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  • Writer's pictureMargaret Nelson

How to Make a Pandemic-Proof New Year's Resolution for 2021

This past year was hard for many people, myself included. Last year was so difficult that people joked about how it was a dumpster fire. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to put 2020 behind me and move forward. One easy way to move on from this year is to make New Year’s resolutions. Setting goals helps set the tone for the year, and they give you specific actions to work on to accomplish them.

Like most people, I tried to set resolutions at the beginning of 2020. I planned to work out, socialize with friends and family, and finish my bachelor’s degree. Very quickly, though, I had to set those good intentions aside to survive the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic and roll with the punches. When the pandemic first hit the United States, we had no idea what to expect. Mask mandates and social distancing were unfamiliar to the general public. None of us had experienced a stay-at-home order before, as well as the resulting closures and job losses. None of us had ever dealt with the closures of all of our favorite places. None of us knew how to slow the spread of a pandemic while still living our lives. Now that we’re nine months into the pandemic, we have a better idea of what to expect. We know that mask-wearing, social distancing, and staying at home will be expected in 2021, at least for the first part of it.

This is a picture of a woman sitting at a table in front of an open laptop. She's in a small, white room, and she's wearing a light colored shirt, a gray blazer, and a white mask across her face. Beside her is a white coffee mug, some notebooks, a pair of glasses, and a plant. In the background is a bookshelt, a window, and a large plant.
Mask-wearing will be expected in 2021.

As I reflect on last year, I realize that we all learned a lot. We learned that we are tougher than we gave ourselves credit for. We showed how incredibly strong and perseverant we can be, even when things seem dire. We also showed that we can find a sense of humor in tough times and roll with the punches when life throws us challenges. I know that I’ve learned all of this and more. With all of the knowledge that I gained in 2020, I’ve decided to create some new resolutions.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably wondering, “is it worth it to have New Year’s resolutions in 2021? Especially given how 2020 was a dumpster fire? Besides, I don’t even know if I have enough energy to complete resolutions in 2021.”

I hear you. This past year was rough, and I’m not denying it. If you created plans in 2020 only to have them thrown out unexpectedly, it can feel like it’s not worth creating new ones. It can also feel discouraging and demoralizing to spend time creating resolutions, only to get them thrown out the window again. Why bother spending all this time and energy creating new resolutions if it’s impossible to complete them?

This is a picture of a woman sittitng in front of a computer. Her elbows are propped up on the table, and all of her fingers are interlaced except for her pointer fingers. Her pointer fingers are resting on either side of the bridge of her nose. The fingers and her interlaced hands form a triangle in front of her face. Her eyes are closed, her shoulders are tense, and she shows signs of stress.
The uncertainty of Covid-19 has taken its toll.

That being said, as I’ve reflected over this past year, I realized that we can’t wait for the pandemic to be over before we live our lives. Obviously, we need to follow the guidance of our local health authorities, but we don’t have to put our entire lives on hold. With a little creativity, we can find ways to make and keep our New Year’s resolutions in 2021. The pandemic doesn’t have to take over our entire lives and steal all of our joy.

If you need some help to create pandemic-proof resolutions, then you’re in luck. I’m here to give you a hand. I might not know you personally or know your specific situation, but I can give you some general ideas to think about as you prepare your resolutions for 2021. As you think about your resolutions, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What do you want to accomplish in 2021? Given how hard last year was, I suggest making resolutions that center around activities you enjoy. Last year was hard, and we all could use some more joy in our lives. Many of us were busy trying to survive the pandemic, job losses, or both. We were in survival mode, meaning that we put aside activities that we deemed “unnecessary” to conserve our time and energy. Is there something you like to do that you can do from home? If you can’t think of anything, make 2021 the year that you give yourself some attention and discover what makes you happy.

  2. How much money are you able to spend? Last year, millions of people lost their jobs, and millions more experienced cuts in both their salaries and hours. If this is the case for you, consider how much money you’re able to spend. If you don’t have much to spare, consider free or low-cost activities. At ReDefiners World Languages, we believe that everyone should have access to language lessons, regardless of their financial status. If you want to learn a new language but can’t afford language lessons, then you’re in luck. ReDefiners offers income-based scholarships for all classes. If there’s something that you would like to do, don’t let your income stand in your way.

  3. What are your post-pandemic goals? With some thought and planning, your resolutions can help you prepare for life after the pandemic. For example, let’s say that you enjoy traveling. Given the situation with the pandemic, you probably haven’t had much of an opportunity to travel, and it might be months before you get another chance to do so. That shouldn’t stop you from planning your dream vacation, though. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could converse with the locals? If so, think about studying a foreign language in 2021. At ReDefiners, we offer in-person and virtual classes in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin. Not only do we teach you the language, but we also teach you about the language’s culture. It’s a good idea to have at least a background knowledge of the language and culture of your destination. These classes would be the perfect way to prepare you for your future travels.

  4. How realistic are your goals? As we learned in 2020, your circumstances can change overnight, so we need to be realistic with our goals. At the same time, we don’t want to go to the opposite extreme and give up on our resolutions before we’ve given them a chance. It’s tempting to think that it’s just not worth creating resolutions in 2021 because your circumstances are still up in the air. That’s completely understandable. That being said, it’s possible to stick with a resolution, though. But to do so, you need to consider your pandemic situation. For example, are you under a lockdown right now? Is there any possibility that you will go under a lockdown in the future? How high are the case counts? How many hospital beds are available in your county? What have your local health authorities said about the Covid-19 trends in your area? All of these factors will determine the parameters that you have to consider when brainstorming your New Year’s resolutions. For example, in my state, the governor has been adamant that we will not have another stay-at-home order. Bars are closed, most businesses are at 50% capacity, and my county has logged between 1,500 and 2,000 Covid cases each day. As of this writing, around 20% of the hospital beds in my county are being used by Covid patients. My county health officials have also said that they’re expecting a huge influx of cases and deaths after Christmas and New Year’s. Because the situation in my area is more uncertain, I’m centering my plans around things that I can do from home. However, if things are more stable in your area, you can consider completing activities outside of your house, as long as you follow all of the Covid-19 mandates and recommendations.

  5. How can you modify the resolutions you want to do this year? Most can be modified to fit within our current parameters. Just because Covid restrictions are still in place doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve what you want to accomplish. It just means that you need some creativity. Restrictions have increased this winter, and many parts of the world have had to issue additional lockdowns, meaning that you will have to adapt your resolutions so that you can do them from home. If you wanted to lose weight, figure out ways to exercise from home, such as YouTube exercise videos and walking around your neighborhood. If you wanted to volunteer, consider becoming a remote volunteer with ReDefiners. We have a variety of opportunities, most of which can be done from home with a computer and internet connection. We need for blog writers, grant writing, marketing assistants, and graphic designers, among others. Remote volunteering is more flexible than in-person volunteering, you can gain valuable experience while meeting other people, and you can make a difference, regardless of where you live. Most resolutions can be modified to fit our current situation. It just takes a bit of thought and creativity to make it happen.

  6. How flexible are your plans? If you’re still recovering from the past year, give yourself some grace and keep your goals attainable. For example, if you recovered from Covid-19 last year and you’re having heart issues, it’s probably not a good idea to train for a marathon in 2021. It’s important to gauge where you’re at physically, mentally, and emotionally, and take on resolutions that are right for you. Taking on a New Year’s resolution shouldn’t cause more stress. Think about what you feel up to doing. If you feel exhausted and drained, make it your resolution to take care of yourself. Things like eating a healthy diet, exercising, and getting enough sleep will help you recover.

  7. Are you ready to take on your New Year’s resolutions? If you don’t feel ready yet, don’t be afraid to delay working on them. You might have a list of things you want to do, but you just can’t due to physical/emotional exhaustion, a lack of finances, grief, etc. If that’s the case, then consider giving yourself some time to recover before you start. You might only need a few weeks or a month or two before you feel better. However, if your 2020 was especially rough, you might need 4-6 months or more before you can take on a resolution. There’s no rush. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself first. Your aspirations can wait.

  8. Can you accept that you might need to change your New Year’s resolutions? Sometimes, the only way that we will know if a resolution will work is to try it out. If you run into problems, it doesn’t mean that you failed or that there’s something “wrong” with you. One important lesson we learned last year was that circumstances can change overnight. If you find yourself unable to meet your resolutions, don’t beat yourself up. See if there’s a way to modify your original resolution first. If not, then don’t feel bad about having to change your goals. There’s a season for everything, so if you still want to accomplish your original goal but can’t, feel free to delay working on that goal until later.

This past year was a hard one. Most of us are ready to put it behind us and move on. Deciding on New Year’s resolutions can be a good way to move on, take back some control, and create the life you want to live. That being said, it can be hard to try to figure out the right goals for you, especially when you consider how most of us were unable to maintain them due to the pandemic. However, until the pandemic is over, we have to live as much as we can within the current circumstances. With some thought, creativity, and flexibility, you can create New Year’s resolutions that you can stick with.

The image shows a young woman against a background that looks like the sky. She has her hands in fists, her arms are stretched into a "V" over her head, and she's smiling.
Are you ready to be successful?

If your New Year’s resolution is to learn a foreign language, check out ReDefiners World Languages. We offer online and in-person classes in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin. All of our courses are offered as private lessons or group classes. For more information, visit us at or email us at

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