“And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that never were.”

—Rainer Maria Rilke

I came across a New Year’s resolution poll from the Vancouver Sun this week. The poll question was: Will you still make resolutions for 2021? The answers may surprise you:

  • 47% answered: No – let’s just get through the year in one piece
  • 39% answered: Yes – 2021 is going to be my year!
  • 14% answered: Unsure – who even marks time anymore?

While some days may feel like Groundhog Day, it’s important to remember that every January is an opportunity for a fresh start. Changing habits isn’t necessarily easy, so it’s always good to seize the momentum of a new year.

But since 2020 wasn’t any ordinary year, perhaps your 2021 resolutions will have a different focus than in the past. 

Instead of approaching our goals as “resolutions,” what if we looked at them as “self-refinement?” This is what author Maria Popova explores in the article, Self-Refinement Through the Wisdom of the Ages: New Year’s Resolutions from Some of Humanity’s Greatest Minds. Some examples include going for walks to clear your head (like Henry David Thoreau), keeping a diary as a form of self-exploration (like Virginia Woolf), or adopting a mantra like Bruce Lee’s quote, “Be like water” – meaning that you can adapt and change to any situation that life throws your way. This requires a growth mindset, and to help develop that, Popva suggests Carol Dweck’s heavily researched book Mindset. 

And to help make any resolution stick, I recommend reading Atomic Habits by James Clear, the Power of Habit by Charles Duhhigg or Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal. The strategies provided in these books are timeless, and may be just the thing you need to reach your goals in an enduring way. 

No matter what your resolution, make sure you include your community…

Don’t forget to nourish yourself with some “relational nutrients” by connecting with friends, family and neighboursas neighbourhood development expert Howard Lawrence passionately recommends. A simple call, e-mail or text message to someone to say “Happy New Year” can break the ice and get you reconnected. I got a call out-of-the-blue yesterday from an old friend of mine and we caught up on so much lost time – it literally made my day. We’ll be connecting over zoom next and face-to-face when it’s safe to do so.