“Earn a promotion.”
“Look better in a bikini.”
“Take a bucket list trip.”
These are just a few of my resolutions New Years of the past. There’s nothing inherently “wrong” with such goals. But now, against the backdrop of a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis and the year 2020...these intentions feel rather empty.
And if just the thought of New Year’s resolutions prompts immediate eye rolling — you’re not alone. This year jaded us all in one way or another, and to ideate toward better in 2021 feels akin to extending a hand to someone who’s burned us a few times before: with hesitation, timidness, and lowered expectations.
I encourage you to fight through such apathy. Establishing fresh, positive intentions is perhaps more important for 2021 than any year prior. 2020 begets a personal reset, and resolutions provide the foundation for that regrowth. And, we now have the context of this year to reframe our priorities. Death, illness, separation, and catastrophe provide necessary contrast so that the value of life, health, connectedness, and joy are realized through a clearer lens.
What have you overcome this year? What have you learned? It’s the answers to these questions that should help shape your next set of intentions. (In this previous post about 2020, I laid out how to extract the positive learning from any negative event. If you haven’t already, give it a quick read before passing GO).
Looking for some resolution ideas to bounce off from? Here are my personal goals for 2021:
Eat the cake. Upon first being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, I turned to an extremely strict plant-based diet that was mostly raw and free of additives, preservatives, and sugar. I felt physically incredible and my energy was through the roof. But, I was also extremely unhappy. There were times I would literally shed tears because I could no longer enjoy one of life’s most simple pleasures: dessert. Following my malignant pleural effusion and hospitalization this year, you know what I realized? Life is too short not to eat the damn cake. You want a cookie? Eat the cookie. The server comes over with that dessert tray after dinner? Get the torte and savor each bite. I’m not recommending living off sugar and Doritos; balance, of course, is key to everything in this life. All I’m saying is: Don’t deprive yourself of the little things that make you happy.
Stop the mindless scroll. My screen time reports this year were straight-up out of control. There were days I’d be on social media for 6+ hours out of the day without even realizing it. The “mindless scroll” has become habitual for many of us, and it can be toxic. What we consume through our screens can and does impact us on a subconscious level, slowly chipping away at our confidence and contentment. It causes us to compare ourselves to others, but the problem is that we’re often viewing others through artificially-tinted rose-colored glass, resulting in feelings of lack versus abundance. Not to mention, it steals precious time that could be better served living mindfully. Which leads me to my third resolution...
Make the moments matter. I used to take my iPhone with me while walking our dogs, and in doing that, I realized I was missing out on so many simple pleasures. I resolve to look up. Look around. Breathe in the fresh air. Feel the wintry wind hit my face and instead of griping, being thankful for the seasons and for being alive to feel such sensations. Living mindfully can mean something different for everyone. Maybe it’s letting the kids make a mess without thinking about cleanup time. Getting off the smartphone and instead playing fetch with your dog. Taking a walk in the rain. Reading something interesting. Waking up early to really enjoy your coffee.
Scatter kindness like glitter. Get that sh*t everywhere. Kindness is contagious, and if only more of us would commit to spreading the good more freely, the world would be a much more enjoyably habitat for us all. So, I resolve to: Compliment strangers, to be more generous with my social media “likes”, and to donate a total of 1,000 Bella Bags. Resolving to spread more joy doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or labor-intensive; for more ideas on how to sprinkle kindness for free, check out this post.
Connect. And not only through text. Don’t get me wrong — text is a Godsend for introverts like myself. However, I also realize it’s not a substitute for more meaningful engagement with the ones I love. I resolve to call more. To punctuate special occasions with some good ol’ fashioned snail mail. To plan for more quality in-person time with friends and family (masked and distanced when warranted, of course).
Five resolutions may seem like a lot, but only if the goal posts are perfection. Pro tip: Don’t aim for perfection. Instead, strive to be a little better tomorrow than you were today.
How have your 2021 resolutions differed from years past? What do you think prompted the shift? Share with us in the comments below.