Just the title of this article may elicit emotion. The promise of slamming the door on this exhausting year may cause your soul to shout, “Heck yes! Let’s say goodbye to it!” Let’s tie cement shoes to the year 2020 and throw it off a pier. Let’s blow it up with TNT like a cartoon demolition and let the tiny 2020 pieces rain down upon us with our arms outstretched.
But the intense desire to move on and the skills to do so are two different things. To start fresh, you may need to do some emotional work first, in your head and in your heart, especially because December 31st and January 1st are likely to feel the same, with no dramatic reset between them. You’ll need to choose a purposeful way to turn the page.
If you’ve addressed the past with earnestness, you may have a touch more peace within your chest. Then you can gently say goodbye to 2020 and shift gently to 2021
In my earlier article we discussed the need for celebration now, but there’s also a need to honor the flip side of celebration: appropriate grieving. All we have missed or experienced in altered forms this year – graduations, funerals, weddings, and the life-giving force of interpersonal closeness – must be acknowledged and given space as important losses. Fully acknowledging and grieving loss helps us move on.
Step 1: Accept Yourself
Whatever amount of warmth you’ve given yourself in the past year for your human messiness, it’s definitely not enough – for snapping at your kids, for not feeling like working out, for the general sense of blah you can’t figure out or fix. Pour on acceptance.
Step 2: Say Goodbye
Then, having been self-loving first, proceed to crack open the door and take a hard look at what happened by asking yourself a few big questions. My preferred method is to write with a pen and paper, noting the question at the top and then letting myself respond. If processing on paper is not your style, you can go for a walk and answer these questions out loud or even just in your head. Use these prompts or substitute others:
- What was just awful that deserves to be formally acknowledged?
- What were the bright moments that perhaps surprised you?
- What did you manage well?
Step 3: Say Hello
If you’ve addressed the past with earnestness, you may have a touch more peace within your chest. Then you can gently say goodbye to 2020 and shift gently to 2021, thinking ahead to what may come. Let yourself hope for whatever feels safe to you. For instance, my husband protects his heart with realism, which often seems like pessimism to me. I protect my heart with optimism, even if it’s occasionally a bit baseless. Neither is correct. So, in whatever manner of hoping works for you, journal, speak about, or ponder another set of questions:
- What would be a positive but plausible expectation for this year?
- What goals may you have to adjust or surrender?
- What would it look like to bring your best self to 2021?
Step 4: Be of Service
In planning any year, adding a service element guarantees that no matter what happens next, you will have positive experiences. Service gives you control because, regardless of the ambiguity around you, service provides a guaranteed path to feel proud, cheerful, and connected. It’s time to click 'Donate now' if you have the means. Go check on the neighbors you helped in the summer but who may have slipped out of mind. If you have love to spare, talk a little longer to a lonely relative – for them and for you.
Ready to say goodbye to 2020?
You deserve to leave this year with a line in the sand behind you. And you deserve to believe that at some point soon, we will be unburdened, safer, and closer to one another than we are now. I wish you closure looking back, and I wish you optimism looking forward. And I’ll be joining you in every step of this process as together we turn this page.