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Prof Santa Ono playing the cello
January 3, 2018
2 mins read

What does a new year mean to you?

Welcome to 2018!

I hope everybody had a wonderful holiday break and is refreshed and ready for the new year.

A new year means different things to different people.

To me, a new year means a chance to reflect on the year that’s gone by and to think about what I hope to achieve in the coming year. Where would I like to be by December 31, 2018, and what will I need to do to get there?

Whether your goal is as mundane as going to the gym more often or as significant as changing majors, you need to decide how you’re going to achieve that goal. Even if a goal seems daunting in January, it might still be achievable if you break it down into smaller steps.

UBC students walking on campus

For example, a few years ago I was inspired to start playing the cello again when I watched some inner city kids play chamber music. My goal was to play in public with those kids, but I hadn’t played in many years. I knew I couldn’t just get up on stage and start playing again.

But I rehearsed whenever I could and gradually got re-acquainted with the cello, and soon I was able to play in public – I was a bit rusty, but I didn’t embarrass myself and I had fun. Since then, I’ve only grown in my cello playing comfort zone, getting a bit better and a bit more confident every time I play.

Achieving my goal was easier because I’d played the cello when I was younger.

But what if your goal is to try something completely different – something you’ve never done before? That’s possible too.

Here’s a personal example – shortly after I came to UBC, I was asked to participate in the UBC Day of the LongBoat. I’d never done it before (my previous university, the University of Cincinnati isn’t located by the ocean!) and all of a sudden, I had to lead a team in this race. I could have excused myself by saying I was too busy, but I decided to take the plunge and try a new experience. And you know what? I had fun. I really enjoyed myself and our team even won!

Santa Ono rowing in Day of the LongBoat

The take-away: you sometimes need to let yourself go and step outside your comfort zone. After all, you don’t know if you’ll like it until you try it.

Your university years are the best time to get outside your comfort zone. You’re just beginning your life’s journey and still exploring and learning what you like. So experiment, take chances, have fun. And, if you have goals for this year, take them one step at a time.

Happy new year!

Professor Santa J. Ono
President and Vice Chancellor