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The start of a new year is usually thrilling and exciting for most of us. Setting aside the over-done notions of ‘reinvention’ and ‘hitting restart’, the arrival of a new calendar year is a little bit magical. It offers a chance to reflect and reset, ready to try again – or keep going, as the case may be.
Except, perhaps, this year.
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a little apprehensive about what 2022 will present us with. Ordinarily, I’d be able to face uncertainty with the notion, ‘well, how much worse can it get?’, but let’s face it, after the past couple of years, it’s hard to hold onto the idea that things can only get better.
The pandemic is only one thing in a long line of global events and tragedies that have shaken our societies to their core. It’s left many feeling uncertain about what this year is going to throw at us – which is completely understandable, acceptable, and, most importantly, normal.
But just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy for us. I can easily sit here and accept that feeling this way is all okay, but I don’t want to. I want to feel excited about the future again — even if it’s something small like embracing the arrival of a new year.
So, how do we do this?
3 Ways to Feel Excited About the Future Again
It’s no surprise the past couple of years have pushed many to their limits for feeling excited. As humans, we’re driven towards achievement — whether in our work, relationships, or our social lives. Achievement doesn’t have to be about success and awards; it can simply be engaging in these activities in ways that motivate us and help us feel valued.
Natasha Tiwari is an award-winning Psychologist and the CEO of The Veda Group, a consultancy that helps individuals navigate change and challenge (amongst other things). She advises:
“Without having excitement, it’s very easy for us to become disillusioned about the future, and for that to impact our ability to be happy in the here and now. This also has a knock-on effect on our motivation, which would explain why maybe increasingly you find yourself lacking energy.”
The longer we feel this way, and the longer we have to live with the uncertainty the pandemic, in particular, has gifted us, the harder it is to find excitement again.
But it’s not hopeless. There are some things we can do to begin encouraging and inviting a sense of excitement back into our lives.
1. Pursue the joy of rituals.
‘Rituals’ have been bound up in sacred and spiritual ceremonies for centuries. They mark occasions, movement, and progress to new phases of life. They’re beautiful, and they can help us to find purpose and meaning — even now.
Inviting ritual into your life can be about the simple actions you add to your day to help you acknowledge different stages. Tiwari advises: “For the here and now, invent fun end of day rituals that mark the end of the workday and also create important boundaries between work and play!”
That’s ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’ — or perhaps in this case, ‘Keep It Small, Stupid.’
When grand events dominate our lives, it can be tough to hold onto the smaller moments. Mindfulness and gratitude practices are all about finding the little things to find joy in — and both concepts have become overwhelmingly popular because they work.
Tiwari says it’s worth applying this concept in reverse too, and planning for small things you can feel excited (or grateful) for later on: “Give yourself something to look forward to while you work. This could be as low key as calling a friend for a chat, or as buzz inducing as putting on music and having a dance party at home.”
Plan small things to look forward to — either every day or a few times a week.
3. (Re)Rediscover the things you love.
At the pandemic’s start, many people saw an excellent opportunity to dedicate some time back to the things they enjoy but had perhaps let fall to the bottom of their priority lists. As the pandemic wore on and showed no sign of reprieve, the novelty began to wear thin, and many people turned away from these hobbies. They no longer held any excitement as people struggled to get excited about anything at all.
As we come full circle on another year, it’s the perfect time to rediscover those things. Don’t go hard or all in, but gently return to the things you love doing. Find space for them in your everyday. As Tiwari advises: “Commit to rediscovering things you once loved but no longer have time for; throwing yourself into creative pursuits will have your inner child riding on a high.”
Putting it into practice
Does that all sound a bit conventional? Nothing new there? That’s because small and straightforward is vital, Tiwari advises: “All of this adds up to micro-moments of feeling good, joyous and excited, and overtime is going to be crucial to your sense of wellbeing.”
We don’t have to keep reaching and searching for newer, bigger, better ways to get excited about our lives again because it’s micro-actions, of tried and tested methods, that will help us long term.
Psychologists have mapped our need to know the future to our need to feel significant, but the truth is, when our thoughts are wedded to needing to know the future in advance, we become cogs in the machinery of life.
Mindfulness and meditation practices work so well because they ground us in the present. The trouble is, our current present isn’t one many of us feel like we want to be grounded in.
This is why we need to shift our mindset a little more and think about creating a present worth investing in. Micro-actions like the ones above work in helping us to do this.
By doing so, we can create pockets of excitement for the future, one that might be a little more honed in than we may have hoped for but well worth looking forward to.
I’m Cecilia Racine, and I teach therapists how to help immigrants through my online courses. As a bilingual immigrant myself, I know the unique perspective that these clients are experiencing. I’ve conducted over 500 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.
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