Social media has been full recently of the typical posts about what people are hoping to accomplish in 2022.

These posts bring to mind something I read discussing how people who want to start or break habits are more likely to succeed if they start on first days — the first day of the week, month or especially the year. This is the presumed intention of a New Year’s resolutions: to tackle a goal or change that you have wanted or needed in your life.

The reason people are more successful on these first days, according to the article, is the fresh start makes them more likely to hold themselves accountable. They still face the same obstacles, struggles and temptations as any other day, but it comes down choosing to change and internal determination to stick to it.  

The choice to persevere in the face of adversity is what matters when it comes to changing your life or accomplishment you will cherish. Things that come easy usually only offer a moment of enjoyment; hard-fought success brings a satisfaction that grows and sustains.

A universal hope for 2022 is the pandemic ending and life returning to normalcy or predictability. Jan. 1, 2022 has come and gone but the post-pandemic life is still a dream on the horizon. Unfortunately, normalcy will not happen with the convenient motivation of a scheduled fresh-start date.

So how will we know the right time to start the long lists of things we are going to change or accomplish when the pandemic is over?  

I am going to draw one last lesson from my trip to the Baltics with Kansas Farm Bureau’s Casten Fellows program last summer. Many of you have read about the inspiration I have gained from the cooperation, professionalism and pride shown by the Baltic people. However, these qualities are unremarkable if not examined in the context of the oppression and tumultuous history of occupation endured over centuries by these people.

The Baltic people have a strong spirit and determination to protect their culture, traditions and language. We heard a first-hand account on the trip of the Baltic Way protest against Soviet occupation, which took place in 1989 as 2 million Baltic people joined hands in peaceful protest forming a human chain that spanned more than 400 miles across all three states.

When the protests paid off and the countries gained freedom two years later, their economies collapsed without the collective contributions and infrastructure of all the Soviets states. We toured many businesses started with little or no relevant experience but plenty of understanding of fear and deprivation, which made failure seem somewhat insignificant.

The most unexpected culture component was a shared national sense of humor. The style varied between countries from highly self-deprecating to too much truth to be anywhere near politically correct in others. One local described humor as the way they dealt with the realities of life saying, “at some point you can’t be sad or worried anymore, you just have to laugh about it.”  

Instead of waiting for the official end of the pandemic or New Year’s Day 2023, I think we should try to live like the Baltic people today. We can turn our dreams and beliefs into reality with our actions, not letting fear hold us back, and most importantly, having the ability to laugh at ourselves as we go.