Remember back to New Year’s Eve 2019. We were younger, calmer, full of hope. We didn’t yet know the meaning of the words furlough, lateral flow, or Omicron.
Then 2020 hit, plunged us into a pandemic, and everything has been chaos and turmoil ever since.
Even as things start to get better, new variants and rising numbers are threatening that positive trajectory, knocking off course our determined march back to normality. As a result, it can be really hard to feel hopeful.
The New Year is meant to be a time to look forward, an opportunity for renewal and fresh starts, a time to plan out what we hope for the next 365 days of our lives.
However, the pandemic has made forward planning a treacherous and foolhardy plight. And having been thrust into inertia for the past two years, the thought of making big plans for 2022 feels like setting yourself up to fail.
But, as humans, we need hope. We need optimism, things to look forward to, things to work towards. Otherwise, we risk being swallowed by the bleakness of it all. So, is it possible to think about 2022 in a hopeful way – despite all the uncertainty around us?
Judith Quin, life coach and founder of Your Whole Voice, says hope is always possible – sometimes you just have to work at it.
‘The thing with hope is that we can always make a choice to find it, on any given day – it’s just that New Year’s Eve and Day bring this choice into sharp relief,’ Judith tells Metro.co.uk.
‘If we look for the disappointments and disasters we will find them – if we look for the good things that happened we will find them too. I would ask you to ask yourself three questions:
‘It’s the taking action that gives the hope.’
If you’re feeling particularly hopeless about the new year, you will be far from alone. The last two years have felt relentlessly challenging – in every area of life.
Finding hope is not about asking yourself to ignore the reality of your situation, or pretend that things haven’t been really hard. It’s about choosing to find the positives alongside the negatives, and recognising that both can exist.
Judith says it’s also about identifying the true source of your anxiety about the year ahead.
‘Worry, stress and anxiety are enhanced and fed by fear and lack of control,’ says Judith. ‘So, I would say create something that you have control over – this might be an artistic endeavour, personal health goals, something for your career.
‘Or planning the outline of something to look forward to when things are more certain.
‘There is never certainty in life – but we live as if there is, so keep planning – and allow space that what you plan may have to change.
‘My friend and I have been planning a three-week road trip in the USA since May 2019. Nothing is booked and the dates keep moving, but the planning makes us happy. And, actually, the changes we have made to our plan because we couldn’t go when we first hoped now make it a better trip.’
Strategies to feel more positive about the new year
If the worry is overwhelming you, Judith says the best thing you can do to help is create good structures that help you feel like you are in control of parts of your life.
‘It can be things as small as making sure to take a daily walk, or making good choices about the food you eat,’ says Judith.
‘It’s also very important to take control of the people you surround yourself with as much as possible, and what you read or watch – stop feeding your fear.
‘Remember – we can’t change other people or situations, but we can change how we react or respond to it.’
Judith’s next tip is what she calls the key to personal growth – being adaptable to what life throws at you.
‘The changes that have happened over the last two years are not personal – they structural,’ she says.
‘This actually goes for every part of life – including personal relationships – but in relation to these current uncertainties – it’s important to remember that they are not a personal attack against your life, they are a change of the structures you’ve become used to, we need to create new structures and find what works.’
Finally, Judith says she always draws comfort and hope from a quote from concentration camp survivor Victor Frankl:
‘When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.’
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