Around this time every year, we all start making grand plans to join a gym, be more social, and travel to new places. But 2020 was a year like no other—so those common New Year’s resolutions (the ones we never seem to stick with anyway)—aren’t going to cut it.
“This so-called ‘lost year’ was different from most others,” says Anita Kanti, a certified life coach and author of Behaving Bravely. “Resolutions will need to take into account the ‘new normal’ to safeguard our health and environment.” That being said, Kanti believes it’s more important this year than ever to set personal goals, since they give us hope in our ability to change. “Habits stick long term when we believe they will impact the type of person we are and how we view ourselves,” she says.
That’s why instead of ruminating on what we’ll be unable to accomplish in 2021, we’ll be focusing on the small personal victories we can achieve at home. Here are four happiness-boosting resolutions you can actually sustain without leaving your space.
Commit to Strategic Organizing
Instead of trying to organize your entire space at once, first choose areas that will help meet your specific goals, suggests professional organizers Diane N. Quintana and Jonda S. Beattie, co-founders of Release Repurpose Reorganize. “Start by identifying one small space that you can tidy,” says Quintana. “See how that feels, then do a little more.” Here a few organizing methods they suggest starting with:
- If you’re trying to cook at home more instead of ordering takeout, set up your kitchen in a way that makes cooking more appealing. Keep your countertops clear and clean, organize your pantry so you know what foods you have available, and store veggies and fruit at eye-level in the fridge to remember to use them while they’re fresh.
- If you want to cut back on online shopping, organize your closet in a way that allows you to take inventory of what you already have. Stash off-season clothes under your bed to cut down on clutter and donate anything you don’t wear.
- If one of your goals is exercise more, organize your space in a way that makes it easier to find time to workout. Fold all of your exercise clothes in one drawer so they’re easy to grab, dedicate a space in your home that you can keep clear for workouts, and store your fitness equipment in attractive bins and baskets instead of in the back of your closet.
Set Benevolent Daily Affirmations
When we’re stuck in the same unchanging environment everyday, it’s easy to wake up and feel like you’re also unable to enact change or growth. “If we start our day with a non-serving belief, it holds us back,” says Kanti. “It’s essential to break this pattern and transform our thoughts into those we can use to progress.” Rather than letting a negative thought ruminate in your mind all morning, choose a benevolent self-belief that you can return to throughout the day when you need it. Here are a few of Kanti’s personal favorite affirmations to get you started:
- I will be brave today.
- I decide when I want to remove the layers of my disruptive thoughts and develop a new internal beauty.
- My resilience is powerful when I need to let go.
Prioritize Mindful Communication
Even though we were physically separated, 2020 was still a year of nonstop communication. From the rise of Zoom to the disappearance of normal working hours, it suddenly felt like everyone was available 24/7. But feeling like you need to always be “on” for interactions with coworkers, family, and friends can be draining and, ironically, a little lonely. “If we’ve grown indifferent in our relationships, we invite resistance,” says Kanti. “Changing the way we communicate requires ousting our baseline thoughts.” Instead of feeling like we need to keep in constant contact, start prioritizing the communication you value most. For some, that might mean only saying yes to the virtual happy hours you actually want to go to, while others might find more joy in taking the time to write a handwritten card to a family member. And while you might not necessarily always value Zooms with your boss, setting boundaries about communication outside of work hours might make those necessary interactions feel easier. Make use of the “Do Not Disturb” function on Slack when possible, set limits for checking email after work, and block off time in your calendar for scheduled breaks.
Create a Vision for Your Space and Yourself
Our environment can have a powerful impact on our wellbeing, so it’s likely that if our surroundings remain unchanged, our emotions will struggle to evolve as well. To avoid letting the stagnant feelings of 2020 blend into 2021, Quintana and Beattie suggest creating a vision of what you want your dream space to look like and what larger goals that space can help you accomplish. “When you think of your vision, pull up ideas of how you want the space to look and how you want to feel when you are in that space,” says Beattie. You can do this by physically creating a vision board, or just mentally picturing how you want to refresh a room. “For example, if your office is such a mess that you avoid even going there, then your vision might be that you want to feel calm and in control in that space,” she says. Imagine the room clear of everything but the absolute essentials, but then also think of a current project you’re working on, and picture yourself reaching the end result. By envisioning both a clean room and a goal that space can help you accomplish, you’ll feel more motivated to get started