Q: I am finding it hard to think of New Year’s resolutions this year since I feel so limited in what I can do. How can I be more optimistic about the New Year?
A: The act of making New Year’s resolutions is a hopeful and engaging activity. It allows us to think fondly about the future and make a promise to ourselves to do better and to be better. I encourage continuing this tradition because now, more then ever, it is important to find the good and look towards the future with hope and promise.
Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions are to exercise more, to get organized, learn a skill or hobby, save more money, and spend more time with family and friends. There is no reason these resolutions cannot be fulfilled even during the COVID-19 pandemic. It just may take a little more thought and adaptation. For example, spending time with family and friends may have to translate into phone calls, letters and video chats until it is safe to have in person gatherings.
Resolutions are basically goals that you set for yourself. The power of goal setting is that it helps you visualize the end result, and focus on achieving that result. Simply by setting a goal at all you are giving yourself hope in the future and the prospect that it has the potential to be better.
Focus not on your limitations, but on the goal you wish to achieve. Start by imagining the results, whether it is to be healthier, happier, or to change your surroundings in some way. Once you have visualized your results you can start to imagine what steps need to be taken to get to that point.
Breaking your goal down into smaller steps will allow you to see progress and motivate you to keep going. You want to be able to measure your progress so that you see the benefit and not get dissuaded from focusing on your goal.
It is helpful to write down your goals and take notes as you reach small milestones towards that goal. It holds you accountable to yourself. Most studies show that people drop their New Year’s resolutions only two weeks into January. That shows that they are not taking their resolutions seriously, or not operationalizing them to make them manageable and attainable.
It is easy to say you are setting a resolution to be healthier. But you must define what that means for you and how exactly you will reach that status. Perhaps it means you will eat more fruits and vegetables or go for daily walks, or practice meditation three times a week. Think about what exactly you will do towards your goal, and how often you will do it.
We have the power to be optimistic within ourselves. It is a mindset and a choice we make every day. It helps us cope when things are difficult. Living through a pandemic can challenge our own optimism, but the New Year is the perfect time to invigorate our optimism and create resolutions to see the changes we want in our day to day lives.
Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.