A few years ago, a friend introduced me to choosing ONE WORD instead of making new year resolutions. I wasn’t one for making resolutions anyway because I didn’t believe in waiting until the new year to start working on goals so choosing one word appealed to me much more. Some of my previous words were gratitude, inspire, and breathe. In hindsight, I wish I wrote blog posts to capture my reflections but I am excited to begin a new tradition this year.
As I reflect on 2020, I grew into my word UPLIFT and became more of an uplifter as the year progressed. Little did I know a full year ago, how important one word could mean to me and others in my circle. Like many, little did we know that weeks after January 1, 2020, there would be a pandemic that would change our lives forever.
UPLIFT has been a word I’ve held near and dear for many years but 2020 really challenged me to be more intentional about it. There were many who struggled in different ways and each time, I tried to uplift them to at least help make their day a brighter one. Whether this was done in person or digitally, it felt like a responsibility to reach out to others when they were down or not feeling well. Even when they were not ill, I made opportunities to reach out to uplift by showing gratitude or kindness. Sometimes this came in the form of a simple emphatic hello with a warm smile and “Great to see you”. Other times, it was a reaching out with a simple “I’m thinking about you.”
I truly believe that people are placed on our mind or heart for a reason. When they come into our mind, take action, and reach out. How long does it take to send a simple text? Every time I reached out, I was reciprocally blessed with a warm hello back that lifted me up as well. It always made my day a brighter one and I know it brightened theirs too. Can you imagine the impact if five people reached out to five others in one day and those five people reached out to another five people? The impact is exponential! I challenge you to pull out your calculator to do some math. Take 5 x 5 x 5 … How many people would be uplifted in just one week?
This is a kindness mindset with the intention to uplift through every interaction. It is with intention that we choose to make someone’s day a brighter one with not only the words we use but how we share it. There is no neutral interaction. Every interaction either uplifts or tears down. Choose your words and actions carefully with intention. Choose to UPLIFT.
Despite the negativity that many people feel when they think of 2020, for me, it has been a phenomenal year of growth and change. Becoming a part of the Teach Better Team as an Ambassador and later as the Digital Content Editor has changed my life. The connections and friendships I made in the past eight months have filled my soul. I wasn’t sure what a PLN was and now I know I do not want to live without one. I feel so blessed and full of gratitude to be a part of a family network that so believes in me, supports me, and fills me with joy. Every day, I feel joyfully alive. Every day, I feel uplifted by them.
This brings me to my one word for 2021. I was blessed to attend the Word Party hosted by Lindsay Titus last week. She guided us through a number of valuable exercises. It was here that I wrote down over 100 words to choose from. My word was on that list. Like many of you, it took time to narrow it down to just one. I considered other words but they focussed more on myself rather than extending beyond me. It was important to find a word that included others, my family, friends, students, colleagues, and communities like my PLN.
When I first told my daughter, she looked at me funny because she thought “Why?” and then I explained my acronym:
When I read Teachers Deserve It by Rae Hughart and Adam Welcome, it became clear to me that I needed to write my own WHY. Why am I so passionate about my role as a teacher? I needed to reflect and reconnect to truly KNOW and redefine my why. Click here to read about my WHY.
When choosing my word WHY, I considered these questions:
- Who’s important?
- What do I value?
- Why do I do what I do?
- How can I improve?
- How can I make an impact on people’s lives?
- How can I make an imprint on people’s hearts?
Beyond these questions, I want to frequently ask myself WHY, to dig deeper and deeper into why, until it goes down to my core values and beliefs. It makes me feel invigorated to see how this word will make a difference this year. I have been given permission to dream so for the past few days, I am considering some audacious goals but I want them to be in line with my WHY. It has to be! It must be in order for me to be true to my authentic self. I feel joyfully alive when I think about possibilities.
Whom will I serve?
I have grown so much personally and professionally in 2020. I learned that before I can serve others well, I need to take care of myself first by practicing self-care. What fuels me and brings me joy? My passions. I am passionate about people, relationships, and uplifting others. I recently learned that showing kindness to others is the best form of self care. Click here to read more about it.
If I wrote down the names of everyone I know on strips of paper and was asked to prioritize, I will always put my family on the top. I have a deep and intense love for my family.
My friends are a huge component to what also makes me feel joyfully alive every day. Our connection warms my heart. I thoroughly enjoy being a part of every community – school, district, PLN, my Teach Better family network, and my ringette family. Any community I am a part of, I want to invest myself, add value, and serve.
How does my WHY align with my purpose?
With 2020 being a big year of growth, I want to continue to discover and uncover my purpose in the varied roles I play in all of my communities. It’s important I figure out my meaningful purpose so that my mindset and actions are aligned with it. I want to be intentional and make a positive impact on who I reach and what I do in the time I am given. So with every thought, action, and interaction, my desire is that it’s in line with my passions, vision, and purpose..
Yearn for better.
Working together to better ourselves, each other, and the world around us.
This has been my motto for about ten years now. I am in constant pursuit of betterment. It starts with me as an individual. I strive to seek, find, and create opportunities for growth that challenge me and place me outside of my comfort zone. For it is really in the next zone, our stretch zone, that we truly grow. I made a commitment to exhale fear and inhale courage… to step through any open doors. When there aren’t any doors open, I will continue to create them for myself if it aligns with my purpose and passions. I learned from Atomic Habits by James Clear to get 1% better each day to gain continuous improvement. As a team member of the Teach Better Team, I fully endorse their motto: Better today than yesterday. Better tomorrow than today.
I did consider keeping my #OneWord2020: UPLIFT for a second year but I realized that no matter what, words previously chosen with such significant meaning don’t ever leave you – especially if you lived and breathed that word every single day. They stay forever. So I excitedly add WHY to my list. I am looking forward to discovering how this chosen word will help guide and shape me. I know I will continue to build on my personal and professional growth from 2020. I am grateful for my longtime relationships as well as my new friendships and look forward to creating new connections while growing existing ones. I know I can count on their support to push me to be better and to hold me accountable to my #OneWord2021: WHY.
As always, I enjoy connecting so please feel free to leave a comment to share your #OneWord2021, a link to your post, or a short story about it. I appreciate you for reading my thoughts and would love to have a conversation about your word!
With a heart full of gratitude,
Teachers on Fire