2021 resolutions: Doing Our Best, With Gratitude

"Make the best decision you can, with the information currently at your disposal." 

This was the sage advice given by my boyfriend when I called him one night at midnight, drowning in a wave of anxiety. One of those waves where every "what if" and disaster scenario floods your brain and you just can't imagine that there'll ever be a way out. And he reminded me to breathe. Reminded me that I couldn't figure everything out in that very moment, with little sleep and only a small fraction of the "what ifs" in my control. 

It's now sort of become my mantra for the remainder of this year, and as I head into 2021. So much this year has been out of our control, and all we can do is the best that we can with the information we have at any moment. We can of course still plan for big goals and map out the little steps along the way, but remaining flexible to all of the inevitable changes is what will keep us afloat. Living in the moment and letting go of unrealistic expectations where we can.

I guess life has always been this way, but 2020 has really made the lesson stick.

What the heck just happened?

Oh 2020. The year of a collective attempt to "keep on keeping on" as the saying goes. Roll with the punches, or, ya know, the toilet paper. I'm sure some of this, my year, sounds like a pretty familiar refrain. You'd ride out the bad days and sad moods and wait for the moment when you felt able again to take some action. And you mostly did everything you needed to do in order to hold onto that last thread. Of your sanity, your paycheque, your relationships. Some days you were a rockstar and productive and could see a way forward and other days you cracked a little. But then you remembered that Leonard Cohen quote about the cracks letting the light get in and you felt okay about it. 

You went on a "transformation" program and lost 10 pounds YAY! And then celebrated by eating every food you'd even thought about, promptly putting 12 back on. 

You'd wake up with a flurry of ideas that you had to scribble immediately on a post-it note, and then didn't follow through on a single one. 

You started dating someone who hasn’t met a fraction of your friend group but ends up being your only companion, who gets the coveted role of driver after you emerge from your first colonoscopy (thank god for healthcare workers for keeping that show...ahem...running).

You said this was the year you’d finally save and then you impulse bought the next ten things that Instagram ads told you you needed. Holy man those adds are effective.

But you showed up for this crazy, imperfect, impermanent life with all of its messiness and you're grateful, so grateful, for having a job, and your health, some cool people that you know you'll get to hug again one day, and for the opportunity to take these little steps towards fulfilling a life’s purpose in the middle of a damn pandemic.

I still managed to exceed my book reading goal (27), my running kms (1000), wrote lots of blog posts and four pieces published by someone other than myself. Woot! I had lots of zoom calls, walks, time to work on relationships. And work became really busy but meaningful when our efforts were directed for a time to the COVID relief effort. 

I also binge watched an impressive amount of T.V., tried a lot of new brands of red wine, and found a new favorite ice cream and clothing obsession (rompers - universally unflattering in many cases, hard to pull down, but somehow uber appealing). 

There were more picnics than boozy brunches, walks in the park over dark nights in a movie theatre, reading over running for the bus. I hope the new normal becomes a mix of both worlds.

A Tentative Plan Forward

I've got my many little lists of goals, that wrap over from one year to the next, but this year my main aim is to just keep taking the steps. I'm looking for incremental improvements as opposed to perfection. Better than yesterday. Grateful for each day. Here are a few of those carry overs: 
  • Keep trying to publish, improving my marketing materials along the way and actually playing into the numbers game, or just calling it one day when it feels right and self-publishing.
  • Continuing to write and submit things when I’m able. 
  • Make an effort to stay healthy. This has really hit home this year in a lot of ways. 
  • Be present for the people in my life and support them in the tough bits.  
  • Embrace the Japanese concept of letting go of the small stuff - ukiyo ( and remember it's all small stuff).
  • Pull out the sparkly dresses and boomerang that shit, because why not celebrate all the days.

There is of course a long list of things I didn't get done. Days where my productivity was lower than it's ever been. Because...well, covid. It's a good excuse.

There were also some significant hurdles that continue into the new year, so I'll need to take the advice above and just do the best I can with the information that is currently at my disposal, leaving the rest up to the universe. Maybe this is the year I'll move forward significantly, or maybe this is the year where I will just make it through. Trying every day to cultivate hope. To focus on the things that bring joy instead of anxiety. 

Reflection and Hope

None of our paths are A to B, but it's the squiggly bits that give us the best stories. We definitely all need to give ourselves a break. Though I say this all the time,I still haven't quite internalized it. It's an ongoing effort.

I hope you're all taking some time to reflect. Smiling at the joys this year has brought and learning from the struggles. 

What rituals, planning, reflection are you going through to mark off the end of this insane year??? One of my favorite writers from across the pond, Marianne Power, wrote a good little post for the end of the year with some questions to reflect on: Help Me Newsletter!

Happy New Year! Here's to going with the flow and doing the best we can!


IanT said…
Love it. Love you.
Diane said…
well said! I like that word, ukiyo. Useful.
thanks for sharing