Every year I choose a word for the next year, rather than a resolution. I choose a word I want to adopt and explore in the coming year… I started this tradition following in the footsteps of someone I still consider a life mentor, the fabulous Lola Akinmade Åkerström. My word for 2020 was ALIGN, and I recently blogged about my thoughts on a year that was dominated by the unexpected!

When I am choosing my new word for the year I pray about it and also tend to have two or three words I keep coming back to. This year hasn’t been like that. I have had one word in mind the whole time – but I didn’t like it so kept searching for another one! The word, which will be my word for 2021, is not very sexy: DISCIPLINE.

The origin of the word discipline is the Latin word ‘discipulus’ meaning pupil, which also gave us the English word disciple. I am one of those people who shudders at the thought of being stuck in a routine. While for many the unpredictability of 2020 was a burden, I found myself thriving, I have always been good at dealing with things as they come. So to be disciplined in the way I lead my life doesn’t sound like the most thrilling of projects. But I believe I need it right now so it is a sound choice of focus word.

I have a lot I want to do in 2021. I want to live very intentionally and that will mean making the most of each and every day. I also want to break the dreadful habit I have of neglecting my physical needs when I am busy. I have so many exciting opportunities on the horizon, but I know myself well enough now to realise burnout is a definite possibility. Therefore – for perhaps the first time in my 39 years on this planet – I am prioritising routines!

Discipline is going to have four focus points for me this year:

  1. Discipline in… how I move (and rest)
  2. Discipline in… how I use my time
  3. Discipline in… how I think and pray
  4. Discipline in… how I love.

What do I think this will look like?

My moving and resting is often out of kilter. 9 months of working from home in 2020 has taught me I actually need 8-9 hours of sleep. When I was commuting in and out of London I would often get by on 6-7 hours. I could function, but I was nowhere near as productive. I also know being lethargic physically makes me lethargic mentally so 2021 is going to be about building in exercise as a daily habit.

Time is our most precious resource. This is going to be a big one for me – planning out not only my work time but also my non-work time.

How I think and pray is all about guarding myself from things that poison my thinking. I pray often, but I am not good with routines of prayer. I want to build more pauses for prayer and listening in my day. Secondly, I am continuing in my efforts to rid my social media feed of things that do not serve healthy thinking! This does not mean creating an echo chamber where everyone agrees with me or thinks in a similar way. Rather, I want to digest media that makes me question the world or that informs me. What I do not want to do is to fall into traps of worrying about things that do not matter and I don’t want to waste time in debates with people who are just out there trolling rather than seeking solutions or change.

Lastly – love matters! Love is also more than a feeling, it is a choice. I want to prioritise acts of love in 2021. This means discipline in choosing to spend time on acts of love. This means the disciple to say no to the stuff that doesn’t really matter to have the time to prioritise what does. This means investing in educating myself so that I can be a better ally to those I might find harder to love or who I might not naturally find myself standing in solidarity with. This means giving myself the love I need so I can love my neighbour with energy and strength.

Image: Brett Jordan/Unsplash

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Happy New Year all – what is your word for the year going to be? What resolutions are you making? I wish you all a good 2021 – let us all hope for a year where we don’t go ‘back to normal’ but where the new normal is kinder, healthier and happier for us all.