For most people, the year 2020 was a tough one. All over the world, many of us experienced the devastating effects of covid-19. Thousands of people died, businesses went under, and political, social, and economic turmoil raged as never seen before. It was an exhausting year, one we thought would never end and would soon like to forget.
But the year did end, and even though a mass-produced, effective covid-19 vaccine has yet to be found, we once again have the chance of a new beginning. With it comes a renewed sense of hope, the dream that somehow 2021 will be better for all of us.
And it can be. We can all change for the better, at least in our own lives. We can let go of the negative, learn from the past, and look ahead at the good things that the future might bring.
First Things First
The concept of O-souji or “large-scale cleaning” is prevalent in Japanese traditional culture. Aside from the obvious benefit of having a clean house, Japanese people believe welcoming the new year in a pristine environment also cleanses the soul, setting the tone for a prosperous new year.
Whether this is true or not remains to be seen. Still, there is nothing wrong with starting the year better off than how we left the previous one. After all, you don’t have to take a shower after you work out. But it’ll make you feel better if you do.
Ways in which we can welcome the year on a positive note include:
- Getting rid of unnecessary things. If your closet is filled with clothes you never use, letters from your kindergarten boyfriend, or a pair of roller skates three sizes too small, get rid of them. Or better yet, donate them. As a rule of thumb, things you didn’t know you had, are probably not useful in your life.
- Washing whatever is dirty. Dirt brings bacteria, and bacteria bring illnesses. You don’t want to start the year by getting sick. Take clothes, sheets, blankets, and rugs to the dry cleaners, and spend a few hours wiping windows, tables, and doors. It’s not just about looks but also hygiene and health.
- Accepting what happened the year before and making an effort to move on from it. You cannot change what happened. That doesn’t mean you have to forget about it. But you can tell yourself that better things will come, and eventually, you will heal.
- Evaluating your relationships. People can lie to other people, but they cannot lie to themselves. If you take an honest look at your life, you will realize which relationships are fruitful and those of them not worth maintaining.
Setting Realistic Goals
A goal isn’t a goal if there isn’t a plan on how to achieve it. If you want to quit smoking, don’t tell yourself, “I will quit smoking this year.” Instead, ask yourself why you started smoking in the first place. Write down how not smoking will make your life better. Decide on whether you will quit cold-turkey or through a gradual process. Get help if you think you need it. The same goes for any other goal you might have.
Realistic goals are challenging, but they are not impossible. They require effort, commitment, and time. So set expectations for yourself and learn to manage them. Understand that you will struggle and falter, but that doesn’t mean that you have failed.
Suppose you feel you can set more than one. Divide them into physical, emotional, and educational. A physical goal is losing a few pounds or starting an exercise routine. An emotional one is to forgive others or yourself for past mistakes. As for education, you can take up a new hobby or start learning a new language.
Building New Habits
Studies show it takes around 21 days to build a new habit. A year has 365 days. If this is true, 2021 will give you the chance to start doing 17 things in a better way.
What are these things? That is up to you to decide. It can be as simple as brushing your teeth three times a day instead of two or eating a hamburger every other day instead of every day.
Make a note of the habits you would like to break. Count them daily and when you reach 21, reward yourself. It doesn’t have to be 17 of them. As long as you put in the commitment, one or two is more than enough.
2021 is just beginning. Some of us might still be hungover from our New Year’s Eve party. So let’s start it with a bang. Let’s start by changing our bad habits, looking after our physical and emotional health, and focusing on finding ways to make our lives better. Nobody will reap the benefits but us.