I have never really been one to make new year resolutions. There is no real reason why other than I am not good at keeping them long term. I think most people would agree that we always start the new year with good intentions, but then life gets in the way and those resolutions fizzle out. Instead of new year resolutions, I create small goals for myself all throughout the year that help me to achieve the long-term goals I have for my life. I have found that to be a much better way for me to stay focused on what I want to accomplish all year long. At the start of each month, I sit down and think about the things that I want to accomplish that month and I write them down in my calendar and my phone as a constant reminder. Narrowing down my focus each month, seems to make my goals more manageable and more likely to be accomplished. This has been a very effective practice for me and is something that I will continue to do.
Two years ago, I started coming up with a single word that I wanted to focus on throughout the year in addition to my monthly goals. I saw this idea somewhere, and I really loved it. I wanted to choose a word that would represent my year as a whole. It was to be a word that I posted around my house and would impact every decision and thought that I had throughout the year. I wanted to choose a word that would be impactful on my life. It sort of became my mantra for the year. My word of the year in 2019 was JOY. It was something that was really lacking in my life at that time and desperately needed. I wanted JOY to be my focus for that year as a way to change my mindset and the way that I looked at day to day things going on in my life. I wanted it to be a constant reminder for me to choose JOY in all circumstances. It allowed me to focus on the positives instead of the negatives, and by the end of that year, it had become a habit. It was completely freeing. I feel like it truly made a difference in my life that year and really helped to change the way I looked at everything. My word for 2020 was RELENTLESS. My goal was to be RELENTLESS in the pursuit of my goals. That word was placed on my heart after hearing a song that I love. It was like God turned on that song at the exact moment I was praying about my new word. It turned out to be the perfect word for this past year. I wanted to focus on being RELENTLESS in multiple areas…relentless in love (for my family and friends), relentless in faith (growing in my relationship with God), relentless in work (making a global impact with my Trades of Hope business), relentless in pursuing my dreams (not giving up on reaching them), relentless in personal growth (becoming a better version of myself), and relentless in joy (continuing to choose joy every day). While 2020 did not turn out like any of us had planned, I stayed true to my word of the year. I never gave up and keep pushing forward in all of those areas. I really was RELENTLESS. I am proud of myself for continuing to choose joy in the midst of everything that went wrong in 2020. I chose to see the good that came from it as much as I could, and it brought me so much joy this year. I also spent more time with my family (thank you COVID) and was really focused in on cultivating my relationships. My biggest accomplishment of the year, though, was remaining relentless in my work. I was able to grow my Trades of Hope business in ways I never imagined I could, especially in the middle of a pandemic. I am very proud of myself for that. It just proved to me that hard work and persistence are important and can really make a difference. We should all be relentless in pursuing our goals.
We are already 5 days into a new year, and I have been struggling to find my word of the year for 2021. The last two came to me so easily and were the perfect fit, but this year’s word has taken a lot of reflection and prayer to find it. I’ve been toiling around with several words for weeks now. I’ve had a running list of possible words in my phone since the beginning of December when I started reflecting on the past year and began looking forward to this year. None of them seemed to be calling to me, though. If I am being perfectly honest, I still didn’t have the word when I sat down and began writing this post this morning. It’s true. I was just kind of hoping that it would come to me as I wrote, and that didn’t happen. I actually had to stop writing after that last paragraph thinking that I was going to have to postpone this post to another day. I decided to close my computer, close my eyes, and begin praying for the word to come. I finished my prayer and just sat here with my eyes closed for a few minutes. I wanted to be still and present. I wanted to take the time to push out everything around me and just listen to what God had to tell me. It was in that moment that my word for 2021 appeared in my head. As I sat here letting the word sink in, it became clear to me that this word was placed on my heart at this very moment because it is exactly the word I need. It even kind of goes along with my word from last year.
My word for 2021 is INTENTIONAL. The Oxford dictionary says that intentional means “done on purpose; deliberate.” I think for me that it ultimately means choosing to make all of my decisions and actions about things that are important to me. It means taking an active role in my life and with my time versus living my life just reacting to what is happening around me or waiting for the storm to end. That reminds me of that saying, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning how to dance in the rain.” I want to dance in the rain. I want to truly live. Prior to COVID, my life was crazy. Most days were spent just going through the motions, trying to make it through. The pandemic brought with it a much needed break from all that insanity. It allowed me time to do things that I wanted to do instead of simply doing all the things I thought I had to do. That is how I was able to grow my Trades of Hope business. I became more intentional with my time. I really want to keep that going this year. I don’t want life to go back to the way it was before this extended break. I no longer want to live my life reacting and simply surviving as I weather the next storm. I want to continue to be intentional in my decisions, actions, emotions, and time. I want to be INTENTIONAL with my quiet time with God—not just asking and repenting but choosing to listen and be still, INTENTIONAL with my work—continuing to be relentless in my pursuit of my goals and using my time wisely, INTENTIONAL with my time—choosing time with family and friends over things that are much less important and keeping my focus on the things that matter, INTENTIONAL with my pursuit of becoming a better version of myself—actively working to become the person I want to be instead of just waiting for it to happen. It is time to take control of my life and start living it the way I want to. It is time to stop merely surviving and start truly living. The more this word is swimming around in my brain, the more excited I am becoming about the future. This is definitely the right word for me for this time in my life. It came to me when I got INTENTIONAL with my time of prayer. How ironic is that? All I can say is that it is all God! I can’t wait to see how living out my word this year is going to change my life. I just know it is going to be great!