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Mental Health

New year’s resolutions 2022: 22 people on the one thing they are happy to leave behind in 2021

Toxic relationships, overstretching yourself at work, caring too much what others think – what would you like to kiss goodbye to in 2021? We asked readers what baggage they want to leave behind them as we enter the new year.  

We made it to the last month of 2021. Looking back, how do you feel about the past year? For most of us, it has been a time of enormous upheaval. We’ve had political turmoil both at home and abroad, fraught elections, a raging global pandemic and all the stress, anxiety and issues that brings with it from the macro to the micro. So however your year was, no one has had it easy. 

There is always a silver lining though – whether it was reconnecting with nature, family or friends, recalibrating how you approach work, or just rediscovering what’s really important to you. For many, the tumult brought clarity and crystallised what we need more and less of in our busy lives. Now, as 2022 approaches we asked women and non-binary people what they think, with hindsight, is the one thing they want to leave behind in 2021. Their answers poured in via social media and over email and the replies encompass the mental, physical and emotional – here’s what they had to say….


The thing I’m leaving behind in 2021 is struggling to say no. Being OK with saying no but accepting of receiving no. I think the second part is often missed out. Yes it’s important to say no, but are you also OK with being told no?


One thing I’d love to leave behind is the immense pressure I put on my body to be or look a certain way. After living through a pandemic (and now I’m pregnant), I want to focus more on what my body has done for me and what it’s doing for me every day rather than constantly being at war with it. To do so, I’m now actively seeking out positive examples and avoiding content that triggers bad feelings. 


One thing I’d like to leave behind in 2021 is family members commenting on my career choices when they’ve been stuck in the same job for years. Women like me are bolder and want to be in a job or field they can enjoy for a long time. And who cares if we decide to change fields? Once we can afford our lifestyles, it’s my choice. 


Mine is just feeling the guilt for the things I don’t manage to do in my business or with my kids. There’s so much going on and I’m doing my very best, so I want to stop beating myself up about the things I’m not doing. 


I decided to stop debating with stubborn and ignorant people because I’ve come to realise that some people don’t debate to learn new points of view, learn or share their experiences but rather to express their anger and to piss people off. Even if you establish a friendly peaceful atmosphere for a debate, some won’t care or listen to your arguments. You can work hard to persuade them, but certain people just don’t listen. Some people are so aggressive that even if you explain things scientifically, they will reject the truth and leave you exhausted with intense debates that lead nowhere. I decided that my time and energy were more precious than anything, and that I will never waste my time and energy debating with stubborn people. There are none so deaf as those who will not listen. So, as soon as I see that a debate or argument is going nowhere, I leave the discussion politely – even if I’m right. If they don’t listen to my arguments like I listen to theirs, I will just walk away. 


I want to leave behind not feeling good enough. When I look at my life, I have a successful business and two beautiful children, and yet I still find myself defaulting to thinking I’m a bit of a hot mess. It’s like a hangover from my teenage years. This is no longer going to be my story. 

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What's the one thing you'll be happy to leave in 2021?

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Mine is making up excuses as my reason for not being able to do something – rather than just saying no because I don’t want to!


In 2021, I want to leave behind not knowing my worth. This year, I pushed myself through so much – my father almost dying from Covid, my mother being in critical condition due to complex PTSD, and then even raising £10,000 for my family via social media in just a few days. Through it all, I had the most successful year of my career, thanks to many amazing female mentors. 


One thing to definitely leave behind in 2021 is feeling guilty for taking time out to relax, we don’t need to be working non-stop. 

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The thing I’d like to leave behind is overwork. I’m self employed and taking on more than I can cope with has been somewhere between a badge of honour and a coping mechanism, and I don’t think that’s healthy. 


I’m leaving self doubt in 2021. At the beginning of this year, I had set myself career and personal goals that I wanted to achieve and while I would describe myself as being resilient, self-doubt always crept in. For some reason, I was unable to really take in how much I’ve achieved in my career despite those around me recognising my achievements. However, I’m ending this year with both my career and personal goals fulfilled and ready to see what 2022 has in store for me. 


I’d like to stop leaving things until the last minute. With absolutely everything! Whether it’s work, getting uni assignments done, or getting ready when I’m going out – if I need to leave at 6pm, I’ll start getting ready at 5.50pm. The weirdest thing is that I’ll always meet the deadline. I like the pressure, but sometimes it can get too much, especially when loads of deadlines pile up on the same few days. So I’ve bought myself a planner to try to do stuff earlier than usual and make sure I leave enough time to do it!


I’m leaving behind staying quiet when I’m unhappy or if I disagree. Too much damage is caused by saying nothing. 

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Personally, I’m determined to leave behind my ‘all or nothing’ approach to life. Pushing myself to try and be my best is obviously a good thing, but I’ve let it seep into areas of my life which are supposed to just be enjoyable, like my hobbies. I don’t need to transform my hobbies into a money-making scheme or be the best at something from the outset. In 2022, I simply want to enjoy the things that make me happy without placing pressure on myself.


I want to leave behind my faffy indecision and self-doubt. In 2022 I want to get better at knowing what I want, saying it and reaching for it. 


I want to leave behind negative thoughts; instead, I want to be positive and challenge myself to do better each day.


I want to leave worrying about what other people think of me behind in 2022. I want to live my life free from the ties that I put on myself just because I worry what other people think.


I want to leave behind the Sunday scaries so trying to eek out my weekends to be restful and restorative instead of panicking about what’s happening in the next work week. 

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Mine is living in the past. Instead, I’m choosing to love in the present. If this pandemic has taught us anything it is: make a plan and make God laugh! Living in the past can be anxiety inducing.


For me it is habitually saying ‘sorry’. I know it’s a learned behaviour – my parents do it! And it is a bit of a people pleasing thing, but I instinctively say sorry for everything (from just being in a queue and someone queuing behind me through to more important things in relationships). Not only does this mean my confidence/self-esteem gets eroded away, because I’m saying sorry for what? Existing? But it also comes across as a very watery apology if I ever do need to take responsibility and genuinely apologise for something because I say it all the time. 


I would love to leave behind couple of things but the most important one is my imposter syndrome. I don’t want to constantly doubt myself and my capabilities even if I’m a beginner in certain aspects of my life.


I’m leaving behind investing time and energy into people who don’t take the initiative to check in on me back. I said to a friend a few weeks ago: ‘I mean, I give a lot of love to people who don’t ask for it,’ in passing this year after I’d been really hurt and she responded: ‘Yes Dayna, but they took it willingly and then wanted more.’ I’ve got a limited number of fucks to give, so in 2022 I won’t be spending them on people who don’t actively care about my wellbeing and instead I’ll be focusing my energy and love on the people who really do matter most.

Main image: Artur Debat/Getty, other by Klaus Vedfelt/Getty

Some comments have been edited for length or clarity.

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