Changes made last year may alter how you approach the future

It is during the final days of the year when we reflect the most on the past, present, and future. When the pandemic hit in 2020, it changed the world and us forever. Whether we transitioned to working from home, lost jobs, or worked reduced hours, the whole experience redefined our lives. Unable to socialize or travel, we resorted to creative ways to spend the weekends. And when we had enough of endless chatting or video calling, we turned to ourselves. 

Don’t we discover ourselves the most when we are lonely? This was so true for my husband Jacques and I last summer. Fearing to go to salons, I learned to thread eyebrows. Resolving to satiate our taste buds without ordering out, we discovered how to cook new cuisines at home using available substitutes. Jacques’ pay was reduced. Skills developed years ago during an unemployed phase came in handy and eased our financial strain. I started giving online French conversation classes. Jacques did oil and tire changes for a small fee. The extra money wasn’t much, but it still helped us offset some expenses. 

Prioritize health and wellbeing. There are plenty of healthy homemade recipes that substitute for face and body masks. | Nazreena Anwar-Travas
Board games work well for bonding with friends when normalcy resumes. | Nazreena Anwar-Travas
 Learn new skills or improve existing skills. | Nazreena Anwar-Travas

One of our resolutions last year was to buy a treadmill. As this was no longer affordable, we walked outdoors a lot instead. When temperatures plummeted, we walked inside our condo building, climbing staircases, and walking corridors with masks on and sanitizers handy. 

Shopping was restricted to bare essentials. Fancy face and hair masks were replaced with homemade recipes. Our Christmas gifts, though simple, were still dropped off at friends’ doorsteps. At the end of the year, we realized that we had actually saved more money than the year before! That made us ponder. 

If we lived for nine months this way, why not make the lessons learned a part of our lives and New Year resolutions list? Why wait for something to happen to change ourselves? Since 2020 was so different, we resolved to do things differently in 2021. First, to practice more gratitude, differentiate needs from wants, spend wisely, support local businesses, and prioritize health. Secondly, to improve existing or learn new skills. Not only is this personal enrichment but it’s also something that will be handy should, God forbid, another emergency hit. And last but not least, to focus more on people who stuck with us and distinguish the essential from the non-essential. 

We were no match against a tiny virus. Why then should we harbour grudges or give importance to material stuff that were of no comparison with health or loving relationships? Of course, we all need a bit of fun too!  We decided to buy a few boardgames that will not only keep us occupied on lonely days but also be available for future game nights with friends when normalcy resumes. The key is to be realistic about what to expect and do in the new year. For instance, taking a vacation may not be pragmatic even though vaccines have arrived. Losing weight quickly could be difficult, especially with restrictions still in place. However, realistic expectations of savings for that dream holiday might be achievable. 

Resolutions are not only about doing something new or difficult. They can also focus on being better prepared for an unknown or difficult future. Is it not always better to be proactive than reactive?

Feature image: Cut down ordering out by learning new cuisines at home. | Nazreena Anwar-Travas