How to Mentally Detangle Yourself from 2020

At the end of every year, we take time to reflect on our accomplishments and maybe set a resolution or two for the year ahead. As 2020 comes to a close, I think it’s safe to say we are all eager to move on and would prefer to skip the reflection altogether.

It was rough. Enough said.

There are a number of news sources and influencers who are encouraging us to find the silver linings in this difficult year, and I don’t disagree. It was challenging, to put it mildly, but in our own ways we each stepped up and showed resilience. We should absolutely celebrate those moments and recognize that just making it to 2021 is an accomplishment!

However, I think the question we should be asking ourselves is, “Now what?” It’s one thing to reflect on 2020’s turbulent ups and downs, but what’s most important is how we move forward.

Tips for Mentally Breaking Up with 2020

I know many of us (myself included) hope the universe will magically reset at the stroke of midnight on December 31st, but sadly we’re going to wake up in the same spot. Now is the time to pick ourselves up, to refine our definition of “normal,” and to choose growth amidst the chaos. Because it truly is a choice. We can choose to shake off this crappy year, or we can choose to stand still and let it pull us under.

Here is your blueprint for getting unstuck and creating a more positive mindset for the year ahead.

Make your bed

Adopting a daily ritual can help you break free from some energy-sucking habits you may have developed in 2020 (no judgment!). In his viral 2014 commencement speech, Admiral William H. Mcraven addressed the graduating class at The University of Texas at Austin. He said, “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed…If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

Small, consistent steps can lead to a big, powerful mindset shift. Choose a simple, manageable task like making your bed, doing a 5-minute meditation, or going for a walk around the block each morning.

Remind yourself that you’re resilient

After a year like 2020, it can be difficult to sift through the aftermath. Start by thinking big picture. Do you remember your first job or internship? Now compare that to where you are now. Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned professional, I guarantee you’ve accomplished a lot over the years. You have new skills, a broader network, and a slew of lessons learned.

Next, think of the progress you’ve made from the start of the pandemic to now. You’ve adapted to remote work, mastered new technology, and used creativity to redefine your role. Even if you were unemployed, you still undoubtedly faced challenges from March to now. Remind yourself how far you’ve come to give you that boost to move forward.

Find gratitude

It may sound a little out there, but positive thoughts conjure positive energy. Our mindset is often our own worst enemy, but now is the time to redirect negative thoughts. Instead of “I have to log onto another Zoom call,” try “I get to log onto another Zoom call while so many are unemployed.” I’m not suggesting you have to be cheery all the time, but be intentional about seeking out gratitude and it will start to become second nature. Negativity breeds negativity, so you may also want to take a look at any taxing relationships in your life. Lastly, purchase a gratitude journal and make it part of your morning or nightly routine.

Don’t wait for permission

It’s never been more painfully obvious that we aren’t in full control of our lives. We lost a lot this year – loved ones, trips, weddings, holidays, jobs, the chance to have a spouse in the delivery room, etc. I realize we can’t get out there and do everything we want in 2021, but there are plenty of things you can start checking off that bucket list. Don’t hold off on updating your resume because you’re waiting for the perfect job to be posted. Don’t hold off on starting a business because it doesn’t feel like the right time. Get started now on the things that will make you happy – both big and small.

Make a plan

I won’t tell you to make a resolution, but I will tell you to set some good old fashioned goals. Start by giving yourself a little tough love. What’s stopping you or holding you back? What could you be doing better? Self-awareness is the first step toward improvement. From there, think of three things you want to accomplish in the year ahead. Then you can break each of those into smaller, more manageable pieces. And remember, goals are flexible. What you want right now, may be completely different from what you want come summertime. The point is to start working towards something and adjust as needed.

Feeling better already?

Hopefully these tips give you food for thought on how you can reassess your mindset and tackle 2021 with renewed spirit. If you are struggling with mental health, please reach out to your doctor or visit There is absolutely no shame in asking for the help you need to be healthy.

Cheers to 2021!