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So this is the New Year. Here we are, fast approaching the two-year mark of a global pandemic with no end in sight. Last night when Mr. V and I sat down to say our final gratitudes of the year (a nightly ritual we share), I said I was grateful to have so much: our friends and family, our health and home, and our businesses which both provide for us and fulfill us. I consider myself very fortunate for that last part: the last two years have been unbearably hard to be a travel writer – even when times were good.
But here we are, here I am, still carrying on through it all, looking forward with optimism and hope about my life, my family, my home, my business, and the world. Yes, there were certainly lots of parts of 2021 that completely sucked, but if you’re here and I’m here, we can keep moving forward – onward and upward – together.
As I do each year, I’m posting this particular blog post on January 1st to mark the new year; setting a yearly mantra is an annual tradition that I started focusing on back in 2016. Since then, life has changed a lot – obviously! But I still find value in considering, choosing, and committing to a specific word each year to focus my energies and efforts. The year never goes as I imagine it will when I sit down to write this post, but the exercise is still valuable. After all, if you don’t have an idea in mind where you’re going, how will you get there – or know when (if) you do?
Many people wiser and more successful than I have abandoned the idea of New Year’s Resolutions in favor of choosing words or phrases to focus on instead. I find this practice to be more productive and flexible than New Year’s Resolutions, though I do set goals and have things I want to accomplish. If you enjoy reading today’s post, I hope you’ll join me in choosing a word to focus on this year – and share yours in the comments so I can follow your journey too.
The History of My Yearly Mantras
To give credit where it’s due, the idea for a yearly mantra comes from my blogger friend Malia from Shoyu Sugar; she introduced me to this topic over six years ago. It’s hard to believe it’s now been seven years of choosing a word to focus my intentions for the year!
Here are my past mantras:
While each year, my yearly mantra hasn’t exactly taken the form I’d expect, it’s been an interesting hallmark of the year. For example, in 2017, I thought muse would guide my creative efforts and endeavors; in reality, I learned to surrender to my creative curiosity and accept more structured projects (like my job) when they presented themselves to me. Sometimes, I was in control of the muse, and sometimes she exerted more control over me.
After 2020, I had a pretty solid idea that 2021 would be a very different year than we all hoped, and I was right. Unsurprisingly, that meant that my 2021 mantra played out very differently than expected.
Despite that, I like to set my word even if I know my life won’t happen exactly as I predict it will on January 1st. It allows me to check in throughout the year and look back at year’s end to see how far I’ve come and how wonderfully meandering my life has been.
Looking Back on My 2021 Yearly Mantra: Breathe
Each year, I set forward a few intentions surrounding my mantra and what I think it will mean. Here’s how things turned out for my 2021 mantra.
I will prioritize slowing down to breathe through meditation.
I’ll be frank: I failed at my goal to meditate every year in 2021. I didn’t meditate frequently at all, and I definitely regret not prioritizing it, especially when it popped into my head that it was something I should do. This is still a goal for me in 2022, and I’ve already done my first mediation of the year.
I’ll continue focusing on my physical fitness and healthcare.
I actually did well at this one – I ran most of the year, including when I was moving, traveling, and when the weather was disagreeable (both hot and humid and cold and rainy). Toward the end of 2021, Mr. V and I signed up for our local gym and have been going consistently 5-6 days a week.
We will continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic, but will continue to overcome it – and will take great joy when we can breathe freely together again.
While I obviously didn’t have much control over this one, but I was confident we’d move in the right direction with the pandemic. The arrival of vaccines in March heralded an opportunity to get life back to usual – but unfortunately, too many people politicized their opinions rather than trusting science. That put us in a vulnerable position when the infectious omicron variant appeared, and now it’s sweeping through everyone – unvaccinated and vaccinated alike. We’re starting 2022 exactly as we did in 2021, unable to celebrate together without risking our health.
My Yearly Mantra for 2022: Release
For 2022, I’ve chosen the word ‘release’ to focus my intentions for the year. Like many of my mantras, ‘release’ has many meanings:
As a verb:
- allow or enable to escape from confinement; set free
- allow (something) to move, act, or flow freely
- allow (information) to be generally available
And as a noun:
- the action or process of releasing or being released
- the action of making a movie, recording, or other product available for general viewing or purchase
None of these definitions quite capture what I mean in choosing release, so read on to learn how I’m thinking about my mantra for this year.
What I Predict ‘Release’ Will Mean in 2022
Like past mantras, I want to make a few assertions about how I hope ‘release’ will play out in my life.
I will release thoughts, people, and experiences that create negative energy.
This is one of the biggest reasons I chose the word release for my yearly mantra. I notice that I tend to get hung up on “things” which cause me to spiral in those emotions. I then have to talk to someone – Mr. V, a friend, my mom – about those feelings.
In fact, it’s easier just to release that “thing” – whatever it is – before even engaging with it emotionally. I already started practicing this yesterday by not engaging with an infuriating person on the internet 😂
I will focus on the release phase as much as the exertion phase.
I’ve been going to the gym and weight lifting lately, and one thing I’ve realized is that the ability to control your weights/machine through both exertion and release (the push-and-pull) of an exercise is incredibly important. You can’t just bench press and then drop the weights – that’s a stupid move and likely to hurt yourself.
Aside from fitness, I think it’s equally important to keep an eye on all aspects of life where we gain control and have to let it go. Becoming aware of the release and managing it responsibly feels like a more powerful way to live.
I will publish more, produce more, share more, etc. without worrying about the outcome.
‘Release’ does mean to produce or publish something, which is certainly an important part of my job. If I don’t ‘release’ new blog posts, my site won’t grow. If I don’t ‘release’ reels, my social media is stagnant. And so on.
But at the same time, releasing something “into the wild” means letting go of it and letting go of what happens next. I have set many of my business and personal goals to focus less on the outcome of my actions and more on the value of the actions themselves. I have very little control over most outcomes – so I release my attachment to them. I have total control over my actions.
Want to Set Your Own Yearly Mantra for 2022?
Like what you’ve read so far? If you want to set your own 2022 mantra, it’s easy! Here are the steps I follow each year:
- Make a list of words or phrases you might think will represent and inspire you this year.
- Pin the list up or add it somewhere you’ll see it at least once a day.
- Give yourself 1-2 weeks to consider all of the words on your list.
- Choose one word that stands out to you, and give yourself 1-2 days to see if it feels “right.”
- Once you’ve chosen your word, share it with me in the comments.
I can’t wait to hear what mantra you have chosen for the coming year – share it in the comments, please, and I’ll remember to follow up at the end of the year to see how yours has gone. Happy New Year, friends!