I want to start this post as I mean to go on – with positivity and love – so first of all I’d like to congratulate you! Yes, you!
2020 was a year which tested us all in ways we could never have imagined. Whether you found yourself suddenly isolated, or spending a bit too much time with others. Whether you had to convert what used to be your relaxation space to the space where you lived in your stress, or had to risk illness to ensure you still got paid. Whether work intensified and you had to increase your productivity by 1000% or you found yourself languishing without work. I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that you made it through and I’m impressed that you’re continuing to hold it down, although 2021 hasn’t necessarily started the way we all hoped. However we’re starting this year better armed with knowledge that we lacked at the beginning of 2020 so in one sense we’re already winning. And as the saying goes ‘things can only get better’.
When one year ends and a new year begins it’s customary to set goals. To think about what we want the following year to bring us and how to achieve it. Similarly to when a relationship ends, we often need closure to be able to let go or risk bringing baggage we’ve collected with us into a new relationship. I’m a huge believer that we should also seek closure for our previous year by taking time to be still and reflect in order to let go of the negativity so that we can embrace this year with all the optimism we can muster.
Although I would recommend not limiting your self-reflection solely to the transition period from one year to the next, it’s also the perfect time to pause, take a breath and think about where you are and where you want to be especially when it comes to dating and relationships.
There are a few ways to practice self-reflection; whether you reflect by talking your feelings through with someone else, thinking while exercising, or using the moments of stillness found in meditation. For the past few years, I’ve spent some time journaling and it’s my preferred method for getting my jumbled thoughts out and giving my harried brain some much needed breathing space.
Although I know we were all glad to see the back of 2020 I am going to ask you to take some time to re-live some of the year.
So find somewhere quiet and comfortable, grab some paper and a pen, think about your dating life or your relationship in 2020 and answer the following questions as honestly as you can:
What am I feeling about my dating life/my relationship?
When I think about dating/my relationship what’s my inner dialogue?
When it comes to dating/my relationship what am I really scared of?
Am I holding onto something/someone I need to let go of?
What do I need to change about myself?
What about me changed over the last year?
Were there any significant developments in my dating life/relationship in 2020?
What positive habits did I adopt that I can carry forward throughout 2021?
What have I learned about myself and my approach to dating/my relationship?
How has being locked down impacted my dating life/relationship?
Did I make any positive decisions toward dating/my relationship during 2020?
How am I different to a year ago and what can/do I bring to a partnership?
What are the 5 things I’m most grateful for?
Think about the way answering those questions made you feel. Don’t worry if you weren’t able to answer all of them but of those you answered were you able to be completely honest? Was there anything that surprised you?
Now that you’ve answered those questions use what you’ve identified to help you to set some dating/relationship goals for 2021.
You may want to set some goals to spend more quality time with your significant other. Maybe you want to set intentions to date more meaningfully this year. Perhaps you want to focus on just having fun. It might be that you want to open yourself up to saying yes more or setting better boundaries by saying no. You might even want to take a step back from dating and concentrate on falling in love with yourself again.
Whatever your intentions one of the best ways that you can achieve these is by setting goals for yourself. We all know that new year goals can often fall flat after a very short period and one of the reasons for this is that we often set huge life changing goals that lead to us feeling a sense of overwhelm. The worst part of this is when we inevitably don’t make the huge shift we expected, we criticise ourselves.
So to avoid this I’d like to propose setting smaller more attainable goals. Perhaps break your goals down into monthly milestones or even choose something to focus on weekly then even if you miss one week, because life always gets in the way, you can refocus again the following week. I’d also like to suggest regularly setting aside time to pause and reflect on where you are and whether the goals you set are still what you want to focus on. As we change and grow setting further goals and keeping a note of them can really help you to see what you’ve achieved throughout the year when you look back over 2021.
As with most things goal setting can be an ongoing commitment, to work on you but the most important thing to remember is to be kind to yourself and remember it’s a marathon and not a sprint.