Despite 2020 being one of the most confusing, frustrating and mentally draining years to date, let’s relieve some of the pressure we’ve unnoticeably put on 2021. Here are some reasons why.
There’s no certainty within 2021. We’re all heading into this year with absolutely no idea where we’ll stand in three months, six months or even in December. Despite being aware of the state of the world, there are still various aspects of the pandemic, political situations and daily routines in which we are all searching for answers. Relieving the pressure put on this year (especially in regard to COVID-19) allows us to expect less from what’s to come.
This being said, there’s no harm in hoping. I believe having low expectations and high hopes is one of the best ways to navigate through uncertainty. Hoping for the vaccine to work, to see friends again or to have something remotely close to peace within politics are all valid aspirations. However, expecting these things could potentially set you up for disappointment. When you consider this year’s New Year resolutions, having low expectations for yourself is all part of relieving pressure. Expecting perfection in an academic setting, relationships or anything in between puts a strain on your well-being. Let go of standards for yourself this year and focus on accomplishing what you find truly important.
When it comes to accomplishments, be realistic and gentle with yourself. There is no harm in striving for difficult goals, and it helps to motivate yourself, but if you are the type to get discouraged when something doesn’t go as planned, be kind with your goal setting. For example, if you typically expect a perfect GPA, perhaps this is the year to minimize that standard in your mind, relieve the stress on yourself and strive for your personal best, rather than expect specific results. Work to feel confident in every assignment submission knowing you put your best effort forward. I think it’s also important to set goals for yourself that help you in the long run, such as dedicating yourself to be active for ten minutes of each day or perhaps take up meditation this year. These are the types of goals that will allow you to get the benefits of what you try, rather than beating yourself up about not achieving perfection. In a year full of uncertainty, being gentle and realistic with your goal setting will help lead to higher attainment of them.
Finally, I think an important start to this year would be to accept the hardships of 2020. Acceptance of prior sadness, defeat and frustration can lead to motivation to do better and be better this year.
An advantage 2021 has over last year is the known fact of the pandemic. 2020 was thrown a curveball in March and led to many poor or unsure decisions by certain leaders. However, we now know the state of the world, and it (hopefully) can’t get much worse than in 2020. Be gentle with yourselves and diminish the pressure you’ve put on this year.