During the first week of 2021, I’ve been setting intentions for 2021. I reflected on 2020 and evaluated all that happened in a memorable year.
I stopped making resolutions and setting rigid goals many years ago, but I like to start the year with some thoughts about how I want this next year of my life’s journey to proceed.
To celebrate a new year, it’s a popular custom to choose a motto and word of the year. I like this practice. Last year, my WOTY was ‘determination’ and, it took much determination to face the uncertainty brought by the pandemic. For 2021, my motto is ‘hard things are hard’; my word of the year (WOTY) is acceptance.
Why chose ‘hard things are hard’?
This motto comes from a quote attributed to David Axelrod, former advisor to President Obama. I chose ‘hard things are hard’ to remind myself that retirement is no cakewalk, especially during a pandemic.
For too many months of 2020, I struggled with surviving the pandemic. I patted myself on the back just for getting through a day with some small accomplishment. I abandoned pursuits that took effort.
Getting through 2021 until it’s my turn to receive a COVID vaccine, which could be months from now, won’t be easy. And, after receiving a vaccine, adherence to public health guidelines will be required until some level of herd immunity is proclaimed by Public Health Canada.
Meanwhile, I plan to challenge myself to tackle more difficult projects such as learning Gutenberg to help with my blog. I’ll also challenge myself to use my camera more often and to sort the mishmash of digital photos on my computers.
Word of the Year for 2021 — Acceptance
After rejecting several ideas for a word of the year (WOTY), I decided that acceptance would help me to undertake and receive what life offers. I wanted to use radical acceptance but the addition of the adjective would count as two words. I like the concept of radical acceptance as it seems more action-oriented but I’ll shorten it to acceptance.
In early December, I listened to a CBC radio journalist who advocated the use of radical acceptance as a positive mental health technique. The journalist argued that fighting the reality of what’s happening with pandemic restrictions or, any challenging life circumstance, can lead to bitterness and resentment.
When I looked into the meaning of radical acceptance I learned that it is based on a type of mental health treatment, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, that is based on the concepts of acceptance and change.
These ideas are similar to Buddhist concepts of accepting yourself and what happens rather than getting attached to ideas of how things should be. When we don’t accept what’s going on around us, we create suffering for ourselves. There’s no point in holding tightly to fixed beliefs especially in situations that are beyond our control.
Because so much of what happens in life is beyond my control, I’ll strive to accept what I can’t control and work to change a few small things. Instead of fighting to re-create what I knew as ‘normal’ in the past, I’ll seize this opportunity for radical acceptance of what’s happening around me.
The addition of radical as a modifying adjective represents complete and absolute acceptance — no bargaining, no negotiating, no re-framing. I’ll try to do this in a good-natured, warm, and caring manner.
Change is the second aspect of radical acceptance. It’s benign to simply accept what’s happening without trying to make changes for things you can control. Change is sometimes defined as a variation to the usual way of doing things.
Change is one of the only constants in life. It may come from technology, from economics, from public policy. It may happen gradually or drastically as a result of an earthquake, a severe storm, or, as we’ve recently experienced, a pandemic.
My WOTY, acceptance, and my motto, ‘hard things are hard’ come together when dealing with change. It’s my intention in 2021 to accept what’s happening around me, to do what I can to make changes, and to understand that doing so won’t be easy.