There’s a back to school feel today, even though we’re returning to work under the same dreary Plan B guidelines as before. It’s a fresh start, a new year, a blank page at the start of the diary. So, the impulse is to get a grip on 2022, to make resolutions that mean this year will be way better than dismal 2021. But hold fire. It’s not the way to go.
It helps the perennial New Year optimism that experts are cautiously hopeful about the Omicron variant. They believe, with a wariness born of experience, that Covid is something we can start to live with. High levels of immunity, a breakneck speed vaccine roll-out and the development of new treatments add up to a guardedly positive outlook.
Surely, we should then march into 2022 with grandiose dreams of self-improvement, finally setting up that business and acquiring a set of abs. The pandemic held you back but now you can soar. The future is yours. Lean in, manifest, get ready to live your best life. For the first time in a long time we can (we hope) make plans, plot goals and set intentions. If there was any year to make a resolution, surely this is it, right?
Actually, nope. We are, despite the optimism, heading into our third year of this God-awful pandemic; we have been through two precious years of upheaval, anxiety (both the acute and lingering insidious kind) and draining existential panic. Some have dealt with loss of income and, worst of all, loss of loved ones; many have coped with isolation and loneliness.
Even those who say they’ve had a ‘good pandemic’ have had control of their lives usurped and some level of agency stripped away. None of us have emerged unscathed. We shouldn’t underestimate the toll that these years of uncertainty and the constant low-level hum of fear have taken.
In fact, you are a hero for making it to this point. If you managed to get out of bed most mornings, to throw on a pair of jogging bottoms and not spend the day wailing with despair, quite frankly, you’re a rockstar. And this is precisely the spirit in which I think we should enter 2022. This year, let’s call all — and any — small achievement a win.
Take today, the first day back at work and the very worst of days. If you have managed to wash your hair and log on successfully, honestly, you deserve a place on the New Year Honours List. If tomorrow you manage to wean yourself off the Christmas cheese board and get something resembling a vegetable past your lips, then Gwyneth Paltrow ought to be shaking in her Goop-shaped boots.
Let’s aim to acknowledge the little wins every day. Start slow, they all add up. If there is one positive the pandemic has bestowed upon us, it’s the realisation that nothing is certain and everything can change in an instant.
So this year, don’t plan, don’t look forward, just keep getting out of bed, washing your hair and eating your vegetables. Everything else will follow.