Each and every new year, we find ourselves pressured to remember the same few things; we’re told to reflect on the year behind us and set goals for the year ahead. Yet, it feels so easy to let the new year slip by, to make an arbitrary commitment to a resolution that won’t last to February (I’m no stranger to the abandoned resolution!). We’ve heard so much about resolutions each year that the words can start to sound hollow, meaningless, trivial. The concept of the New Year’s resolution might make us feel like we have to focus on our failures and resolve to be better people or stop a bad habit or lose an amount of weight. I think that this year, of all years, we could each benefit from giving our inner critic some time off.
2020 was a challenging year for all of us. Many of us probably saw early quarantine goals, like a workout routine or productivity level, fall by the wayside and might feel bad about it. I don’t think we need to. What if we ended 2020 feeling proud of what we did accomplish or the things we learned about ourselves or the strengths we discovered in the face of an unprecedented threat? You might not have gone running every day or finished a novel as you planned, but did you learn to be kinder to yourself? Did you resolve to check in with your loved ones more often? Did you keep yourself fed, even if the meals were sometimes microwaved or takeout? Did you survive, despite all the obstacles and hardships? Every one of these is a thing you should be deeply proud of. What if each of these lessons and successes were what we took with us into the new year to guide our paths instead of simply mapping out our failures and weak spots? What if we resolved never to forget the strength we showed this year, or vowed to remember the importance of the connections we sustained via Zoom and FaceTime and Skype? What if our resolution was to never stop being proud of ourselves for how well we’ve done, and to remember that anything we accomplish simply adds onto that foundation of growth?
Imagine what life could be like if we counted our victories, both big and small, every year, even when the pandemic finally subsides. If we healed from the trauma and grief but kept the strength and pride in what we had accomplished. This year I hope you can not simply resolve the things you want to change about yourself but also resolve to recognize the things about you that are already amazing and build on those as well. Most of all, I hope you have a very Happy New Year, and are able to rest for a few moments in the hope that always comes from a fresh start.