Every year I choose a Word of the Year, and in 2021, I think we can ALL use a bit of a fresh start. So here are my top five tips for welcoming a new year and a growth mindset in 2021!
1. Your voice counts, so be loud about the things that are important to you. Visualize your highest self, the self you want do be – and then show up and KEEP SHOWING UP. So many people DID use their voice in 2020 to speak up for the things that mattered to them. I hope and pray we all do more of that in 2021.
2. When “I” is replaced by “We” even illness becomes wellness. I’ve lived long enough to know that going solo, at anything, is hard. And in 2021, beating COVID must take a “we” approach. We will only eradicate it by working together.
3. You will never always be motivated so you must learn to be disciplined. Lawdy. I had to call on some deep strength to get through 2020. To take my PT practice and educational organization and go 100% virtual while homeschooling 3 children was NO small task. But I did it. Tragedy always tells us way more about our resilience and grit than good times do.
4. Make a list of the things that give your life fullness and meaning. Make a list of the things you do every day. Compare the lists. Adjust accordingly. Whatever your New Year’s resolution is, ditch it. Instead, do this little task and try to set an intention with your Word of the Year.
5. Choose a Word of the Year. My Word of the Year is Protect. I started choosing a Word of the Year in 2016, and the practice has stuck. It stuck because it works. New Year’s resolutions last about as long as a Christmas tree, a month or so. So I began to set an intention instead of a resolution. And that meant every decision I made for the year would revolve around my Word of the Year. Read on to see why I choose Protect as my Word of the Year.
You can stop reading here, unless you want to share in my journey a bit and learn how I have overcome big obstacles in order to remain true to my core values – which are to eat healthy, stay fit, get enough sleep, volunteer in the community, and value my family, my time, my work, all while doing my best to honor my spiritual beliefs of inclusion, tolerance, patience and love.
2016 – Courageous
In 2016 my Word of the Year was Courageous. I am a survivor and thriver. I know this because I can (finally) say out loud that I have overcome both poverty and sexual assault. I left an abusive partner. I gave birth three times with no pain meds, by my choice (& I honor all birth choices!). I worked full-time since my children were born. I’m a published author. I worked hard to start a small business in a male dominated field. I’ve maintained a physical therapy practice for 20 years. But I haven’t always felt courageous. So in 2016 I chose a word to remind myself that I WAS strong and could be courageous. I chose the word to remind myself of how far I had come; and that God didn’t create me or give me a voice and tenacity just so I could sit by and be silent. In 2016 I spoke up, and it was HARD. People didn’t like the new me. But I stuck to my principles and I don’t regret it. When I got pushback from standing my ground, this little word was my secret confidence builder. It had my back. When the going got tough, I’d whisper that word to myself in a prayer. And I kept pushing forward.
2017 – Bold
Once you find the strength to be courageous, you must be bold to keep going. 2017 just about killed me, literally. My body crashed, even though I was doing everything possible to stay healthy and take care of myself. I would later learn, through genetic testing, that I had been dangerously pushing through when I felt weak or fatigued (and thought I was just being low energy or lazy), because I had some troublemaking genes that were causing serious vitamin deficiencies. That means you can have a super-healthy, sugar-free, gluten-free existence (I’m extremely sensitive to both), plant-based diet full of antioxidants, and yet not absorb their goodness. I became severely anemic, had multiple neuropathies, suddenly and rapidly, and together with my functional medicine doctor, we discovered the root source of the issue (thanks in part to genetics). That process would take 2 years in all.
2018 – Rise
After overcoming serious health issues in 2017, I filed to run for State Senate in NC in February. I needed some serious inspiration, and Maya Angelou’s poetry brought it. So I chose the word Rise. All year long I had to invoke this Word. I maintained my full-time job, caring for my 3 sons and family, my travel schedule, and ran a campaign whose district spanned a 1500 square mile area. I burned up the miles in my little Prius, and I never felt more alive or plugged in to my mission to do all the good I can. I knew I was on target.
2019 – Persist
After having a very tumultuous and challenging year in 2019, and inspired by Elizabeth Warren’s “she persisted” moment on the floor of the Senate, I decided that 2019 should reflect my tenacity to proceed, even after taking on serious loss. 2019 did not fail to delivery, because I had the worst and most exhilarating year of my life. I almost lost my parents in a near-fatal car accident, and nearly lost my stability in the process. Caregiving is no small task, and this year’s Word of the Year kept me going when the going was (often) rough. Persisting served me well.
2020 – Listen
2020’s Word of the Year was different. Before now, I needed to cultivate personal strength, confidence, and courage to pushback against things that did not align with my core values and beliefs, and to embrace and act upon those things that did. Now that I have a firm foundation for speaking truth to power and not backing down, I will learn to sit with doing less, and listen. I want to learn about my new hometown, Greensboro, NC, and its needs. I want to learn about the dreams of my family, and of my own heart
2021 – Protect
With 2020 vision, it’s clear 2021 will be better than ever. Here’s to making the most of every moment. My Word of the Year is Protect. Here’s why:
- I want to protect my family. My family lost our matriarch to COVID at Christmas. Whatever I do this year, I want to make sure my family is protected, not just from COVID, but from small thinking and narrow mindedness. To beat COVID and get back to some sense of a normal life, we are all going to need to work together to protect our communities.
- I want to protect my time. A wise friend once told me, “Be careful with who you give yourself to (time, energy, etc.) – some people will take it, whatever you give them, and throw it away. They won’t caretake what you give. So be careful.”
- I want to protect my energy. 2020 and its pandemic and quarantine have taught me a great deal about how I want to spend the rest of my days. In the yoga world, aligning your core values with your actions is part of dharma and karma. It’s easy to overextend yourself as a mother and woman, so it’s important to set boundaries to self-preserve. Otherwise, we self-destruct.
- Because our health is our wealth!
What is your Word of the Year for 2021?
I hope you choose a Word of the Year that inspires, uplifts, and motivates you. And I hope my story has helped in some small way, to help you believe that YOU CAN.