2021: Word of the Year

Over the last week I’ve lost count of how many articles I’ve read about New Year’s resolutions. Despite the fact that everyone I’ve spoken to (and I do mean everyone) says they’re not setting any, there’s obviously enough people still that do set them to warrant the column inches devoted to a discussion about them. This in turn makes me wonder whether there’s a lot of secret setting of resolutions out there…just saying.

Anyways, if you google it, you’ll find plenty of statistics that estimate how many people fail to honour the New Year resolutions that they tell everyone they don’t set. This number is estimated at anything between 60-88%, depending on the source you read. Even though I have this theory that 94.5% of all statistics are made up, I tend to believe that these numbers are pretty close to the mark. (As an aside, apparently the sales of self-help books sky-rocket during January too as people seek help with the resolutions they say they’re not making…which is sort of really the opposite of self help. Just saying.)

The earliest recording of New Year Resolutions was apparently by the Babylonians 4000 years ago. It seems, however, that the most common goal of the ancient Babylonians was not to shed 20 25 kgs and cut back on the booze be sober curious, it was, wait for it, to return borrowed farm equipment.

While I no longer set New Year resolutions (truly, I don’t), I am a goal-setting junkie. There are good reasons for this:

I’m a tad like Dory when it comes to focus. The meme below literally is me.

I’m not great with boundaries either and without goals, I drift and achieve absolutely nothing. I need the discipline and structure that a goal brings in order to get anything done. As far as I’m concerned, the stretchier the goal the better – that way wherever I end up landing is way further than I would be if I’d aimed too low. It’s a bit like my cups of tea – no matter the size of the cup or how far it’s been filled, I always leave the bottom ¼ of a cup of tea. It’s the same with goals. If I aim high I’ll get most of the way there, but if I aim low, I’ll get most of the way against that target. Same same but a very different result.

These days my goals are chunked down and become part of the perpetual list which is my 101 things to do in 1001 days. Too easy.

That aside, I do usually set a word of the year. It’s not instead of my goals but rather overlays it. It brings awareness to what I really want to focus on for the year and sets a theme for how I intend to approach my goals – it’s a mindset thing. 

In 2020 my word was a phrase: Get Real. I established structures and routines and checklists so nothing could slip by even the tiniest of margins. It helped me achieve what I did manage to achieve, and it absolutely helped me cope with what I needed to cope with but for much of the year, I felt creatively stifled – almost as though the essence of me had disappeared under other commitments. For the first time ever, it felt as though my imagination – which I’ve always counted on as being active and multi-coloured – went into hibernation. I wrote a bit about it here. Sure, I published 2 books and finished editing another, but up until November, I hadn’t written any new words at all. 

This year feels different – it truly feels as though the energy is shifting. I’ve stepped back from a couple of things and my writing mojo is back – so I’m not thinking too hard about that. I’m simply letting the ideas flow through me again and seeing what happens.  

So, embracing that, my word of the year is…


Imagine if I let my imagination out of its box

Imagine if I listen to my intuition

Imagine if I take the time to retreat or withdraw

Imagine if I pull back on some of my commitments

Imagine if I strip back what I don’t need – all those layers

Imagine if I move more

Imagine if I write more of my stories 

Imagine if I tell people about my stories

Imagine if I don’t try and control every outcome

Imagine if I don’t make excuses or apologise for what I do

Imagine if I treat my writing career with the respect it deserves

Imagine if I follow through

Imagine if I give my books the launch they deserve

Imagine if I replace those habits that bring me undone with ones that won’t

Imagine. Believe. Achieve.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

25 thoughts

  1. You inspire me every time I read your posts, Jo. Imagine is a beautiful word and something we don’t take the time to do. Imagine if we did what we could achieve. I’m a goal setter as well but a few years ago realised that NY resolutions are not the answer. It is a lifestyle change for the long term that matters. I’m inspired to write a list of what I would like to do in 2021 in a post and be honest even if some of the things might seem silly to others. Thanks for an inspiring word and don’t forget to link it up over on my website where Leanne and I are hosting a WOTY one-off link up. x

    1. Awww thanks Sue. My 101 things list really works for me – some big stuff, some small stuff, some mundane stuff. Looking forward to seeing your list – and as long as it’s authentic to you (self) there’s nothing silly about any of it.

  2. I haven’t picked a word of the year- and I may or may not. I also like stretchy goals and I do have goals for the new year- mostly things I intend to do. One of those things is to read more books for fun. I just read your list of Christmas books post. I wish I had seen it in November. I do like those kinds of Christmas books- it is my easy, feel good reading which I always seem to need in December! I am next up on the library list for Jenny Colgan’s new one. I, too, hope to be able to order a whiskey in Scots/Gaelic if we are ever allowed to travel again! I have been meaning to read your books all year and I just ordered my first so that will be up next!
    Happy new year and may many more books commence!

    1. Jenny Colgan has become one of my go-to authors for sure. I flirted with some Scots Gaelic on Duolingo last year – and some Welsh – mainly because we’d planned another trip across there in October. So I can order a whisky in Gaelic – and am very proud of that talent too, just quietly. At this point Australians are still not permitted to leave the country and I doubt that will change before the middle of the year, so who knows… Happy new year to you too.

  3. Imagine is an excellent WOTY, Jo, as it’s limitless. Happy New Year and wishing you a fabulous 2021! I hope to see you at my new weekly Weekend Coffee Share any week. #lifethisweek

  4. Imagine! I love it Jo and the perfect word to reset after the unimaginable year of 2020. I did laugh out loud when I read that you always love tea in your cup. I do that too with both tea and coffee. My partner gets frustrated at the coffee left in my medium latte and says I should order a small. It wouldn’t matter as I would still leave it. I’ve never come across anyone else who does this. Looking forward to following your adventures in 2020

    1. Ha! We’re kindred spirits in that respect. My husband says the same (I do it with the coffee I have at the beach each morning too). I order a small coffee, but still leave the bottom bit.

  5. I really like your word of the year and the possibilities it opens up. Last year I realised I had been neglecting my creative side and imagine would have been a great way to encourage that side of me.

  6. Well thanks very much…. I have John Lennon singing away in the back of my head now! And did you know that Jan 17th is apparently World Give Up On Your NY Resolutions Day? Nice to have an official date to tie it in with. Loved your word and the examples at the end – it kind of ties in a little with mine and should make writing that guest post a snap – let me know when you’re ready – just send me a message or email and we’ll lock in the date – you could be first cab off the rank! Imagine that!

  7. “You may say I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will live as one.”
    Oops – I was obviously in the same headspace as Leanne. 😀

    ‘Imagine’ is an awesome word. The frame that you set it in is incredibly powerful.

    True Confession: I am one of those people who sometimes sets New Year’s Resolutions, admits it in public, and usually sticks to it (I’m a nerd, I know). My blog was my 2016 resolution and I knew absolutely blogging prior to setting that goal. That being said, I haven’t set a 2021 resolution yet. As for a WOTY or an intension? Stay tuned for that answer. You know what channel to turn to! 😀

  8. Ha! I believe 94.5% of statistics are made up too! 🙂 When gyms were open, there used to be a big influx of new people at this time of year. By March most of them were gone.

    I love your word for 2021. It is so positive and inspirational. The things you imagine can all come true if you make them. And have a little luck! “Imagine” by John Lennon is one of my favorite songs.

  9. Jo, The Imagine visual is lovely (the colors really speak to me), but the “Imagine, Believe, Achieve” is wonderful! I like the idea of stretchy goals and how you’ve articulated it. There’s an old quote, which I’ll probably misquote, about reaching for the moon to land in the stars. Makes no sense in reality (moon is closer than the stars), but the “go big” sentiment is great. Yes, I have 101 New Things goal (again) and a 52 new recipes (one per week, which is a lot for me as I am not the cook/baker that you are). Even if I don’t hit them, I do more than if I don’t try. As someone else said… imagine all the possibilities!

  10. I love everything about the word “Imagine” Jo. Filled with possibility. Huge smile about Dory. It is almost 7:00pm here……You made me stop and think about the 1/4 cup of tea left in the cup analogy. I have bookmarked your post, Jo. I want to reread and let it sink in. Imagine what I may learn….

  11. Your word for the year made me smile. It is so fitting, especially because what is in front of us is not particularly nice. So hopeful. Thank you for sharing it. Happy 2021!

  12. Wonderful post, lots of food for thought. I loved the reference to the Babylonians and the reference to Dory, totally opposite, but those things caught my attention. Like many others, I may hear John Lennon’s voice singing Imagine, but it’s okay. There always has to be a song, right. Happy New Year, Michele

  13. I love your word Jo! I think it’s perfect for you and I love how you’re hoping for it to play out. Also, I can’t get the song out of my head now! 😀 But I don’t have John Lennon’s version but rather, A Perfect Circle’s version

  14. What a beautiful and engaging word is Imagine. So many possibilities. Love that. I used to do the ‘leave something in the cup thing’ too and now realise it’s never with my daily coffee but often with a cup of tea. Mmmmm

    Welcome back to Life This Week in 2021 on my blog each Monday. Thank you for linking up this week. Next week the optional prompt is 2/51 Announcement on Mon11 Jan. Hope to see you back here then too. Take care, Denyse.

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