As the calendar page turns to 2021, I encourage you to set intentions for the new year by beginning with the end in mind. This concept was popularized in Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, and I have used it in my personal life and in working with parents. I have heard so many adults and teens lament the losses, disappointments, and challenges experienced in 2020 with sentiments like, “I can’t wait for this year to end!” I’d love for us all to move on from the negativity of the past year.
2020 Challenges due to the pandemic
One of the biggest challenges we faced in 2020 was the loss of our pictures of how we thought the year would and should look. I especially feel for the kids who started middle school, high school, and college this past fall. Adolescents have often dreamt throughout middle school about this incredible experienced called high school, with hopes of their academic and social lives improving. The same goes for 18-year-olds embarking on the adventure called college. Unfortunately, the pictures in their head ended up not matching the reality created by the pandemic. We all experienced a sense of uncertainty and a loss of control which made it hard to create a new, satisfying picture.
Set intentions for 2021
But instead of dwelling on the past, I’d rather we all start looking forward to the new year and what we would like for it to look like. Take a few moments to get quiet, close your eyes, and visualize your intentions for 2021. Imagine that it is December 31st, 2021 and you are looking back at the year. How do you want it to look? What do you want to accomplish? What are your aspirations academically, socially, or with your job? Imagine your relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. Think about any new interests or hobbies you’d like to have pursued. How would you like to have spent your free time?
Set intentions for how you spend your time
For example, adult Americans now spend on average three hours and 30 minutes a day using the mobile internet, with close to two and a half hours on social media. Teens spend even more, around seven and a half hours per day of entertainment screen media. So, adults are spending about 10,000 hours a year on social media. That’s a big chunk of time on something that is pretty unfruitful. You could read a lot of books and educate yourself on an important issue. You could learn how to play guitar for a hobby that was relaxing and something to share with others. People could spend that time hiking outdoors, painting, gardening, playing board games with their kids, or having face-to-face conversations with friends. Oh, the places you could go.
Begin with the end in mind
Instead of focusing on what you couldn’t do last year, refocus on what you want and can do in 2021. It truly helps to take the time up front to begin with the end in mind. Your intentions and vision will then guide your choices that will allow your new picture to unfold.
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