With small businesses and the self-employed continuing to feel the pressure as 2021 begins, the best thing we can resolve to do this year is to keep striving but without the strain.
As someone addicted to lists and planning, for me New Year is undoubtedly the most wonderful time of the year. After all, your New Year’s resolutions form the ultimate to-do list, with infinite potential for smugness if you can tick them all off on December 31!
However, the flip side of that is the sense of failure – of downright unworthiness – when you let a whole year go by without becoming a millionaire, or writing a bestseller, or learning Latin. Again.
Generally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with setting ambitious goals, as long as they are realistic and meaningful. Indeed, a strong sense of purpose can make the difference between a good year and a phenomenal one. Plus, we can’t allow the adversity of the Covid-19 pandemic to hold us back forever. On social media, there is a widespread call for 2021 to be the year of the bounce back – “this year, we’re going to sock it to Covid and build back better!”
But this year more than ever before, I feel that people have earned a respite from the intense pressure to thrive, no matter what the odds.
Although the UK’s mass vaccination programme is a true beacon of light for 2021, the reality is that even if the jab schedule goes swimmingly, it will be many months (at least) before any semblance of normality starts to return. It feels feasible that for many of us, life will continue pretty much as it is until at least the late spring or early summer – perhaps with many more ups and downs still to come on the coronavirus rollercoaster.
That makes it pretty hard to plan anything for next week, let alone for outcomes you want to achieve by December.
So, given how unpredictable this virus has shown itself to be over the last year, I think it’s time to give ourselves a new approach in 2021. That’s why, instead of setting specific objectives and tasks that must be achieved in the next 12 months, I’m setting myself just one resolution this year:
Every day, I will do one thing that takes me closer to my goals.
Psychologically, I think this is a crucial difference. After all, we could all work exceptionally hard, sacrifice time with our loved ones, put ourselves through the wringer emotionally and physically, bust a gut to make 2021 the year that counts in measurable ways – only to find that factors outside our control, such as the pandemic, put the kibosh on it all anyway.
That's not to suggest that we shouldn't still strive to overcome challenges, make smart decisions and try to get ourselves back on the right track in 2021. But I think we can be a little kinder to ourselves right now. How depressing would it be to look back on another year and feel that all our efforts came to nothing, simply because we couldn't tick a particular box?
It will feel much more positive to look back on 2021 and think, “Every single day, no matter how difficult the circumstances, I did something to help achieve my goals and take a step closer to my dreams. When I accomplished my goals, it was because I worked hard. When I didn’t, it was because the cosmos had other ideas! But I’m still in a stronger position for 2022.”
This one thing per day could be literally anything that takes you in a positive direction.
Didn’t have time to write a full blog today? Okay, a few words on a social media post are better than no words.
An important meeting got cancelled today? Okay, you reached out to a potential new contact instead.
Didn’t complete the latest module of your training course today? Okay, you did two pages and that’s two more pages than you’d completed yesterday.
Ran out of time to do your exercise routine today? Okay, you took the stairs instead of the escalator, or walked the dog for an extra 10 minutes.
I’m going to resist the urge to quote a famous supermarket here, but every small step is just as significant as each giant leap in taking you closer to your dreams. Even the Great Wall of China is made up of individual bricks.
No one knows what 2021 holds, but I wish you all the very best of luck. If you’re just starting out in a new business, dream big but don’t forget to cut yourself some slack every now and then!