The new year crept in quietly this year. In previous years, after ten solid minutes of fireworks noise, I would mutter at my neighbors to knock it off. But this time, only a few halfhearted crackles alerted me to the calendar change.

For many of us, our 2021 resolutions are just as timid. 2020 was a year of survival, and the rules keep changing as we go. Any plans we make today may be null and void tomorrow. We are tired from it all, so why add more expectations to ourselves?

That is a great question. In general, we make resolutions to become the person we want to be: healthier, happier and more successful. These dreams do not disappear just because the world at large is in upheaval. If anything, they have become more important than ever to us, because we know how short and precious life really is.

My goal today is to help us accomplish more of our dreams with some laser-focused choices: what to get rid of, what to keep, and what to do. With a good plan, we will waste less energy on our journey to becoming healthier and happier.

To get there, let’s imagine a trash can, a treasure box, and a blank canvas.

First, we need to choose what to put in the trash can. Have we picked up any habits or behaviors in the past year that are unhealthy? Maybe during the first stay-at-home order, we starting overeating or drinking, and the pattern continues. Or we binge-watch television shows, losing irretrievable hours.

To identify the things we should leave behind, we can ask ourselves questions like “What do I do that is detrimental to my health?” or “What habit is preventing me from reaching my goals?” Only we know the answer. Once we identify it, let’s resolve to get rid of it. Put it in the trash can and leave it there.

Second, we should select only the best for the treasure box. During the pandemic, what positive habits have we added to our lives? Some of us spent more time outdoors. Personally, I rediscovered the joys of outdoor cycling. Maybe we reconnected with family through board games and Zoom calls. Or we are eating healthier meals by cooking at home.

To identify new things that we should keep, we can ask ourselves, “What have I added to my life that makes me happier and healthier?” Decide what is worth tucking in the treasure box, and make a conscious effort to use it often.

Third, we need something special for the blank canvas of 2021. Let’s visualize the picture of ourselves that we want to paint. What is the difference between that future portrait and the person we are today? A lower body weight? A new job skill? More energy? Take a mental snapshot of the healthier, happier you. What will you do to get there?

Sometimes we need help to trash the bad, keep the good, and pursue the dream. Consider joining me and other YMCA staff for the RESET challenge: a free, six-week activity program that will motivate us to realize our resolutions. The journey begins February 1, sign-ups are open now at ymcagm.org/RESET, and everything can be done virtually if you choose. Let’s become stronger, healthier, and happier, together!

By Chrissie Kaufmann, YMCA of Greater Michiana
Monday, January 11, 2021 - 1:13pm