2020 has been quite a year! Starting in March, the world shut down. Initially we thought it was for a couple of weeks, and then, slowly, the year closed down around us. We learned new phrases like “social distancing”, parents started homeschooling, we began wearing masks, physical contact was discouraged, and people formed small safe “family pods” to not spread the virus. The 24 hour news cycle fueled our anxiety as we saw a pandemic politicized, and we just finished a very different holiday season without extended family.
So in light of the challenges of 2020 it becomes important to rethink our New Year's resolutions. Some of our traditional resolutions somehow seem less important and even shallow since, on some level, 2020 has changed us. In considering the impact of 2020 and our hopes for 2021, consider the following suggestions:
Clarity is what’s truly important! Think about what you missed most in 2020: for many of us it was people! We missed gathering with extended family, seeing friends and going out to dinner, and we missed parties and social gatherings. In reflecting on what we missed, perhaps we are also clarifying what’s important: Relationships!
Put energy into that which has meaning! The late theologian Paul Tillich, said faith is that which you are ultimately concerned about. Richard Rohr, in his book, Falling Upward, states that too much of the first half of life is about the acquisition of goals and accomplishments. The second half of life, however, can be focused on meaning, and that which is of ultimate concern. David Brooks makes much the same point in his book The Second Mountain: The Quest for a moral life. They both speak to transformational moments (perhaps like 2020) that can refocus us. So:
Practice Kindness! This year has had its share of ugliness and anger. From one of the worst presidential debates in history, to horrible partisan politics, to the politicization of masks. We have observed name calling, scapegoating, distorting facts… It’s been ugly to say the least. In contrast, watch the new hit TV series Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis from SNL). While the show looks like a comedy focused on an American football coach attempting to coach an English Premier League soccer team, it’s genius is his ability to find and bring out the best in everyone, including some of the most difficult people. What a remarkable contrast to what we have observed! So:
Gratitude. In the midst of a very difficult year, many good things have happened. Step back and observe the positives, and continue to focus on that.
So take some time to rethink new year's resolutions since most of the typical ones last for about two weeks. Instead focus on a different way of being in the world!