This time last year, we thought we were waving a long-awaited goodbye to the bad news. A fresh year, 2021, lay in wait, with the promise of the arrival of a Covid vaccine and (hopefully) a return to normal.
How wrong we were. For many of us, 2021 was – if anything – a tougher year than 2020. As we end the year, Omicron is on the rise across the country, the NHS is on its knees (again), we’re back working from home and reports of burnout have never been higher. Is there really any point in allowing ourselves to dream and set intentions for 2022?
Absolutely. In fact, there’s more reason to do it now than ever. Chances are we’re going to be living with Covid for a while longer, but there is plenty we can do to make our dreams come true and bring more joy into our lives over the next 12 months, even if it’s something as small as starting a diary or choosing to spend more time by the sea. Small things add up.
From reflecting on the positives to making the next 12 months all about focusing on feelings, here’s how to step into the next year looking forward to what lies ahead. Project 2021 starts now.
Reflect on all that has happened in your life in 2021
Even if 2021 has been a tough year, it’s still really important to take the time to reflect on it all: the happiest moments, the hardest moments, the fun you had and the challenges you faced.
If we don’t acknowledge what we’ve been through, we can’t give ourselves the space to process it and celebrate the fact that we got through it. It’s also an important chance to recognise that even in the tough years we still learn, grow, laugh and love.
Fill your 2022 calendar with things that make you happy and bring you joy
When you feel like you’re in survival mode, it can be easy to stop making the effort to fill our lives with the things that bring us joy and happiness. Instead we get stuck ‘just getting through it all’ – over time, that can lead to fatigue and even burnout.
The solution? Make 2022 the year where you really start to invest in your happiness and schedule into your life the things that bring you joy and happiness.
Start by writing down all the things you love to do that bring you happiness and joy (including things you haven’t done for years). Then get your calendar out and schedule at least one thing into your life every week from your list, whether it’s a walk with your neighbour’s dog or reading a chapter from your favourite book.
Stick to those ‘happiness dates’ with the same commitment you would to a doctor’s appointment and see the difference it makes.
Set an intention for how you want to feel in 2022
So much of what we dream of and desire boils down to us wanting to feela certain way. So ask yourself how you want to feelin 2022. Then make a list of all the things you know that help you to feel that way on a day-to-day basis.
If you want to feel more peaceful in 2022, you might want to spend more time in nature, listen to peaceful music, have a candlelit bath or listen to a guided meditations.
Now take that list and commit to weaving those things into your life by scheduling them into your calendar. For example, you might decide to start the day having breakfast listening to peaceful music instead of the news, or you could schedule-in Tuesday as your candlelit bath night. Perhaps every weekend you could go and spend at least an hour walking in your local park.
These things might seem small, but if they help you to feel the way you want to feel in 2022, you’ll be surprised at how big a difference they might make.
Focus on a dream that you can turn into your reality, even with Covid still around
Don’t assume that making your dreams come true has to wait until things are back to ‘normal’. Focus instead on the dreams you can bring to life right now – even if you focus on the small ones, the experience of bringing your dreams to life is one of the most fulfilling human experiences there is.
So make sure in 2022 you give yourself that experience: let yourself dream and then choose which dream you’re going to bring to life first (because if there is one thing we’ve learnt over the past two years, it’s that focusing on the little things makes all the difference).
Don’t postpone – these last two years have been challenging, but don’t let that stop you from allowing yourself to dream and set intentions for 2022 that’ll fill it with the activities and experiences that make you come alive. If anything, we need to do that for ourselves now more than ever.
Selina Barker and Vicki Pavitt are founders of Project Love and creators of the ‘Goodbye 2021, Hello 2022’ journal