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How You Can Build Hope For A Better 2021

3 tips to help you remain hopeful even after an especially tough year


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Jerren Gan

3 years ago | 6 min read

2020 is an extremely hard year to sum up.

From the Australian wildfires to the death of numerous icons, it seemed that 2020 always had something worse up its sleeve.

The pandemic led to more than a million unnecessary deaths, plunging entire medical systems into an overloaded state despite the best efforts of all the healthcare workers. Relations between nations continued to worsen amidst an increasingly divided world. And systematic racism in the American police system forced the whole world to stand up and call for change.

And like many others, I found 2020 to be an extremely testing year. 2020 was the year where I expected a peaceful (and simple) transition from military service back into normal civilian life before beginning college at the end of the year.

But 2020 had other plans. From preventing my travels to visit my grandparents (who are living in another country) to lockdowns ending my first job (I found work at an ice cream cafe) prematurely, the events of the year upended many of the plans I had for the year (luckily, I still managed to begin university through online lessons).

Yet, when I compare my situation to many others, the changes I had to go through aren’t even comparable. With individuals dealing with the loss of numerous family members, unemployed workers facing possible evictions, and whole countries still being ravaged by the pandemic, it seems that nearly no one is escaping 2020 unscathed.

And as many of us begin to feel economic, social, and psychological pinch from our long drawn war against the pandemic, it makes sense that many of us are losing hope for 2021.

However, Hope is Important

Even though 2021 might seem like a blank page that we can begin to rebuild on, the start of the new year wouldn’t magically remove all of our troubles. The economic impacts will remain to plague us, badly hit locations might have to continue lockdowns, and no one can guarantee that 2021 wouldn’t bring a new set of problems.

However, even if the future seems bleak, hope is something that remains important.

Hope serves as a “powerful motivator”, that drives individuals to make positive improvements to ones’ life. At the same time, it propels us to devise new strategies to achieve our goals, giving us the will to cope amidst a trying period.

Furthermore, research suggests that hope has a positive correlation with our physical health.

That’s why, despite all the bad news that has come out of 2020, I have been working to build up hope for the new year. And if you’re looking to find ways to remain hopeful for the upcoming year, here are some of the strategies that I have employed in my quest:

1. Forget About Making a New Year’s Resolution

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” ~ Bill Gates

In the past, I used to be a fervent supporter of creating new year resolutions. In fact, I loved the idea of these resolutions so much that I had previously written about them on my old blog. Yet, with the high rate of failure for these resolutions, I have decided to do away with them this upcoming year.

After all, writing down lofty goals that we are unlikely to meet sounds like a terrible way to build up hope.

That’s why, instead of setting up difficult aims for myself, I have decided to make 2021 special. I chose to visualise the person I hope to become and make my future decisions based on this visualisation.

For example, if you would like to be a more courageous person, go into 2021 choosing to do things that you would otherwise be too timid to do before.

Using the “better you” that you’ve imagined, create a set of guidelines that you can use to improve yourself through the next year.

By swapping out a set of goals (like say, “try 12 new things that seem scary”), the guidelines will remain with you for the entire year, allowing you to improve yourself all the time without the stress of having to do things just to meet your new year resolutions

2. Repeat the Good Things

Now, after working out the list of guidelines that I want to follow in the new year, I moved on to list the good things that have happened this year.

No matter how terrible your year was, there will be something good that has come out of the year. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is. Just list all the good things that you’ve experienced and done.

With this ‘list of good things’, try to find the ones that you can repeat in the upcoming year. Perhaps it could be “being able to connect more with friends through virtual calls”. Or perhaps it could be “learnt new baking skills and made tasty pastry for neighbours”.

These are the things that you should aim to repeat in the upcoming year. And because all of these are things that you’ve already experienced or done before, repeating them again shouldn’t be too difficult.

By focusing on repeating good things (instead of creating brand new new year resolutions), I aim to make 2021 the year of improvements instead of spending all of my energy trying to build up something new from scratch.

Furthermore, having a list of things that I can look forward to reliving again helps to boost my morale and better prepare me for the year ahead.

3. Don’t Go Into the New Year Alone

Happiness is contagious. In fact, when a study was done on a sample of 5000 individuals over 20 years, it was found that the happiness of a single individual creates a positive chain reaction benefiting an entire network of up to 3 degrees of separation that lasts for an entire year. This means that you stand to benefit from your friend’s friend’s friend’s happiness.

On the other hand, sadness doesn’t spread as easily through social networks. By keeping in contact and working on improving relationships with friends, we will be able to share and receive happiness without becoming as affected when sad events do happen.

Furthermore, with a robust support system, you and your friends will be able to help each other out if terrible things do happen, allowing you to build up hope quickly even if things do not go your way in 2021.

Our Future Shouldn’t be Micromanaged

The truth is that no one knows what 2021 will bring to the table.

Of course, we could be able to predict some of events that might happen with the current knowledge we have (like countries beginning their Covid-19 vaccination plans or the transition of presidential power in the US).

However, there is no way for us to collect all the information and guess how everything will unfold next year. That means that no amount of planning and preparation can help us prevent all the bad things that might happen. But at the same time, there is no way for us to predict all the good things that could just be around the corner.

That’s why, as I stand at the very end of 2020, I prefer to approach the new year with hope. The new year will come at us no matter what we do. And by hoping and trusting that the horizon will bring good things along, I am ready to make the leap and make the best out of 2021.

And with the strategies I have shared, I do hope that you will be willing to take this leap full of hope as well.

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Jerren Gan

| Freelance writer • Blogger • Poet | Loves writing about the environment, society and the beauty of language • used to write movie and book reviews on my blog | medium account: https://medium.com/@jerrengan


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