Here’s a refreshing, empowering New Year’s Resolution to embrace: Finish your 2020 strong, and own your new year. This has been a year of incredible challenges and changes. Even if you’re struggling right now, you can close your year with purpose and positivity (even among ongoing negativity) and set yourself up to own your new year despite continuing uncertainty, stress, and difficulty. I invite you to read on and rise with these new concepts for New Year’s resolutions.
Four Tips for Finishing 2020 Strong and Owning Your New Year
It might seem difficult, if not impossible, to finish 2020 strong. This year has brought unwanted anxiety, stress, and restrictions beyond our control. If you’re feeling anything but happy and positive, that’s okay and normal. You don’t have to be in a perfect emotional space in order to take charge of where you are now and where you want to be.
Consider these four tips to end 2020 and start 2021 your way:
- Instead of trying to change yourself, embrace who you are and develop a new compassionate, nonjudgmental relationship with yourself and your world.
- Rather than tackling a grand plan to improve your life, focus on making great moments every day.
- Make a commitment to yourself to live this year rather than in past years or years that won’t happen for 365 days or more.
- Remember to breathe. It saves your life and your sanity.
Why These 4 Tips Make Great New Year’s Resolutions — Why They Benefit Your Wellbeing
Whether you’re embracing one of these tips or all of them, you stand to reap enormous benefits. On their own or collectively, these tips embody mindfulness and related components like acceptance, detachment, the wisdom of uncertainty, and value-driven action. The ideas behind them are powerful and allow you to decide who you want to be and how you want to respond to even enormous challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s a more in-depth exploration of how they can benefit you:
- Instead of trying to change yourself, embrace who you are and develop a new compassionate, nonjudgmental relationship with yourself and your world. When you embrace who you are rather than struggling against all of your self-perceived faults and imperfections, you gift yourself with self-love and compassion. This doesn’t mean that you will suddenly become a self-centered narcissist. It does mean that you will begin to allow yourself to simply be and cultivate a sense of inner peace and calm. You can focus on your strengths and all you have to offer rather than on what you think you are doing wrong or the inevitable human mistakes that you make. You come to accept and value your complete self. When you don’t pick and choose what like and hate about yourself, you let go of self-judgment and develop a compassionate relationship with who you are.
- Rather than tackling a grand plan to improve your life, focus on making great moments every day. We’d all love to change things in our lives, but thinking in absolutes and trying to tackle a gigantic change in a gigantic, sweeping gesture often leads to overwhelm, frustration, and a sense of failure. Commonly, people think things like, “When I lose 30 pounds, I’ll feel better about myself and be able to find a decent partner and be happy,” or “When I land that promotion, I’ll be able to make more money so I can afford a better house and be happy.” The problem with this type of thinking is that it makes your happiness or life situations conditional. You focus just on these end goals rather than on creating happiness every day, right now, the way things are.
- Make a commitment to yourself to live this year rather than in past years or years that won’t happen for 365 days or more. This is known as mindfulness, and it’s a powerful way to live your life completely and fully. So often, we get trapped in our mind, in our thoughts about negative things that are already over and done or about what hasn’t even happened yet. When you pull yourself out of your thoughts and into “this” moment, every moment, you embrace your life more fully and completely. You position yourself to respond to stressors that pop up rather than reacting emotionally, driven by thoughts and worries about the past or future.
- Remember to breathe. It saves your life and your sanity. Breathing is the most accessible stress-beating tool we possess. And it’s free and something you already do to stay alive, so it isn’t hard to use this centering tool. Slow, deep breathing allows us to control our central nervous system. Normal, this system operates on its own, revving up when we’re stressed or anxious and then becoming calm so we can relax and the body can run smoothly (the digestive system and cardiovascular system are closely tied to the central nervous system). When we’re stressed, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) kicks in and puts us into fight-flight-or-freeze mode. You’re not at the mercy of this process but can switch off your SNS just by pausing to take a few slow, deep breaths. Doing this provides oxygen to the brain and stops the stress response, exchanging it for the rest-and-digest mode of the parasympathetic nervous system. Breathing really can help stress and anxiety and help you stay calm and peaceful so you can respond to problems rather than reacting to them emotionally.
How to Use These Tips to Finish 2020 Strong and Own Your New Year
The above tips make powerful New Year’s Resolutions because they’re simple and they work. “Simple,” though, doesn’t mean easy. It can be challenging to love yourself, embrace who you are, and live mindfully so you can respond thoughtfully to ongoing struggles. Try these tips to make them part of your life right now and going forward:
- Reflect on your strengths, qualities about yourself that you’re proud of or actions you take that benefit you and those around you. If you’re having a difficult time thinking of anything, learn about character strengths at viacharacter.org. You can take a free assessment, learn your top strengths, and gain ideas for using them in your daily life.
- Tune in to how you talk to yourself, and reframe your words. We all tend to berate ourselves frequently and call ourselves some pretty mean names. This often goes by unchecked, and these labels and judgments seep into our subconscious and form our opinions of ourselves. Instead of trying to change yourself because of these labels you’ve created, reword how you talk to yourself and think about yourself in kinder, gentler ways. For example, if you berate yourself for being a terrible friend, partner, or parent, catch yourself in the act of being mean to yourself, pause and rethink your words. Tell yourself, “I’m having the thought that I’m the world’s worst parent, but I just reacted to a stressful moment. I do lots of great parenting stuff (get specific), and now I’m going to go talk to my kid and give us both a fresh start.”
- To make great moments, focus on what you can do right now to feel happy and peaceful and to actively work toward what you value. Building on the weight loss goal from above (“When I lose 30 pounds, I’ll feel better about myself and be able to find a decent partner and be happy,”), you might think of feeling healthy during your day so you can be energetic and active even at the end of the day. This leads to making great, healthy moments by choosing to eat a nutritious lunch instead of grabbing fast food. You feel good about choice in that moment, which makes a good moment, and you give yourself the ability to feel energetic and sluggish so you can enjoy the fresh air and go for a walk in the evening. In making great moments, you set yourself up to make small, good choices and take little positive actions throughout the day every day. You just might find that you increase your happiness moment by moment rather than waiting for some big event to happen to feel good later.
- To develop mindful living as a way of life, use your senses to pull yourself out of your thoughts and into your moment. You might start catching yourself lost in negative ruminations and then play the quick 5-4-3-2-1 game to shift your thoughts: Note five things you can see, four sounds, three textures, two smells, and one thing you can taste (if that’s appropriate in the moment). If you’re with someone else, focus on them to be fully present with them rather than distracted. The more you do this, the easier it becomes to stay present in each moment.
- Pause frequently throughout your day to close your eyes (or keep them open if closing them feels weird to you) and take some slow, deep, mindful breaths (mindful breaths are simply ones you pay attention to, focusing on the sound and feel of each inhale and exhale). Stepping away from what you’re doing to give yours can give you an added break. If it helps you develop this healthy habit, set an alarm on your phone to sound once an hour, and take a short breathing break when it chimes.
You’ve got this! With with these small but incredibly powerful tips and strategies, you can finish your 2020 strong and take charge of your new year, whatever it brings.
Discover more helpful strategies for owning your life and creating a quality life despite challenges with these self-help books and journals.
Or are video courses more your style? If so, check out this mental health and wellbeing online course. It’s presented to kids age 8-12 but the content applies to people of all ages.