Put on your 2020 Vision

By Sheri McGregor, M.A.

2020 vision
Image by Taweesak Chansawatwirot from Pixabay

The New Year excites me. Everything is possible. There’s a fresh clean slate—and what you put on it is up to you!  

If you read that with a frown, turn it upside down. Seriously. Studies show that just going through the motions of smiling makes you feel better. That’s because it causes a whole slurry of chemicals in the brain and body to fight stress and depression. Things really are brighter when you smile, so even if doesn’t feel right, or you think you have nothing to look forward to, will you give it a try? (1, 2) 

The truth is, you can start over any time, and on the precipice of new calendar year, the time is particularly right. Everybody’s with you, too, so it’s like the whole world is united on a theme. This New Year is also the start of a new decade, so all the more reason to feel excited. Are you smiling yet?   

Fresh. New. Start 

Say those words aloud. Two are descriptive of what a beginning is all about. The third one is a verb: Start. That means action.  

It’s said that hindsight is 20-20, so start by reflecting on 2019.  Then use what you see and feel to make changes to support yourself (emotionally, physically, within your family and community, your spiritual self, your relationships, your finances. . . .). No need to make a list right now. Just get out a piece of paper and answer a few questions. Ask yourself: 

  • If I had to choose a few words to describe 2019, what would those words be? 

Write the words, and then jot down a few notes about the year. It’s best to use months or seasons as headings to jar your memory and organize your notes. For each time period, answer: 

  • What came out of nowhere, was hurtful, or shocking?  
  • Is there a particular person or situation that hurt or upset me?  
  • What were the results of those struggles? 
  • What made me happy?  
  • What did I complete, personally or professionally, that made a difference, made me feel proud or accomplished?    
  • How did those “wins” affect me and my life? 

Reflect on the last year. Write down your thoughts. Focus on your feelings, too.  

As you reflect, notice how the struggles make you feel now. Do your shoulders tense? Does your neck hurt? Do you feel your chest tightening? Good news! Those things happened last year, but they don’t have to repeat. Shake out your shoulders. Take a long, deep breath, and then blow it out forcefully so your lips vibrate. Make a noise as you do—it feels good! 

Now move on to the good things. Really savor the joy you felt over things that made you happy. Relive the satisfaction and fulfillment of your accomplishments. Noticing these things and savoring them is beneficial (endnote).  

Don’t compare your wins to someone else’s or minimize your successes. Depending on the challenges you face, even proper dental hygiene can feel oppressive. For someone who has been ill, depressed, or knocked sideways by someone’s hurtful behavior or game-playing, taking a walk to the corner, repotting a houseplant, cooking a meal at home, or taking a pet for its shots can be huge. Give yourself a pat on the back for any progress. As I’ve said repeatedly, even the tiniest step in the right direction is advancing and can build momentum.  

Now, let’s look forward. Ask yourself: 

  • What would I like to do differently or feel better about in the New Year? (Come up with specific items.) 
  • What have I been worried about that I know I can’t control? 
  • Is there anything that needs me to let it go? 
  • How would I like to be?  

You may want to respond differently to ongoing situations, learn to put yourself first, or tackle some big projects you’ve been putting off. My advice is to sit with your thoughts, dreams, and goals, reflect upon what’s stopping or holding you back, and then devise ways to move forward. These can be small plans. In fact, those are often best.  

If you want to exercise more, start with something doable and build on it over time. If you are always last on your own list, commit to one morning when you’re not available to others—and then turn off your telephone. If a big project is begging for completion, an action a day adds up to 365 actions by the end of the year. My guess is that you won’t last that long. Often, one small action leads to another. When you start to see daylight, you’ll devote more time—because you’ll want to mark it “Done!” 

Look again at that last question: How do you want to be? Use it to come up with a few words you’d like to use as themes for 2020. One year, I decided “kind” was my theme word. Among other things, for me, that meant sharing my thoughts. Telling a friend that I like her handwriting or how she has a knack for small talk. Things like that.  

During the quiet time between Christmas and the New Year, I’m going to reflect at length about this and come up with some plans. Won’t you join me? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

More New Year reading:  New Year Resolution

A note to the parents of estranged adults: 

For those who find themselves facing estrangement from adult children, you’ll find an exercise in my book, Done With The Crying, and in the WORKBOOK, that helps you to “Take Stock,” examine your life, and come up with small goals to begin making changes in specific areas you choose for positive impact. In my work as a Life Coach with all sorts of people, a version of that exercise often forms the basis of new beginnings and fresh starts—like those we can do in the New Year. In the books, the exercise focuses specifically on the situation of an adult child’s estrangement.  You’ll find more help specific to familial estrangement at my site: Help and Healing for Parents of Estranged Adult Children.

References:

  1. Seaward BL. Managing Stress: Principles And Strategies For Health And Well-Being. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett; 2009:258.
  2. R.D. (2000). Neural correlates of conscious emotional experience. In R.D. Lane & L. Nadel (Eds.), Cognitive Neuroscience of Emotion (Series in Affective Science) (pp. 345–370). New York: Oxford University Press. 

9 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Another Christmas has gone by and I have not seen my son in over 3 years. His Birthday is Dec. 24th, he is now 37 years old. There is a hole in my heart during the Christmas season. I feel broken today. I am from a large family, 5 siblings. No one ask about Wes or says anything to us about him during the holiday. That is also painful. Grayson my other son and his wife and I try to get thur the Christmas events. We do text him, and sometimes he responds and other times we do not hear from him at all. I wished him a Happy Birthday, I wished him a Merry Christmas and ask him for his address. I told him I would like to send something to him. He responded with an address, I was shocked, he knows in the past we give money to our kids at Christmas. I am not sure about sending money, need advise. David, my husband and I have 5 children between us. I don’t think he understands what I am going thur. He has 3 adult daughters. and I have 2 adults sons. I am trying to move forward and have a more peaceful 2020. I enjoy the articles and I have read your book. It has been a comfort to me to know other parents are in the same or similar boat as me.
    Blessings for those of us that are trying to deal with our broken hearts .

    1. I would not send money. Please, don’t let him use you and continue to control you. The best thing you can do for him and for yourself, as well as the rest of the family, is work on being strong enough to let go of him, take care of you, and concentrate on the rest of your family who are there for you. Be there for them. Maybe, just maybe, he will respect you more for being strong, for no longer looking to him for your happiness. Love yourself enough to set him free. Been there. Done that. FREEDOM!!

    2. I did my time in taking of my children. Now my two oldest daughters for 14 years since they were 12 and 15 do not include me in their lives. Once in a full bloom, there is a get together and everyone is there such as my father’s funeral services. They do not acknowledged me and not a “Hi.” My oldest daughter that was 29 at the time told my two youngest not to sit by me, but they did. My two oldest daughters sat at two other tables. They assaulted me verbally and physically in the past. Lies were spread about me like that she told everyone that she invited me to my son’s High School Graduation this year. She has not given me any information until pictures were posted the day after the Graduation. and it was very small gathering.

      I used to be hurt with rejection by them. For the past 4 years, I am doing me for my health, safety and peace. I have accomplished so much and planning my life to the fullest. All four children are adults and living their lives. I will be used as a punching bag, put in the middle or pulled from different directions, fall for the trap admitting to something I did not do and for their personal gain. I made tough choices by living my life because there are so much to enjoy life, accomplishments, and surround by positive, enthusiastic company. I am here for a purpose and will be appreciated by my friends within the church, Singles group, Volunteer organizations, work, and anything in that nature. You owe it to yourself! Stop waiting … Stop wandering … Stop trying to make things happen when not everyone want to reunite together. Instead it is better to be distant, have a peace of mind, and no bickering of any kinds. Free of B.S. or chaos, and not live in the past … live now and move forward with greater things for your life. Do not rob yourself of happiness.mDo things you love.. hobbies, Meetups in the neighborhood, get involve with a church that is decent, volunteer, walks, watch movies, read, traveling, and the list goes on.

  2. I hesitate to leave a comment since I left a comment on another post and it was about my struggling to deal with the emotional state that estrangement has left me in, and the post subsequently has only received a minimal response. However, I note with interest that there are more than 97 comments on the subject of getting through the Christmas season (the man floating his way to work). This suggests to me that coming up with bright ideas for the future (and funnily enough I am rather excited, in a lonesome kind of way, about 2020), is something of a hurdle, a complexity, something that is confounding. Estrangement is, however, a pain that keeps on giving. I have personally passed another Christmas with no communication from my two estranged children. I think I will take one person’s advice (or decision) to start and end conversation about my children with saying just that, ‘my estranged children’. This Christmas, neither of my sisters have made mention of my children either, and that hurts, knowing that one of them has visited my son recently without wanting to tell me. The other sister doesn’t want to get involved. It all hurts. However, 2020 has too many ‘coincidences’ for me not to take note off. My son is 40 in 2020. A good friend who has supported me over the many years of this estrangement is dying of terminal cancer, and is not there any more to turn to. I need therefore to grow up. One of the reasons I find it difficult to read Sheri’s book is because it’s an acknowledgement that I have to ‘work hard’, as another contributor put it, to go on a different road than my sisters, friends or any other person I know is on, other than the people in this forum/rejectedparents.com. It has been useful to read about estrangement from the other side, and it’s obvious that the situation is at a stalemate. Positions have hardened. But that’s not what I want. I do not want to harden my heart, but at the same time I’m done in. “My wife’s a mess” – I loved that phrase from one husband. I’ve taken a month off work after losing it. So, I have to look at what I want to achieve in 2020, and not keep harping on about what I’ve lost in the decade and decades now past. That’s some fing challenge, but I’m up for it.

    1. Oh, do get the book, “Done With the Crying.” It’s excellent! I read the whole book and now keep referring back to it when I feel down. It gives some wonderful ways to focus on oneself and get a life back. And to create a new one, with new, positive attitudes. In 2020, I’m getting the workbook that goes along with the book. This book has been my lifesaver. Happy New Year! May 2020 be a much better one for you and all of us estranged parents.

  3. I wrote down all the questions and suggestions above in my journal. I’m starting out by writing my highlights of 2019. I will then write what I hope to see and achieve in 2020 and in the new decade ahead. I really need to make some good, healthy changes in my life. I am still way too affected by my estranged daughter and her family. Two of my grandkids are now in their 20’s and one is a freshman in high school. They could be contacting me, on their own. I feel my daughter somehow controls them for they stopped emailing me. My daughter only emails me, no phone calls except at Christmas. Then the whole family talks to me on speaker phone. I get so depressed after these yearly phone calls. I’m afraid the older grandkids will soon get engaged and married and I won’t even be invited to their weddings! But who knows what the future holds. Time to stop obsessing over them and trying to figure things out. I may never know what has happened that we have gotten to this point. I wish all of you a Happy New Year and may you live in peace and good health!

  4. Well, happy New Year to everyone! Hope it is also a successful and healthy one.
    I was watching a new year show on TV last night when I thought ‘ I can’t let a new year come in without at least wishing her a happy one.
    So I texted a goodwill to her and…my daughter replied! Just with a cursory ‘ happy New Year’ and nothing else, but it’s a result, so I didn’t push it further. Small steps? I hope so, but I’m not holding my breath.

  5. My daughter told me once that she doesn’t like people. She likes only animals like her dogs. She has six. She left and moved to another state. So I thought well “2 can play at that game. ” I have a cat. So I shower all my affection on her. Also I have a few stray cats that hang around because I feed them. Then I have my hummingbirds. They always put on a show for me. So If my daughter can put me out of her life, it works both ways. I’m perfectly happy with my Furry friends. I don’t even miss her.

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