If choosing a large goal or resolution to tackle in 2021 seems like too much, why not try choosing a single word to guide your year?
That’s the advice from life coach Jana Dean, of Chehalis. It is what she and her husband, David, have chosen this year. In place of a resolution, together they chose the word “kindness” for what they want to bring to 2021. Instead of focusing on one large resolution, they will focus that word on many aspects throughout their life to try their best to bring more kindness to the world.
“For me, it starts in our home and it radiates outside into the community,” Dean said. “I cannot control what is outside my home but we can control what is inside.”
While many people were happy to see 2020 in their rearview mirror, the truth is that Jan. 1, 2021, did not bring the complete relief from all of the pains of the last year. The COVID-19 pandemic, political and social issues and financial woes still weigh heavily on many people. If 2021 doesn’t feel like the year for making large, life changing goals, you are not alone. According to a OnePoll survey on behalf of Affirm financial planning, 71% of Americans said their New Year’s resolutions would center around life goals such as better financial planning, spending more time with family or having a more positive outlook on life. The pandemic may have changed the way we think about New Year’s resolutions, and that’s not necessarily a negative, Dean said.
“It can be a catalyst for change if we allow it to tell us what we can take from it,” Dean said. “What can I learn? How can I grow and make an authentic change?”
Dean said she got started working toward a career in life coaching about seven years ago when she attended a training to help her daughter and her athlete peers play with more confidence and joy. She explained she had always felt like she was talented at “deep talk and parties.” She said she had already tried party planning and decided that she would give the deep talk part a try. She officially opened her practice in downtown Chehalis five years ago. Similar to working with athletes, a lot of the work she does with clients of all ages and backgrounds has to do with helping them get past anything that may be holding them back and build and grow authentic confidence.
“For most people, it’s about, ‘I don’t want to hold onto this story anymore,’” Dean explained of what life coaching can do for someone.
The isolation and fear of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as numerous events in the last year have brought a lot of old traumas and negative feelings to the forefront for a lot of people, Dean said. She explained that while it can be a natural reaction to want to ignore these feelings, they are simply there to tell us something. There are simple healing actions people can take to react to the negativity of the past year that can actually help them move past old feelings and negative beliefs. Whereas not working through an emotion can put you in a position where you remain a victim to it. For many people, this leads to unhealthy actions.
“It’s the feel bad, distract cycle,” Dean said. “Whether it’s food, internet, social media, alcohol.”
Choosing a single word to guide your year is a good technique any year but particularly in 2021 when so many people are dealing with so much already. The first step includes what she calls “reflection, release and reframe.” This includes thinking about and honoring what happened in 2020, release the bad things and reframe them into opportunities for positive change. Journaling is one of Dean’s favorite counseling tools that can help you with this process. She explained that in one group she led, participants wrote down their memories of 2020 for the reflection piece and then when they were done, actually burned the sheets of paper for the release part in order to start fresh and begin writing down how they want to reframe their experiences from 2020 into something positive for 2021.
“It’s important to validate that feeling and reflect on them and learn from them,” Dean said. “How do I want to feel in 2021?”
Focusing on how you felt in 2020 and how that impacts how you want to feel in 2021 can lead you to your word for the year. For Dean, kindness was the answer because it is something she had been feeling a lack of in the world. After choosing the world, she said she spent some time with it, even looked it up in the dictionary, and then wrote some notes for herself about where she thought she could bring more kindness to different aspects of her life.
“It allows you to be able to have an in-depth understanding of the word you are claiming and why,” Dean said. “And you always have something to go back to.”
You can start small with your word, Dean said. She suggests first focusing on your word at the start and the end of your day. She said before she even gets out of bed in the morning, she allows her body to “settle in” to the day and she begins to think about kindness. Before falling asleep, she said she also takes a few moments to think about where she may have brought kindness and where she might have missed opportunities.
“It really creates more of an impact on the day. You’re going to start noticing opportunities,” Dean said. “Reflection is a really great tool to change old habits.”
Instead of a singular goal with a singular destination like many traditional New Year’s resolutions, choosing a word should be looked at as more of a process, Dean explained. For example, keep your word in the forefront of your mind by writing it on your mirror or screen saver. As your year progress, explore more ways to work your word deeper into your life. For example, perhaps each month, choose one to three areas in your life where you can expand into and keep a journal that you can look back on for real data on how you are progressing.
“It’s putting it at the forefront, instead of on the back burner, and you do it weekly, monthly, daily,” Dean said. “It’s little, subtle things maybe. It’s breaking into an awareness that we really are doing amazing things every day but it’s so often overlooked.”
To learn more about Jana Dean Coaching & Hypnosis, visit Janadeancoaching.com or @janadeancoaching on Facebook.