The end of a year is usually reserved for holidays, reflections, spending time with your family and thinking about what resolutions to take in to the new year. Considering the oddity of 2020, a year where many lives were lost, people were hampered by the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, even that of a future, reflection requires more than just saying, “Thank god this terrible year is over.”
It can be hard not to resent all the plans and goals 2020 has foiled and have trouble planning for what next year holds. To understand how to take stock of this year and plan for 2021, we spoke with Ila Kulshrestha, a clinical psychologist based in New Delhi, India. “The degree to which we feel this year has been hard for us has been different for different people, but it’s been challenging for all of us.” Kulshrestha told Re:Set. “Acknowledging that is important to understand how it’s affected us and people around us.”
We asked Kulshrestha how we can gauge the impact of this year, what didn’t go in our favour, what we did right and how to prepare for 2021.
What challenges did you face this year? What helped you overcome those?
Assess the challenges you faced this year and those who supported you. Focus on what you did differently this year including how you interacted with others, your job, and what worked in those scenarios. These are small moments where you did new things and they were stories of your triumph.
What behaviours would you want to change in the next year?
The rhythm to our lives changed this year, so people can take this opportunity to reflect upon ideas they want to let go of and things they don’t want to do anymore.
“I have a client who lives abroad and her family lives in India,” Kulshrestha explained. “There’s a huge difference in how she views that relationship now. She feels she wants to have more access to them. She wants to meet her family 2-3 times a year, rather than meeting maybe once a year.”
“Others like her too are valuing connections more, putting more emphasis on the idea of togetherness because we still have to be socially distant,” she added
A lot of people reconnected with family and close friends this year or found themselves cooped up at home with them for long periods, so this is also a good time to think about how close or far you want to live from your loved ones and why.
Did you enjoy working from home? Or do you prefer working from the office or a coworking space? Who were the people who supported you? How can you better support those in your life? Assess all aspects of your life and see what you’d like to change.
What did you do this year that you’d want to continue with?
Even though the year is changing, the dynamics have not changed. Until we get the vaccine, our lives aren’t going to be any different. We have to sustain ourselves through 2021 as the pandemic still ravages on.
Reflect on the ideas and the people that carried you through 2020. Perhaps you turned to baking as a coping tool or found yourself reading more. Take note of what you enjoyed and whether that’s a habit you’d like to sustain.
“One habit that really worked for my clients was gardening, which kept them mindful,” Kulshrestha said. “Even relationships and ideas, like wanting to be with your family, and protecting them and them protecting you or small things, like dalgona coffee which kept us going from week to week or month to month. So take stock of what things that you want to carry forward in the next year.”
What are your short term goals?
Stress upon the life you want to build post pandemic in the short and long term. You have to focus on the short term like weeks and months because the pandemic won’t simply go away on January 1st.
“We are craving the finish line, so you need to be aware that the pandemic won’t change in the short term and prepare yourself for that,” Kulshrestha said. “Focus on what you would do differently in the short term based on your past experiences.”
Set reasonable expectations and don’t expect your life to suddenly become dramatically better.
What are your long-term goals?
We have to remember that we don’t know what the long-term will be like. It certainly won’t be like it used to be pre-pandemic. Plus, it will still be different for everyone.
Look at what you value in the present moment and what you might value later down the line. Your short term goal might be to take the first job offer that comes your way to support your financial goals but in the long-term, you might prefer a completely different career path.
It can be hard to plan with so much uncertainty around it, but having key long-term goals will help keep you motivated and help shape your short-term goals and decisions as well.