It’s hard to feel optimistic about 2021 because many of us might feel like we kind of got tricked by 2020. We remember this time last year, when we looked with such anticipation to 2020. We had many plans, hopes and dreams. Places we wanted to visit, people we wanted to see.
Then it all went sideways so fast and the challenges 2020 brought have dragged on for months, and months and months. Certainly longer than most of us could have expected. Back in March when Ontario entered its first lockdown it was hard to imagine that we’d still be talking about lockdown restrictions at Christmas.
How do we recover? How do we recapture the optimism and hope we felt a year ago and bring that kind of light with us in to 2021?
The most obvious part is that it’s going to look very different from before. We have the advantage of knowing that 2021 will continue to bring us new and previously-unimagined experiences. So we already know that 2021 will be different from any year before it, and therefore so will our thoughts, resolutions and plans going in to it. Our ideas about what a successful 2021 will be are going to be shaped by what we experienced in 2020. Even though that seems like a let-down, here’s why I think it’s similar to any other year, and can have some serious silver linings.
Other years the way our current year has shaped our resolutions might have been more subtle, and more individual. We might have moved and therefore created a resolution to finish perfecting our new home with paint and renovations. We might have gained a little weight and so created the resolution to lose it. We may have created resolutions that were specific to our job, or our relationship, or our finances. We looked back on our year and figured out exactly what we wanted to do differently in the coming year. It was a personal reflection process that was unique for each of us.
We will do those things again but we’ll relate to each other more closely than before because so much of our hopes and resolutions will come from what we experienced in 2020. For example, we might be focused on diversifying our income or creating a more robust savings due to the struggles we experienced this year – and anyone in that boat has to know they’re not alone. It’s been a record year for professional and financial instability.
We might create resolutions about building home offices and home gyms. A vast majority of us have found ourselves significantly increasing how much time we spend at home – and the way we spend our time in our homes has changed. It’s now the office, the gym, the yoga studio, the video studio, the music studio, the content creation hub and the table at which we have tea with our friends (albeit in front of a laptop).
We might resolve to embark on a journey of self-improvement. Read more books, take some online courses, and reflect on how we can grow, change and improve our skillsets to respond to our changing goals and challenges.
Then again, it’s also worth resolving to be good at and commit to self care. With so much change and instability you’re giving a lot of energy to keeping up with what’s going on around you. It’s more important than ever to find moments of joy and moments of peace. Bump up your skincare routine for a little built-in self-love daily. Perhaps finish your day with a gratitude journal or take a part of your lunch break to do some yoga or a work out (especially if you work at home and stay seated and still throughout the day, like me).
It’s also possible we’ll collectively resolve to be less materialistic, to shop small business when we need things, to use more sustainable products. Bonus points if you buy your sustainable products from small local businesses! In this perhaps we’re resolving simply to help each other. To support our community members, friends and neighbours.
So, as we have in other years, we’ll all look at how 2020 went and develop goals that reflect what we can and want to do better. Our goals are personal and individual to us but they’re also likely to have similarities to those around us. After all, as isolating as the pandemic has been, it’s also been a collective experience. That means that the resolutions we’re setting are similar to other years – simply more reflections of changes we feel empowered to make – but it’s also more communal than previous years. This year we also have the major advantage of knowing a lot more about what the year will ask of us and being better prepared.
Exactly what it is that will shape and define 2021 may be unknown but we are better prepared for surprises than we were going in to 2020. We’ve developed new coping skills and found opportunity in chaos. Let’s keep doing that, keep getting better at it, and make 2021 unique, collaborative, and better than ever.