Be Connected: Setting intentions for the New Year
Before the onset of COVID-19, many of us looked to the new year with traditional resolutions like losing weight or quitting smoking. But after a year that’s been anything but “normal,” it’s fair to expect that many of our New Year’s resolutions will look different this year, too.
Living through a pandemic may require you to simplify your plans and goals for the coming year, whether that means developing new plans entirely, prioritizing the things that help you get through the day, or focusing on what’s most important to you in life. In the end, what makes a personal resolution meaningful is the process of reflecting on and identifying the things that matter most to you. And with crisis comes opportunity — for self-reflection, personal growth, and cultivating compassion toward others.
As you close the chapter on this past year and consider what’s next, think about what it taught you about yourself and what you might want for the future. Try asking yourself the following:
What do I want to reclaim from the pre-pandemic time?
Often we don’t realize what we have until it’s gone. It’s likely that you see certain things you may have taken for granted in a different light now. You may remember your morning commute, once a source of aggravation or boredom, as a peaceful time to be alone with your thoughts. Maybe you felt overburdened by weddings, class reunions, birthday parties, family gatherings, and other social obligations, and not being able to gather to mark major milestones together has changed your perspective on such events. Whether it’s going to the movies, taking group fitness classes, visiting relatives out of town, hearing live music, or simply chatting with a coworker over the water cooler, what you miss speaks to what matters.
What do I want to keep from changes I made to cope with the pandemic?
While we look forward to traveling, visiting with friends, and resuming all of our favorite pre-pandemic activities again, you may have picked up a new hobby, or practiced skills you didn’t have much time for in the past — like cooking, reading, or doing puzzles. If you’ve made lifestyle changes or adjusted your physical space in order to accommodate remote work or virtual learning, you may find you prefer some of those changes, and wish to make them permanent. You may have spent more time with members of your immediate household this year than ever before, and discovered new dynamics or elements that enrich those relationships. Or perhaps you’ve been physically isolated from your friends and family, but discovered new and meaningful ways to stay connected with your loved ones. Even if you didn’t freely choose to make all these changes, they can still have a positive impact on the rest of your lives.
How can I help my community build back stronger, safer, and more sustainable?
Amid the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of community has never been more clear. As we bear witness to the suffering of families whose children rely on school lunches, neighbors whose hours are cut or jobs are lost, and homebound seniors in isolation, the desire to give back and help others may be stronger than ever. If you’re feeling a newfound motivation to make a positive impact in the world around you, hold on to it. Maybe your New Year’s resolutions can focus on supporting your community — whether that means donating to a local charity, bringing groceries to an elderly neighbor, or getting on Zoom with your neighbors to plan a community fundraiser, taking action to make a difference makes us feel happier and more fulfilled in our own lives.
Whatever resolutions you make this year, remember to be kind and forgiving to yourself if you don’t meet them. In fact, it’s perfectly okay to put your higher expectations for yourself to the side for the time being. The important thing to remember is that every step you take in the right direction, no matter how small, should be celebrated as a victory.