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Bring on 2021: Resolutions and Beyond

Many of us will not be sad to see 2020 go. I think it’s safe to say that for pretty much every human on the planet, this year didn’t go quite as planned. The New Year offers up an opportunity for self-reflection; checking in to see if what you’ve been doing is working for you and if there is anything you would like to shift focus to or away from. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a concrete resolution like losing weight, setting intentions for yourself in a new calendar year can really help to set the tone. So, what are some intentions you may want to set or practice in 2021? Here are some ideas and food for thought.

Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude may seem like the very last thing that comes to mind after a year like 2020, but hardship can put a lot of things in perspective. If you look for something to be mad about or worry about, you’ll always find something. The same is true for gratitude. If you look for something to be grateful for, you can always find something—no matter how small. This is huge because practicing gratitude actually improves your health. Consider practicing gratitude either on a daily or weekly basis in 2021 by starting a bulleted list or writing out a longer narrative.

If you find yourself struggling, try to get down to the basics:
  • Naming one person or pet that you love
  • Naming one place or time you felt the sun’s warmth
  • Remembering something beautiful/finding something beautiful before you
  • Listing basic needs that you have met (shelter, food, water, etc.)

Click here to learn about how practicing gratitude can help you physically and mentally along with more tips.

Holding Compassion for YourSelf and Others

How nice to yourself have you been in 2020? No, seriously. Did you judge yourself when the pandemic started for feeling less energetic? Have you thought that you “should” be doing more? Sometimes it’s much easier to extend compassion to others than it is to offer it to ourselves. Maybe you want to focus more on the people you love in 2021.

how to hold more compassion for yourself and others in 2021:
  • Catch yourself when you are being self-critical and MAKE AMENDS with yourself by apologizing and saying something positive (e.g., I’m sorry you’re frustrated and I called you stupid. I realize you overscheduled yourself today and you’re doing a great job under these stressful circumstances. Let’s make a commitment to not overschedule again).
  • Plan something that makes you physically good on the regular. This could be yoga, a hot bath, getting a weighted blanket, drinking your favorite coffee, etc
  • Plan to do something nice for someone within your means with no strings attached and no expectations of anything in return. This could be a heartfelt letter, small (or big) gift, or a simple text message that you’re thinking of someone.
  • Hold emotional space for yourself and others. This can look like journaling/blogging about your thoughts for yourself, and asking a friend how they are—making time to listen to whatever comes up without linking the conversation back to something about you. Sitting with their experience and their emotions.

What Intentions Should I Set? How do I make this happen?

This is entirely up to you. The sky isn’t even the limit. There are no limits. Reflect on what areas of your life are leaving you feeling unsatisfied, unfulfilled or resentful. If you feel especially stuck or like there is nothing you can do—this is likely the area that needs the most work. Stick with it and consider reaching out to a friend or professional. The challenge isn’t always identifying the area, it’s making a concrete plan you can be excited about.

Losing weight is concrete and measurable. It’s “easy” to see if you’ve been heading in the right direction (or not). That’s not to say losing weight is easy, but it’s “easy” to see the progress. Certainly, it’s important to be kind to yourself and recognize your reasons for wanting to lose weight, but just for an example, it is more concrete. What if you want to let go of anger? What if you want to let go of a toxic friendship or relationship? Emotions-based intentions can be a bit harder to pin down a plan for, but they are so important and often the most rewarding type of intentions you can set.

If you have an emotions-based intention, consider some of the following:
  • Writing or talking about what it is you would like to do or feel like and WHY
  • Build realistic concrete steps to get there such as:
    • Exploring your own emotions via talking, writing, creating art, etc
    • Roleplaying conversations/planning for them and then having them
    • Build practices into your life that are conducive to your goals (like for letting go of anger, exercising regularly may be one of them, or building up positive areas of your life)

Extra Help

Change isn’t easy, especially if you’re trying to change a habit, thought pattern, or relationship pattern that has been part of your life for a while. You can certainly make these types of change any time of year, but starting the year off fresh with some thoughtful intentions can help to solidify your resolve and plan for action. Make an appointment with an Angelus therapist today. We can help you to make your goals more concrete and measurable so that you’ll be able to work toward them and see progress. This could include scheduling at least one enjoyable activity for yourself or saying no to something that no longer brings you joy. Even seemingly small concrete steps and changes can bring you closer to manifesting the intention you set for yourself in 2021. Let us help you on that journey.