By Ciéra Cree
As 2019 breathed its last breath and the New Year came around to greet us with open arms, some of you may have been left feeling rather bittersweet about the year gone by. As exciting as the prospect of a blank canvas is, to many, saying goodbye to the previous year can be hard, and the beginning of a new decade can be daunting. What is yet to unfold? Where will I be by the end of it? How did the previous year go by so fast, and what did I do with that time?
Processing all these feelings and asking yourself all these questions is a totally normal thing to do, I can assure you – especially as a young adult. The truth, however, is that for the most part none of us can predict what is going to unfold in the time to follow. Now, yes some of us may have planned a few things in advance already, and we may have expectations of certain events unfolding at particular times, but in the end, we can’t do much about the spontaneity of life and its outcomes. What happens to us over the course of the coming year isn’t something that we can necessarily structure in advance or control in the moment. What we can control though are our own reactions to things and our mindset going into the new year ahead.
I encourage anyone reading this to pause for a moment and think back through 2019 with me, perhaps with a notepad and pen if writing things down is something you find beneficial. How did the year make you feel? If you could describe it in five words, what would they be? Don’t just think about the good times, think about the difficult times as well. What difficulties did you face during that time? How do you feel looking back at them now with the benefit of hindsight? Or, if they are still ongoing, how do you plan to cope with, or address them from this fresh new slate?
Critical self-reflection, if properly practised, can be both beneficial and eye-opening too. It requires you to address the areas of yourself that many tend to avoid or feel reluctant to face. Though it’s also important to praise the good in oneself. What would you say your top three areas for self-improvement are? Did you do or say anything you regretted throughout the year, and if so, how would you handle the situation better if it were to arise again? How did you grow as a person this year? What are you proud of? What or who made you feel happy and content within yourself?
Setting a few personal goals for the upcoming year can be a great way to make it seem like less of a big blank abyss from the get-go. Think about what goals you could set for yourself. Perhaps they are things like spending less time on your phone and more time focusing on your work? Or perhaps they are goals in terms of leisure, such as going to that restaurant around the block that you’ve been meaning to visit for a while. It’s good to try your best to maintain a healthy balance of both of these types of goals – both serious and recreational – in order to feel simultaneously productive, as well as personally fulfilled.
I know it can be difficult to go into a New Year after facing one that may have been tough for you, so for those out there who are struggling, I would like you to know that you’re not alone. The New Year is a hard time for so many people, but the fact you made it here shows how strong you are. The future holds opportunities and infinite potential for you, and even when your mind is clouded in doubt please know you are loved and cared about.
2020 can be awesome if we want it to be. That isn’t to say that it’s going to be easy, or that the world is going to always work in your favour, but even in the midst of hard times, there are still beautiful things to be found. There’s an abundance of time ahead of us to embrace the uncertainty that remains.
What does your idea of a great 2020 look like? What would you like to have accomplished by this time next year? How are you feeling right now?
I hope the year brings you kindness and light.