Ijeoma Kola 2021 Word of the Year with brown background

My 2021 Word of the Year

Happy New Year homies!

I’m starting off the year a bit wistful since my parents just left last night and my son crawled to the living room this morning looking for them, but alas, 2021 is fully underway!

For the past few years I’ve shared my word of the year. Rather than having a list of resolutions, I prefer to have a guiding word, mantra, or scripture to shape my thinking for each year. Sometimes I choose the word in the new year, and sometimes I choose it around my birthday (aka my personal new year). Last year, the scripture that served as my guiding word was:

“Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle,

for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that,

or whether both will do equally well.”

 Ecclesiastes 11:6 NIV

After the year we had, I was a bit hesitant to set a word for the year. 2020, although much better for me than for many other people, definitely did not go as planned. A small part of me felt like planning was fruitless because life is so uncertain, but the rest of me knew that I had to have some guiding word to help shape my plans and decision making for 2021.

My 2021 word of the year is FOCUS.

2020 was all about trying out a bunch of different things (as much as time and travel constraints would allow). I launched Cohort Sistas, continued planning the Safe Journey Retreat until travel was canceled, created blog, Instagram, and YouTube content, experimented with different versions of self-care, did a bit of academic writing, redesigned and relaunched my site, did some freelance writing, worked with over 30 brands, and more.

And while I enjoyed most of what I did last year, I was TIRED. A lot of the time. Most of the time. While doing the most has its merits, I’ve realized that there is also power in focusing only on what matters. Because if 2020 taught me anything, it’s that we don’t have as much time on the earth as we think we do, so we have to make the most of the time we do have. If I do everything under the sun, I won’t have enough time to excel at the things that I’m called to do, and won’t have time to enjoy my family and refresh my spirit and soul.

So for 2021, I’m focusing on two things: work that directly aligns with God’s purpose for me and creating time to spend with my family, friends, and myself. By narrowing down my work to only that which is aligned with my purpose, I will have more time I can spend in communion and fellowship with those that are most important to me, so the two are interconnected.

This idea of FOCUS as my 2021 word of the year aligns with my guiding word for my 30s, which is LEGACY. People don’t build a legacy by doing everything under the sun. In my Inside then Out Better Every Day Journal*, yesterday’s prompt was “What do you want to be known for?” and it really inspired me to think about what I needed to focus on in order to create a legacy.

Do you have a word for the year? I’d love to hear all about it.


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  1. I am shocked because my mom kept on saying, FOCUS Mbali, Focus, few days ago. When I read your piece I knew this was a confirmation. I’ve been all over the place getting distracted and exhausted by other things. Whilst the one important thing since last year was my PhD suffered. This year I’m saying no to all. I am focusing only on this one thing, my PhD. FOCUS. love it.

  2. No word of the year for me…for now anyway. I just want to ‘rest’ and settle into 2021 before choosing any word. Most of the time, I find that the word comes to me as opposed to me searching for it.

    Happy New Year Ijeoma.

    xo Stephanie