You've probably seen the meme: "2022 — It's pronounced 2020, too." There are moments when it does feel like we can't quite escape the grind of uncertainty, fear, and frustration that began two years ago and haven't left us yet. Plans-made and plans-canceled, long-awaited social engagements followed by more shutdowns. 2021 was better, but the future still feels blurry.
It might be tempting to look for someone with a crystal ball to tell you what 2022 has in store for you. That power of prediction doesn't exist. What if I told you, instead, that when you feel like life is repeating itself, you can follow a methodical process to decide for yourself what your 2022 will hold?
Don't worry, I'm not about to start talking about manifestation and the secret. Instead, in true BetterUp form, this article is going to outline the science-backed methods that you can employ to zone in on the aspects of 2022 that are within your control and set a vision for the months ahead. Take a deep breath, and get ready to decide for yourself how you're going to approach this year, whatever it may hold.
First, in order to get a clear picture of what 2022 might look like, you need to start with an honest reflection on the year past. 2021 no doubt had travails but also triumphs. The new world of working and living at a distance has been challenging at times. It has also provided an opportunity to slow down and work to understand ourselves better.
How to have a productive 2021 reflection
As I've learned from working with my coaches, reflection is one of the most powerful tools for learning and moving forward. Reflection doesn't mean dwelling on mistakes or getting nostalgic about happy memories. Reflection is a set period of time we give ourselves to consider our experiences, the actions we took, the results, what we learned, and what we will do differently as a result.
- Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are some desirable changes you’ve seen in your life during this past year?
- What have you learned about yourself?
- What strengths did you leverage in order to navigate challenges this year?
- What would you like to do differently in 2022? What would taking an active role to bring about that change look like?
- Identify what you want to take with you from this year into next. In your eagerness to move on from the past year, don't miss the chance to reflect on the strengths you gained and practiced to remain resilient through challenges. Great change brings the opportunity for growth.
Set a vision for 2022
After reflecting on 2021, it is time to move forward into creating your vision for 2022. This is where we leverage research to give us an evidence-backed path to make our 2022 vision a reality.
I'm sure you have heard of the ever-popular vision board exercise. Let’s dive into how to make your vision board work for you all year long.
Step 1 - Envision your best self. It is important to first take a moment to get a clear picture of what you want in 2022. At your best, what does 2022 hold for you? How do you want to feel? What long-term goals do you hope to accomplish? What emotions do you hope to cultivate for yourself or the people around you? For more guidance, check out this quick activity from BetterUp Labs.
Step 2 - Create your vision board. Your vision board serves as a physical reminder of your goals. BetterUp’s Shonna Waters, PhD, shares that mental practices like visualization can increase motivation, confidence, and even motor performance. Furthermore, researchers found that, in athletes, visualization was almost as effective as physical practice. Choose photos and words that will help you visualize the long-term goals or habits you hope to achieve and the emotions you associate with them.
Step 3 - Make a plan. Research shows that we need both long and short-term goals in order to sustain a New Years’ resolution or vision past the famous January 19th New Year's resolution "quitters" day. Break down your long-term goals into short-term goals and celebrate each milestone to help keep you motivated. A couple of science-backed ways to support your success is to bundle a task you love with a task that you would typically avoid, like going for a run to your favorite coffee shop, also, choosing an accountability partner, like a friend or a coach to support you!
Step 4 - Understand your obstacles. Break down what’s needed to turn your vision into reality. For each goal, think about the obstacles that you’ll have to overcome, how you’ll do it, and how it will feel once you do. Find visuals that can serve as reminders of the strengths that got you through 2021. Was it friends or family that helped get you through it? Perhaps include a photo that reminds you of what keeps you moving forward when challenges arise.
Step 5 - Practice self-compassion. Progress isn’t linear. If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that we may encounter setbacks. It is important to manage your self-talk when challenges arise in a way that will help you stay motivated to move forward. BetterUp Labs’ research on resilience found that a key ingredient for staying resilient through adversity is self-compassion. Write down 2-3 phrases that you want to tell yourself when you don't live up to your own expectations. Think about what you might tell a friend, such as: “Mistakes are part of the journey,” or "It's okay to be afraid," or “You're trying and you'll do better tomorrow.”
Move forward with clarity, hope, and optimism
Although I may not have been able to give you a crystal ball, this exercise should have given you a clearer vision for how you want this year to go. I hope this quick exercise helps you feel empowered by your learnings and achievements from 2021 and confidence that you have a plan to make that vision a reality!
Have a wonderful New Year and remember, we are all in this together.
Content Marketing Manager, ACC