Now that 2020 - a year of uncertainty, challenge, and grit - is officially over, it's time to look forward and start visualizing a brighter future that lies ahead for yourself, your family, and your community. There’s no better time to take a few steps toward self-fulfillment with one or two shiny New Year's resolutions.
For many of us, a New Year's resolution could refer to getting in shape or learning how to knit. However, 2020 has left many of us struggling with challenges in our workplace, relationships, and financial situation. That makes our New Year resolutions a more robust decision - one that stems from a real challenge - and one that keeps us more committed to materializing it.
We don't recommend putting all your eggs in one basket when it comes to making resolutions for the year ahead. Instead, we encourage you to focus on just one area of your life, and narrow it down to just one thing you're ready to dive head first into. Take a moment, write your resolution down on a piece of paper, use a calendar, and think about how remarkable 2021 would be if your resolution came to fruition. Remember that a goal without a plan is no different from a wish.
Sometimes, a disaster is an opportunity to rethink where we are. If you have been laid off, furloughed, or the pandemic has affected the way you work, this might be the moment you've been waiting for to make a change. Remote work has made the decision just that little bit more effortless.
Leading entrepreneurs, such as Palantir founder Joe Lonsdale and Tesla's Elon Musk, have declared selling their Silicon Valley homes to a piece of Texas land. They were followed by 39 more California companies who moved their headquarters to the Lone Star State. States such as New York, Illinois, and Hawaii have also reported to bleed residents to Midwest and South states with lower taxes rates and fewer regulations, such as Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Texas and Florida.
The new Biden administration has already stated it will bring back the American dream for those who plan to relocate to the U.S or secure their legal status in the country with work visas, green cards, and citizenship. For instance, a revival of the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Parents of Americans (DAPA) is now in conversation, allowing non-U.S. citizens to live and work in the country without the risk of deportation.
Another reform is expected in temporary visas, removing the cap limitations on their numbers, increasing the number of visas for skilled immigrants dramatically, and encouraging an influx of talent into rural communities with the new Heartland Visa.
Finally, the incoming administration will also seek ending the Public Charge Rule that denies green cards and visas to applicants based on their disabilities, lack of economic resources, and the likelihood of receiving government benefits.
With forced togetherness, 2020 wasn't a good year for the nuclear family. As husbands, wives, and kids are stuck at home for extended periods, the mental costs are high. It’s no surprise to hear that the divorce rate in the U.S. increased by 34% since April 2020, as reported by the National Law Review.
A recent University of Oregon survey found that 63% of parents said they felt they had lost emotional support during the pandemic. At the same time, a Harvard study showed that 61% of parents of five-, six-, and seven-year-old children strongly agreed that they felt "nervous, anxious, or on edge" due to the pandemic.
If the stress has hit your family - or you can see it coming - why not take a step to prevent it from taking its final blow? Take 2021 as the year of healing. Start couples therapy, deconstruct the emotion schemes that you and your counterpart have constructed, face destructive behaviors, and let someone unearth things in a non-threatening way. Use this year to learn strategies that will help you overcome challenging times. These days, couples therapy has gone remote, with online services such as TalkSpace and BetterHelp.
Remember that divorce is the last resort, and even if it seems to solve some issues, it may create a new set of challenges. One of these obstacles is co-parenting and joint custody. Even without a pandemic going on, parenting with an ex can be a struggle.
And if the cost of therapy makes you think twice, think again while considering the financial cost of a divorce. However, If you've exhausted all your options and are gearing up for a divorce, one of your first stops along the way should be hiring a qualified and experienced divorce attorney.
Hard times call for bad habits. During the pandemic, people found it easier to turn to drugs and alcohol. If you are one of these people, you should be aware of the implications, especially if you aren’t consuming these substances in moderation.
Besides the physical and mental implications, addictions are often related to dangerous behaviors. Drunk driving is a criminal offence that can happen to anyone, including those with the purest intentions. You can easily find yourself under arrest with a driving license suspended and even in jail, with a BAC no higher than 0.08%. Four or five drinks is all that you need to get the charge.
Addictions easily lead to alienation, anger, and anxiety in marriage. But, if consuming alcohol leads to filing for a divorce, it can be held against the addicted person with issues such as child visitation, assets, and alimony.
However, alcohol and drugs can’t hold a candle to the array of COVID-19-triggered addictions. Shopaholism, video game addiction, and TV addiction have demanded their fair share as well. It's never late to stop these habits - use the time you gained to treat your addiction and make 2021 a clean slate.
The general assumption about workplace-related sexual harassment in a pandemic is that remote work would reduce such cases. However, a few studies show that it has simply moved online. Moreover, witnessing harassment as a bystander and confronting the attacker is now impossible in private Slack, Zoom, WhatsApp chats, or any other digital communication form.
COVID-19 also raised the level of health-related discrimination against people who have contracted the disease or are related to someone else who has. Naturally, this trend created a heavy impact on 65-year-old and older individuals, resulting in expediting age discrimination.
If you are a victim of workplace abuse or harassment, or have witnessed a violation, don't let 2021 begin on the wrong foot. Claim your rights, and make your workplace and our shared environment a better place for future employees.
Report the case to management, bring forth action against an employer with agencies and governmental organizations that handle labor violations, or reach out to employment lawyers with evidence to support your claim. An experienced lawyer can easily help you navigate all the ins and outs of these processes.
We all hope that the new year will be better - a year in which we can finally experience morsels of regular everyday life. At the end of 2021, it's highly possible we can eat at our favorite restaurants, travel to our most desired vacation destinations, assemble in a church, or enjoy a concert with all of our friends.
But, that doesn't mean you should hold off pursuing personal happiness and self-fulfillment until then. You might decide to spend more time with your family, resolve a relationship crisis, relocate to a place with better opportunities, claim your rights, or fight injustice. Make 2021 yours and pursue your New Year’s resolution now!
Image credit: Eugene Zhyvchik