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If you are reading this, then you have one thing to be thankful for – you are alive and probably thriving somehow, so here’s how to make the best of 2021.

For most of us, 2020 has undeniably been the worst year of our lives. An unanticipated deadly viral pandemic shook the world, caused a massive socio-political divide and upended our lives. For the vast majority, we are starting out 2021 not in what should have been joyful ululations, but apprehension; Covid-19 has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. To many, it feels like we are staggering into 2021 starry-eyed, unsure what to expect. The truth is, no one really knows what 2021 will look like.

Whether reflecting on the past year is something you like to do or not; whether setting goals for the new year is your thing, it is definitely something worth considering. I have a few favourite themes.

THINK ABOUT THE PAST YEAR

You cannot build a house on a shaky foundation. Reflecting, growing and getting better, is probably the most important attribute that we as humans should have. Now, thinking about the past year. How do you feel compared to January 2020 – same, better, worse? Do not berate yourself if you feel worse. You are not alone. My philosophy is that we have very little influence on the people and events around us – we can influence people, but we cannot change them. And so the outcome depends on you. Your mindset, resilience and spirit. Everyone “fails”, but the difference in outcome depends on whether you see it as a failure or a learning process. Now, how can we transcribe these learning processes to 2021?

BE CONSISTENT IN KEEPING HEALTHY

How many start out enthusiastic about exercise, trying to shed off the extra kilograms (usually picked up from the festivities, LOL) but end up same or even worse. I’m guilty too. Staying healthy and keeping fit is always an effort. An effort that over time, like anything, becomes effortless and enjoyable. Whether it is indoor exercise, outdoor jogging or going to the gym, set your mind to it. Tracking your journey is a very helpful way to be consistent. A smartwatch is a good start, and it does not have to be an APPLE watch. Many find it more motivating to get a fitness partner. Nowadays, free exercise apps like ADIDAS by RUNTASTIC enable virtual pairing with friends across the globe. Also, remember that eating healthy is probably one of the most life-saving medical interventions. As the saying goes, “Let your food be your medicine or your medicine will be your food”. (Your kids will eat healthy if you do!)

REINVENT YOURSELF, YOUR BRAND, YOUR SKILLS

If you are yet to figure out what you want for yourself, what your vision and pathway is, now is a good time to set these goals.

Think, search, talk with helpful people. If you can, be a mentor and a mentee. No one is too old to be a mentee. It is never too late to rediscover yourself, that hidden talent that the world is in want of. We all have shortcomings, but more importantly, we have unique selling points. Find yours. The most successful people are those who have learned to sell themselves – who focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses.

Degrees are helpful, but the world today is skill-focused rather than diploma-focused. Ask yourself what skills you offer a prospective employer? Rebrand yourself. The pandemic has laid bare certain realities – some skills are essential. Others are indispensable.

RELATIONSHIPS?

Ask yourself what you have to offer.

These may have been a fount of joy in the past year or may have been very hurtful. If you have had a rough time with relationships, you are not alone. The year new year gives you an opportunity to start over if need be. The one thing you can change is making yourself a better person. There is always room for improvement. Good relationships flourish when we are the best of ourselves. You can only give what you have and if you do not have love, you cannot give love. Make sacrifices, keep your vows, be there for your other half. You were once yourself before becoming a spouse. You were once a couple before kids came along. Make time for yourself; make time for your significant other. It is okay to give each other space sometimes. It may even be healthy.

You may be the only one amongst your peers to not have kids, and even worse, to be single. Social media is rife with happiness. Far from what happens in the intimacy of homes. Be content with life, but strive to grow. Admire and hope, but do not envy. Remember to love yourself first. Accept positive criticism, but remember not to compromise your core values solely for the benefit of another. It is okay to be a relationship type of person, and it is okay to not be. What is even more important is being honest and upfront about your expectations of each other. Regardless, be unapologetically you! No one is indispensable.

FAITH

Call it faith or optimism, having faith changes your outlook of things.

This is not about being religious. In fact, one thing I have come to realise is that faith and religion differ. While faith works by grace, religion works by law. Favour accompanies grace. Fear accompanies law. In January 2017, I gifted myself a Thomas Nelson version of the New King James Study Bible. It has revolutionised my faith in God and in life. I always tell Christians looking to grow, that the one investment they can make is in getting a good study bible.

However you decide to start your new year, remember one thing: Life is short. Make the most of it. Forgive and make peace – a bitter soul can never be happy. Most people deserve forgiveness and fresh beginnings. You’d be surprised how your “enemies” easily get assuaged by a genuine “sorry”. Why not start by wishing them a happy new year?

The end of 2020 was bittersweet: a vaccine was produced in record time. To many, this has been a much welcome solution but to others, has fuelled the incertitude. I think a vaccine could be the only means to end the pandemic and I consider myself fortunate enough to have been one of the first few to receive it. I hope you do too.

Cheers to a better year ahead!

Content
JAN currently works as a Paediatric doctor in East Midland, England. She enjoys mentoring people towards getting scholarships, jobs/careers and settling abroad. In 2014, prior to moving to the UK, she worked with refugees in eastern Cameroon, a project run by Medecins Sans Frontières. Her hobbies include travelling, reading and cooking. Some countries she has visited include Israel, Zimbabwe, France, USA, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and in the future, she looks forward to seeing more of the world.

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