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Happy New Year, and hi again!

4 min read

Happy New Year!

Hi there! I'm Haikal. You're receiving this email because you signed up for my newsletter at one point in time. I stopped writing my newsletter since October 2021, and a lot has happened since, but now I'm starting again.

I'm still not sure what exactly I'll be writing about, but I'm thinking of writing summaries of academic papers and books - possibly about psychology, metacognition, health, habits, and whatever interesting I find that week. If you have any papers and books to suggest, do reply to this email :)

A little life update – since I last wrote my newsletter, I:

Graduated from medical school.

It's been a long 5 years, and my last 2 years of medical school probably had something to do with my absence from the Internet, but I took the Hippocratic Oath 2 weeks ago, which marks my completion of medical school (I will have a proper graduation ceremony this year, but that will come later).

It has been a challenging, yet fun journey, and I have grown and learnt a lot from it. I will always cherish the lessons and opportunities (medical school is also one reason why I started this newsletter) I've gained in medical school. I'm grateful for the support of my family, friends, and mentors, and even some of you reading this during these past 5 years. You have all played a part in my journey, and I thank you for that.

5 years i'm not getting back
i have no idea where the nice photos are, so enjoy my dad's view of the ceremony

I'm currently waiting for my postgraduate training as a junior doctor, which you may know as an intern/house officer depending on where you are from. To kill the time, I'll be writing this newsletter and will be doing content writing as a freelancer. I'll also be picking up my books again (fingers crossed I stick to this) as I've already forgotten everything I learnt after passing my exams, lol.

I'm happy to write more about my last 2 years of medical school, so do let me know what I should write about!

P.S. Let me know if you know anyone who needs help with content writing :)

Wrote for Ness Labs

I got to meet the Ness Labs a year ago in London while I was doing my electives!

Ness Labs is one of my favourite blogs on the Internet, where Anne-Laure writes about mindful productivity. I've been fortunate enough to contribute a few articles to their site, helped to create a course on Roam Research, and I also launched on ProductHunt!

It has been a great learning experience for me as a writer, and as a person as well. I stopped writing with Ness Labs in 2023 to focus on my exams, but I'm hoping to continue working with the team this year. If you haven't done so, you should subscribe to the Ness Labs newsletter!

Moving forward, I'll continue writing this newsletter this year - probably on a biweekly/monthly basis. I hope you would still continue reading, and no hard feelings if you don't either.

Some things I want to share with you:

  1. The fresh start effect

It's motivating to start with a clean slate. When you start calling yourself "the new me" and blame your bad habits on "the old me", you find it easier to change your habits. And that is why on the first of January, 40% of people make New Year's resolutions.

"but those resolutions end up failing in 2 weeks anyway. what's the point?" That is true, but a 2007 survey found 80% of them don’t last. That means 1 in 5 succeed, and that's a much better success rate for a lot of people when it comes to changing their behaviours.

The idea of a "fresh start" – whether it's a new year, your birthday, or Monday – can motivate you and help to kickstart change.

From the book How to Change by Katy Milkman:

Across data set after data set, we found the same patterns. Undergraduates at a campus fitness center were more likely to visit the gym not only in January, but also earlier in the week, after a school holiday, at the beginning of a new semester, and after their birthdays… Similarly, in January, on Mondays, and after holiday breaks, we documented an uptick in online goal setting…

So, give it a try this year. You have a 20% chance of it working out :)

2. A letter to your future self

"On January 1, 2014, I wrote a letter to my future self just before graduating. Today, 10 years later, I opened it. This hit me hard."

3. Start going to the gym this year

"I challenge you to go to gym 3x per week until February 1 to start 2024 off well. If you haven't gone 3x per week on Sunday midnight, you have to send me $100"

As usual, thanks for reading! If you liked this email, could you help me by sharing it with someone who would find it useful? And let me know if you have any feedback or suggestions by replying to this email :)