2021 is right around the corner and it’s that time of the year where everyone starts planning to make changes to their lives, and keep goals and resolutions for the new year.
This year has been challenging for everyone, some more than others. But we can all agree it was also a valuable year, that taught us the value of little things like meeting your friends in person or getting outside, to the larger context of just being alive. There’s so much to reflect on.
You may have achieved many things that you set out to do at the beginning of the year, you may have not. But if you have reached the end of this year, then you have achieved what thousands of others haven’t. So let’s all take some time to be grateful and reflect back on the past year; pat ourselves on the back for things we achieved, be compassionate to ourselves for the things we couldn’t, and plan for a better year next year.
You know that ‘fresh start’ feeling you get when you start a new year, as if everything and everyone is starting over and you are getting another chance at everything? Let’s try to make use of that feeling and gain momentum from it throughout the new year by doing a complete reset of your life.
1. Declutter your physical space
Throughout the year you may have gathered things that on closer inspection, may not be of any value to your life. End of the year is the perfect time to declutter and organize your home and make it a place that you can draw happiness from.
My favourite way to declutter is using the KonMari method from the book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo. If you’re not familiar with this, it is a concept for keeping your space tidy through the simple rule of “keeping only the things that spark joy”. Marie Kondo suggests to ask the question “does this spark joy?” to every single item in your home and keep it if it does and discard it if it doesn’t. Her process is comprehensive and time-consuming. But it is also a very rewarding and actually “life-changing” process. Check out her book if you’re interested to go on a magical journey of decluttering your home the next year.
For the new years, I would suggest choosing one or two areas of your home that is always cluttered and gives you a hard time just looking at it, be it your wardrobe or your desk, and go through a complete decluttering of that area. The KonMari way is to take everything out of its original space and into a new place so that you won’t skip over anything and you can look at everything from a newer perspective. So if you’ve chosen your wardrobe to declutter, take out all your clothes and other items and put them on your bed/floor. Then take each item in your hands one by one and ask the question “does this spark joy?”. Keep it if it does and discard if it doesn’t. Go through each of your items that way and experience the magic happen.
2. Declutter your digital space
In this day and age, our digital space takes up our life just as much as our physical space as we spend a significant amount of time on smartphones and computers. Especially this year, as we’ve all been cooped up in our homes for a better part of the year, most of us used the internet more than we probably ever had.
Before going into the new year, take some time to declutter your digital space so that you can start the year with fewer distractions. If you use your computer often, clean out your desktop so that you keep only the things that you need, and organize your files so that everything is easily accessible. Next, declutter your phone by deleting apps that you don’t use/need and ones that keep distracting you. Switch off all the notifications you don’t need and keep only the ones that are absolutely necessary. Declutter the inbox of your email; unsubscribe to any useless newsletters that do not add any value to your life. Go through your primary social media accounts and unfollow/unsubscribe to people or organisations that take away your mental peace or do not add anything positive to your life.
3. Declutter your mental space
A clear space is often said to give you a clearer mind, and doing the last two steps would definitely give you so much mental clarity. But let’s also take it one step further and declutter our mental space.
One way you can do this is through a stream of consciousness journaling. This is where you write anything and everything that is taking up your mind currently and put them onto paper. Just write without second thoughts, let your consciousness flow onto paper without caring if it makes any sense and write and write and write until there’s no more thought left. This gives you a catharsis that is so refreshing.
Depending on your lifestyle, do what you may need to do to clear your mind. If you don’t have a place to store your To-Do’s and they’re always annoying you in the background of your mind, then choose a To-Do list app and dump everything on there. If you always forget what you have to do when, then set up a planning system in place such as a bullet journal, planner, or google calendar.
You can also declutter your mental space by taking a day to brain dump all the nagging little things that you have been procrastinating on, like fixing that one light bulb or rearranging a bookshelf. Whatever it is, try to tick off as many things as possible and write down the ones you can’t for later. This way you don’t enter 2021 by dragging impending tasks in your hands, and you can feel all up-to-date.
4. Reflect on the past year
Now, this is my favourite part of this whole thing. Take out your journal, or a notebook, or a notes app if you’re a more digital person, and reflect on the past year. For some guidance, try to ask yourself questions like:
- What were my highlights of 2020?
– Write down all the major positive and negative things that happened in your life in 2020.
- What am I grateful for in 2020?
- What were my wins in 2020?
– Think back to all the big and small achievements that you had in 2020. Every small thing count.
- My lessons learned in 2020.
– Try to think of all the little and big things that 2020 has taught you and list them. Think about any mistakes you may have made and what you learned from it.
- Thank you and goodbye to 2020.
– No matter how it went, you’ve reached the end of 2020. So Express gratitude for everything that you were and weren’t given in the year 2020. Then write a small goodbye note to 2020.
5. Plan the next year
Once you have done your reflection of the last year, it’s time to plan for the next year. One of the best ways to make sure you achieve your goals is to make short-term ones. 1 year is a long time. We cannot possibly account for all the variables that the year would bring. In fact, we cannot account for the ones a day would bring either, but the shorter the finish line the more likely we would cross it successfully. So keep short-term goals, maybe for a month or the first quarter of the year.
One of my favourite quotes when it comes to goal-setting is this one which is usually known to be said by Bill Gates:
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”
As beings with intellectual capabilities, we tend to have a hundred things that we want to do at a time. And the ones who actually do any of them are the ones that know what to prioritize.
So for the first quarter of the next year, brain dump a list of any and all things that you would possibly want to achieve. Then make yourself choose just 2-3 goals that are of high priority/the ones that may have the highest impact on your life going forth. And leave everything else. It may be hard to do that but store that list somewhere safely and say to yourself that you will come back to it ones you have achieved your first goals.
Now, break down your chosen goals into actionable steps. Since a quarter is 3 months, break down your big goals into mini-goals for each month. Then every month break them down further into weekly goals. Baby steps are key. Break your goals into tiny actionable steps so that you are more likely to do them.
There’s your guide on how to reset your life for 2021. I hope it was helpful and gave you some ideas to draw inspiration from.