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What is your intention for 2021?

Did you make New Year’s Resolutions this year? If so, are they starting to fall apart now?

That’s no surprise. Statistics show that around 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail. And let’s face it, 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 at record levels, the long-awaited vaccine seems to be stalling, and unemployment is at record levels. We enter a new year with a lot of uncertainty.

Which means it’s probably not the time to push yourself harder to hit hard targets. 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 made it my mission to eat healthier and lose weight. With COVID raging here in California and obesity a major risk factor for getting seriously ill from the virus, it seemed like the most prudent and wise thing to do. After almost two months, I managed to lose 13 pounds. Not bad.

However, unlike other times I’ve tried to lose weight, I’m definitely being kinder to myself. Last week, I stayed with my 88 year old father to help him through cataract surgery and I put back a couple of those pounds. I didn’t punish myself 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 took up the challenge. At first, I was surprised. So, I understood.

A time to focus on self-care

Perhaps during these tumultuous times, it’s more about survival than success, however you define that word. Maybe we need to ditch those New Year’s Resolutions and focus on self-preservation and self-care.

Let’s express our intentions rather than goals this year, with a focus on personal growth rather than achievement.

What is your focus word for 2021?

Have you heard of the recent trend of selecting a “Word of the Year” or “Focus Word”? Supposedly, at the beginning of the year, you choose just one word or phrase that describes what you need most, 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 achievement. There are so many better and valuable words to choose from.

Mental health may be a priority for you this year. If you are struggling with anxiety and depression during these difficult times, you might choose a word like calm, prayer, strength, resilience, gratitude, tranquility, breathe, heal, strength, survive, or inner peace. Or if you focus on self-care to maintain sanity, you may choose to nurture, witness, release, create, relax, mindfulness, simplify, cool, or nurture.

Maybe choose a phrase, like “You’ve got this” or “We’ll get through this” or “This too shall pass.”

If you want physical health to be a priority, you can adopt a word like active, vigorous, 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 towards those battling this virus in this horrible pandemic, those who are losing loved ones, and those 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 another person. “Helping others takes the mind and emotions off of oneself, allowing the mind to move beyond anxieties and rumination,” said Stephan G. Post, PhD, director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at the Stony Brook University, in an article for Healthline.

And let’s not forget spiritual words like hope, faith, trust or believe. Life comes and goes, sometimes causing pain, sadness, difficulties, grievances and frustration. If you are a spiritual person and have faith, it can give you hope for the future, no matter your current circumstances.

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

Because I look to the future with hope and confidence thanks to my faith. Because with the help of God, I know that our ability and infinite capacity to resist and recover is much greater than we think.

I choose “forward” because I look forward to the day when I can hug my family and friends again. I look forward to the time when 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 hair!

In other words, I really want to move on.

So what is your focus word for this year? No rules. Think about which focus word will have the biggest impact on your life. Maybe choose five focus words instead of one. In fact, I plan to try to incorporate all of these words into my life this year.

What is your intention for 2021?

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