What The Pandemic Made Me Realize About My New-Year Resolutions
The time has come, where the current year is ending, and a new year will begin. People all around the world are occupied setting up their new-year resolutions, be it going to the gym, losing a few kilos, getting a promotion and more…
Well, at least, before the pandemic hits, that is how we used to be when the new year approaches.
Fast forward to the end of 2021, where people have lost their loved ones, or succumbed to illnesses. People are getting laid off, closing their businesses, and their mental health has been jeopardized. Amidst all of this, I know we all have the same questions in our heads; do we even want to set resolutions for 2022? If we do want to, what would they be? Will they ever be the same as the years before?
These are the questions that I’ve personally been contemplating as 2022 gets nearer. And in the thick of answering them, I found myself a few realizations.
1. ‘To rest more’ is a valid resolution.
When we think about setting a new year’s resolution, we often think about doing something beneficial (e.g., exercise more), or stop doing something bad (e.g., stop sleeping late).
But what if we decide not to do anything at all? What if we decide to just pause in general, and rest? Does that count as a resolution as well?
You survived a freaking pandemic. Literally (people have died during the pandemic), yet also from other aspects of life as well, such as mentally, financially, emotionally, etc. Yes, at this moment, you may be hanging by a thread on those aspects. But still, you’re somehow here, survived, up to the point you are reading this article. That means something.
Perhaps we should focus on recharging and mending rather than making flimsy resolutions after such a trying year. Instead of putting undue pressure on ourselves to “get off to a fast start,” we might take a deep breath. It may not feel like it, but rest itself is productive. It is essential for mental health, greater focus and memory, a stronger immune system, less stress, a better mood, and even a faster metabolism.
So while you might feel the pressure to ride the hype of such an ambitious post-pandemic new-year resolution, just know that you don’t have to. It’s okay to take it easy on yourself; it’s a good resolution as well. (Plus, we’re still in a pandemic, you know?)
2. Everyone has different priorities.
The examples of new-year resolutions that I gave you were the ones that I can think of at the moment. Why? Because those are the most common new-year resolutions, the ones that everybody seems to be doing. And maybe we put those on our lists as well, following the masses. But are those really our own personal, reasonable new-year resolutions? The ones that we needed the most?
As the pandemic hits, it forces us to think back and re-prioritize what is really important in our lives. And as you guessed it, it’s different for everyone.
People with the optimum weight already, do not need slimming as their new-year resolutions. Those who are barely making a living don’t have to chase promotions. People whose work is physically rigorous don’t have a need to go to the gym every day.
Perhaps, the most obvious example is The Great Resignation; from spring 2021 until the present, there has been a steady increase in the number of people who have willingly left their already secure jobs.
We might expect this trend the least during a pandemic where financial income is scarce. But it is exactly due to the pandemic, people are reflecting on the notion that they are raised with, “get a job with good money and you’ll be happy,” and realizing that is not the whole truth at all. And they are willing to take the risk to leave it, to pursue what is fulfilling for them. Because compared to money, life is obviously more important.
3. It’s important to have flexibility in structure.
This is personally one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during the pandemic. As someone who adheres strictly to structure, I could not comprehend those who make sudden arrangements and ad-hoc decisions. For me, all things are planned already in advance, and all possibilities are already calculated. That is how you should live your life; meticulously and carefully as life is precious.
Until the pandemic hit, and all of my plans went down the drain.
I learned that I can never plan everything, and I can never think about every possibility. The unthinkable can happen, and none of my plans will equip me when that happens. Thus, I need to hone my skills to be able to be flexible in my plans, and overall be humble towards this life, as I do not know everything and will not know everything.
With that being said, it is not also about throwing structure down the drain either. Especially for my personal tendency that sticks to structure. It’s just that for every tendency of one side, there needs to be a balance for the other side as well. It’s not about flexibility vs. structure, it’s about flexibility in structure.
As you come to the end of this article, you might be thinking, “Well, sounds like new-year resolutions are going to be useless as well in 2022, should I even set them?” According to psychiatrist Ashley Zucker, making plans for the future can be soothing following a stressful year. “When things feel so chaotic, setting goals can help you feel more in control,” she explains. “It can also restore a sense of normalcy.” So please, it is actually recommended to set the next year’s resolutions.
My point is, our new-year resolutions are not merely a checklist that we neither rigidly tick off nor abandon every year. Instead, it reflects our need for constant self-improvement. Be at peace with the fact that you won’t necessarily achieve every single goal that you set, and focus more on bringing the value of personal growth within you throughout the year.
If you’d like to do some further reading, check out this article on how to set financial resolutions for the year.