More Goals for 2021
(If you haven't already read it, you might like my post about how I started complaining less, and what I learned from my failure to completely eradicate complaints from my life.)
We're all hoping that this year will be better than 2020 was. But merely hoping for change is pretty useless, when we have the power to actually make a change. Why stop at only one resolution for the new year? I can think of other worthwhile enhancements to life here on earth.
10 Resolutions for a Better Year
Lately I've noticed tiny children in the grocery store who look at me expressionlessly when I catch their eyes. It's because they can't see my smile through my mask! It's a bit scary to see kids who don't smile (or even frown or stare at you like you're a crazy lady), and that's become more common in 2020. So I'm going to keep smiling, especially when I eventually don't have to wear a mask in public. I'm going to smile more at everyone. If we all smile more, don't you think that has to have a positive result in the world?
Many of us were caught short by the economic situations of 2020. If you don't already have a $1000 emergency fund, why not start saving today? Just $20 per week will get you to the goal by the end of this year, and you'll be more prepared to handle the inevitable unbudgeted situations that come your way. If you already have a fully funded emergency account, great! Why not start an emergency account just for your car, or just for travel (for when your son who lives 500 miles away suddenly needs his appendix removed)? Give yourself more peace of mind.
You've put this off long enough. Believe it or not, "budget" is not a dirty word, and a budget is not restrictive or boring, but a useful tool. The process of making a budget helps us focus on our needs, of course, but it also lets us find a way to afford our desires. A budget doesn't tell us what we can't spend; it's simply a plan for how we choose to use our money. A zero-based budget gives you a plan for every dollar.
If you're able to read this blog, chances are you have more than enough for your basic needs. You know not everyone is so blessed. So stop saying you wish you could give more and stop just giving your leftovers. Pick one charity you care about and become a monthly donor today, even if you only start with $10. Here's a list to get you started.
Maybe you realize you have more than enough for your basic needs, and not everyone is so blessed. The priest Patrick Henry Reardon has written, "Suppose for a moment that God began taking from us the many things for which we have failed to give thanks. Which of our limbs and faculties would be left?" Thank God for my eyes and my fingers and my brain and digestive system and all the rest! Decide now to be consciously and intentionally grateful.
If 2020 taught us anything, it might be that procuring a new thing isn't nearly as important as having full access to the people and pastimes that make life worthwhile. As Joshua Becker puts it, "When it comes to recognizing what activities contribute to quality of life, accumulating physical stuff pales in comparison to the actual life-giving pursuits we are being forced to go without." Owning less makes sense, whether that means selling the five-bedroom house and moving to a small apartment, or simply doing a thorough declutter and selling or donating your excess.
Another thing we learned in 2020 is that we all share the same fears and needs. We are so often at odds with one another, sometimes over important issues but mostly not. Can we try to remember that we're all in the same boat together? If you want to compete, compete with who you were yesterday, and try to be a better version of yourself.
I don't know about you, but when I'm feeling down or bored, I eat more comfort foods. And that happened more than I like to think about in 2020. So I'm ready to moderate my food intake, and maybe you are too. Do what works for you, whether that means you call for pizza only once a month instead of every weekend, or you simply stop keeping chips and cookies in your pantry.
We spend an awful lot of time partaking of other people's talent and creativity. Why shouldn't we produce something ourselves, and bring something useful or beautiful into the world? Whether you draw, sew, cook, bake, garden, write, sing, or otherwise craft, include time for the activity on your calendar. Make it a regular part of your schedule. Decide to be more than a passive consumer.
In 2020 most of us spent more time alone than ever. We became adept at Zoom meetings, distance learning, and video chats, but we needed to keep away from each other, and most of us did that. We stopped connecting in person, even sometimes passing others without acknowledgment, cocooned in our masks. Even as an introvert, I missed that personal contact. So let's take all the opportunities that come our way. Go for coffee, go to church, go to a restaurant or movie theater or sporting event. Maybe even plan a family reunion.
Don't just hope for a better year – make one!
Photo by Julia Florzcak on Unsplash