In the past, I’ve had a “word of the year” that signified my main intention for the new year. These words represented things that I wanted to spend my time, energy, and money on.
Not only did these words mark themes in my life that were most important to me, but they also needed the most attention at the time to help me build an intentional life.
2017 was the first year I posted my annual word of the year. I desperately needed to get out of the constant race of busyness, step back to embrace gratitude, and realize that doing my best would be enough. So, my word of the year was simply “enough.”
The theme for both 2018 and 2019 was “simplify.” I needed a bit of a do-over (don’t we all sometimes?!), so I kept the same focus. Between these two years, I shifted from focusing mainly on simplifying my finances to simplifying my daily life, which I found I needed most.
In 2020, I decided to focus on “health.” The irony of posting this on January 10th and living in mainland China during the COVID outbreak is not lost on me. We’ll simply say it certainly was not the year of exceptional physical or mental health.
The aftermath of the stress (which I know many of us experienced) during this time balancing work, distance learning, having kids home all of the time, and trying to stay healthy—in my case, managing it all on my own over 6,000 miles from home—resulted in me not only not posting my word of the year or keeping up with blog posts at all, but not even having set intentions at all.
In retrospect, the theme of my life from 2021-2023 was “survival.” It wasn’t a pretty, nicely packaged, and well-thought-out blog post at the beginning of each year that I wanted to share. It was made up of difficult realizations about things that needed to change, struggles with depression and chronic fatigue, and constantly living in survival mode.
2023 began with divorce filings and mediation. Having been in this toxic relationship for over 20 years (I got married at 19, yikes!), I spent most of the year navigating new routines and realities of being a single mom and learning to embrace and accept my new normal. It was a challenging year but also one full of personal growth.
Healing My Physical Health
While I’m hesitant to put health as a top priority in writing after the 2020 word of the year (ha!), I’ve realized that to fully heal, I have to put my health and well-being before every other priority.
First and foremost, I’ve recognized the benefits of paying attention to the food I use to fuel my body. I had slipped into some bad eating habits (there were a lot of feelings to eat, mkay?), and it has taken a while to regain a healthy relationship with food.
One of the first things I did before my divorce was hire a personal trainer. I’m grateful for the realization that I needed additional support to get into better exercise routines and take care of myself physically in order to make it through a challenging year. An added bonus was the self-confidence that I gained through realizing that I could do difficult things.
I’m also training to run my first half marathon and am excited to push myself to do something that didn’t even seem possible for me just a short time ago.
And just as important, I’m building rest into every single week.
Healing Past Trauma
I’m convinced that some of the most challenging work of all is healing past traumas so that we can move forward. Life is difficult for everyone. We all have hardships, heartbreaks, and disappointments. Having experienced the darkness and hopelessness of depression, I consciously choose to live each day with joy and hope.
I have the following affirmation posted in my kitchen, where I see it every single day:
“The next season of my life will require new levels of courage, confidence, and consistency from me. No matter how I feel, I will not allow fear to hold me back. I want this. I deserve this. And I’m determined to have it.”
My continuing healing process includes therapy, journaling, self-care, and giving myself unlimited grace and self-compassion. Although some of the scars may always remain, I’m determined not to allow them to define my future.
Healing My Relationships, Including With Myself
I’m immensely grateful for the solid relationships that helped me get through the past year, and I also recognize that some need additional focus this next year.
My kids, although they’ve adapted well to the changes thrown their way, are navigating new lives and additional burdens placed on them. My goal is to ensure they know they are unconditionally loved and cared for and help them gain the emotional resilience to navigate life’s challenges.
I’ve intentionally worked over the past few years on building better relationships with my other immediate family members, especially my siblings. The connections to my family have made a significant impact on my life. I look forward to spending more time getting to know them as adults and spending time this year with my nieces and nephews.
I also have a lot of healing and forgiving of myself to move on and live my life intentionally with purpose and meaning. I’m not the same person I was before, and that’s a good thing. One of my favorite quotes is:
“I hold every past version of myself in loving compassion.
I honor who I was.
I celebrate who I am.
I commit to who I am becoming.”
Money and Healing
So, what does this have to do with money? Everything, actually. I’m a huge proponent of value-based spending, and my annual budget reflects these goals in every possible way.
My projected income targets in my business will accommodate time for working on longer-term projects that have meaning to me, spending additional time with my kids during my parenting time, and a reduced workload. This means that I may sometimes need to pull money from savings for living expenses, even as uncomfortable as it is, especially as a personal finance expert who teaches the importance of living within your means.
My expenses will include an uncomfortably large monthly amount spent on wellness-related expenses like appointments, health supplements, therapy, gym membership fees, and other related costs.
There will also be extra money allocated to making memories together as a family (one that looks a little bit different than it did at the beginning of last year).
In addition, I may need to push back some of my longer-term financial goals while more immediate priorities are taken care of. Fortunately, I’ve already built a solid financial foundation, so I am confident I can take a step back and prioritize life over money.
Ultimately, isn’t that the purpose of money anyway? Money is merely a tool to help you create the life you want, and I’m looking forward to finding new pathways and priorities and discovering what new opportunities the new year will bring.