Most of us won’t be sorry to see 2020 come to an end. Today being December 31, we don’t have long to wait.
The psychological impact of switching to a new calendar aside, there will be no discernible difference between today and tomorrow, our arrival in 2021 not bringing any immediate changes. That’s not to downplay the mental shift that comes every year at this time, especially given the prospect of putting behind us the coronavirus pandemic that made 2020 a year worth forgetting.
January 1 won’t bring an immediate end to our woes, but the rollout of vaccines makes it likely we may be back to something resembling a normal life before 2021 itself comes to an end. That offers us hope and the chance at some closure on 2020.
Just as the pandemic dominated everything about this year, the hoped-for end of it is the story of 2021. Rushing out to be vaccinated may not be a resolution we can control – the timing will depend on manufacturing, distribution and allocation depending on risk factors, for instance – but there are undoubtedly a few things most of us would like to work on: our sedentary lifestyles – imposed or otherwise – and predilections for too much food and drink this year, for instance.
The coming of a new year is seen as a fresh start and a time for deciding what needs to be changed and where to go next. It’s for these reasons that so many people make new year’s resolutions to accomplish things such as to exercise more, quit smoking, pay off debt, save more money, complete projects, get organized, further education, lose weight, and the like.
Perhaps there’s an endless optimism that we can change, that we can be better – which, of course, recognizes that we all have something in our lives that we wish to alter. Psychologists tell us this is normal human behaviour, adding that the tough part is actually following through on the impulse for self-improvement. In other words, fantasizing about a better you, about an idealized version of you – most of us can actually picture ourselves that way – will remain just that: a fantasy. Unless, that is, we are willing to work hard to make the dream a reality.
It may be different in 2021, of course, as we’re champing at the bit to do at least a little bit more than has been the norm this year. Again, that will have to wait beyond January, and beyond the usual timeframe in which our resolutions falter and then fall away, typically within days or weeks of the New Year’s arrival.
Right off the hop, we’re in the midst of a month-long province-wide lockdown that’s less than a week old: there’ll be no running off to the gym at this point (and no guilt for not returning after the first day or two). That doesn’t prevent us, however, from getting out for a walk, or walking away from the television or dinner table.
More to the point, we’ll all have to resolve to stay the course. As the lockdown indicates, too many of us were failing to follow the guidelines – especially those about social distancing and staying home – such that there was a big jump in the number of COVID-19 cases. The announcement that vaccines have been approved and are starting to roll out does nothing to change the situation in the short- and medium-term: only by continuing to take precautions can we hope to reverse the upward trend and ensure more of us are around to enjoy the planned-for return to normalcy when the supply of vaccine greatly expands.
While the first shots were given in the region last week, supplies are limited. Initial doses are being prioritized for healthcare workers and others on the front lines, as well as to the most vulnerable, including people over the age of 80.
Of course, the efficacy of the vaccine is predicated on most of us actually getting vaccinated, which should be the number-one resolution on everyone’s list.