It’s the time of year when many of us are considering our goals and resolutions for the year ahead. We may also be reflecting on the year gone by and feeling several emotions in the process. This year, your reflections and resolutions may look a little different. It’s no surprise that many people consider 2020 to be the most challenging year of their lives, due to the pandemic and everything that came with it. The year also brought civil, political and racial unrest.
Because of COVID-19, many people were unable to fulfill goals and resolutions that they had set for themselves. The pandemic affected everything from travel to job security to the economy. Maybe you had financial goals that you were not able to achieve because you lost your job. Maybe you planned to get married this year, but the stress of quarantine led to the end of a relationship instead. Maybe 2020 was the year you finally took that trip, but it had to be canceled.
When everything is so uncertain, it can be demotivating to set goals and resolutions for ourselves. The disappointments you faced in 2020 may cause you to be reluctant to set resolutions for 2021. Yet, this is when we need goals the most. Goals give us a reason to look forward to the future. They provide a source of inspiration and motivation and give us something worthwhile to spend our time and energy on.
The solution is to take a different approach to your goals and resolutions this time around. Here are a few things to consider when setting your goals for the new year.
Take the time to process your loss
What did you lose in 2020? Some losses are life-changing, like the loss of a loved one. Some losses may seem smaller, but can still affect you if left unaddressed. Take the time to grieve whatever you may have lost in 2020 – opportunities, friendships, or even just the ability to sit in your favorite coffeeshop. If you are dealing with serious grief or loss, you may consider speaking to a therapist or counselor who can help you to process these difficult emotions in a healthy way.
Take the time be grateful
Despite its challenges and setbacks, can you find reasons to be grateful for 2020? Maybe you picked up a new hobby or interest to help pass the time. Were you able to reconnect with old friends via technology? Maybe you are simply grateful to have survived a year that took so many lives. Were you able to keep your job and work from home? That’s something to be thankful for. Did you see any remarkable displays of kindness or compassion during these difficult times? If you look hard enough, there were many things to be grateful for this past year.
Set simple, attainable goals
If it’s one thing that 2020 taught us, it’s to slow down and embrace a simpler lifestyle. Consider taking a similar approach with your resolutions. Changing tiny things about your daily habits is more likely to yield success than setting huge, lofty goals. Here are some examples of simple, attainable goals:
- Set a reading goal. How many books would you like to read next year? Break that down into monthly or weekly goals. Start slow. If you are not a regular reader, try reading one book per month or every two months. If you are a regular reader, try increasing your goal from last year.
- Resolve to attain a healthy sleep schedule. Get disciplined about having a regular bedtime and waking up at around the same time everyday. Getting sufficient sleep is the foundation for many other things in our lives.
- If you didn’t exercise as much as you wanted to last year, can you move your body a bit more in 2021? Consider free or cheap ways to get (socially distant) exercise. This can be as simple as resolving to take a ten minute walk everyday and increasing to fifteen and twenty minute walks. You can listen to music, audiobooks or podcasts on your walk. How about going jogging or starting an at-home yoga practice?
- If you are not already journaling, 2021 is a great time to start! There are so many benefits to journaling and so many things to journal about.
Resolve to take care of your mental health in 2021
Think of how you can take care of your mental health in 2021. Resolve to pay more attention to self-care and learning how to become more mentally resilient. We can’t predict what will happen next year, but we can ensure that we are able to cope with whatever 2021 brings. Techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy can teach you how to manage life’s inevitable challenges.
If you have been thinking about going to therapy, 2021 is the perfect time to start. Scheduling an appointment is easier than ever and you can attend sessions from the safety and comfort of your home, via video chat. Consider setting the resolution to contact us for a free consultation to get matched with a therapist who best meets your needs.
2021 may or may not be easier than 2020. The pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives. There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding when or even if we will ever be able to see some semblance of pre-pandemic life. Go into 2021 with the mindset that you have become strong enough to handle whatever it throws your way.