What a year we’ve lived through! Like almost everyone, I’m sure you’re only too happy to put it behind you.

And yet, the events that made 2020 such an “annus horribilis” (remember the Queen’s 1992 speech to describe a horrible year for her family?) are still not over.

Until enough people are immunized, the pandemic will continue to spread. We’ll be distancing from those we love. We’ll be confined to our homes, balancing childcare and work 24/7 (for those of us lucky enough to have family with us, and a stable job that pays the bills). And we’ll likely keep receiving more confusing reports on disinfecting counters and groceries, and become more paranoid by the day.

It’s a lot. We’ve lived through it. And some of us have had it way worse than others. Many of us are on the verge of burnout, feeling helpless, hopeless and resentful. A recent research paper called Societal pandemic burnout: A COVID legacy highlights the fact that we’ve reached our limits, mentally, emotionally and physically.

With so much sucked out of us, how do we step into the new year with our very human hopes and longings?

I’ve been thinking about this, especially as I reflected on what I wanted to achieve in 2021. Instead of the aspirational goals I set each year, I listened to the softer whispers of the life that lives deep within me. The very core of who I am, the little girl with humble needs and simple pleasures.

And there was one word that kept coming up again and again. Joy.

I want to live with more joy. More ease. More laughter. More emotional freedom. I want to stop worrying so much about what can happen, or stressing about what’s already happened. I want to stop carrying everyone’s burdens on my shoulders, and trying to pour from an empty cup.

I’ve reached my limits because I haven’t been filling my own cup.  

So here’s my question for you.

How full is your cup?

Because remember, there’s no connection nor contribution when we don’t listen to our souls. Living through a pandemic is like running a marathon, not a sprint. We can tend to forget that, often in our desire to make a difference.

If you’re feeling stuck, exhausted, angry, empty, irritated, or lacking energy and motivation for even the everyday tasks of work and life, make your wellbeing a priority for this year. Almost everything else can wait.

Here are a few questions to guide you:

Where in my life am I feeling compromised?

What needs are my emotions pointing to?

How will I take care of them?

Who will I need to ask for help?

What habits will set me up for success?

What fears and assumptions will I need to overcome?

What new thought patterns will I set in place?

What insights emerge for you? What one (or few) words keeps coming up again and again? Write them down. Create screen savers. Put up post-it notes. Or better yet, make a vision board.

You’ll need reminders in a world that has few guideposts for your soul.