You’ve probably realized by now that Summer is nearly over. By extension, that also means 2020 is on the homestretch…
So what better time for a (probably badly-needed) mindset check in?
For those of us who religiously make New Year’s Resolutions, set goals, or fill out intricate and well-organized year-planning guides like the Year Compass Booklet, we might be a little afraid to reflect on our ‘progress’ for 2020.
After all, it’s a severe understatement to say that 2020 has gone sideways. We’ve all seen the memes, the tweets, and the jokes about leaving 2020 in the dust, wiping it from our minds entirely, or desperately pleading (between sobs) for a re-do.
But can we still salvage the year somehow? Or a better question might be, can we at least find some morsels of gratitude in this ‘mess’?
It’s a nice thought: to replace the stewing resentment for all those cancelled vacations, missed loved ones, political turmoil, and economic strain, with a positive and uplifting emotion — gratitude. This is not to belittle the horrendous, unjust and worrying developments of 2020. Rather, it’s about finding hope, joy, and appreciation for the little things, the things in between that we might be unconsciously taking for granted.
Gratitude’s association with happiness and wellbeing is well grounded in research. In an attempt to prioritize wellbeing, find some semblance of peace, and create space for a positive and improved end of 2020, here are three reflective questions to ask yourself.
Grab your journal, tea and a scone (whatever floats your boat) and ponder the following:
1. What has 2020 taught me so far?
When looking at a list with so many cancellations — weddings, events, vacations — it can be difficult to not get emotional. 2020 foiled many people’s plans. While the severity of our stresses and losses differ gravely, we can all agree that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. From the material to the immaterial — whatever you are grieving, whatever you missed out on or lost — honour and make space for it.
Now let’s turn our attention to that which can uplift us.
What have you learned about yourself in the past 6 months?
Maybe 2020 has taught you stillness, lessons in resilience, or flexibility. Maybe you were one of those people partaking in yoga classes on IG live obsessively — maybe the habit stuck, maybe it didn’t. Be proud of yourself for trying something new, and exploring new ways to cope with changing environments — both internal and external.
Maybe 2020 has forced you to be more tech savvy — as you became better acquainted with Zoom, working remotely, and time management. Maybe 2020 led you on a new career path, as the work landscape shifted to a more digitized one. Maybe it taught you about how you manage stress and uncertainty.
Whatever it taught you, write it down and reflect on its positive offerings. Whatever you do, don’t let it turn into a self-critique. Be kind to yourself and your individual journey. A win is a win, no matter how small.
2. How are my goals for 2020 doing?
You know – those new year’s resolutions you set back in January when the world was, well, normal. Have you reached any of them yet? Is it possible to break down your goals-in-progress and adjust them to the current circumstances? Can you make them more realistic and achievable?
Sometimes crazy things happen. Life is unpredictable. Maybe you had ambitious goals for 2020 that won’t be fulfilled because of reasons outside of your control. It could’ve been entirely external — the market crashed. But internal is valid too — a global pandemic is nothing to scoff at and it takes an emotional toll.
Remember that we are all stressed out, whether we show it or not. You aren’t alone.
Maybe now you’re realizing that you’ve become attached to some outcomes and goals that seem unrealistic. Is it possible to re-configure them? Can you temporarily shelve some goals to resume at a later time, when it is more beneficial for you? Can you re-prioritize your goals in a way that better serves you and your wellbeing?
Pivoting, restructuring and re-planning is all part of the game of flexibility and resiliency. Do it without shame, and focus on the actions within your control — the actionable items that you can really commit to. Effective goal setting is recognized as an important factor in mental health, and can do wonders for a positive mindset and outlook.
Be realistic with your energy levels and your capacity. You are doing your best, so if that means you are focusing on micro and very short term goals, that is more than okay.
3. What and who can support me?
What and who has been supporting you and who can you lean on moving forward?
The good news is, you’ve made it this far. Life inevitably throws us curve balls, but we can almost always derive powerful meaning from it.
What were your coping strategies over the last few months? Who were the individuals who helped you get through? What motivated you and encouraged you along the way?
Maybe this half-year was a lesson in your limitations, as you were pushed to the brink. Who stood by you? Was it your four-legged pal who made the ideal non-judgemental quarantine buddy? Your best friend who routinely checked up on you with funny quotes from The Office? Your work, which provided a distraction from the outside chaos? Maybe it was simply practicing Joe Dispenza’s meditations daily or playing your favourite album from childhood whenever you felt especially blue?
In addition to recognizing those individuals and situations, we can also access powerful brain chemicals by reciprocating kindness. By acting kindly, you are actually releasing serotonin (that is, the happy hormone) in your brain.
How can you say thank you to those who stuck by you? How can you embody kindness and help others who might be in need?
It can be as simple as sharing your wellness strategies with others — forwarding a meditation or a link to an uplifting documentary. It can be ringing up a friend to tell a joke, giving your dog an extra treat, sending a surprise care package or flowers halfway across the world to your aunt. Living by the principal of kindness is multifaceted and takes as many different shapes as you can imagine.
Embodying kindness by doing not only feels damn good but also helps cultivate community. Community is an integral part of feeling connected and supported, which are important foundations for happiness.
By shifting our focus to that which we are grateful for, finding actionable ways to improve our life and by supporting and giving thanks to our community — we can really reclaim 2020 and give it meaning and purpose.
What mindset techniques do you use to help you live your best life? What are you most grateful for in 2020? Share the love in the comments.
Remember to take care of yourself and each other, Posse!