2021 Word of the Year: Intent

If you are anything like me, you let 2020 happen to you. While the start of the pandemic brought along a multitude of emotions and maybe even determination to hit all your goals, you likely went through highs and lows like never before. In waiting for 2021, the vaccine and hoping that the next year looks different from this, I decided to take life as it comes. Now this may not be you at all, but when I look back at 2020 as a whole, I see overall progress. Yet, when I zoom into the last quarter, I find a million excuses to ‘take life as it comes’. In many ways, this is a great way to be; it takes away the stress of having any goals except the one that says – ‘get through the pandemic alive’.

When I turn the lens to my profession, I see us successfully pivoting our way of work and tackling challenges head on. We put together innumerable large-scale changes, made tremendous progress in all things diversity, virtual work, and employee wellness. At the end, we left proud and burnt out. I couldn’t help wonder – yes, no one saw this coming, but the three things I mentioned above (including technology) have been in discussion for at least half a decade. Why did it take us until 2020 to hit the accelerate button? And now that we have, was it only because amidst the many sinking businesses, the goal was – ‘get through the pandemic alive’?

For the past two years, I have attempted to find myself a ‘word of the year’. For both years, I failed to follow through. 2019 was ‘play’ and 2020 was ‘patent’ (ironic). And if there was ever a year that needed a ‘word of the year’, it has to be this. As I poured through the many words beginning with ‘P’ for my 2021 word of the year, two stuck with me and the one that made it to here was ‘Intent’(Does not start with P, unfortunately).

It begins by being intentional about the word finding exercise for 2021. What is the point of having a word of the year if it stays on a blog post and never worms its way into daily life, save maybe the first week of the year? It then moves on to its true purpose – ‘Of not letting life happen to you and being a passive bystander but to actively participate and intentionally live every moment. Of recognizing what is happening and engaging with it in a way that brings joy, purpose and a smile.’ Too much to ask for?

Same goes for my profession. I entered the world of HR starry eyed about creating a workplace that brought out the best in both individuals and organization while evoking joy, positively impacting the society and creating a better world. When someone asked me what I did, I said I make organizations a better place to work in. In 2020, I made organizations a ‘manageable’ place to work in. I wasn’t a total disaster, but it was definitely not the landmark year. I recognize that not every year will be a landmark year, yet why not 2021? Why not live with a little more intention?

So that is my word of the year and while I demystify bringing it to life, if you intend (see what I did there) to find yourself a word for 2021, let me know. I am always curious.

Also, Happy New Year! I hope you had a brilliant start and I can’t wait to see what 2021 brings.


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