Bid this trio farewell for a happier 2021

From a global pandemic to a tumultuous U.S. presidential election, 2020 has wreaked havoc on our minds, bodies and spirits. It was a soul-crushing year, yet - despite it all - I've learned some valuable lessons along the way that I'm looking forward to taking with me into 2021.

As I look back on this past year, I'm proud of how my family and I navigated uncertainty and maintained consistency when the world around us was rapidly changing. In a year that was spent social distancing and isolating indoors, I got to know myself a bit better and have made it a priority to become a better version of myself by saying goodbye to some bad mental habits that have hindered me in the past. Won't you join me in doing the same?

No. 1 on my list is putting too much pressure on myself. Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemies. We tend to look for outside influences to guide us without realizing that we are the most influential people in our lives.

I vow to stop being so hard on myself and to be grateful for the life I am living now. I don't need the perfect home, a packed social calendar or children on the path to the Ivy Leagues to be happy. What I need the most is the joy and clarity of the present moment and the confidence that life is unfolding as it should be and not by the timeline I have imprinted in my mind.

I urge you, too, reader, to be confident in the decisions you are making and stop seeking outside approval. Be as kind to yourself as you would to any other person in your life. After all, you are the only person you will spend the rest of your life with, so be gentle with your soul.

No. 2 on my list is letting go of imposter syndrome. How many times a week (or day) do you think to yourself, "What gives me the right to do this? I have no idea what I'm doing."

Maybe you suffer from impostor syndrome, the nagging fear of being found out as not being smart, talented or experienced enough. Well, guess what? It's time to let go of any negative thoughts that you're not good enough. If you don't believe in yourself, who else will? You are stronger and smarter than you can ever imagine.

No. 3 on my list is comparison. Why is it that we base our worth on how other people see us? When we're bound by everyone else's opinion, we become imprisoned behind high expectations.

Stop comparing your life to someone else's. You're probably not comparing yourself to a famous celebrity, but to the mom at school drop-off or one of your neighbors. When we tally ourselves against others, it lifts us from the moment in which we are actually living and forces us to desire a moment in which we are not.

By saying goodbye to these three negative mental habits, I plan on living a calmer and more peaceful 2021. I hope you'll join me in doing the same.

- Gabriela Garcia of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].