By Pam Dewey • December 22, 2020
Next year offers the promise of a vaccine for COVID-19, but 2021 will still hold a lot of uncertainty. When will vaccines be available, and how will these be dispersed? And when will things “get back to normal?”
Making plans will continue to be hard. You won’t know when it will be safe to travel, go to the theater, buy tickets to concerts or attend large family gatherings. With a recovering economy, looking for a new job or asking for that raise might also prove difficult.
While you can’t control many of these things, you can still make plans for the new year. Here are 5 ideas for setting realistic personal goals in 2021.
Invest in your education
Many schools and organizations are now offering online classes, so it’s the perfect time to go back to school. Finish your degree or take a class in sculpture or Spanish. You could also explore a new career path. Before you dive into a degree, consider taking one course in the program to see if you’ll enjoy the career path it puts you on.
Less screen time
Many of us are feeling isolated and worried. One way we’re coping is by spending more time on our phones, tablets or binge-watching our favorite shows. But all this screen time can leave us feeling disconnected from our passions and wondering if we could make better use of our time.
There are settings on your phone that allow you to limit screen time. It might also be helpful to avoid turning on your TV when you’re eating dinner, after you finish work or whenever you usually find yourself losing time to TV. We all know that once we start binging a show, it’s hard to stop.
Spending less time with screens will give you more time to focus on other things you enjoy like reading, listening to music, exercising, baking, making crafts, drawing or catching up with friends and family by phone.
Explore a new hobby and give yourself time to learn
Trying a new hobby is a great way to start a new year. Maybe you want to learn the guitar, take up boxing or teach yourself how to draw. A new hobby can provide a creative outlet. It also pushes you to learn something new and challenge yourself.
Remember, you probably won’t be great at it right away. Give yourself time to fail and learn from your mistakes: it’s all part of the learning process. Your mistakes can teach you about yourself, and sometimes these “happy accidents” produce valuable results, as well.
Stop giving yourself arbitrary rules
We’re often pretty hard on ourselves. You may have an internal list of rules like you have to wash the dishes after dinner, you need to the laundry every week, trash gets put on the curb every Tuesday or you should never put the hand-wash bowl in the dishwasher. But the truth is, the dishes can sit in the sink a little longer, and your trash can might not be full every Tuesday.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to cut some corners, and give yourself a break. Do what you need to do to get through the day, and be gentle with yourself. You’re not a complete failure for leaving a sink full of dishes. Sometimes, just getting through a day is all you can manage, and that’s okay.
Set boundaries with family and friends
Perhaps you have a family member or friend who often criticizes you, has a bad temper or makes you feel like you never do anything right. If you want to keep this person in your life, it’s time to set some boundaries. Consider scheduling only short visits or spending only certain occasions with them. If you have to travel to visit them, you could opt to stay in a hotel, rather than staying with them. You may also choose to only see them when others are present.
Protecting your mental health is important. If your Aunt Rachel can’t stop criticizing “your lifestyle” or your Cousin Michael can’t stop saying offensive things on Facebook, do what you need to do to protect yourself and set boundaries on the relationship.
You don’t have to let the uncertainty of 2021 rule your life. You can still start the year looking forward to making some positive changes in your life.