The year that seemed like it would never stop overwhelming us has finally ended. Welcome to 2021. Does it feel new and hopeful? Do you feel any different or was January 1st just another day for you? Did the new year bring with it the expectation for resolutions and reflections on the past year? Personally, I have never been one to set resolutions, but it has been known to help many set their goals for the rest of the year.
With the events of 2020, all the new habits that we planned on maintaining at the beginning were probably brought to a halt. If you had plans to stay fit, that was hindered by gyms closing down. If you wanted to be more outgoing, you were limited by not being able to meet your friends in person anymore. It may have felt like you were not able to achieve all the things you wanted to. Keep in mind, though, that it was not going to be possible to truly fulfill your dreams in a real sense during a global pandemic. One thing we definitely learnt about ourselves and the way the world works is that we cannot accurately predict the course of life on a large scale and there are far too many things out of our control. This is why I am proposing that 2021 may not be the year for grand resolutions that you hope will dramatically change your life.
Why focus on the smaller things?
As Dr. Arbuthnott at the University of Regina states, 2021 may be the year for resolutions to be much more short-term than usual. Now that we know how unpredictable the year is going to be, especially with the plans for vaccinations extending throughout the entire year, it is important to focus on the smaller things and the aspects of life that are still within our control. So, if we take the example of wanting to be more outgoing and social, maybe set a smaller goal of talking to your family or friends for at least 10 minutes a day to check in and share with them how your day is going. If you want to practice mindfulness, you could choose to set a goal to be more consciously grateful for the things that you have and maintain that mindset for the first couple of months before checking in to see if this is still a viable option when you get to the middle of the year.
How reflections can be useful
If short-term goals do not seem to be something you want to tackle this January, you can still find a specific focus for your long-term resolutions by reflecting on the lessons that you have learnt from spending a majority of the year in a pandemic. It is not possible to overlook the fact that 2020 was an incredibly difficult time where many people lost their jobs and were unable to see their families for long periods of time, but if it is at all possible, it might help to consider what you have learnt. Dr. Arbuthnott suggests thinking about the changes you made to cope with isolation and social distancing, and what habits you might want to retain for any difficult times in the future. She also urges us to focus on the things that we look forward to revisiting from the time before the pandemic so that we are able to realign our priorities for the rest of the year.
This past holiday season and the early months of 2021 are unlikely to be something that people will cherish with love, but it is a time that we will never forget. The entire world is going through something unprecedented and as we approach the light at the end of the tunnel, it is important to remember that we have grown and changed with this experience. The wisdom we have acquired is bound to help us face challenges for the rest of the year, if not the rest of our lives.