4 One-Word Resolutions to Boost Your Family Life in 2021

The flipping of the calendar to a new year brings hope and with it, the standard wishes — resolutions — of losing weight and exercising more, getting more organized and saving more in our piggy banks. By the time the last snow pile melts, many of those resolutions evaporate, too, right along with the positive feelings we had when we made them.

Coming off the worst year this country has seen in our lifetime, we decided it’s time to switch it up. Instead of the tried-and-tired resolutions (besides who needs the added pressure right now?), we asked readers for one word they plan to focus on this year. The response: Wow!

We reached out to a few experts on some of those very unique one-word resolutions.


2020 offered us plenty of crisis, says zen parenting guru, author and self-awareness coach Cathy Cassani Adams, co-host of one of our favorite parenting podcasts, Zen Parenting Radio.

“One of my favorite teachings from Glennon Doyle’s writing is how the Greek root of the word crisis is ‘to sift,’ meaning to shake out what’s unneeded and keep what’s most important. Our cumulative crises in 2020 taught us what’s most important, and we get to move into 2021 with this clarity.”

Eventually, she says, we’ll all be able to return to our more usual way of living with travel, family gatherings and learning in person. “But hopefully we can hold onto the clarity we were given in the midst of this global challenge – that some of the things that ‘sifted’ through are no longer essential, and we can be content in letting them go for good. Then we have more space for what we know is most important, we have better clarity about when to say yes and no, when to do more and when to do less.”


At a time when many of us feel like we’re pulled in so many directions with e-learning, working from home and all the tangles caused by the pandemic, academic and behavioral consultant Franki Bagdade gets questions all of the time from her FAAB Consulting clients about simplicity.

She says she follows her own best advice: “I try really hard to keep it simple, and not create a problem that has not actually happened.”

Plus, she urges, regularly take a five-minute pause, even doing something as simple as sitting quietly with the kids without any distractions. “Taking these little moments helps reset us and gets everybody in a better mood.”

Plus, stop overthinking everything. She’s finding she’s saying yes to things she might not have before, such as letting her kids put on their bathing suits for a very messy swim in the tub.

The little things make a big difference, she says.


Since growth can mean different things to every person, the first step in deciding what it means for you, says Certified Professional Coach Maria Sylvester, MSW, is to envision what “growth” actually looks like for you.

“Once a person can acknowledge their full vision for a word, bingo, they can begin stepping into that immediately. They have before them a roadmap for how to begin showing up immediately,” she says.

To get started, she often has her clients begin with a Law of Attraction statement:

  • “Say to yourself, ‘I’m in the process of (fill in the blank).’ This puts us in a place of possibility and inspiration,” she says. “Then you want to trust yourself that whatever you intuitively think about is probably exactly what your soul is longing for.”
  • Next question: “I can’t wait to see how I’m going to feel or I can’t wait to see what (fill in the blank) is going to look like,” she says, adding that this step implies success.
  • Next question, the action step: “‘My next inspired step is (fill in the blank.)’ You always have to take action in order to have transformation,” Sylvester says. “It’s great to have these words, but then you have to think how to actionize them.”


Adams says she also learned to take in joy where she could, such as when the kids laugh and smile, or notice when the sun comes up.

“The challenges of 2020 reminded us to grab joy whenever possible, and in 2021 we need to make this a habit, to notice what’s working in the midst of challenge, to hold hands when we are afraid and find joy in the connection, to smile at people we don’t know and remember that we are all in this together, to eat our meals slowly and with appreciation, to notice healthcare workers, teachers, and all the other people that go to work every day and make our lives better.

“Joy in 2021 is about continuing to notice and create goodness, every single day, no matter what.”

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This article also appeared in Chicago Parent’s January/February 2021 issue


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