This article originally appeared on Vulcan Post.
It’s undeniable that most of us have it good living here in Singapore. With world-class facilities and one of the most developed economies in the world, we have little to complain about. Of course, with the benefits of living in our city-state comes the responsibilities of upholding those very achievements, and we often find ourselves rushing and scrambling to meet the demands of work and family.
Society might always be pushing us to do things faster, but that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice the fleeting moments and experiences that come our way. To help us break out of our rut, we’ve come up with a 10-day challenge that will remind you to live more and move past the monotony of the rat race. Try it — you never know what you’ll find.
Day 1: Start A Conversation With A Stranger
To put it nicely, Singaporeans can be described as a shy bunch of people. Few would venture beyond their shell, and if you try to talk to someone on the MRT during the morning rush hour, you’d be considered annoying rather than brave.
But speaking with someone you’ve never met before can be fascinating, and it doesn’t have to be a stranger you meet on your daily commute. Maybe just someone interesting you’ve seen around in the office or even your GrabCar or Uber driver — it’s easier if it’s someone you’re put in the same space with by chance. You never know what stories you’ll hear; I once discovered a co-worker who’s now getting a Diploma in Patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu.
Day 2: Pay Off All Your Debts At Once
Any university graduate would be familiar with the pain of starting your first job with a mountain of debt to repay. And while that can be stressful, it might be worthwhile to take a look at the smaller amounts of money you’ve borrowed or otherwise chalked up everyday.
Borrowed some money from your colleague for that taxi fare? Didn’t have exact change to pay for that dinner you had with old friends? It’s time to pay off those loans once and for all — this will not only help your friends regain their trust in you, but also let you breathe easier without money troubles hovering over you.
And don’t give yourself the excuse of not having exact change: there are various tools to help you with that these days, like the DBS PayLah mobile app. The mobile wallet lets you make fund transfers directly on your smartphone, so you won’t even have to queue up at a bank or hunt for your iBanking device.
Day 3: Eat A Nice Meal All By Yourself
Singaporeans can eat — that’s a well-documented fact even around the world — but how often do we savour each bite rather than scarf down our Hill Street char kway teow in 10 minutes flat?
There’ll always be the expectation to get back to work, even eat at your desk on certain (read: most) days of the week just to finish up your work, but for once, go out, take a walk and eat a really delicious meal on your own. You’ll not only get some well-deserved time off work, but without the need to carry a conversation with anyone else, your food will taste a lot better too.
Day 4: Spend Less Than $5 A Day
It’s one thing to have someone else tell you that you’re materialistic, but when Singaporeans themselves admit that they find society materialistic, you better believe it’s true.
So perhaps the day after you enjoy that nice meal, you might consider spending a little less on material comforts? If you’re being completely honest with yourself, you really don’t need that latte from Starbucks (even if your morning self tells you otherwise), and keeping to a budget will push you to come up with more creative ways to feed, clothe and entertain yourself. The knowledge that you can survive on less than $5 a day will also make you feel a lot more confident about your finances.
Day 5: Leave Your Phone At Home For A Day
We’re constantly lamenting the fact that modern society is no longer living, with a recent report revealing that millennials are spending about 52 days a year on their smartphones. This phenomenon can be put down to various factors: fear of not being connected, worry over missing an important work email or maybe the pressure to always stay updated.
To cut down on the stress that we face, perhaps we should simply stay away from our phones for a while. Sure, you might feel anxious the first couple of hours, but just try to breathe and notice the other stuff around you — you might actually find the experience quite liberating.
Day 6: Learn Something You’ve Always Wanted, But Are Afraid To
It’s safe to say that many of us have a pretty long bucket list of things we want to achieve. It might be learning how to drive, skateboard or sail — various skills that we’ve pushed aside in favour of immediate gratification or commitments.
But like they say, there’s really no time like the present, and while these skills might take well more than a day for you to pick up, hold yourself accountable by signing up for a course or classes. And after you succeed, reward yourself. A sailing experience right in the scenic Marina Bay? Maybe followed by a movie along the Marina Reservoir? DBS Sailing and DBS Movies By the Bay will let you do just that.
Day 7: Make A Drastic Change To Your Appearance
There’s something about making changes to our appearance that scares the bravest of us. Chopping off all your hair? Wearing bright green pants while out shopping? It can take a lot of guts to do that, even if it’s a trend you’re dying to try out.
The easiest way to make sure you succeed at this challenge is to not overthink it. Put on that pair of pants, stride into your salon and walk out like you’ve always had that haircut. Honestly, you’re not as special as you think you are, and no one’s going to notice that change. So why not make this one of your New Year’s resolutions? You’ll feel all the better for having done it.
Day 8: Help Others Feel Better About Themselves Too
Now that you’ve made some changes to your own life, perhaps it’s time to extend this to the people around you. And it can be as easy as giving them a well thought-out Christmas gift. These presents give back to the community by channelling your money towards various communities in Singapore and Asia who need it most.
There’s something about building others up that’s a rarity these days. Sending a socially responsible gift to your loved ones can make them feel better about themselves each time they use it, which if you think about it, should really be the aim of all presents.
Day 9: Stand Up For A Cause You Believe In
We can be very shy when it comes to talking about things we care about. Maybe your love for Kpop is something to be ashamed of amongst your indie music loving friends, or your passion for sport doomed to silent support with your family who just can’t sit through a table tennis game without falling asleep.
But why keep your interests under wraps? Regardless of what you’re passionate about, there are bound to be communities out there which root for the same things you do. Sport, especially, is something that’s gaining favour amongst Singaporeans, with the Asean Para Games having kicked off on December 3. Show your support for your favourite sportspeople, and who knows, you might find yourself a community of like-minded individuals too.
Day 10: Live Kind, Reach Out To Someone You’ve Been Meaning To
This can be getting in touch with someone you ended ties with on a bad note, giving back to the community, even a small gesture to someone you don’t know. It can be hard to reach out to complete strangers or people you haven’t had the best relationships with, but doing so can take a load off your shoulders, and help you end your year on a better note.
At worst, your efforts could go unappreciated (but really, this is but a blip in the larger scheme of things), and at best, you’ll feel a lot more accomplished and assured about yourself for making the first step — giving you the confidence to pursue everything else you want.