The start of a new year is usually a time for making changes and going into the next year with a fresh mindset and personal goals. Many people focus on health: “I’m going to start working out.” “I’ll eat healthy and cook from home.” “My goal is to lose 20 pounds.” “I will cut back on alcohol, sweets, processed foods…” Others focus on financial, “I’m going to save up for a house.” While some choose to make finding a healthy relationship their goal, “Can’t wait to meet the love of my life!” January 1st is usually a plethora of social media posts with resolutions and pictures of what the new goal is, typically with the tag line or hashtag “New Year, new me!” A new year symbolizes a blank slate, an opportunity to start again, and a marker for a new goal. But what happens in a pandemic?
If COVID has taught us anything, it is that we cannot take for granted the life we have. All of our usual means to the above goals are not as accessible. Gyms are closed, or limited to outdoor workouts; restaurants are take out only; social distancing and stay at home orders limit social interactions including dating; and many people have been laid off or had their hours reduced. This makes the above goals more challenging to attempt and accomplish. But even if you can focus on setting a goal, do you have the physical and emotional capability to attempt it? As we enter the 10th month of the pandemic, it is not uncommon to see burnout, depression or anxiety. Surviving this pandemic is taking a toll on most people and while it is admirable to set goals for 2021, it may be too mentally taxing to try to make changes. Or is it that we need to focus on other changes?
2021 might be the year we change how we view politics, social injustices, and the legal system. Maybe it is the year we change how we see the climate issues and our impact on it. Or is it the year that we change how we connect and stay connected to people in our lives? Whatever change you feel needs to happen in 2021, set your intention and make a goal with realistic steps of how to achieve it. Who knows, maybe in December 2021 we will be saying “Is that the new you?”
Happy New Year!
Michelle A. Culver, LMFT