As 2021 ended and we headed into 2022, I thought about how much better life could be for all of us if we decided to break this unhealthy cycle. The last two years have been tough, with much isolation, pain and heartbreak. There have also been big gains, achievements, milestones and moments of joy. After the loneliness that the pandemic created, 2021 gave us the chance to hug our loved ones, to go out into the world again, and return to some version of normality. The world won’t ever be the same again, but the opportunity to connect with friends, family, colleagues and peers again brought great happiness. It was also tough adjusting to this new version of normality. We had become accustomed to spending time alone, sitting with our thoughts and our own company, and learning to be present and content with that. Maybe after years of spending lots of time with other people, maybe we’re more introverted than we like to believe. Perhaps we welcomed the opportunity to make these realisations about ourselves.
It goes without saying that the last two years were up and down. Whilst we should be proud of our personal and professional milestones and growth, achieved during a period in time like no other, there was a great loss and emotional distress, which had consequences on our mental health. So, let us enter this not so New Year, and the rest of our life, without putting extraordinary amounts of pressure on ourselves. Instead, let us just be. Yes, we will work hard, but let’s also reward ourselves, seek comfort when we need to and express our emotions without feeling shame.
We all put so much pressure on ourselves. We should strive to be better, learning and developing throughout our lives, but our actions need to reflect our individual circumstances. Our goals and intentions should be driven by what makes us happy and gives us purpose, rather than being influenced by comparison with our peers, filtered posts on social media or wider societal expectations.
On reflection, what would you like to leave behind in the past? Maybe it’s ending the cycle of negativity, inner critique and overthinking. Or perhaps it’s using your devices less, so you can be more present. Starting this internal dialogue helps shape what you’d like your life to be filled with. It’s not a trivial pursuit; it has a big impact on the goals and intentions you set for yourself. When you set these intentions, you may trip up along the way. This requires a lifetime of work, as human beings we are not perfect, we constantly make mistakes. In those moments, let go of self-judgement and critique, and embrace what you can learn from your failures, which are a big part of life. On the way, you can prioritise what really matters to you.
Let’s reward ourselves for working hard, recognise and celebrate our achievements and stop putting ourselves down. Here is to the rest of this year and the rest of your life. Whether you’re on a journey to a new you, or a better version of you, remember to enjoy it along the way and to give yourself a break. If you are struggling, don’t be afraid of connecting with others and reaching out for help.