It’s that time of the year again when everyone is making bucket lists and looking at making New Year’s resolutions. Given how turbulent 2020 has already been, this year it’s time we rethink our resolutions.
This New Year probably looked like other New Years: we got tired trying to stay up past midnight, we probably wear something sparkly (glitter make-up with your tracks counts), and probably made a list of resolutions. We reflected on the lessons learned from the past year and thought about what accomplishments we want to make the next year. But the difference with this New Year, of course, is that the past year itself looked a lot different. Given how different the year has been, it is likely that our resolutions which need to look different and center around some more realistic ideas - and this piece aims to explore some of those ideas.
When setting our goals know that they should be SMART and actually achievable. It doesn’t help to set goals which are beyond our reach, not measurable or feasible. Additionally, it helps to know what is really driving us to have those goals - being intrinsically motivated can be a bit boost to help achieve these goals. Know that just because it’s the first of January doesn’t mean we will automatically feel motivated to start a new habit. It always helps to consider what changes we'd like to make, but also why we want to make them as that can help us understand what will keep us committed to reaching our goal. To stay on track, we can encourage ourselves with gentle reminders such as calendar entries and phone alarms to see how we are progressing. Stemming from the above, know that it is important to not just have resolutions but to break them up into plans and roadmaps. It’s great to have a goal, but knowing how we will achieve it can help to make that a reality. Having those steps drawn up can increase the likelihood of us achieving our goal and also being able to plan better as we can visualise potential roadblocks we might face. Know that the more we dissect our goal, the easier it is to break it into actionable steps and move in that direction.
We are allowed to and should take delight in the simple pleasures. These are the gifts that keep on giving and the ones we should revel in day in and day out be it silly jokes, catching up with our best friends, long walks, precious memories, sunrises, sunsets, stargazing, cloud watching or creating some doodles - these are the things that feed our soul and nourish our spirit. It is also important to do things that we love and make time for ourselves. This past year we’ve all seen the importance of taking care of our Mental Health and practicing Self-care. There is nothing wrong in making these our priority even though we have often been made to feel guilty for these things. Make our wellbeing a priority and we will watch ourselves bloom, blossom and thrive. Our mind is an integral part of who we are and deserves care too. Its crucial to choose to just focus on ourselves every once in a while, simply because we deserve it.
Embrace ourselves as we are is key. We are allowed to be a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time. Loving and accepting ourselves is really important and can be a big boost to our Mental Health as well. Love yourself and give yourself t he same kindness, compassion and understanding that you so easily give to others. There may be a lot of pressure to give into the ‘New Year, New Me’ rhetoric but we don’t have to do that. Understand ourselves, respect ourselves and enforce our boundaries, these are all means of Self love!
When thinking about our goals, we need to think about our purpose as well. Most people just want to be part of something greater than themselves and there are so many ways to do this like volunteering at an aged care home or homeless shelter, sponsoring a family for Christmas, sponsoring a child’s education, buying a meal for a homeless person, baking cookies for your neighbour or even checking in with people. If we are able to truly involve ourselves in activities that contribute to the well-being of humanity we will in turn feel better in our own life and feel a sense of contentment and fulfilment as well.
Let's always choose to be grateful and count our blessings. No one has a perfect life, but it is so important to accept the good things in our life. It is important to remember that and hold tight to the aspects of your life that are worthwhile. It can be difficult to see the good when the bad seeps through to cast its ugly shadow so focus on those moments of joy, even the small ones. Being grateful for what we have and who you have in your life is imperative as is letting our loved ones know how much they mean to us. A great way to practice and inculcate gratitude in our lives is through daily gratitude exercises, journaling and even having a gratitude jar.
Life is really uncertain and it’s important to be open to change and also to live for today. Remember that tomorrow isn’t promised and yesterday is over. It is imperative to avoid fixation on past failures and choose to live in the present. Life will be changing and will continue to challenge us, but being open to uncertainty can help us to build our resilience. We honestly have no way of knowing what will happen next, so what is the point of worrying? Let go of past regrets and do not spend too much time looking toward the future because all this does is allow added stress in your life. Live in the beauty of today and enjoy every moment we can. Make the most of the present moment because before we know it, that moment will end up becoming a memory, so it’s best to make it all worthwhile.
Lastly, know that we don’t need to restrict our goals or progress to a calendar. Happiness and contentment doesn’t always follow a linear path or timeline, so know that whatever progress looks like for us can be different from that of others and that’s ok too. It helps to reflect upon why we insist on waiting for happiness as if it is something that we can truly plan - almost as it as if these mostly unattainable goals will truly make us more secure people? The reality is that we do not need to wait on the elusive new year to begin in order to be happy, we can choose to start exactly where we are in this moment.
In the end remember that 2020 has been a rough year, so let's not put too much pressure on ourselves when trying to meet our goal. We don't have to give up if you don’t fulfil our New Year’s resolutions - remember that the pandemic is yet not yet over, so lets cut ourselves some slack as we move ahead this year. Let's be realistic, be Patient and be kind to ourselves - its ok to just choose to set ourselves free from the angst and just live life to the fullest, even if we have to take it one day at a time life. The best version of us is one that finds solace in our own happiness and in what we have, and we do not have to wait on a New Year for that.
Written by: Yash Mehrotra