What Are Your Intentions for 2021?

Did you make New Year’s Resolutions this year? If so, are they beginning to crumble about now? That’s no surprise. Statistics show that about 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail. And let’s face facts, 2020 was the strangest and most stressful year ever. And now 2021 is off to a rocky start as well. People are still dying from this pandemic in record levels, the long awaited vaccine seems to be stalled, and unemployment is at record highs. We are heading into a new year with much uncertainty.

Which means it’s probably not the time to put additional pressure on yourself to meet difficult objectives. So let’s forget about ambitious goals this year.

That may sound funny coming from me if you read my last blog. After gaining over 20 pounds during the pandemic, I’ve made it a goal to eat healthier and lose weight. With COVID raging here in California and obesity a major risk factor of becoming seriously ill from the virus, it seemed like the prudent and wise thing to do. After almost two months, I managed to lose 13 pounds. Not bad.

However, unlike previous times I’ve attempted to lose weight, I’m definitely being easier on myself. Last week, I stayed with my 88-year-old father to help him through cataract surgery and gained a couple of those pounds back. I didn’t beat myself up for it. Going forward, I’m only focusing on losing five pounds at a time. And if it takes me longer than usual to accomplish that feat, so be it.

Although I encouraged my Facebook followers on my author page to join me in my quest to lose weight and live a healthier life, only one friend accepted the challenge. At first, I was surprised. Then, I understood.

A Time to Focus on Self-Care

To put things into perspective, it’s like a funny tweet by Alyssa Limperis I saw:

New Year’s resolutions for 2021 are gonna be like:

  • travel to the other side of the room
  • wear a different shirt
  • cut screen time from 12 hours a day to 11
  • eat a vegetable
  • bathe

Ha, ha. This is the time to keep a sense of humor, to be sure.

On a more serious note, maybe during these tumultuous times, it’s more about survival than success – however you may define that word. Perhaps we need to dump those New Year’s Resolutions and focus on self-preservation and self-care.

Let’s state our intentions instead of goals this year, with a focus on personal growth instead of accomplishments.

What’s Your Focus Word for 2021?

Have you heard of the recent trend of selecting a “Word for the Year” or “Focus Word?” Supposedly, at the beginning of the year, you choose just one word or phrase that describes what you need more of, what you want to cultivate in your life, or what you want to be your focus for the year.

In the past, when I read about this, it seemed a bit silly to me. But I’ve changed my mind. I’m not talking about words like abundance (unless you’re talking about love) advancement, ambition, or achievements. There are so many better, worthy words to choose.

Mental health may be a priority for you this year. If you’re struggling with anxiety and depression during these difficult times, perhaps you’ll choose a word like calmness, prayer, strength, resilience, gratitude, tranquility, breathe, heal, fortitude, survive, or inner peace. Or if you are focused on self-care to keep your sanity, maybe you’ll choose nurture, presence, release, create, relax, mindfulness, simplify, chill, or nourish.

Perhaps you’ll choose a phrase, like “You Got This” or “We’ll Get Through This,” or “This, Too, Shall Pass.”

If you want physical health to be a priority, you could adopt a word like active, vigor, fit, strong, healthy, mindful eating, or exercise.

How about opting for a word like compassion, love, empathy, and kindness?  These are great words and qualities to adopt, especially toward those who are fighting this virus in this horrific pandemic, those who are losing loved ones, and those who are suffering from job loss, stress ,and depression. After all, focusing on others can help your own well-being. Think about the positive feelings you experienced the last time you comforted or encouraged someone else. “Helping others takes the mind and emotions off the self, allowing the mind to move past anxieties and rumination,” said Stephan G. Post, PhD, director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stony Brook University, in an article for Healthline.

And let’s not forget about spiritual words like hope, faith, trust, or believe. Life ebbs and flows, sometimes causing pain, sorrow, hardship, grief, and frustration. If you’re a spiritual person and have faith, it can provide hope for the future, no matter your present circumstances.

Since this describes me, I’m choosing the word “forward.” As the motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, said, “If there is hope in the future, there is literally power in the present.”

Because I’m looking to the future with hope and confidence thanks to my faith. Because with God’s help, I know that our ability and infinite capacity to endure and bounce back is far greater than we think.

I’m choosing “forward” because I’m looking forward to the day when I can hug my family and friends again. I’m looking forward to the time I can travel to unknown destinations and experience new adventures. Heck, I’m looking forward to the day when I don’t have to dye my own hair!

In other words, I’m looking forward to moving forward.

So, what’s your intention for 2021? There are no rules. Think about which focus word will have the most impact in your life. Perhaps you’ll choose five focus words instead of one. I actually plan on trying to incorporate all these words into my life this year. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.






Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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12 Responses

  1. Cat Michaels says:

    Julie, I have a hard time selecting just one word for the year. My first instinct was “survive,” but I want to do more with precious moments in pandemic times. “Thrive” isn’t right, because I cannot thrive when so many struggle. And “positive” doesn’t have a good meaning, either! Turning to my garden, I decided on “perennial,” a plant that calms and stores energy to rest through dark winters to rise and bloom anew each spring.

  2. Rebecca Lyndsey says:

    My job is what drives me completely nuts because something changes almost daily due to the way the asinine way it’s being handled, so I’m going with “consistency” I’m also adding “vacation” because I can’t wait till summer break when I can break away from my job for a while.

    • juliegorges says:

      Sorry, I can only imagine how hard your job must be right now. I will hope that 2021 brings you more “consistency” and you enjoy a wonderful well-deserved summer break!

  3. What a powerful and uplifting post, Julie! Thank you!
    I love all these focus words, but the one that jumped out of me was to be more. “mindful.” I hope to be more mindful of others and what they are dealing with. I want to be more mindful on how I feed my body and exercise….and drink more water, which I’m terrible about. I want to be more mindful of the things we take for granted. (That one really hit hard last year.)

    Thanks again for sharing!
    PS. Congratulations on losing 13 lbs. What is a great accomplishment.

  4. Love this. It’s right on time. I’ve been doing a lot of reflection recently and I’ve discovered I need to work on patience and peace. I’m working at a job I don’t particularly enjoy. I can’t leave because I need the money. So, I’m working on peace in the moment while I move toward something better.

  5. Julie says:

    Ohhhhh really like stripping back goals to what is really important, self-care and only a few words. My word is still ‘sparkle’. Decided it a couple of years ago and haven’t found a better one. I will try and eat a vegetable today.

  6. Hi Julie, I didn’t make any resolutions or set any goals this year. I haven’t even settled on a focus word and I have done that for several years now. So far my year has been all about family. so maybe that is my word – Family. Our little granddaughter was born on her brother’s 3rd birthday in January, a little sooner than anticipated. It puts things into perspective, all my goals can wait, I need to be here for my family.

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