New Year Changes: 4 Things to Say Goodbye to in 2020

Leave that ish in 2020.

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New year changes: 4 things to say goodbye to in the new year

I know I’m starting a little early this year, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the year ahead.

This is in part because 2021 has been a long time coming, and since if you ask me, 2020 basically didn’t count as a year, I like to consider 2021 the unofficial start of the new decade. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

When the last decade started, I was a senior in high school, looking towards the future. I wish I had written down my aspirations for the decade, but I’m not entirely sure that I would have met them even if I did. The last ten years has spanned my late teens and the bulk of my 20s, a time that I’ve realized shouldn’t necessarily be about concrete, specific goals, but about exploration, personal growth, reflection, and curating the life you want to have.

{RELATED POST: The Best Self Help Books to Read in the New Year}

If you’re like me (a Capricorn, hi), you might be thinking about the definitive things you want to accomplish by 2030 (again, not a real year??). But if you’re still in college, I’d like to urge you to think rather about the things you can grow in yourself during this time; think about the things you’d like to live your life without, and work on shedding those habits in the years to come.

Here are the new year changes you should focus on making in 2021, with emphasis on letting certain things stay in the past.

New Year Changes: Let Go of Your Destructive Habits

A bad habit isn’t going to ruin your life, but a destructive habit might.

Binge-drinking to avoid any difficult feelings, yeeting yourself out of productive relationships for fear of intimacy, not taking care of your mental health – these are all patterns that can appear in your 20s, and if you don’t recognize them and root them out, they could sidetrack your life, damage your health, and isolate you from the ones you love.

Make no mistake – walking the wire is part of the exploration that comes with this age, but check in with yourself, too. What are you gaining from these habits, and what are you losing? Are you doing this to cope because it works best, or is it because it’s the only thing you know how to do?

If you’ve developed a really scary habit, now is the time to start curating and implementing strategies to unlearn it.

This is where I truly believe therapy can benefit anyone, whether they have a mental illness or not. A therapist can help you recognize destructive behavior and give you tools to replace the behavior with; they can also help you practice implementing those tools.

(By the way, simply starting therapy can be a new year change to implement!)

Say Goodbye to Toxic Relationships

Much like destructive habits, toxic relationships quickly degrade the quality of your life and make you feel lost and directionless.

People who make you feel bad more than you feel good, who don’t support you or actively try to bring you down, people who try to isolate you from the ones you love – those are the kind of people you want to root out, and root out fast.

This isn’t always easy.

Yes, it’s only a click of a button to block a drama-starter on twitter. But what if the toxic person is your partner, your sibling, your boss? Your parents? These relationships are much more difficult to distance yourself from, especially if they leave you more isolated at the outset.

Again, a therapist can be extremely helpful in these situations. They can help you recognize how toxic relationships are affecting you and helping you create a plan to address them.

Release Your Shame

I’ll let you in on a little secret – I have spent most of my life being ashamed.

Like most kids who loved to read, my peers teased me for being a bookworm and nerdy. As a teenager, I was made fun of for my body; I grew up in a household where we engaged in diet culture.

By the time I was an adult, I learned to hide behind a practiced veneer of detachment, with a healthy dose of pretentiousness. I judged people who unabashedly loved the things they loved, were who they are with pretense. I judged them because I thought I couldn’t be like them.

Turns out, life is much easier when you stop caring what other people think and let your freak flag fly.

In the last year, I’ve reconnected to things I loved as a child – writing novels, making music, drawing. I started sharing those things with people, whether with friends or on the internet, because I’m tired of being afraid of what people will think when I express myself earnestly.

We say shameless like it’s a bad thing, something that’s not desirable. But a person who is shameless is a person who doesn’t feel limited by the beliefs of others, or that society has projected on them.

Sitting with your shame and understanding where it comes from is important, but it’s important to release it, too. This is one of the most important new year changes you can make.

Don’t Let Fear Control You

Like shame, fear is a valuable emotion – when it’s warning us of immediately dangerous circumstances, or the potential for danger. But much of the fear that we experience isn’t fear of our safety, but the fear of judgment.

This makes sense. We’re social creatures; we want acceptance from our peers, we want to be part of a community, and we fear being ostracized.

In truth, shame and fear are intertwined. We fear isolation, and we feel ashamed by the things that threaten our place in a social community, so we practice those things in secret, and let them fester deep in our psyches.

I’m writing here to advise you to let go of your fear; but I’m not entirely sure that you’ll ever be able to truly, truly let it go. You can, however, let go of the control it has over your life.

Are you afraid to write poetry because someone once told you it’s lame? Let go of that fear, and write your damn poems. Did someone once shame you for being interested in geology because it was lame? Screw ’em, get your PhD. Someone says astrology is bogus? They’re probably a Capricorn, and tell them to kick rocks and not to yuck up your yum.

Even you’re afraid about taking the next step in your life – moving in with the love of your life, changing your career, going back to school, hell, starting a family – fear can freeze us in our lives just as it can freeze us in place.

So remember, you can’t start a fire while you’re worrying about your little world falling apart. Take the leap, even if you’re afraid. Make some new year changes and see what happens. You won’t regret it.

What do you think of these new year changes?

What do you want to let go of in 2021? Let me know in the comments below!

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