You & Your Family

Turning regrets to plans

By the time this article is read, the year 2016 would be nearing its end. What has this year been like for you? Was it much like previous years or did it hold some surprises? Is its passing felt with regrets, relief or a sense of quiet satisfaction?

The passing of each year allows a time for much-needed reflection. Some observers would say that the year 2016 has been like no other. Many times and with different news outlets, the term “unprecedented” was used when referring to this year’s events. The unexpected British referendum vote to leave the European Union and the resulting massive losses in the stock markets was unprecedented. Even so, we have yet to see the full impact of “Brexit”. Extreme weather conditions brought about the highest temperatures, the fiercest wildfires and wettest storms the world has seen for years. Wars in Ukraine and in Syria threatened to bring us to the brink of World War Three. The issues exposed by the bitter and often personal American Presidential campaign will leave societal scars that will take years to heal.

Closer to home, and on a not-so-massive scale but just as important, was the heart-in-the-mouth moment when our Prime Minister was taken ill whilst delivering the National Day speech. Many watched in anxious silence to receive word that he was well. Then there were the audacious plans by terrorists in Batam to fire rockets at Singapore. Finally came the tragic news of school boys, in separate situations, who took their lives when faced with stress that was too much for them.

What were the news items that caught your attention and stayed in your subconscious mind? What do they say of what matters to you? What about how we have lived our lives this year? As you recall the year that is passing, what events stand out?

On a personal note, 2016 has been an unusual year for my family. We were able to take two long family breaks, a near-impossible task with three working persons. The travels we took were not our usual, as we made the effort to see more of nature and less of cities, whether old and new. There was also a qualitative difference in the amount of time we spend together. What a treat it was to find time in our ever-busy lives for each other.

Back to your reflections for the year. Do you recall loose ends in your work that need some tying up, or tasks or projects to be completed? Do these thoughts occupy your mind? Are your regrets more personal in nature, like not spending enough time with loved ones and friends who need your support? Someone once remarked that he had not heard anyone on their deathbed saying they regretted not having worked harder. It seems a paradox that although our work, both in the marketplace and at home, consumes most of our time and energies, they seem to yield less long-term life satisfaction than our time with people and with God. It would seem ultimately that we are made for relationships; that we would find the most fulfilment from them.

If indeed we have regrets this year about visits not made, or words not exchanged with family and friends, it may be that it is still not too late. As we draw near to the close of the year, we are also at the threshold of a new year. We therefore have the opportunity to turn our regrets to good plans.

Benny Bong

has been a family and marital therapist for more than 30 years, and is a certified work-life consultant. He was the first recipient of the AWARE Hero Award in 2011 and is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.


Picture by kkolosov/