2021 is almost here. Thank goodness. I know I am not alone when I say I am ready to put 2020 in the past. But to be brutally honest there is one thing that
I wantI need to carry forward from 2020 into 2021.
Since the end of 2016, I have set a word of intention for the coming year. This single word replaces my New Year’s resolutions and provides me framing and perspective as I approach life in the coming year. Every year, I have allowed myself time and space to reflect and find a word that really resonates with me. Every year, I have cycled through at least 3 to 4 different words before landing on the right one. And, at the end of every year I have reflected on the word I chose and have been grateful for my selection. I have been amazed at the powerful impact it has had. At how much it shaped me and my perspective throughout the year.
My chosen words for the last several years are:
- 2017 – Present
- 2018 – Possibility
- 2019 – Growth
- 2020 – Accept
Here’s the part where I confess how hard my 2020 word was. I chose the word Accept in December 2019…back when I was excited about what 2020 was going to bring, and before 2020 turned into a dumpster fire. Accept was my chosen word for three main reasons.
First, like a lot of other people I know, I want to control things. I want to control how others view me, what the outcomes will be, and generally how a situation unfolds. But logically I know – the only thing I can control is me. While my brain is fully aware this is the truth, my heart and my gut haven’t fully figured this out. And, so I continue to struggle with the idea that I can control more than I actually can. To accept means giving up control.
Second, going into 2020, I anticipated the year would bring its own set of challenges – particularly on the home front. I was preparing to have my oldest graduate from high school and set off onto college and adulthood. I knew I was going to miss her like crazy. I also knew that this was exactly what we had been preparing for and I was so thrilled and proud of her. This mix of conflicting emotions and just letting them exist highlighted my need to accept more.
Third, this word spoke to me because my favorite definition of happiness is… “happiness comes from accepting what is and letting go of what you cannot control”. As I get older, I find myself more focused on a balanced life and finding happiness than ever before. Focusing on the ability to accept seemed like the right next step in my journey and 2020 felt the perfect year to push myself and take this on.
How’d it go?
Then March of 2020 hit – and well, I don’t need to rehash all the ways that 2020 sucked. In this new context, my word of intention – Accept – took on a whole new level of challenge. Throughout the year, I have had hours, sometimes whole days, where I was great at accepting what was happening. And to be quite frank…I have had many days where I fought against the reality and tried hard to control how things unfolded. As you might have guessed – the times I fought against the reality didn’t work out very well. I will also admit that as we close in on the end of the year, “accepting” is still a challenge. It doesn’t happen unless I force myself to deliberately choose it. It does not come naturally.
I can say with confidence that my word of intention for 2020 was the right word…dare I say in some ways it feels like it was prophetic. I am certain my ability to accept is better today that it was one year ago. I am also 100% certain that I am not done with it yet. I have a lot more work to do on this topic.
So, what’s it going to be in 2021?
I have never carried forward a word from one year to the next. But, if ever there was a word of intention that needed focus for more than one year – this is it! So, as much as I am looking forward to 2021 and putting 2020 in the rearview mirror – for this one item, I intend to carry it forward. I am officially declaring that my word of intention for 2021 is Accept.
Jennifer is a seasoned leader and executive coach with more than 20 years experience including as a Chief Human Resources Officer overseeing the HR and Communications functions. She is a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coaching Federation.
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