This has been a year like no other – but when 2020 gives you LOTS and LOTS of lemons, make hot toddies! It’s finally the holiday season, after all.
So many of us are ready to put 2020 behind us, and taking the time now to stop and reflect on everything we’ve learned since March will help us get back on track in 2021 and hit our stride.
Keep the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions, even if you feel like your goals for next year are simple and small. Re-centering yourself around your 2021 vision will empower you to start the New Year with focus, calm and clarity.
As Joseph Campbell said in The Power of Myth:
There’s a center of quietness within, which has to be known and held. If you lose that center, you are in tension and begin to fall apart.
Here are five questions for self-reflection that will lay the foundation for meaningful resolution writing (yes, put them on paper!):
- “For what about 2020 am I grateful?” Ok, let’s be real: 2020 hasn’t been ALL bad for all of us. You’re alive and able to read this, right? Fuel positive thinking by focusing on what you appreciate about 2020. If you were impacted by layoffs, for example, hopefully you’ve been able to spend more time with loved ones, focus on personal wellness and recalibrate your career, as a result. Look for the silver lining.
- “Which new habits formed during 2020 do I want to keep? Which do I want to drop or minimize?” We’ve all adapted our routines due to the virus, and there are likely new habits that are part of your every day that would be beneficial to carry beyond pandemic life. And there might be ones you should drop (research shows, for instance, that alcohol consumption has increased during the pandemic…maybe just one hot toddy?). Give thought to which choices you’ve been making that would continue to serve you well in 2021 – and which you should bury with 2020 and never look back.
- “What would make me happier in 2021?” After months and months of social distancing, perhaps it’s reconnecting with friends. Or maybe it’s setting aside more money for emergency savings to create peace of mind. Or maybe it’s regularly doing something you’ve missed like eating out on Friday nights, watching movies on the big screen, or sitting in a crowd of music lovers enjoying a live concert together. Happiness is the highest form of health.
- “What is a concrete action that would bring me closer to realizing my resolutions?” Prioritize specific, measurable goals. Abstract resolutions (e.g., “find more joy in life”) are hard to fulfill. Instead, commit to doing activities that bring you joy regularly – like those you identified while thinking through question #3 (e.g., “volunteer to walk dogs at the animal shelter once a month”). If your resolution is to lose weight, don’t write down “get skinny;” use something like “run for half an hour, 5 days per week.” If it’s to advance in your career, try “complete certificate program by September.”
- “How can I hold myself accountable?” Accountability is key to sticking with resolutions. Bond with a friend, family member or spouse by writing down your resolutions together, then discuss your action plans to keep them. Check in with each other quarterly for mutual encouragement. Letting your resolutions live outside your mind makes it harder to turn your back on them.
Before 2021 begins, reflect on your personal growth during 2020. It was a hard year, and you should give yourself credit for your resilience. Most importantly, identify the lessons you learned and the new boundaries that need to emerge and apply that knowledge, insight and understanding to positively shape your future. New Year’s resolutions are your chance to map out a plan that you can use to reach your desired destination.
May we all cap off 2020 with a holiday season of hope, rejuvenation and relief.