A better outlook for 2021? Depends on you

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The ball has dropped, the champagne has been drank and the black-eyed peas have been ate. 

The world is magically a better place now that 2020 is in the history books right? Not quite.

The year 2020 was a different year and presented us with all kinds of unique challenges. 

A global pandemic that altered and divided the country more than anything since 9/11, social unrest that only further pushed the chasm further apart and an election that certainly brought out the worst in people regardless of what side of the aisle you fall on.

The general public certainly took turns blaming the year 2020 on a variety of bad luck woes and short-comings (myself included).

But let’s all take a step back and really evaluate how much 2020 was involved in our individual circumstances.

Those who had life-altering events happen such as a job lost, the death of a loved one or became impoverished because events related to the global pandemic have every reason to be ready to put 2020 behind them.

Those who work in healthcare, public education, first responders and in the general public also have every reason to be ready for this pandemic to end.

But plenty of us, myself included, sometimes jumped on the band-wagon of blaming 2020 for circumstances within our control.

If things were tough in 2019 and continued to stayed tough in 2020, the year 2021 is not going to be a magical savior.

But we can take steps ourselves to ensure it is a better year and it starts with us and what we CAN control:

Set realistic goals and expectations — Too often happiness is tied to expectations. Using a sports analogy, if you’re a New York Jets fan and expected them to go 16-0 you were setting yourself up for failure. Same goes for life. If you deal in absolutes with your goals for 2021, whether it’s to go to church every Sunday, lose an absurd amount of weight or to quit a bad habit altogether, you set yourself up for failure. Evaluate your life and circumstance and set a realistic goal.

Hold yourself accountable — This is the hardest part because it takes a lot of self-discipline. If that is something you struggle with (me too) recruit a loved one to help you with accountability. Those trying to get better at something may fall off the wagon early after one short-coming. Establish a routine and find something to hold you accountable. If it’s weight loss, get a fitness tracker whether it’s a free app or fitness watch. If it’s going to church, get involved. 

Don’t be too hard on yourself — This somewhat goes back to expectations, but we are all human. The best we can do is to try to be better than we were yesterday. If you miss a work-out, miss a Sunday or fall short of a short-term goal, don’t give up. Life happens and priorities change sometimes at a moment’s notice. Just do your best to bounce back the next day.

Try not to stay down when times get hard — This is the hardest one of all for some. Life will throw us some punches and try to knock us down for the count. But the great Rocky Balboa once said, “Life’s not about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you get hit and keep pressing forward.” Easier said than done. But just worry about what you can control and give the rest to God. 

Pray — There is something about the power of prayer. Whether the Lord answers your prayers or not is not up to any of us. But knowing you can go to him with your struggles makes every day more manageable.

As I said before, the year 2020 was a unique year and while we did see the worst in some people, we also saw resiliency.

But as individuals, it’s up to us to ensure 2021 is not a repeat of 2021. Happy new year!

John Lee is the editor of The Pampa News and can be reached at pampanewseditor@gmail.com or find him on Twitter @jcl1987.

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