How do we face a new year when the one we are leaving behind was filled with challenges, grief, and trauma? What does planning for a new year look like as we adjust and recover? Who wants to set New Year’s resolutions now?
Many of us are leaving behind a year that was difficult. Perhaps financially, perhaps due to health problems, or loss of loved ones. That kind of grief can leave us unsure of whether we want to embrace a new year and say good riddance to the previous one or whether we are also struggling with yet another change after a series of difficult transitions.
For those who lost someone, going into a year without their loved ones may prove painful. For those whose careers have been upended, the future may just look like more financial challenges as savings continue to dwindle. How do we make plans for a year with so many unknowns?
How to set minimalist goals
Ask yourself a few important questions to set minimalist goals for an uncertain future. Minimalism doesn’t have to be about the size of your wardrobe or downsizing to a tiny house.
Sometimes minimalism is about giving yourself a break from SMART goals and accepting that, honestly, when has life ever been perfectly predictable or subject to our planning? You know about the SMART goals, right? The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Frankly, these sorts of goals are typically more suited to our work lives than our real lives. They’re great when used properly (e.g. to help make the case for that big bonus you’re hoping to get) but may not be what we need following a particularly challenging year.
- What gave you joy in the previous year?
Perhaps you took time to journal. Perhaps you spent more time outdoors. Perhaps you took time to enjoy a coffee or a tea while reading a book. Maybe you started a meditation practice or started a new hobby. It doesn’t have to be spectacular or huge. But if it gave you joy – especially in a particularly hard year – that is something you should consider making a part of your routine going forward. Your goal for the year might be something like: Go for a walk every Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
- When did you feel most at ease?
Try to think about what made you feel relaxed and more like yourself. Perhaps it was checking in with friends via text message or video chat. Your minimalist goal for the year might be something like: Check in with the girlfriends every week, even if it is just a quick text message.
- What do you need more of in the coming year?
Looking back, what would you do more if you could? Perhaps you want to set a reading goal for the year. Perhaps you want to drink more water or get more sleep. This goal might be something like: I will set aside time each week to read this year.
- What could you do without in the coming year?
There are so many things that could fall under this category: less time on social media; fewer late nights working on things you’ve procrastinated; less clutter around your home. Set a goal you can feel good about and allow yourself to start small: I will fill one bag a week with items to donate or toss.
- What is one small thing you can do almost every day that you will be grateful for at bedtime each evening?
I love this one because it is a way each of us can give ourselves a gift and a boost each day. It can be something small such as taking a 10-minute walk or something bigger such as making mental health a priority and speaking with a counselor. Just remember to praise yourself. Be your own best friend. Every evening think to yourself: I’m so grateful that I got that done today. It doesn’t have to be huge. Maybe you remembered to drink enough water. Maybe you made a lunch date with a friend you’ve been meaning to check in with for weeks.
My wish for all of us is that this is a year of healing, growth, and good change. And if you are struggling in the new year, please know that you are not alone. Take it one day, one hour, one minute, or one breath at a time.