Revisiting resolutions: How to stay on track during a pandemic

Believe it or not, COVID-19 may have amplified some of your top goals for the year

We’re halfway through the year, and let’s face it, many of us wish we could hit the reset button.

We’re in the throes of a global pandemic that put first responders on the front lines of a healthcare catastrophe, and the country has faced weeks of civil unrest following the death of George Floyd.

With such serious issues top of mind, it feels almost trite to look back on our New Year’s Resolutions to see if we’ve made any progress. For so many of us, our focus, frankly, has been elsewhere.

COVID-19 changed everything. But it doesn’t have to derail all our goals; in fact, it can amplify some of them – an increased focus on health, family and finances.
COVID-19 changed everything. But it doesn’t have to derail all our goals; in fact, it can amplify some of them – an increased focus on health, family and finances. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

But in looking at a FireRescue1 poll, asking firefighters to name their top resolution, there are several direct connections between our “pre-COVID” goals and the impact of the pandemic.

The top three resolutions identified by firefighters in December 2019:

  1. Improve my health and wellness – 62%
  2. Devote more time to family – 18%
  3. Retire comfortably – 11%

Let’s review the connections between your top resolutions and COVID-19, and I’ll provide a resource roundup to help you stay on track throughout the rest of the year.

Resolution 1: Improve my health and wellness

None of us could have known going into 2020 that health would be the top focus of the year – worldwide.

Health experts warn that the immunocompromised are particularly at risk with COVID-19, underscoring the importance of staying fit and eating healthy to maintain strong immune systems.

Aaron Zamzow shares an informative video and article about how to boost immunity. And with social distancing guidelines in effect, many gyms – and even some outdoor areas – where people exercise were suddenly off-limits. On this topic, Aaron put together some helpful content detailing 7 exercises firefighters can do anywhere.

Staying safe and healthy on calls was paramount for all first responders on the front lines. FireRescue1 published several pieces focused on keeping you safe:

Don’t miss our PPE resource section as well.

Of course, mental health is a critical piece in the overall wellness puzzle, particularly as we know that heightened and prolonged stress adversely impacts our immune systems, making us more susceptible to disease and infection.

Here are some resources to help you focus on mental wellness:

The standard “improve health and wellness” resolution certainly took on a new look in 2020, but we can still meet these goals, even if for slightly modified reasons.

Resolution 2: Devote more time to family

Americans spend a lot of time at work, and a common repeat resolution is to carve out more time for family. Well, 2020 served it up on a platter.

Yes, there are some whose work lives became so busy with COVID-19 that their family time was limited, but on those “off” days, shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders essentially forced many family members to get that quality time together, whether assembling puzzles, brainstorming creative games, or watching movies.

IAFC President Fire Chief Gary Ludwig shares eight great movies that firefighters can watch if they are quarantined or just staying in with family. And Lexipol's own Mike Vatter also listed several movies to help stay entertained during our "locked-down lives."

Finally, Jay Fitch shares a compelling piece about what it’s like to be a first responder workaholic, with five tips to achieve a lifestyle that allows you to balance your career, health and relationships.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call for many of us. Seeing the increasing number of first responder deaths at the hands of the disease – and watching the national and global death numbers tick upward – undoubtedly reinforces the importance of spending time with family.

Resolution 3: Retire comfortably

One of the side effects of the pandemic has been an economic downturn the country has not faced since the Great Depression, meaning this resolution is likely hardest to achieve.

Fire departments were impacted nearly immediately, with terminations, layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts in some agencies. And some firefighters who were nearing retirement decided that this was the moment for them to say farewell, even if a little earlier than expected.

Further, for those firefighters not planning to retire anytime soon, many are taking this opportunity to retool their finances.

Matthew Broom is not only a firefighter but also a financial expert who put together several resources to help firefighters make key financial decisions:

A different perspective

COVID-19 changed everything. But it doesn’t have to derail all our goals; in fact, it can amplify some of them – an increased focus on health, family and finances.

Perhaps it’s time for a mental shift to revisit these resolutions from a different perspective.

[Read next: Time-traveling to remember your pre-COVID-19 priorities]

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