Resolutions this year? Maybe not.

As we enter into a new year, the tradition is to make resolutions to accomplish some things that we were perhaps unable to do in the past: lose weight, save money, quit smoking, eat better, get organized, learn a language, start a meditation/yoga/exercise regime, etc.

However, 2020 has been a year of change and loss unlike any other in our lifetime. The global COVID pandemic has impacted every person on the planet, and will continue to be part of our lives for 2021 as well. While we’re all in this together, it’s also important to acknowledge that the impact is unique for each of us, and some are suffering a lot more than others. If the pandemic is an ocean, we may all be in it together, but some are in a yacht and others are in a leaky rowboat, or even a life preserver. Gratitude for staying afloat at all is an important part of facing—and bracing for—the new year ahead. (Let’s resolve to be grateful!)

Given the extraordinary circumstances we’re living through now, I suggest a new approach to standard New Year’s resolutions: focus on radical self-acceptance and letting go of expectations. While setting intention is generally a good practice for manifesting new goals, now may not be the best time to be overly strict with yourself. Instead, let self-compassion be the order of the day.

It’s easy to look back on 2020 and find fault with yourself or your choices. It’s easy to judge and blame yourself when fearful thinking so contagious. Maybe you lost a job or a business and couldn’t figure out how to “pivot” into success during a pandemic. Or perhaps you didn’t excel at being a tutor for your kid’s distance learning, or gained some weight, stopped exercising, or turned to a bottle of wine every night for comfort. At the beginning of the pandemic, you may have thought you finally had the time to tackle those home improvements you were putting off, only to find the paint is still peeling at the end of the year. Setbacks like these can be depressing—and hard on the immune system—if you beat yourself up about them.

Having survived a terribly difficult year and coming out of it intact is a success story in itself. Let yourself off the hook for a bit, and forgive yourself for shortcomings. Our society’s constant push for achievement can be harmful in the best of times, so perhaps settling in to hibernating this winter can provide you the space and comfort to make the best of 2021…regardless of big accomplishments you might be able to take credit for. Now is a time to focus on taking care of your heart and listening to your soul.

Wishing you a happy, sane, and healthy New Year.
Paulo

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