Resolutions 2020

As we go through our December ritual of reflecting on the year past, many people seem shocked to read the resolutions they made at the beginning of 2020, dismayed at how their plans were upended.

We can never know the future. Yet we plan ahead expecting continuity. When tragedy strikes, unanticipated loss of life or property to accidents, storms…to acts of god….those are personal. A person, a family, a community might be affected but the rest of the world goes on. In 2020, the entire world went off the rails. So there was the feeling, if only this were over and we could right ourselves.

Advice I Pondered

A year ago I read Tim Herrera’s article 8 Ways To Be Kinder to Yourself in 2020: You Deserve It! in the December 24, 2019 edition of the New York Times.

I wondered whether the events of 2020 make these ideas of self-pampering more relevant or do they feel naïve, as if any problems we thought we had at the beginning of the year pale in comparison with the reality of a global pandemic and resulting economic hardships.

So I’ve examined them one-by-one to see how they played out in the year 2020 was.

Take more time for yourself

“… the mere act of alone can benefit social relationship, improve your creativity and confidence, and help you regulate your emotions so that you can better deal with adverse situations.”

Filip Fröhlich

Some of us got a larger dose of solitude than usual. Others, had their solitude disrupted by spouses working from home and children studying at home.

I was in the latter group. I had far less solitude than usual as my spouse converted the front bedroom into a home office. All my usual routines were interrupted so that the house would be quiet enough for endless Zoom meetings.

Take time to do nothing at all

I cut a huge amount of “busy-ness” out of my life. I even stopped keeping my BuJo because I no longer needed to track my chores. This pandemic year made it easy to say no to things I didn’t really want to do. And I’ve learned how easy it is to say no. I feel like I’ve taken control of my time, or at least from external pressures on it.

I had less distractions. I no longer had the excuse of “running errands” with which to procrastinate. For nine months, almost the only time I’ve left home is to pick up my groceries once a week, curbside.

Sometimes it felt like I did nothing. But, in fact, I spent my days studying and reading…which is always how I imagined my perfect life.

Cultivate more casual, low-stakes friendship

The idea is that the more weak ties one has, the more we feel we belong to our community, and the happier we are.

No. Just no. The pandemic has provided a perfect environment for enjoying solitude without societal pressure to get out and do stuff with other people.

Learn to enjoy things when they’re good

Worrying about when “the other shoe will drop” will only steal your current joy.

Being at home all the time meant I spent more time on the computer, more time death-scrolling social media and headline news focused on the election. In that sense, a lot of current joy was robbed by the fear “the other shoe would drop” and Trump would win the election.

Lean into your “guilty” pleasures

Life isn’t about being constantly productive.

I don’t think I feel guilty about my little pleasures. Age and experience has helped me grow out of any guilt I ever felt, if I did ever feel any. Point achieved long before 2020.

Learn to accept a compliment

Pumping yourself up after a big win can feel a little awkward. You want to acknowledge good work, but you don’t want to feel arrogant. It’s that tricky balance of quietly reveling in a job well done without coming off as … well, a jerk.

Like enjoying my guilty pleasures, being unable to acknowledge a job well done is not a problem for me. It’s all part of the game to remain motivated. If I do a job well, I reward myself. After all, no one else is going to.

Embrace the unexpected joy of repeat experience

For many of us, not so unexpected. I’m in the tribe that enjoys something much more the second time, when I understand the parameters of the experience and can just settle back and watch it unfold.

Familiarity breeds content. (I’ve written more than once.)

Turn your regrets into self-improvement

Neither ignore nor fixate on what went wrong

I would strive not to have regrets, but…

To say this in a more positive light. If something goes wrong, what is the lesson learned.

My Own Resolution

My own resolution for 2020 was to develop resiliency: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Well, I certainly got a lot of practice!