When it comes to making our resolutions for the year ahead, it’s pretty obvious that this forthcoming year things were unimaginably different from previous ones. So, what resolutions should we make for 2021? I know for a fact that trotting out the same old resolutions just doesn’t feel right somehow. Saying that, I don’t think we should be afraid of making them; however, I do feel that what we do resolve to chance should have a deeper significance. Naturally, diets and workouts will always make the list – but we should also be thinking about the pursuit of health, happiness and a renewed self-understanding in 2021.

Remember, resolutions refer to the changes an individual is seeking to make. They’re not inherently selfish, and as such, for example, you may make a resolution to help less fortunate people than yourself – this is a personal change which benefits others. But it’s still you; making changes to the way that you behave.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on what have we learnt from 2020. Naturally our experiences of this unusual year will be unique to us, but now there is a global bond which ties us all, we’ve all learnt about the pandemic and are still learning collectively about vaccines (and the like!). We’ve learnt that viruses can affect everyone, they’re not discerning, and they don’t really care about the geographic borders set out by us.

How to approach resolutions for 2021?

We should have learnt that life shouldn’t be taken for granted, because 2020 has proven that it is more uncertain than we had imagined. A core resolution could be to not take anything or anyone for granted in 2021!

Before we dive into our personal list of resolutions for 2021, it’s important to set the scene for them. I often use a business format to help me structure changes in behaviour, which works really well here also – it’s called the Stop, Start and Continue method. It’s a really practical and straight-forward way to understand and structure your future plans and actions.

Following this approach is simple and can be noted down on paper or on your phone. All you need to get going are some titles, which are relevant to your own circumstances. I’ve given some general examples here, but you can easily tailor this method to your own personal requirements. Start with...

My health and well-being

Stop: Over analysing everything. This is an issue I encounter regularly, it’s when our mind goes into overdrive and it picks apart every possible scenario and outcome of each and every metaphorical step we take through life! It’s tiring, frustrating and is not good for us in the long term. This is directly linked to being ‘stressed-out’ – one feeds the other! There are many reasons people are stressed and becoming stress-free isn’t an easy undertaking, however, there are steps we can take in terms of learning to relax, taking time for ourselves, finding a pastime, meditation – the list is exhaustive. What is important to acknowledge is that being stressed isn’t good for our well-being in the long term.

Maybe you are overdoing it? Are you simply trying to do too much for too many? The signs will be there. I suggest moving forward into the new year not to immediately cram every entry in your diary with a commitment – save a few just for you!

Stop eating junk food. That’s it, four words…stop eating junk food!

Start: Talking about your feelings! Everyone has times when they’re feeling low and troubled from time to time. Letting trusted people know how you’re feeling can be a real pressure reliever. In fact, often the mere act of sharing your concerns is enough to start turning the corner of improving your personal well-being.

If you’re not already, you should start getting active. Regular exercise boosts your immune system, gives your self-esteem a lift and can help you concentrate better! This is because regular exercise helps to keep your mind sharp and your body in significant better condition to face the rigours of life. You’ll look better and you’ll feel better. That’s a win in my book!

Feeling tired? Get in the z’s! The impact, both physically and mentally, of regular quality sleep is immense – do not underestimate the power of a good nights’ rest. Countless studies have proven that prolonged spells of poor or lacking sleep can have a serious detrimental effect on your health and well-being.

Continue: To accept you are who you are. Everyone is different, everyone has their own unique traits and foibles. It’s far healthier to accept we’re ‘us’ than to continually wish we were more like someone else!

Continue to look out for others. It has been proven that helping others is a great way to help ourselves.

To keep and stay in touch with family and friends. There’s nothing better than a catch-up face to face, but right now that’s not always possible – hopefully it will be soon! However, you should continue to video-call, drop them a text, or chat on the phone. Personal connections are vital and keeping the lines of communication open in 2021 is vital, it’s also good for everyone’s well-being!

Keep looking after yourself in 2021. It’s all too easy to become world weary and to let things slip from a health perspective, please don’t. There’s so much to be grateful for and so much to look forward to, but you’ll need your health, so continue to take care of yourself!

My family

Stop: Taking your family for granted! Continually working long and late hours without taking time out with your family will have a detrimental effect on you and on them. This is also the case even if you’re working from home right now. Make the move and log out once in a while! Put the tablet down, put the laptop to one side and call time on constant smartphone email checks. You see, when you press ‘shut down’, this shouldn’t always necessarily apply to the machine!

Start: Making more time for relatives. One positive spin-off of the pandemic is that it’s brought families together online. Keeping this going in 2021 is important. Once we’re free to move around without restriction or risk, we should re-double our efforts to see older family members. Moving forward, we should try and see them at least each year so that they get to spend some time with you and grandkids etc. Connections are really important right now and letting them slip would be a shame, which I believe you’ll come to regret in the future.

Continue: Try to continue with some of the positive things you’ve introduced in 2020 – there are at least some! By being at home more, it’s likely you’re spending more time with your kids. Keep this up. It would be all too easy to slip back into old habits, but I guarantee you’ll look back on the time you spend with loved ones right now, fondly in years to come. Spending quality time with them is precious and should be a lasting legacy of 2020.

My diet

Stop: I’ve already mentioned junk food earlier in this article. Just junk it! Also, as an addition to this, please stop being on a fad diet, they don’t work, and they will ultimately result in you putting more weight on in the long run. Don’t contemplate a fad diet in 2021, instead of just trying to lose weight, you should be seeking health instead. By seeking good health across the board in everything you do, you’ll discover that weight loss will be a happy coincidence to the process.

Start: Eating more vegetables! For most people, a well-balanced and nutritious diet is the only diet you need to be on in 2021! Start being aware of the portion sizes you’re serving at each mealtime. Start drinking more water and try to cut down on the soda and caffeine intake.

Continue: Being well informed and aware of what’s going on health wise. It’s vital to understand the reasons to be as healthy as possible. If you’re doing exercise, good for you, keep on going and look to see how you can develop the habit further.

Know the difference between resolution and plan

I suggest you fill your resolution list for 2021 with easy, implementable and ‘good for you’ goals. Simple tweaks to your lifestyle can make a world of difference to kick-start a healthier body and mind. If you can focus on easing your stress levels as much as possible, and learning how to organise your schedule, you’ll be amazed how quickly you'll discover ways to find time for fitness, home decluttering or even taking up something new.

But we all know the problem with New Year’s resolutions. basically, they’re normally forgotten by mid-January. Therefore, instead, I prefer a well-thought-out plan for the year ahead!

If you’re wondering what’s the difference between a plan and a resolution? Well, in my book a plan is measurable whereas a resolution is simply a statement of intent. If you make a resolution you also need a plan to back it up! Just how would you like to shape 2021?

2020 may have been difficult and painful for many, but let’s be reassured that this situation isn’t going to last forever. In reality, what 2021 ends up looking and feeling like is up to us as much as it is to anyone else, or any circumstance for that matter. If we are all able to set out our plans and we are determined to focus on a motivated, optimistic and constructive life, then this energy will come together and make us all stronger for it.

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