During the month of December, we traditionally give thought to the coming year and how we might want to approach it differently. We make resolutions with the vision of improving our lives. These goals provide personal, professional, social, mental or physical destinations we aspire to reach.
In a “normal” year, New Year’s Resolutions can be difficult to maintain and achieve. When you add a global pandemic, social unrest and a contentious election on top of all of that, then they become even more challenging to accomplish.
Typical resolutions like “hit the gym more frequently” and “travel more” are impossible under quarantines and lockdowns. Generally, unless your resolution was “read more,” most of your 2020 goals may have gone unachieved with the twists and turns this year included.
Truth be known, 2020 was not “resolution-friendly.” In many ways, we were set up for failure. Imagine 2020 is Lucy, our resolutions are the football and we’re all Charlie Brown.
The way the year unfolded, we may have abandoned our 2020 New Year’s Resolutions. As determined as we may have been, the unexpected challenges may have been too much and required all the energy we would have otherwise devoted towards achieving our resolutions. Ending the year with them unaccomplished might have us feeling like failures and questioning making resolutions at all.
You may ask yourself, “With 2020 as an example how unpredicatble a year can be, what’s the point of making New Year’s Resolutions?”
In truth, 2020 is the reason 2021 is the best year for you to make (and accomplish) your New Year’s Resolutions. Here are three reasons why.
The year 2020 has been full of tests and lessons. Some may say too many; it’s been like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose. One test the year gave us is in our agility.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying routine. We tend to find some comfort in the known, the predictable. Unfortunately, we were not allowed that luxury in 2020. Our capability to “go with the flow” was tested. This year, if you weren’t flexible, you were floundering.
Many started working from home. Parents found themselves playing a much more active role in their children’s education. Social gatherings changed from in person to online.
With the ways we found ourselves bending like trees in the wind, we learned how well and quickly we deal with change. We can apply these lessons to our resolutions for 2021.
If the year throws a wrench in our original plans, we now know we have the ability to work around it.
Perhaps the resolution is to go the gym more often. If your gym is closed, it feels unsafe or is cost prohibitive, find ways for home workouts requiring little or no equipment. Run stairs. Find free training tips online. Additionally, devote a section of your home or backyard for exercise and set a schedule when you go there to sweat.
If your resolution is to travel more, 2020 put a halt to that which will continue into 2021. Until travel is fully functional, experience different cultures by watching documentaries about the country and its people. Cook (or order in) its cuisine. Learn the country’s language. In other words, discover ways to immerse yourself in the culture until travel restrictions are lifted and you can see it firsthand.
Give yourself permission to adjust your resolutions if need be. At this time last year, no one could have predicted what 2020 would bring, so resolutions were set without these events in mind. Just as we didn’t know then, we truly don’t know what 2021 will bring.
Continue to set New Year’s Resolutions all the while knowing there is nothing wrong with adjusting them if life throws in a plot twist. (Remember, some plot twists can be great!) You can still accomplish your resolutions, just perhaps differently than you first imagined, and you know you can because of the many ways you were flexible during this year.
We can actually thank 2020 for reminding us how to be agile.
Hospitals filled to capacity. The inability to be with family and friends. People marching for social justice in the streets. The year tasked us to look at important issues up close and personal and with a different perspective.
While this year has led us to be more agile, it has also pushed us to be more aware.
Through quarantining, we find more time to think. Some may be thinking only about how to keep their children entertained and safe during lockdown while others have more time to fully examine personal and professional relationships in their lives. Others may watch the news and begin to discover ways they can engage with causes they believe to be important.
Whether we’ve wanted to or not, we’ve had to consider life or death issues. In doing so, we can’t help but analyze all aspects of our lives. This year highlighted that time is a gift. Who we give it to and how we spend it truly does matter and makes a difference, both to the recipient and the giver.
As you set your 2021, you’ll be wiser. With all you’ve seen this year, you’ll consider where your time and energy is best directed.
- How important are physically-related resolutions? Are they for health or vanity?
- Do you invest deeper into your established career? On the other hand, would it be better to redirect to a profession that is more aligned with your passions and purpose?
- Are you building relationships with people who make you better, or is it time to find different relationships that are more substantial and uplifting?
- Is your time being spent on people and work that truly matter to you or have you been giving your time away freely as if you had an endless supply?
We can actually thank 2020 for making us more aware of what is truly important.
- Started an online degree
- Learned a new language
- Got in the best shape of your life
- Began a new profession
- Had the best production year of your entire career
- Redecorated your home
- Excelled at a new hobby
- Read one book a week
If you accomplished any or all of these things in 2020, great! THAT’S AWSOME!
If you didn’t even come close to any of these things in 2020, great! THAT’S AWESOME TOO!
This year was full of the unexpected (remember the murder hornets?). There was no way to truly prepare for what we encountered. Even though we all experienced 2020 at the same time, it doesn’t mean it impacted us in the same way.
Everyone’s journey is different. An influential leader in my professional life used to frequently say, “Where ever you are, you got there as fast as you could.” Similarly, we all handled what the year dealt us as well as we knew how using the knowledge and resources (both emotional and financial) we had in the moment.
Furthermore, just because we seemingly had more time on our hands doesn’t mean we should have done more with it. Considering all the zigs and zags 2020 took, some of us were just holding on for dear life and in survival mode.
There should be no guilt if you didn’t accomplish your 2020 resolutions.
Multiple areas of life demanded our time and attention, perhaps at the cost of our set resolutions. For example, pounds we may have wanted to lose could have multiplied due to quarantining. Blossoming relationships may have withered due to social distancing. Professional advancements or milestones may not have been reached due to working from home and the struggling economy.
Most importantly, recognize that 2020 was a year unlike any other. Allow yourself some grace and forgiveness if you didn’t operate on all cylinders 100 percent of the time or if you didn’t accomplish all you originally planned. We can’t compare our accomplishments and failures to other people or in the same light of years past. This year was unique. Look at it through the 2020 lens.
A 2020 Survival Guide did not exist. We all did the best we could in each moment. If we look back at a few of those moments and think we could have done better, now we know, and we can handle it differently the next time. There’s no need to waste our energy judging our past self for not having our current knowledge.
With this in mind, we can actually thank 2020 for encouraging us to be more forgiving, especially of ourselves.
Our 2021 New Year’s Resolutions
To say 2020 has been memorable is an understatement. This year has been full of life-altering moments on the global scale and for each of us individually. We all enter the New Year changed in various ways.
Although this year had its fair share of discouragements, we have reason to carry hope into the coming year. New Year’s Resolutions are always worthwhile because they reflect belief in yourself which should never wain, especially after you’ve survived 2020. Remembering how we’ve learned to be more agile, aware and forgiving, we are more poised to accomplish our 2021 New Year’s Resolutions, no matter what the year may bring.