The WORD for 2021

For several years, I’ve had a practice of choosing a focus word for each year. Sometimes this word resonated deep within me, and other times it was purely practical.  The last several weeks I have been reading, researching, praying, listening, scrolling, and genuinely seeking a clear word for the upcoming year. My word for 2021 is…. wait for it…. RELATIONSHIP!

This word impressed upon me early, but I wasn’t sure it was right. After all, relationship isn’t the strong motivational word one typically associates with a focus word. However, as I ruminated longer and more deeply on the idea of relationship, it was abundantly clear that RELATIONSHIP is definitely an appropriate word for the year 2021. 

Humans are social animals.  We need relationship with other humans.   Unlike wild animals or machines or even artificial intelligence, human beings are actually enhanced by relationship.  We work harder, are more engaged, and are happier when in healthy, strong relationship with those around us. Whether in the workplace, in your personal life, or in your own soul, relationship helps human beings thrive. 

Relationship impacts all areas of our lives for better or worse.  Teams with good working relationships are more productive.  Focus on relationships with the people at work, and you will become a better leader. Families with strong personal relationships are stronger.  Focus on relationships with your spouse, children, parents, or other significant family members, and you will create a bond not easily broken. Author Heather Stillufsen said that walking with a friend can be great therapy. Focus on relationships with your friends and enhance your emotional health. Focus on relationship with your God and find the inner peace that may have been missing from your life.

Regardless of the setting, there are a few guiding principles to enhance any relationship:

Be Gracious – No one is perfect.  Give grace to mistakes.  Allow space for mistakes and misunderstanding.  You will want the same when you make a mistake.

Put in the Work –  Human beings are complex, which means relationships can be complicated.  Take the time and put in the work needed to grow your relationship.

Focus on the Present – Be present when present.  Turn off your phone, stop multi-tasking, pay attention to who is in front of you.  A strong relationship is worth your focus.

My word for 2021 is Relationship.  What’s your word?