2021: Word of the Year

Over the last week, I’ve lost count of how many articles I’ve read about New Year’s resolutions. Despite the fact that everyone I’ve spoken to (and I do mean everyone) says they’re not setting any, there’s obviously enough people still that do set them to warrant the column inches devoted to a discussion about them. This, in turn, makes me wonder whether there’s a lot of secret setting of resolutions out there…just saying.

Anyways, if you google it, you’ll find plenty of statistics that estimate how many people fail to honour the New Year resolutions that they tell everyone they don’t set. This number is estimated at anything between 60-88%, depending on the source you read. Even though I have this theory that 94.5% of all statistics are made up, I tend to believe that these numbers are pretty close to the mark. (As an aside, apparently the sales of self-help books sky-rocket during January too as people seek help with the resolutions they say they’re not making…which is sort of really the opposite of self help. Just saying.)

The earliest recording of New Year Resolutions was apparently by the Babylonians 4000 years ago. It seems, however, that the most common goal of the ancient Babylonians was not to shed 20 25 kgs and cut back on the booze be sober curious, it was, wait for it, to return borrowed farm equipment.

While I no longer set New Year resolutions (truly, I don’t), I am a goal-setting junkie. There are good reasons for this:

I’m a tad like Dory when it comes to focus. The meme below literally is me.

I’m not great with boundaries either and without goals, I drift and achieve absolutely nothing. I need the discipline and structure that a goal brings in order to get anything done. As far as I’m concerned, the stretchier the goal the better – that way wherever I end up landing is way further than I would be if I’d aimed too low. It’s a bit like my cups of tea – no matter the size of the cup or how far it’s been filled, I always leave the bottom ¼ of a cup of tea. It’s the same with goals. If I aim high I’ll get most of the way there, but if I aim low, I’ll get most of the way against that target. Same same but a very different result.

These days my goals are chunked down and become part of the perpetual list which is my 101 things to do in 1001 days. Too easy.

That aside, I do usually set a word of the year. It’s not instead of my goals but rather overlays it. It brings awareness to what I really want to focus on for the year and sets a theme for how I intend to approach my goals – it’s a mindset thing. 

In 2020 my word was a phrase: Get Real. I established structures and routines and checklists so nothing could slip by even the tiniest of margins. It helped me achieve what I did manage to achieve, and it absolutely helped me cope with what I needed to cope with but for much of the year, I felt creatively stifled – almost as though the essence of me had disappeared under other commitments. For the first time ever, it felt as though my imagination – which I’ve always counted on as being active and multi-coloured – went into hibernation. I wrote a bit about it here. Sure, I published 2 books and finished editing another, but up until November, I hadn’t written any new words at all. 

This year feels different – it truly feels as though the energy is shifting. I’ve stepped back from a couple of things and my writing mojo is back – so I’m not thinking too hard about that. I’m simply letting the ideas flow through me again and seeing what happens.  

So, embracing that, my word of the year is…


Imagine if I let my imagination out of its box

Imagine if I listen to my intuition

Imagine if I take the time to retreat or withdraw

Imagine if I pull back on some of my commitments

Imagine if I strip back what I don’t need – all those layers

Imagine if I move more

Imagine if I write more of my stories 

Imagine if I tell people about my stories

Imagine if I don’t try and control every outcome

Imagine if I don’t make excuses or apologise for what I do

Imagine if I treat my writing career with the respect it deserves

Imagine if I follow through

Imagine if I give my books the launch they deserve

Imagine if I replace those habits that bring me undone with ones that won’t

Imagine. Believe. Achieve.

So, tell me, do you choose a word of the year?

This post first appeared on my other blog – and anyways...