New Year’s Resolutions When You Don’t Know What to Expect

New Year's Resolutions in a time of uncertainty. Picture of fireworks over water, by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

I’ve never been one to make new year’s resolutions. I know they usually fail, and they’re far too vague to be of much use to me. This year in particular, new year’s resolutions seem to be even more futile… after all, how do you make a long-term commitment when the world is upside down and you don’t know what to expect?

But all is not lost; you can still make 2021 a good year. After all, it has to be better than 2020, right? Right….?

The truth is, none of us know if 2021 will be a better year. The stroke of midnight on January 1st did not magically turn over a new leaf in the world. We are still very much in the middle of a pandemic, parents of young children are still trying to figure out how to work from home while supporting their kids’ online learning, and a tonne of people have lost their jobs, or worse, lost loved ones to COVID-19. And it’s winter in North America, which means gray days upon gray days upon gray days, which doesn’t help our mood when we’re already isolated from the usual things that make us happy, like being in the same room with friends or participating in extracurriculars.

Although this may seem like a grim picture—and it kind of is—all is not lost. We can still make our year a good one. But looking at a whole year can be quite discouraging, especially when you don’t know what to expect. That’s why new year’s resolutions may not be your best option this year, or any year, really. Instead, think of a theme for your year.

Choosing a theme will allow you to create shorter term, more specific goals that are actually attainable. Here’s an example. Perhaps this year you want to be more grateful. Think of it as a theme for your year, and create small goals that will help you to be true to your theme. For example, this week, you could set a goal to tell a loved one you are grateful for them. Next week, you could set a goal to write down five things you are grateful for each day, and so forth.

By choosing a theme instead of a resolution, you can set smaller, achievable goals on a weekly or even daily basis. This eliminates the unknown and focuses on what you can control, which is so important during times of uncertainty.

My invitation to you is to choose a theme for your year, and choose a short-term goal that reflects that theme. A goal that you can work on this week, or even this day. You don’t even have to choose a theme for your entire year. You can choose a theme for this week. Or for today. And change your theme as your life requires.

What will your theme be?


2 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolutions When You Don’t Know What to Expect

  1. I’ve been thinking about making a gratitude list, jotting things down as they occur to me. Your email might be the impetus to put them in writing.

    1. Hi Marg!

      Thank you for reading. I’m grateful for your support of my writing. I have been writing a 5-item gratitude list every day for just over a year now, and I can confirm it’s a really helpful practice, especially on days when we’re down. I hope you have been keeping well during these difficult times.

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