New Year’s Resolutions for All Abilities
When the calendar resets and we reflect on the previous year, it can feel like an exciting chance at a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to consider what is important and refocus our time on what matters most to us. But if we aren’t careful, New Year’s resolutions can also feel overwhelming or frustrating, becoming another hurdle to tackle, particularly for those living with a disability.
Below are some ideas for choosing a resolution that suits your style, brings positive change, and seems doable in a complicated world.
Make Your Resolution Yours
Consider what you need.
Don’t feel obligated to do what is expected. Think about what you need most. Are you stuck in a rut? Try something new. Maybe there is a necessary task you hate doing or something standing in the way of accessibility- resolve to find a way to make it easier. Maybe you feel lonely. Prioritize making connections with others. Remember, you can always resolve to slow down too. Maybe you are already stretched too thin. Here’s your chance to cut back.
If you focus on what you want or need, a New Year’s resolution can solve a problem. In this way, your resolutions will feel meaningful and useful, rather than feeling like a chore.
Numbers Can Be Your Best Friends…Except When They’re Not
It is often recommended to set concrete resolutions, backed by specific numbers. Drink 12 ounces more water each day. See a new movie once a month. Start cooking five meals at home, per week. If you love a plan and thrive on structure, this method could be perfect for you. Write it on the calendar and set it in stone.
But structure doesn’t suit everyone. Maybe you are a free spirit and like to go with what you feel. Open ended resolutions might be better for you - Eat more vegetables. Learn how to dance. Impact your local disability community. These may be specific enough. These kinds of goals may also help if you tend to be hard on yourself. You can quantify success more fluidly and not beat yourself up for missing your extra 12 ounces today.
Leave Room for Life
Life is unpredictable–especially when you live with a disability. Leave some room for the unexpected when you set resolutions in the New Year. It isn’t realistic for many people to do something every single day– so don’t set a resolution that is going to make you feel bad. If you fall short of your goal, see it as a chance to learn and reset.
Resolve to Connect
Connect with Those Who Share Your Mobility Experience
Disability can be isolating. Often those with a disability are taught about the disability community by parents, teachers, and medical professionals who aren’t disabled. Connecting with others who are walking the same path can have a major impact.
Connect with Those Who Will Help You Grow
Making friends with people with different personalities and interests from you can help you broaden your horizons, explore different sides of your personality, and learn about yourself. Hopefully you’ll do the same for them.
This might mean people who don’t have a disability. It might mean people who’s disability is very different from yours. It also might mean anybody who looks, thinks, or acts differently than you.
Make a Friend a Month
Maybe you just want to expand your social circle. Try for one new friend a month by making a conscious effort to attend more social events, chat with strangers, and ask for introductions to friends of friends.
Revisit something you used to love to do. Maybe an old hobby or a favorite movie or podcast will bring you joy a second time. Phone an old friend who may have drifted away or reach out to a lost loved one– Just be sure it is someone who brought you joy the first time around.
Make a Difference
Living with a disability is an experience that many will never have. Choosing to be vulnerable enough to share your story– in person, via social media, formally or informally– can allow others to connect to it. Other people with disabilities may feel seen and less alone. People with different life experiences may gain a new perspective or learn how to (or how not to) treat others. This understanding can bring increased inclusion and awareness.
Become a Mentor
Reach out to someone who could use you as a mentor or role model. Most people are reluctant to seek help when they’re down and having a disability can make it even harder to find connections who understand. Everyone needs a role model to look up to and seek advice from, and it is extremely rewarding to be a role model to someone else.
Knowing that somebody looks up to you and wants to follow in your footsteps will encourage you to always be your best self—to develop an impeccable character and set a standard that you will always strive to live up to. Be an example to someone else, in order to bring out the best in yourself.
Try Something New
Capture New Memories in Photos
This is one that goes hand in hand with many of the others. Pictures can be a great way to make connections and experiences last longer. On days where you may not be up for an outing or a social event, pictures can be an upbeat reminder of good times, great friends, and exciting adventures. They can also be texted to a friend to spark a conversation. “Remember when we…”
All those pictures are also a great transition into a new hobby. Start scrapbooking, decorate your living space, or learn how to crop and print your own photos.
Having that camera (or phone) nearby can also be a way to calm nerves in social situations if you are an introvert. Take a step back, put the camera between you and the world, and breathe. And for extroverts, create silly picture challenges with your crew that will have you laughing every time you look back at them.
Start a New Tradition
Start a new friend/family tradition. Write a letter to your child each new year or on their birthday. They can open them at a milestone like graduation for a very special experience.
Start a popcorn and movie night or game night once a month with friends or family. Invent your own holiday, just for your friends or family as an excuse to celebrate any way you want, annually. You’ll be creating something that you or your family can count on to bring you closer together.
Go Somewhere New
This doesn’t mean you have to go to a far-off land and spend lots of money. There are hidden gems all around us. There are likely a handful within an hour’s drive from where you live. There may even be some that don’t require a car trip. A quirky roadside attraction, a little museum, or a local park can make for a fun afternoon to remember. Look up highly rated local restaurants or bakeries and take a day trip to eat. Research locations by accessibility to ensure a carefree day. Bring a friend or go alone. Expand your horizons.
Try a New Accessible Sport
Almost every sport out there has available accessibility equipment these days. From basketball and tennis to fencing, sailing, and dance, there is equipment and methods for inclusion. Check out available accessible sports leagues in your town or casually try it solo or with a buddy for less pressure.
Keep it Simple
Unplug from your phone during certain hours. Close a social media account. Take a trip where no electronics are allowed.
Get More Fresh Air
Find an excuse every day for a little bit of fresh air. Enjoy your coffee on the porch or deck. Schedule a weekly trip to the park with a friend. Work in an office? Park farther away from the building just to get a few more breaths of fresh air.
Clear Out Your Inbox
Over 1,000 emails? Start the year with a fresh inbox.
Drink More Water
Did you know that drinking lots of water can brighten your skin, help fight infections, get rid of toxins, boost energy, and improve productivity? Buy a fun new water bottle that suits your style and get hydrated.
From taking simple steps to changing minds in profound ways, a resolution can bring real feelings of accomplishment. Stay true to yourself and be realistic when bumps appear in the road, and you’ll find yourself smiling at your progress when it is once again time to sing Auld Lang Syne. Happy New Year!