New Year, New Hope?

Welcoming the new year probably felt quite different this year, given the challenges of 2020 and the inability to celebrate together as a family, or with friends.

For many people, the yearly date change puts a greater focus on long-term goals than busy lives usually allow. For many, this leads to the traditional New Year’s resolutions, a chance to consider our progress on becoming the “ideal self” many people hope to achieve.

Even with the knowledge that the focus will shift back to the usual day-to-day mundane demands by mid-January, it is valuable to consider those longer-term aspirations, if for no other reason than for people to remind themselves that there’s more to them than the grumpy exhausted person who, at the end of the day, wants nothing more than to get into their new ‘loungewear’ and binge-watch the latest Netflix series.

But this year, thinking about the long-term is much more difficult. The pandemic has given us all a different experience and has not only served as a reminder that something unexpected can land in our path, halting all progress. It has also made the path beyond the pandemic unclear.

As many are noting, a “return to normal” is looking unlikely. The future has become less predictable, which also means that setting long-term goals is much more difficult, but there are alternatives:

Short-term goals

Resolutions for 2021 should be much more short-term than usual. It is challenging enough to figure out what’s needed to make it through the months until everyone is vaccinated and can start to make their way back into a more social world.

You might be thinking that this doesn’t seem like a good use of once-a-year resolutions, but even though these goals will be very short-term, this is valuable given that scientists and politicians are warning that these particular months are likely to be the hardest.

Like many others, you might have discovered the healing properties of nature during the last few months. If so, your short-term resolutions could be about making sure you continue to visit your favourite nature spots.

Pandemic lessons

For those who can’t resist thinking about long-term goals, despite the uncertainty that this pandemic year has brought into the world, you could review what you’ve learned during the pandemic. Long-term resolutions could be based on consideration of three things:

  1. What do I want to keep from changes I made to cope with the pandemic?
  2. What do I want to reclaim from the pre-pandemic time? 
  3. How would I “build back better” if I were in charge of the world or my neighbourhood? 

Approaching 2021 resolutions by hanging on to any bright spots or treasures that have revealed themselves during this unusual, and challenging, time may help illuminate a new path to follow once the pandemic is over.