As we move into 2021, I have been thinking about New Year’s resolutions, and what might be the best ways to journey forward into the new year. Like many of you, I am ready to start fresh, and approach 2021 with cautious optimism. Yet I know that there are still challenging times ahead, that the unrelenting stressors of the past year will remain with us for at least the next few months, despite the vaccine light at the end of the tunnel.
A recent article
by clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Bonior in “The Washington Post” directly addresses this challenge of transitioning from 2020 to 2021. She asks the question of how we can create a mental reset, how to move forward in a positive way, while knowing that our world won’t dramatically change as the calendar flips over to a new year. Her advice includes six ways to shift one’s mind-set.
1) Get symbolic
“Mind-set shifts are helped by tangible markers that go beyond a new date on the calendar.” Bonior suggests creating a fun or satisfying way to identify the transition to a new stage of hopefulness. A dramatic action such as burning a list of 2020 grievances or a daily action of wearing a special piece of clothing or jewelry is a tangible shortcut reminder of change.
2) Share with others
“Connect with others for a meaningful and thoughtful moment about what you look forward to in the new year.” The isolation of the past months, even if surrounded by a hectic household, can take an emotional toll. Intentionally reaching out to an old friend or special relative can create a powerful sense of reconnection and moving forward.
3) Pause each day
“Whatever you are hoping to change in the new year, whether a specific habit or your overall outlook, it will probably be helped with a daily mindful pause — no matter how small.” This is the closest Bonior comes to supporting New Year’s resolutions. Her point is that taking a daily moment to reflect, even as little as 30 seconds while brushing your teeth, can sustain new patterns of behavior and outlook.
4) Distance yourself from all-or-none thinking
“Try to accept now that there is nothing that will apply universally to every day of this new year, and so a reset need not be perfect — nor should it be.” For those of us who work with children, the old saying that “they are still making erasers” is shorthand for living with daily mistakes. There will be good days and bad days; the goal for 2021 is to avoid absolutist and unrealistic expectations which can deflate our morale.
5) Identify the bigger picture
Bonior poses the questions of “what larger values are important to you that you want to keep close? What overall priorities give your life a sense of meaning?” Holding onto the sense of something greater than oneself helps when the grind of the daily routine may become overwhelming. Taking a step back and trying to look at things in perspective offers a reprieve for the spirit.
6) Value growth over arrival
While the goal is for a mental reset, it is important to “focus instead on your continual growth this year, which allows for fluctuations and even setbacks (since they can bring insight). If, on the eve of 2022, you can look back and see a genuine effort that was sustained over time to be open to change and discovery, that is a far bigger success story.” As educators, we embrace and endorse this idea that the journey really is as important as the destination.
With these ideas in mind, I look forward to sharing 2021 with the entire Shorecrest community as we embrace the joys and challenges of this new year #ShorecrestTogether.
All the best,