By Melanie Kreifels, SWSM Magazine Managing Editor, MA, LCPC

As we step into 2021 with new hope and fresh beginnings, it is a great time to reflect on what we’ve learned this past year. Even as most of us heartily wave 2020 good riddance, there is good to be found even in the hard times. What did you learn this past year? What challenged you or made you grow? How can you carry those things that keep you moving forward and leave behind the things that drag you down? We should note that just because we have turned over the calendar to 2021, there are still so many unknown factors, but as we move ahead, here are some thoughts in taking some practical steps to set a new pace for our lives in 2021!

CHANGE OF PACE

Most of our lives were pretty ‘hustle and bustle’ before Covid hit, rarely did we take time to enjoy life; we as Americans ran through it. With the abrupt halt of schedules came a pause and a letting go of time. For me, as an introvert, rest and enjoying ordinary moments became a welcome addition to this new lifestyle. Let’s continue with this idea that we can achieve and enjoy life at the same time.

FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN

This fear is genuine for most Americans. Most of us aren’t use to wandering from day to day aimlessly. But what a year to recognize the resilience inside of us and the ways we have been stretched. Even when we broke down (and who of us hasn’t), there was momentum to get back up. Here’s the beautiful thing: resiliency looks different for everyone. There isn’t a measure of what’s right or wrong. What worked for you might not work for another. That’s an important celebration to carry into the new year.

POSSESSIONS IN PERSPECTIVE

Possessions and various household items had overcome us as a society, and suddenly some things just weren’t available. We had to learn to make do with what we had or find an alternative. For maybe the first time, in some of our lives, possessions held their proper place. While it was uncomfortable, it helped us gain some perspective on what we “need” versus what we “want.” Many have changed their perspective regarding their possessions and what one needs to be ‘comfortable,’ as the love for these possessions has changed.

PEOPLE MATTER

Even the most introverted of introverts missed people in 2020! Suddenly being isolated from family, co-workers, and friends opened a new lens on how we value those around us. We saw many Americans suffer this year, which hopefully made us all more empathetic and willing to care for one another. As we move forward through the next twelve months, let us keep the deep appreciation and respect we have for the people in our communities and around us. It will make life even richer. So, take stock of your life in the days to come and decide what characteristics or thoughts promote your dreams and goals. Work towards making them more prominent in your life and silence the doubts and misgivings that turn your eyes from your hopes and desires.