Word of the Year 2021 | Rachel Rambach | Listen & Learn Music

Last year on this very day, I wrote that I had “mixed emotions about leaving 2019 behind”. Well, I can tell you for certain that my emotions are NOT mixed in the slightest about 2020 ending. It’s been a hard year for everyone, and I know we are all more than ready for 2021.

My word for 2020 was OPTIMIZE. I had high hopes for streamlining all areas of my life, but little did I know when I chose this word that life would be anything but optimal in the months to come.

2020 started out pretty wonderfully. In January, I eliminated refined sugar from my diet and returned to my strength training bootcamp twice a week. I also joined an exercise accountability group. That same month, I released my book, Innovative Income for Music Therapists: Beyond Direct Service & Private Practice, and celebrated at a surprise launch party thrown by my best friend.

The year continued to go smoothly through the beginning of March, when my family went to Marco Island, Florida for vacation. We came home and COVID-19 hit just a few days later; that’s when my optimization plans fell apart at the seams.

Instead, I went into triage mode, both at home and at work. That’s where I stayed until May, when the school year ended and I could breathe a little. At that point, I revisited my word for the year, and looked for ways to apply it in every possible nook and cranny.

When I look back at the year overall, I think I did my best (given the circumstances) to optimize my life, both personally and professionally. Here are a few highlights:

  • Completed an entire year of 30-day workout challenges through my accountability group.
  • Set up auto-orders for the items I purchase regularly.
  • Gave my email system and sequences a complete makeover.
  • Purged and reorganized every room and closet in my house.
  • Opened a new business with my husband.
  • Redecorated my finished basement and created a dedicated workout space.
  • Fine-tuned our virtual offerings through Music Therapy Connections.
  • Upgraded to a new and bigger car.

2020 was not a total loss. When I think back to this year, I hope to remember not the sadness and tragedy, but instead, evenings spent on our deck with family and friends (socially distanced, of course), countless hours at the pool, date nights at home with my husband after the kids went to bed, and the resilience shown by everyone I know (and don’t know) as we made it through.

2020 Year in Review | Rachel Rambach | Listen & Learn Music

And now, on to my word for 2021: EMPOWERED. I chose this word because for most of 2020, I felt anything but. Like everyone else, I was forced to make decisions based on circumstances outside of my control, and that loss of power over my own life affected me in just about every area.

I know there will still be many things out of my hands in the new year, but I’m going to strive not to let that override my personal strength, confidence, and happiness. Instead, I want to make use of my capabilities to create, communicate, and overall just “be” in the world without fear of judgement or the unknown.

Like last year, I don’t have any big specific goals for 2021. I want to do more of the things that make me feel empowered — working out regularly, using my skills to create resources and provide services, and teaching my children how to be their best selves. I want to procrastinate less, and instead dive head-first into challenges (while not taking on unwanted or unnecessary ones).

Choosing a word for the year is, to me, so much more effective than making resolutions or setting lofty goals. That word is like my north star, helping guide my actions and reminding me of my intentions. Have you chosen a word for 2021? Share in the comments or connect with me on Instagram. Happy New Year, and may 2021 bring all of us the peace and joy we’ve been longing for.