2021: time for change?

This year was an incendiary for many to ponder their future, take stock, and plan ahead.

As yet another year draws to a close, the pressure to better ourselves begins anew. Improving overall health, learning new skills, and quitting bad habits represent some of the ways people hope to change at the start of every year.

The obsession with setting New Year’s resolutions is, at the end of the day, natural; humanity’s survival depends on constant improvement. But the trouble lies when we constantly obsess over materialistic, wishy-washy goals as a way of gaining approval from our peers. Of course, media outlets fuel this obsession accordingly. Every year, we are bombarded with countless articles on New Year’s resolution ideas and how to make them stick long-term.

But there is yet another factor that makes New Year’s resolutions so intoxicating: the hope that the future is always brighter. Although almost 80 per cent of resolution-ers fail to achieve their goals by the second week of February, it is this undying hope that contributes to the myth-making of the future. After all, the past is a foreign country, but so is the future. And we certainly hope we will do things differently there.

But after a year that has – at best – been unpredictable, how do we look to the future with renowned hope? Will the ritualistic goal-setting on New Year’s Eve survive this year?

A survey conducted by OnePoll for Affirm suggests otherwise. In fact, 55 per cent of respondents will toss aside their traditional New Year’s resolutions after the stress of 2020. Instead, people will be more focused on setting practical goals.

New Years resolutions…almost 80 per cent of resolution-ers fail to achieve their goals by the second week of February

Forty-three per cent of those interviewed claim they learned to be more intentional about their purchases, while 63 per cent believe their personal finances will be better off in 2021 than they were at the end of 2020. It is no surprise that people will be more careful when managing their finances after such a devastating year, claims Silvija Martincevic, Chief Commercial Officer at Affirm. “We expect to see much more intentional spending in 2021 as people attempt to make up for what they missed out on this year”, she says.

It is also worth noting the social aspect of New Year’s resolutions. While in the past, wish-making was as much about personal gain as it was about the social pressure to improve, this year will be different.

In the UK, winter holidays were cancelled a mere few days after the British Prime Minister ridiculed the idea of hindering Christmas arrangements, and in many countries around the world, festive celebrations are similarly impeded by tough restrictions. Since many will celebrate New Years’ Eve at home, away from their friends and extended family, the pressure to conform to this habit might be a thing of the past.

Whether we ultimately change our habit of setting New Year’s resolutions – or forgo the tradition altogether – remains to be seen. But before we can begin to wonder about the future, we can all use the last days of December to take stock of 2020 and feel grateful for what we already have.

MACKAYAN: 2021: Time for Change?

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