The Power of One Word in 2021

The new year has begun, and whether you’re a resolution maker or not, you likely have some idea of what you’d like to see happen over the next 12 months. I’m trying something a little different this year. I’ve chosen one word to be my guide for making decisions, and it feels quite powerful.

I got this idea from the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin. Rubin is an author who I’ve enjoyed over the years, and when I discovered her podcast I couldn’t wait to check it out. The concept is Rubin and her sister simply discussing the topic of the day. I’ve found lot of comfort in it because listening to these two makes me feel like my own five sisters are right there with me.

Each year they encourage their listeners to create a list of things they’d like to try before the year’s end. It’s not an endless list. Rather, the number corresponds to the year we’re in. For example, this time around you would list 21 things (for 2021) that you’d like to bring into your world. Big things or little things. Things you undertake just once or new daily habits you want to start up for good. The sisters also suggest writing one word at the top of the list that will help you navigate through the year. (To make it easier, you can download the “My 21 for 2021 list,” a free pdf from Rubin where you can write down and keep track of your goals.)

In choosing my one word for the year, I considered how I wanted to feel about my life and then looked for a word that would keep me on track with that feeling. A mantra of sorts. I knew I wanted my life to be uncomplicated. I wanted to get back to the basics and to move through my days with ease. With this in mind, I chose the word “simplicity.”

To clarify things even further for myself, I broke my list down to six areas of life:

Home: The place where we spend most of our time should be calming and rejuvenating. While there are several big home projects I’d like to complete, 2021 will be the year of little projects. I intend on getting a plant for each bedroom and teaching everyone how to care for them. I will declutter our closets and the garage. If we aren’t putting things to good use, let’s donate them so someone else can. We’ll keep letting our boys earn some spending money by cleaning the house. (Which also means my hubby and I won’t have to do it on our days off.)

Food: Focusing on the basics means we will keep our kitchen stocked with the most healthful foods we can find. We will create weekly meal plans and reach for the tried-and-true recipes we all love. I’ve also realized that my hubby and I don’t have to make every family meal on our own, so each of the boys will be responsible for dinner one night a week. They get to choose the meal, make the grocery list, and prepare it by our typical dinner time. Win-win.

Movement: I intend on moving my body every day in 2021. To keep it simple, anything counts—going on a walk with my hubby or a friend, working on a 30-day challenge (planks, squats, push-ups), or shooting hoops in the driveway with my boys. There’s no need to seek out the latest fad workout. The most basic physical activities can really add up to a stronger and healthier physique.

Self-care: Making self-care a priority helps you put your best foot forward with others. It is the epitome of simplicity. To practice self-care is to meet your own basic needs first instead of making sure everyone else is okay. It’s checking in on your stress levels to make sure you’re not in constant “fight” mode. It’s soaking in the bathtub every Sunday afternoon, reading before going to bed each night, and meditating each morning to ensure your day plays out as you wish.

Relationships: When it comes right down to it, the most important thing in life is healthy connections with the people you spend time with each day. This is the difference between knowing they’re there for you when you need them or walking on eggshells wondering what might happen next. For me, fostering my relationships means I will make it a priority to sit down for dinner each night with my family. I will carve out some individual time with each of our boys and with my hubby, and I will work with our pup to make sure she’s getting the exercise she needs to stay healthy and strong.

Work life: Writing for SRP is, technically, my side gig, and I love it. It feeds my creative side and allows me to explore topics that intrigue me. I’ve missed the consistency of writing each week. In an effort to make it a simple part of my routine, I’m developing a quarterly editorial calendar with a theme for each month and topic ideas for each week. When I’ve taken the time for this in the past, writing has been much less complicated.

As for my full-time work, which I also love, I’m paying attention to repetitive tasks that I could make easier with systems and structures. Checklists for bringing in a new patient, a schedule of batched tasks that I follow to be as efficient as possible, and a file of common email responses that can I can copy and paste with only minor personalization. Systems and structures makes work simpler, no matter what you do.

When I’m confronted with new decisions this year, simplicity will be my guiding rule. Are you willing to join me in discovering the power of one word for 2021?

Images from iStock/Alena Butor (main), icarmen13 (food), Vicky Gosselin (woman in a bath).

Paula Widish

Paula Widish, author of Trophia: Simple Steps to Everyday Self-Health, is a freelance writer and self-healther. She loves nothing more than sharing tidbits of information she discovers with others. (Actually, she loves her family more than that—and probably bacon too.) Paula has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Public Relations and is a Certified Professional Life Coach through International Coach Academy.

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