It’s finally 2021—a shift that many people have been looking forward to after the unrelenting, often-painful year that was 2020. As with any new year, though, this shift is often seen as a type of “fresh start”, or a time to start improving and growing into the “best” version of yourself possible. People discuss their accomplishments from the previous year, their ambitious New Year’s resolutions and goals, and their ideas for making the year their best one yet (whatever that looks like to them).
While it’s always been true that no one needs to have a New Year’s resolution or aim to reinvent themselves on January 1st, it’s especially true this year. 2020 was a difficult year for many people around the world. It was a year filled with loss, isolation, and uncertainty. Simply making it through the year can be celebrated itself, and the same will still be true for 2021. Your worth isn’t tied to your resolutions or how much you “evolve” within 365 days.
If you do/did make New Year’s resolutions for 2021 (honestly, I still made one!), don’t be too hard on yourself if maintaining that resolution is difficult this year. Even though 2020 is over, a lot of its negative attributes—the loss and isolation and uncertainty—have carried over. Meeting goals that once seemed easy may be difficult (or at least harder than they could have once been), and there could be unpredictable life changes that affect your progress, too. Sticking to a new resolution can be challenging even in the best of times. When so much is out of our control, it’s important to not blame ourselves when things can’t happen exactly how we planned.
It’s also okay if your resolution or goals shift throughout the year. Even before 2020, this was something I strongly believed in. Keeping a static resolution that you aren’t happy with or that doesn’t work for your schedule/wellbeing can end up being more harmful than beneficial, even if your intentions were in the right place. “Practice guitar daily” can shift to “Practice guitar 2-3 times a week”, and you would still be meeting the resolution to learn the guitar. “Stick to a new diet” can shift to “Eat healthier, but without a formal diet”, and you would still be meeting the resolution to eat healthily. Changing your resolutions doesn’t mean you failed; it means you’re taking care of yourself while still working toward your goal.
And what happens if you do “fail” at your New Year’s resolution? You just can’t stop swearing, or you can’t read War and Peace, or you can’t patch things up with your ex-best friend? Well, that’s okay, too. It doesn’t mean that you are a failure. Holding yourself to an arbitrary resolution that you made up doesn’t determine your value or success as a person. Just continue being the best YOU possible, and remember that sometimes it’s enough just to make it through the year, whether you’ve “improved” or not—no grand gestures or life alterations necessary.