How do you want 2021, and beyond, to look? What are you most excited about? How will you make a difference this year?
We made it. We triumphantly waved goodbye to 2020 in the most low–key New Year’s Eve imaginable. Never have we been so thankful to see the back of one year and move swiftly into another, without the slightest glance over our shoulder. Never have we wanted to celebrate this more dramatically, yet the very reason we couldn’t, was why we so desperately wanted it to end.
Aside from the bleak absence of a fizz-fuelled celebration and obligatory hugging with strangers (doesn’t that feel like another lifetime?), this was a New Year’s Eve like no other. The night out of the year was replaced with a monumental sigh of relief. There was a time when we would reminisce about the year’s high points and make unrealistic (yet somehow believable) resolutions for the year ahead. This time, we simply felt grateful to get through it.
It’s incredibly natural to label 2020 as the year we want to forget, but it will have undoubtably changed us all in some way, for the better. Many of us were forced to stop and think about how we lived our lives, as we paced like caged lions in the monotony of our own four walls. We took notice of the simple things our busy schedules couldn’t previously see. The small pleasures became our biggest joy. Through painful deprivation, we learnt how human contact makes us whole.
Right now, we may not see just how much we’ve changed. I believe it will become clear as normal life (or a revised version of it) eventually resumes. And it will. It will be different, but it will.
2021 is the year to lay foundations and rebuild our lives. We’ve been handed a clean slate to recarve our future. 2020 has given us the opportunity to step back and re-evaluate how we want this to look. It took away the choice and freedom we so blindly took for granted. The hamster wheel stopped for an entire year. As tedious as it felt at the time, we must now use this to our advantage.
This January isn’t about making the usual resolutions. It’s about exploring some lifelong changes that go beyond 2021. We have never felt so ready to look ahead. Last year took away so much, but it has given us strength. This year gives us hope; That’s an exceptionally powerful combination. Our newfound freedom is in sight. We will hug our loved ones and not let go. We will walk out the front door without fear. We will make time for the people who matter. We will appreciate what we have. We will take care of ourselves and each other. Whatever lies ahead, this is going to be an extraordinary year.
But how do we avoid slipping back into old habits? This is our next challenge. If you sense it happening, remind yourself what you went through last year. And doesn’t it feel good to say, ‘last year’? At first, this won’t be too hard, as it’s still very raw. Sustaining this mindset is the tricky bit. As our wounds heal into scars, and the reality of 2020 gradually fades into a memory, it’s important to maintain awareness before hopping back onto that hamster wheel.
I’m a big believer in journalling, as it captures your thoughts right in the moment. As you refer back in weeks, months and years to come, it’s a great leveller. While it’s still pretty vivid in your mind, write down how you felt during the lowest points of 2020 and remind yourself how you got through the darkest days. Journal how you feel now. Express your thoughts about spending time (in a socially un-distanced manner) with the people you have missed the most, and lock in this emotion. When the moment arrives, record it again. Do this with everything you have longed for: the office banter, the impromptu night out, the shopping trip with your best friend, the flight to your well-deserved holiday, swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. Remind yourself how good life is. And it really is, as 2020 reminds you just how bad it can be.
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