Finish 2020 as you would like to start 2021

The year has been tumultuous, filled with challenges, changes and disappointments. However, the countdown to the end is of 2020 and the start of 2021 – a new beginning – is in sight. There is a choice to be made: succumb or stand up and finish strong.

“It is the goal of any athlete to finish a race strong. We are at the end of a very tough race, how would you like to finish it?” asks psychologist Ilse de Beer.

For many people, 2020 has been fraught with hardship. Social isolation, job insecurity, loss of financial stability and the tragic loss of life has characterised the year for a lot of people.

Without detracting from the challenges and the personal or professional losses that many have faced, de Beer says it is possible, with an accepting, strong and positive mindset, to move from a sense of hopelessness to a place of appreciation and hope.

“It is time to choose between focusing on how 2020 has wronged us or acknowledging the journey and what we have learnt from it. If this year has taught us anything, it is resilience. We can all tap ourselves on the shoulder and say ‘well done, you have made it’. Stop looking back. Instead look forward. You can finish mentally strong,” she says.

People are constantly looking outside, for someone or something else to support their well-being, all the while forgetting their tremendous internal resource, their mindset. But being positive is easier said than done. A positive mindset, resilience and mental toughness take practise – every day.

Citing from Peter Clough and Dough Strycharczyk’s book Developing Mental Toughness, de Beer says there are five techniques for developing mental toughness:

Positive thinking – Strive to nurture optimism every day by focusing on the good and what you can control while stopping negative energy and thoughts.

Anxiety control – Recognise and acknowledge when you are anxious but don’t allow it to overwhelm you. Take time out, talk to someone, practise relaxation techniques and incorporate exercise to relieve stress and anxiety.

Visualisation – Focus on what you have and what you would like to have or achieve rather than focusing on what you have lost.

Goal setting – Set attainable goals that you would like to achieve at home and at work. Write them down and work towards them. This brings a sense of purpose during the process as well as accomplishment as you begin to achieve them.

Attentional control – Choose carefully what you devote your energy and attention to. Once again focus on what you can control and on the positive aspects in your life. If that means staying off social media or not watching the news over the holidays, do it.