What to Do If 2019 Isn’t Going Like You Planned

Coming out of a difficult 2018, I was beyond ready for a fresh start on New Year’s Day. I made a list of New Year’s resolutions, I spent a positivity-filled day with my best friends, and I was determined to do whatever I could to make 2019 better than last year. Everything seemed to be happily going according to plan until I got some scary news on January 4th. In the span of a few minutes, all of my determination and optimism for the new year came crashing down.

It is devastating when things you can’t control ruin the entire vision you had for your year. Especially when you’ve been working so hard to come back from a tough year already, it can feel like the universe just doesn’t want you to be happy. But if I’ve learned anything from this past month, it’s that you just have to say okay and keep trekking through the mud. You don’t have another option. No, this isn’t what you wanted or expected, but it’s what you got. Now what are you going to do to make the best out of it?

 

Try your hardest to be positive, but accept that you will have some bad days.

At this point, you’re probably tired of hearing everyone tell you to stay positive--it’s not like you can just decide to see everything in a positive light and magically be okay. It’s a lot more difficult than Instagram culture makes it out to be. But I think the reason it’s so difficult is because our culture portrays positivity as a one-time decision rather than a process. Every day will not be sunshine and rainbows, and you can’t beat yourself up for not thinking positive all the time. Accept that some days you will struggle to find a single good thing, and some days you’ll be surprised that it was actually okay. You cannot be positive all the time, but be proud of the fact that you’re trying.

 

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Remember how you felt on day one and try to salvage some of that feeling.

On particularly hard days, I try to think back to New Year’s Day and all the optimism I was feeling. You can still find that optimism again, it just may be different now. If you wrote down resolutions, read over them again. If you keep a journal, go back to January 1st and remember what it was like. Look at the pictures you took with your friends or family, the Instagram captions, whatever will bring a little bit of that happiness back, and use it to get you through today.

 

Get a big calendar and mark off the days.

This is a small thing that has helped me a lot more than I expected. I’ve never kept up with a physical calendar before, because in the age of cell phones and GCal it’s not necessary. But I’ve found that the simple act of crossing off every day I get through is surprisingly encouraging. We don’t usually take the time to acknowledge that we survived another day, but if every day is a challenge, you should be proud of yourself for making it through. It’s also nice to have a physical reminder that the past few weeks are over and done with, so you can focus on going forward.

 

Photo by Adam Tinworth via Unsplash

 

Find an outlet for some of your stress.

This is a big one for college students. We deal with a lot of stress on a daily basis, and if you have the added stress of feeling disappointed in yourself for this year not going as planned, it can be overwhelming. Doing something with all of that stress, whether it’s writing, exercising, or talking it out with someone, will help you a lot.

 

Be honest with yourself and the people close to you.

Face your stress and your disappointment. If you let it sit in the back of your mind every day, it’s only going to make it worse. Tell your friends and family that you’re having a hard time, and be honest with yourself about your limitations. If you know that you have added stress this semester and can’t handle as much as usual, it’s okay to drop a class or work less. No one will judge you for it. Do what you can manage, and be real with yourself about what you can’t. That’s how you get yourself back on track.

 

Photo by Helena Lopes via Unsplash

 

Find little things that you can look forward to every day.

An hour to hang out with your friends at lunch. Hot coffee as soon as you wake up. A nap after your afternoon class. Figure out what little things make you happy, and schedule them into your day. It’s easier to keep working hard at making your year great if you have little encouragements lined up every day.

 

Be patient with yourself. You can’t fix your life overnight.

Here’s the big one! In actuality, the start of a new year was not going to automatically make everything better. The sooner you accept that, the easier it’ll be to accept that you’re not doing that bad at life after all. Unexpected things happen. You slip up. Months don’t go as planned. But that’s just life, friends! All we can do is try our hardest and hope that things turn out okay. So cut yourself some slack. You’ve got a whole year ahead of you.