2021 has arrived!
Although it's always been the case, 2020 brought into the light and reminded each and every one of us that "we're all just one decision away from change." Like a look-changing haircut, how we move through our life experience can change on a dime, and we've all experienced it now, first hand, living through the pandemic of our lifetime.
Of course, in hindsight, the enormous challenges and changes that happened during 2020 weren’t anticipated as we set goals and committed to resolutions in December 2019. The future looked bright as we set out to start a new year—and a new decade.
Although hindsight is 2020. Don't look back. Looking forward to a bright future is the way.
But, alas, I give you of one last closure-enducing look-back blog post to acknowledge the events (and lessons!) of the past year. Here are some swaps to consider for moving forward.
What's OUT and what's IN . . .
OUT: Foretelling the future IN: Forethought to adapt
Sadly, confidence about what’s going to happen in the year to come is now a thing of the past.
That’s not to say that we can’t make plans or set goals, but don’t expect things to unfold perfectly as you’ve predicted, and be prepared to pivot. The linear life is behind us now and it's been replaced by the nonlinear life which has many more disruptions, twists, turns, setbacks, upheavals, crises—and even life quakes, like a worldwide pandemic. Go back and look at the resolutions you made when easing into 2020 and as you review let that be a reminder to be a little humble, to expect the unexpected, and to psychologically prepare that the road ahead is going to be as unpredictably winding as the road that brought us here.
OUT: Hyper-focus on rings, dings, pings IN: Phone-free flings
Yawn, rub eyes, roll over, grab phone, check out what happened while sleeping.
Stop doing that, says brain performance expert Jim Kwik, author of Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life. You’re rewiring your brain for distraction and reaction. Every ring, ding, ping, like, share, comment, and cat meme is rewiring your brain to be crazy distracted. With all this rewiring going on with our brains, it's no wonder why we don’t focus when we’re reading or in a meeting or studying something or on a Zoom call.
Plus, whatever you’re taking in, whether it’s doom-scrolling or obsessing about the latest irritating work email, sets the tone for your day.
Instead, adopt some phone-free habits for the first hour to help you set yourself up for a successful day. We all know the A-list ones: meditate, exercise, hydrate, eat a healthful breakfast, read something other than the digital onslaught.
But, really: This time is your own. Find the morning ritual that works for you and helps you start the day strong. Here's my morning ritual.
OUT: Social isolation IN: Creative connectivity
At this point, even the most me-time loving introvert likely has had it with isolation. Loneliness was already at an all-time high before the pandemic, and also carries real health risks. After a while, being isolated can become its own habit, especially when fostering connection in a socially distanced society isn’t as easy as it used to be.
Take this time to find creative ways to stay in contact with others. Use the New Year as an excuse to text or call friends you would like to catch up with.
There are a few ways to make this a habit:
I drive daily for one hour, each way. to Springdale, AR (where I work) from Eureka Springs, AR (where I live) - time in the car allows for two one hour calls, hands free, with someone I want to connect with.
Once a month, on Saturdays, friends from Seattle, Australia, Oregon and Switzerland zoom together as a standing “date” to remotely chat on a regular basis.
Cook a simple recipe together via video call with family, each from your own kitchen. It's so fun!
Find the time to get outside every day. Breathe fresh air and wave to your neighbors.
The key is to find a way to maintain contact and tend to relationships until we can safely resume traditional forms of contact. Try different ways of communicating with those close to you regularly and keep utilizing the methods that work best for you.
OUT: Holding on IN: Make it gone
If you don’t honestly assess what’s not working and letting it go, it’s going to continue to resurface and prevent you from creating the new habits you need to be happier, healthier, or more satisfied. Doing so may mean facing down the fear, sadness, or shame about a loss or setback to begin to come to terms with it so you can change it. Managing transitions, including those that will undoubtedly come in 2021, happens in three phases:
The long “goodbye”—mourning the past and ritually marking that it’s not coming back.
The messy middle—shedding old habits and developing new ones, adapting to what’s happening now.
The new beginning—unveiling the new you. (i.e. like handsome Chad, pictured above.)
As you let go of the loss, habit, or whatever is creating a drag on you or your progress, find a ritual to acknowledge it. Write it down on a sheet of paper and burn it in the fire pit. Bake a cake. Plan a celebration. Or find something else that works for you. The ritual can help make the transition real, and help you move on to forming new and better habits.
An important and under-appreciated skill in the New Year, is to say goodbye to the past.
Sometimes we get so caught up in making resolutions and plans for the New Year, we forget to mourn, and to say goodbye, and to put behind us the life that’s not coming back. By letting go properly for yourself you will reap the new possibilities ahead for you in your future.