born every minute around the world.

Even the COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped young couples from adding to their families. It’s not just film stars in India. Doctors in New York say they are expecting a 2-3% upswing in newborns in the coming months. The pandemic has made people take stock of what really matters in life and, clearly, babies top the list.

Because every baby is a symbol of man’s hope for, and confidence in, a better, brighter tomorrow.

It’s the same sense of hope that makes us view every New Year through rose-colored spectacles.

December marks the end of a chapter. For some, it’s a joyous, triumphant occasion, bringing the curtain down on a year that exceeded all their expectations. Others may call a relieved end to a wretched year that made a mockery of their mission, their vision.

Because, sometimes, no matter how much we plot and plan, we encounter situations that we can’t control. It could be a job loss, an economic recession, an illness, even a pandemic.

Still, come January 1, we dream anew. The fact that only a minute, a countdown from 10 to 1, separates one year from the next doesn’t faze us. What’s gone on December 31 doesn’t affect our hopes, or dim the possibilities of the coming year.

Because every new year is a tabula rasa, a new opportunity for us to become a better or, even, best version of ourselves.

Time to make new resolutions to eat better and exercise harder. (It’s no surprise January sees the year’s highest number of new gym memberships around the globe.) Time to forget poor decisions, past disappointments and slights, both imagined and real. Time to learn a new language or a new sport, and develop a better work ethic.

Time to look beyond our current circumstances and dream of the life we want to live. Time to believe that everything we hope for will happen.

Because dreams do come true—when seasoned with the right habits and backed by hard work—as actor Jim Carrey’s life story proves.

He was just a regular guy from Canada who believed he could succeed in Hollywood. When he relocated to California to pursue his dream, Carrey says he used to picture himself as rich, famous, and successful– long before he actually was.

He would drive around Los Angeles, imagining that directors were lining up to work with him. His dream was to earn $10 million from a single film, so he decided to put it to paper.

In 1985, he wrote himself a $10-million check for “acting services rendered,” dated it 10 years in the future, and put it in his wallet. In November 1995, Carrey was cast in the movie Dumb and Dumber for exactly that sum.

Was it a happy coincidence or the power of affirmation? We don’t know.

But John Hargrave, author of Mind Hacking, says the act of writing down our ideas and dreams is a game-changer. That committing our dreams to paper moves them from our heads into our hands. “Until it’s on paper, it’s vapor,” he says.

So here’s something for you to try as we head into the New Year.

Sift through your dreams, and divide them into three categories:

  • Short-term dreams that can be reached in a week
  • Mid-range dreams that can be realized within the new year
  • Long-term dreams that may take years to achieve (but which you will start working towards in the New Year).

Ensure that each dream is specific. If you want more free time to learn a new sport, say you want to free up four hours on the weekends and at least two hours every weekday.  

Keep your dreams realistic. Don’t dream of earning a crore in the coming year if your current salary is a quarter of that figure.

Make your long-term dream growth-oriented and transformational. Let it make you a better version of yourself.

Through it all, remember to have fun. Achieve what you can, how you can, when you can. And never lose the hope that shines so brightly in you at the start of the year, no matter what you’ve been through. 

After all, without the dark, you’d never see the stars.  

Shampa Dhar-Kamath is a consultant at Harappa Education

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