I’m certain we have all felt an ember of hope reigniting within our hearts as 2020 finally came to an end, thinking to ourselves that 2021 is finally going to be our year. After such a dreary year, it’s only human to gravitate toward the “new year new me” notion, the idea that somehow our lives will transform as soon as the clock strikes twelve. In past years, I always found myself setting unrealistic expectations for my new routine and to my disappointment, the harsh reality of having no noticeable results three weeks into the new year awaits me more often than not. As 2020 inched along, I realized that there was nothing wrong with not revamping my life as soon as the calendars get swapped out. As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Welcome to your wake-up call to rewire your mindset.
We often have the tendency to look at other people’s lives and think about how we would be better off modelling their lives: morning yoga, meditations, workouts, productivity… they seem to have it all figured out while we’re stuck at our own crossroads. It’s easy to fantasize about this “perfect” lifestyle, but is that really what we need? One thing I realized in the past year is that we all find comfort and satisfaction in different things. Just because everyone around you is working out with Chloe Ting and eating super-clean diets, it doesn’t mean it needs to be your thing this year too, as it turns out. You may find more comfort in reading a book while bundled up in your favourite blanket than pushing through those up and down planks, and that is completely fine. Remember that the things we do for joy are for ourselves and not others. I can promise you that the satisfaction you get from doing something you truly enjoy will feel much greater than what you reap from shadowing others. At the end of the day, being able to recognize and adjust your lifestyle based on your needs (and not external expectations or fads) is essential for your mental health. Trying to turn your lifestyle around 180° according to what is trending will only wear you down, leaving you in a worse place than you were to begin with. So, is it really worth it to mindlessly adopt the “perfect” lifestyle? (Hint: the answer is no). Having said that, I am hereby giving you the green light to sleep in and take things at your own pace.
Instead of desperately pursuing a life that doesn’t fit our personal needs, what we can do is build our own routines and habits (yes, like Build Your Own Bowl at Chipotle but in life). Start small by identifying what you want to achieve most in this present moment. For me, I had a hard time with my mental wellbeing in the past year and I felt a need to turn that around. My solution was to start journaling for 5-10 minutes every night before bed, writing down anything that came to mind. Not only did this activity help me organize my thoughts and feelings, but I also found a hobby out of decorating the pages and creating mini spreads which I now look forward to despite not being an arts-and-crafts person. The moral of the story is that finding what fits your groove will awaken you from the forceful pursuit of the ideal lifestyle. Lifestyles are not one-size-fits-all; we are all unique individuals seeking different needs, experiencing our own narrative and figuring our own things out.
2021 is a new year full of possibilities; don’t waste it trying to transfigure into someone who isn’t you. Even if your ultimate goal is to take on the ideal lifestyle, there is no rush nor is it possible to transform overnight. In fact, there is no harm in adopting others’ strengths into your life as it too can become the beginning of finding what works for you. What matters most is striking a balance between the ideal and your individual needs. Check in with yourself and ask if it is really what you want, and if this is the right way for you to reach that goal.