I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but 2021 isn’t going to be that much different than 2020.
Don’t believe me?
Are you still waiting for this to be the year you get in shape? Or the year you change your career path? What about the year you finally pick up that hobby you forgot about or learn a new language?
If you’re still chasing the dreams of New Years past, good for you –– persistence is key. But it’s funny how we let certain goals slip through our fingers year after year and still expect that each New Year’s Eve will be the year that everything changes overnight.
Again, I hate to be the bearer of bad news –– and I’ve really been trying to lighten up on the pessimism lately –– but the only things that change overnight are werewolves and the length of your leg hair even though you just shaved before bed (how does that always happen anyway?).
So, unfortunately, 2021 is probably going to be a lot like 2020. But that doesn’t mean you have to be.
If you recall, last year my “non-resolution” was to be less judgmental (we all see how that worked out). The reason I never stopped judging people is because I never really focused on it or tried to change my behavior. And it’s just the sad, unfortunate truth that the year of 2020 didn’t magically change that for me, either.
Oftentimes we set New Year’s resolutions because there’s something about January 1 that feels refreshing. It’s like once the weight of last year is lifted off our shoulders, we can finally find the motivation to achieve all those dusty old dreams we forgot about.
But 2020 was the year that I realized motivation doesn’t elicit progress.
Not for me, at least. When I think of motivation I think of some magical energy that will float down from the heavens and land on my shoulders and, by the grace of this foreign aura alone, I will accomplish all of my work, master my hobbies, and set new goals to chase after tomorrow.
And this year was the opposite of motivating.
The world shut down in what felt like a matter of days. Americans have been falling ill and succumbing to the virus every day since.
I went from spending 60+ hours per week on a campus with 20,000 people to spending every second of every day in my 700-square-foot apartment with Zach. I watched as my family members worried about their businesses, and my friends and colleagues lost their jobs.
Even with everyone stuck at home, police brutality didn’t come to an end.
America watched as George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, and countless other unarmed black men and women were killed by police in our own backyards. People across the globe protested the injustices plaguing their criminal justice systems as well as ours.
The police who killed Breonna Taylor have not and likely will not be charged with murder.
Wildfires have burned over 10.2 million acres across America.
Donald Trump still has supporters and Mitch McConnell is still an asshole, and that’s all I have to say about that right now.
But I’m not here to shit on last year. And it wouldn’t be fair or honest if I said this was a bad year for me.
I was lucky enough to begin 2020 managing a staff of amazing writers, photographers, and just overall wonderful human beings. I graduated from college, found a job at least moderately related to my degree, and was able to see my friend before she moved out of the country. Then I moved across the country, started and “graduated” therapy. And my family and friends are in good health (or at least as good of health as any other year). These were not widely shared experiences this year, and I am beyond grateful for my life and circumstances.
What 2020 did show me, though, is that when you’re looking to the world for motivation, you will always remain stagnant. But where motivation falls short, discipline picks up the slack.
Last year didn’t automatically eradicate my judgmental pettiness. But it didn’t finish my degree or plan a cross-country move in 30 days, either. I did those things.
I’m capable of changing my behavior if I genuinely put my mind (and consistently put in effort) to it. This year taught me that hard work really does work, it just also takes a significant amount of time (and a heavy dose of privilege and support never hurt). And it reminded me that even when I’ve forgotten about my goals, I can always pick up and start again.
Life is about setting new goals and committing to achieving them. It’s about putting in work and committing to progress. But overall it’s just about committing to yourself.
So I don’t expect 2021 to make me a healthier or kinder or more forgiving person, and you shouldn’t either.
I’m going to do it myself.
With love and a Happy New Year,