My Word for 2021: Gratitude — alexis maida

As I begin this new year, I am cautious about expectations and hopes for 2021 to eclipse 2020. Things such as New Year’s resolutions seem a bit too ambitious for my taste this year when all I truly pray for is health and peace. Perhaps one positive that came out of 2020 is my desire less for “advancement” and more for “contentment.”

The things we went through in 2020 changed us. A lot. We were challenged, broken, and transformed. If 2020 was the year of change, perhaps we were changing for where 2021 will take us.

In the first week of January, I came across a lot of content about choosing a WORD as opposed to making a resolution. The more I thought about it, the more the idea grew on me. We all know resolutions rarely last beyond a couple of weeks into January. Perhaps we do make some initial healthier choices, but quickly the resolutions fade into whatever has proven to stick as unconscious habits. They are forgotten and replaced with discouragement and even a sense of failure. I believe this is because most resolutions are dealing with effects and not causes, symptoms, and not underlying issues.

I consider the idea of coming up with a word an opportunity to pay attention to the inner life and incorporate something on a value system level. You may recall past articles where I outlined personal resources within our dimensions of wellness. At the core (or the foundation) of our resources is our value system which feeds our intentions, attention, connections, and actions. The practice of incorporating a word into daily life can actually have long-standing results by bringing the focus to a cause on a value system level and not simply to the effects that show up in where our attention goes, who we’re connected to, or how we act.

This year, I am choosing the word GRATITUDE. I want to start 2021 focused on gratitude in all dimensions of wellness. I believe this will be the best foundation coming out of the challenging year of 2020. Sometimes, it’s easier to focus on what we don’t have, rather than what we do have. It’s important to pause, reflect, and refocus on all of the things to be thankful for that many of us take for granted. Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, where we are into where we should be, and when things are happening into the perfect time. In every situation, there is always room to find something to be grateful for. This shift in mindset can almost immediately transform a perspective from what is wrong or bad to what is good and a blessing.

Gratitude eclipses the concept of a resolution because it becomes a pillar for NOW. All we have is this moment, and this moment can only be fully lived when we see all that is happening FOR us and all that we have to be grateful for.

Here are some things that I am thankful for in each dimension as I begin 2021. By expressing my thankfulness, I pray gratitude will be revealed in my actions:

There are so many more things to be grateful for! I am going to cement my word into my daily life in 2021 by keeping a gratitude journal. I am a very digital person, so I will be using the Evernote app as a journal, but many people enjoy hand-written journals. Whatever the medium, the focus is to have a place to write and reflect. Imagine all that you will be able to look back at to be grateful for at the end of the year.

I may get myself a gratitude mug as well because I love the idea of waking up to a cup of gratitude every morning! 😉

Warning: I will fail at this exercise over and over again. I will inevitably cave or forget about my word for a period of time. It’s OK! I’m human. I’m not perfect. The faster we recognize our own weaknesses or failures, the sooner we realize we’re not our own saviors. By admitting I am not perfect, I am making room for my value system to not be dependent upon my own efforts, perfectionist tendencies, or control. I’ve shared that my value system is built on my Christian faith, which removes self-righteousness and gives me the ability to look at my failures honestly to embrace a growth mindset and have empathy for others on their journeys.

As I have said in other articles, what is in your value system will serve as a foundation for how you use your personal resources (intentions, attention, connections, and actions) across all of your dimensions of wellness. So, by practicing gratitude on a daily basis, it will pour out from the inside into your actions with others. The fruit will be gratefulness, and gratefulness is a powerful force to begin healing a lot of what we went through in 2020.

What word would contribute to your wellness in 2021? Here are some words to consider!

Originally published at on January 11, 2021.

Alexis is an experienced executive with 15+ years of expertise in strategy, communications, branding, marketing and wellness.