Oh, 2021, what a YEAR! But did you know, historically, periods of catastrophe have inspired celebration and exuberance once they’re over? After the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic, for example, came the Roaring Twenties! Ready to leave the shitshow of 2020-2021 behind you and forge onto 2022, making it the best year EVER? Read on…
Well, I don’t know about you but I can quite easily say that the last two years was like being repeatedly hit in the face with a wet fish (and I’m vegetarian, so this image is deeply unpleasant.) It’s safe to say that there’s been unprecedented plans cancelled, events ruined and moments of joy stolen in a whirlwind of chaos that is the pandemic.
Whether you had a date to tie the knot in the past two years and need to rearrange, or whether you had hoped to get married and need to rethink, or whether you had hoped for a big wedding and now you’re considering eloping… there’s certainly been a LOT of replanning happening!
This feeling wasn’t just confined to getting married either, there’s few people I know who have been asking themselves really big questions about their lives. If there’s one thing that Covid has done, its strip back pretty much everything to its bare bones.
Suddenly, there’s space to look around our homes and ask ourselves whether we actually like the colour of the living room? Or do I like my job enough that it’s worth the 3-hour commute each day? How good are my friends really? And ultimately, are the goals that I’ve been setting for myself the ones I really want?
This feeling of ‘WTF am I doing with my life?’ is prime fodder for this time of year. January is miserable for a few reasons 1. It’s dark 2. It’s cold 3. All the ‘New Year, New You’ BS. The shelves of bookshops are straining under the weight of self-help advice and magazines are awash with the latest fad diet which will profess that all your feelings of dissatisfaction will go away if we could drop a dress size (or three). It’s not that goal setting is inherently bad. Setting goals can motivate us to achieve a new hobby, set a savings target or even get us across a marathon line (you legends).
However, goal setting can also be a recipe for focusing too much on one area of our life and setting us up for nothing but self-flagellation, critical thinking and feelings of failure. Yikes! And this was before a pandemic where everything fell out of our control!
So, before you start buying a new bullet journal, putting up that wall planner and cutting up those magazines for a vision board, hear me out.
Perhaps the secret to a happier, healthier, more joyful 2022 is not to set 100 new habits or plan the big day of your dreams… but to throw away the end point all together?
Rather than getting set on an outcome, can we shift our focus to a wider perspective where we focus on the journey instead of getting fixated on the destination?
The reason you’re here is likely because you want to get married. Saying ‘I Do’ is, for most prospective brides and grooms, the main outcome of the wedding planning process (understandably!). Yet when Covid hit and dashed the hopes, dreams and Pinterest boards of couples getting married everywhere, this outcome was stolen. Hearts were broken across the globe as SAVE THE DATES came and went and invitations were promptly put into the recycling bin.
Those couples who managed to pivot their celebrations into smaller, pandemic-friendly affairs were able to widen their perspectives on the end point. They’re much less likely to be devastated than their counterparts who had their love-struck hearts set on a particular type of day in a particular type of way.
These pandemic-flexible couples were likely able to do so because they were able to see beneath the flower crowns, wedding breakfasts and top hats to discover their ‘why’. Why did they want to get married in the first place? Because they bloody love each other. They didn’t mind how it was done as long as it was done.
Now, it is important for me to tell you that when I was planning my wedding I would not have been in this latter adaptable category. As I’ve written here before, I was lost to my wedding vision. Had I not been able to do ‘my day in my way’my head would have quite frankly, fallen off. So, if this is you honey, I FEEL YOU. Change is SO HARD. (I’m writing this from the future with a wisdom I didn’t have five years ago.)
In today’s uncertain world, we cannot be sure that our SAVE THE DATE will be as fixed as we would like it might be. Even when life returns to some sort of ‘normalcy’, who’s to say that something else might go wrong? Your venue could be flooded, caterers might drop your cake, your band might have to unexpectedly cancel on you or, heaven forbid, the vicar might pop their clogs.
How flexible to change are you, really?
The key to planning your dream day in 2022 is to focus on your why, make openness part of your plan and focus on the journey not the destination. How can confirming your commitment to your love be a fun part of the planning process, not just the bit at the end of the aisle?
Even if you’re not wedding planning, the same can be said for *any* goals you’re thinking of setting this year.
Instead of focusing on weight loss (please don’t get me started on diet culture right now), work out the ‘why’ you want to lose weight e.g. is it ‘to feel better’? Likely yes. ‘Feeling better’ doesn’t need a weight-centred approach. You can instead focus on drinking less booze, moving your body in a way that makes you smile, get an hour extra sleep and stop reading women’s magazines that tell you to diet. I guarantee you’ll be ‘feeling better’ in less than the 14 days that diet is telling you lies about losing a stone.
Whatever 2022 looks like for you, remember that joy is most often not found in meeting a goal (I promise, look up the research) or in even getting married in a certain way. True joy is found in finally accepting who you really are, warts and all. This can’t be achieved in a tidy 12 weeks or even 12 months. It’s a lifelong process.
Five quick tips to making goal setting and wedding planning suck less in 2022
🖤 Take away all ‘shoulds’. ‘Should’ is your inner critic disguised as your motivational speaker. Any goals starting with ‘should’ needs to go in the bin. Only use the words ‘could’, ‘want’ or ‘can’ to set future goals.
🖤 Focus on the journey (process) not the destination (outcome). When we fixate on a certain end point it leaves us inflexible to change and vulnerable to heartbreak if things go wrong. Instead work out how to enjoy the process of getting wherever you want to go.
🖤 Make openness part of your plan. Own the fact you might not know all the answers and have fun be adaptable as different plans come up. Look up the fable of the Chinese farmer. You never know what the outcome of change will be and often it’s not as bad as you think.
🖤 Focus on joy. #Followyourbliss may be a sick-making hashtag on Instagram but orientating your day to micro moments of joy is a good idea. We don’t always need to be focusing on big goals to be happy. The great thing about joy is, the more your look for it, the easier it becomes to find it.
🖤 Keep asking why. There’s nothing wrong with goal setting as long as you’re continuously asking yourself ‘why am I doing this?’. Blindly moving towards a goal without question is dangerous as it can mean once we get there, we’ve missed out on many other things that might have made us happier in the long run. When wedding planning in times of uncertainty, when things change, don’t get disheartened! Find out the ‘why’ under the ‘want’, and find an alternative plan.
Harri Rose is a body acceptance coach, writer and Co-Director at Anti Diet Riot Club. Her first book ‘You Are Enough’ is out now (Octopus Publishing). She is currently studying for an MA in Food Anthropology. Get your free introduction to her book at harrirose.com/signup or say hi on Instagram @harri_rose_