Goodbye 2020. Hello 2021~ Word of the Year


We are coming to the end of 2020. How is 2020 treating you? No matter how odd this year has been, it still comes to an end. 

Before I discuss my 2020 review and the new year resolution, let me rewind to the fall of 2017 first. I saw a news clip on Facebook about a Japanese Temple choosing a Kanji (meaning Chinese characters) to represent the significant event that happened in Japan during that year. I thought the story interesting and wondered what word would I choose for myself. 

Then, again, on Facebook, I saw a link about A Year in Compass at the end of the year. In the website, it invited people to review the past year in different categories: personal life and family, belongings (home, objects), friends/community, intellectual, finances, work/studies/profession, relaxation/hobbies/creativity, health/fitness, emotional/spiritual, and the bucket list. It was quite extensive. I was pretty impressed with the idea of reviewing the year before setting up the new year resolution. I am also impressed with the idea of setting goals in different areas in life, instead of just a list of the goals. So, I decided to try. 

Word of the Year

After I started to review my year of 2017 and set up my new year resolution for 2018, I realized that I need something simple to capture the overall goals. That was when I connected the idea of the word of the year. 

For the year 2017, I chose the word “important” for 2018.

For the year 2018, I chose the word “worthy” for 2019.

For the year 2019, I chose the word “connected” for 2020.

How do I use the word of the year in that particular year? It is quite simple. Whenever I found myself unable to decide about certain things in my life, I ask myself: “is doing xxxxx going to make me feel XXXX (word of the year)?”

When I reviewed 2017 at the end of the year,  I saw how overwhelmed I was with work with no personal life. When setting the goal for 2018, I knew that I needed to set boundaries in different areas of my life, professional vs. personal, work vs. rest, etc. The main reason the boundary was lacking was that I did not put my own needs as the priority, which was why “important” was chosen as the year’s word. 


Here was an example of how I use the word “important” to help me in 2018. I wasn’t happy with all the services I received in my old office for quite a few years. I had thought about moving in 2017, but due to the death of the family, I didn’t have time to search for a new office. By 2018, I knew I had to make a decision.  The rent was increasing tremendously every year. The attitude and services from the managing company didn’t make me feel I was an important customer. However, I didn’t want to move because it was a lot of work while a possibility to lose clients. However, when I asked myself: “If I stay in this place and renew the lease, will I feel important? Will I think this place communicating to clients a sense of importance when they walk in?” The answer was no to those questions. So, I moved my office. Hence, taking charge of the change came out to remind me of the importance of taking control of the change, even when all I wanted was to stay the same. 


The new year of 2019 rolled in a month after I moved into my new office. (I moved in over Thanksgiving in 2018 at the current location.) At the end of 2018, as I reviewed the year and checked on the unaccomplished goals, I realized the main issue was my self-worth. At times, I didn’t ask for what I wanted or what I deserved because I believed others’ needs or desire were much more significant than mine. Therefore, I chose the word “worthy” for 2019. I used the same questions for myself throughout the year when I can’t make up my mind for certain things: “If I ……. (action or or choice), will I feel worthy?” 

I didn’t write the New Year resolution for 2020 because I was on vacation in Paris from Christmas 2019 until New Year 2020. I contemplated writing something while I was in Paris. However, other than the internet issues, I asked myself: “will I feel worthy if I spend time working in Paris?” The answer is “no, I won’t feel worthy.” 


You might wonder why the word “connected” was chosen for 2020? The main reason was the need to have more connections with other professionals and friends. Life in private practice can be very isolated. I always have a consultant since I started my private practice. However, unlike working in the agency, I don’t have many referral resources to collaborate. So, I began to reach out to a few colleagues in the community in 2019 for a monthly peer-consultation group. It took a while to get the group going, but at the end of 2019, I had a pretty steady group of colleagues in my town meeting once a week. 

So, I thought about extending the connection with colleagues and friends in 2020. Who would have known that the whole world shut down in March 2020? 

So, you might ask, how’s “connected” working so far this year? As good as it can be! I felt very connected with some friends in my personal life. Even though we can’t meet in person, we have found different ways to connect via text messages or Zoom. I live in a big apartment complex. In early June, a senior neighbor was waiting in front of my building with an anxious look. I said hello and asked what’s going on? She told me that she worried about the construction in our neighborhood might impact her grocery delivery. She told me that she hasn’t been out of her unit in the past 3 months and only relied on the grocery delivery. So, I asked for her number and gave her my number. I told her that I would ask if she needed anything whenever I am going grocery. The moral of the story was I made a connection with a neighbor whom I have seen in the neighborhood but would never thought about talking to her or to make a connection if not for the word of the year “connected.”

How do you use the word of the year? It’s simple. Whenever you encounter a decision making or choice making situation, ask yourself: “Will I feel xxxxx (the word of the year) if I ……. (action or choice)?”

So, what would be your word of the year in 2021? I would love to hear your word of the year and the reason for that. As to mine, you will have to wait until the end of 2021 to know. 

Extended Readings

Kenji of the Year


Year Compass

My New Year Resolution Articles

2018: New Year New Boundary (Part I);

New Year New Boundary (Part II)

2019: Taking Charge of the Change


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