Each year I, like millions of others, write a mental list of ways to make myself a better human.
That list usually consists of a combination of the following:
- I will lose a stone (two/three stone – you get the idea)
- I will wear make up every day.
- I will run a half marathon.
- I will go on a diet.
- I will have a thigh gap by summer.
- I will lose my belly.
- I will give up carbs.
- I will have visible collar bones.
(…among many other ridiculous and impossible goals. Please note this list shows just a few chosen examples of some of my genuine past resolutions. The real, complete list is probably as long as War and Peace)
But this year is different. This year I am not making a list, I am actually not making any new year’s resolutions. Here’s why…
2020 was a year like no other. I began my year like every other year, full of hope for a year of weight loss, holidaying in the sun, being bikini-ready by summer. Oh, what a simpler time! By May, my ambitions went as far as being able to go to the supermarket and hugging my mum. Priorities quickly changed this year.
My social anxiety had got worse over the years and I started having panic attacks at the thought of speaking in front of anyone.
At the start of the year, I was 4 months in to a 10-month yoga teacher training course. I had a crippling fear of public speaking, teaching, singing -anything that meant that I could be seen or heard by other humans. I had absolutely no intention of teaching yoga. I actually only went on the course to develop my own home yoga practice- a way of avoiding going to class and interacting with other people. My social anxiety had got worse over the years and I started having panic attacks at the thought of speaking in front of anyone.
2020 was the year that I got over all that.
As I leave 2020 behind me, I can see how much I’ve changed. I am now a qualified yoga and meditation teacher, actually teaching 3-4 classes a week. I love teaching. I have social media accounts, which I regularly post on. I write and share my opinions and experiences. I found my voice this year. I learnt to be comfortable in my own skin, I now wear the clothes I want to wear, rather than hiding behind baggy jumpers like I used to. I found a confidence in myself and love for myself that I never even imagined would be possible. And do you know what? I haven’t lost ANY weight this year. I still do not have a thigh gap and my collar bones don’t stick out. So what?!?!
How did I get here? Well, first I ditched the unrealistic expectations. I stopped wanting to do better, to be thinner, richer, prettier, younger. Instead I started appreciating what I do have. 2020 taught me that I have way more than I thought. I started to appreciate the importance of human interaction. When you are forced into a lockdown and aren’t able to interact with people, it will make you realise just how important it is. I stopped fearing it and started craving it. I learnt that communication does not have to be scary, it can be a useful tool.
Coming into a new year would usually bring the obligation to make a list of resolutions. How about instead of making an unrealistic list of impossible goals and then feeling like a failure for ditching them by March, we do things differently this year? I’ve made the decision to do exactly this. Instead of aiming for that thigh-gap, I am going to celebrate where I’m at now. 2021 will be the year that I set myself free from the self-imposed pressure of self-improvement.
I read an article a few years ago about choosing a word of the year- selecting a word to set your intention for the coming year. This word could be anything that helps you to get to where you want to be, but without the pressure of a new year’s resolution. Examples could include: trust, acceptance, love, happiness, gratitude, honesty, kindness.
Looking back, my 2020 Word Of The Year (WOTY) would have to be release. This was the year I learnt to release my fears, my expectations and my need to control everything. And it feels GREAT!
I think my word for 2021 might be celebrate. I’ll be celebrating my achievements, celebrating where I am right now and celebrating small victories.
What would be your WOTY for 2020? And what word will you choose for 2021?