For 2021, pick a word to drive focus, one that works on farm

A young farmer examines corn seed in a corn field.

Happy New Year! We have closed the book on 2020, and as we move into the new year, hindsight will literally be 2020. I think many of us are thankful for a fresh start. Here is hoping the new year brings us more blessings than cancellations.

Looking back on 2020, it was a year that began with such promise. The economy was rolling along, and then all of our lives were altered by the coronavirus pandemic. Then, for good measure, throw in social protests, the presidential election and continued weather extremes, and we have a year that can be encapsulated in one word — unprecedented.

Looking back

While the word “unprecedented” takes the word of the year honors, I think there are many additional words and phrases that will forever be tied to 2020.

Some of these include: quarantine, flatten the curve, resilience, face masks, gaiters, Wuhan, Black Lives Matter, virtual, Karen, shaming, essential workers, social distancing, pivot, we are all in this together, stay at home, telework, new normal, cancel culture, murder hornets and last, but surely not least, Zoom!

We can’t control the word or words which will be used to describe a year in retrospect. But is there merit in being intentional about the words we individually focus on as we start a new year?


A few years ago, I followed the advice of a friend (who now happens to be my wife) to concentrate on one word for the year instead of making a long laundry list of New Year’s resolutions. Simple enough, right? Just one word.

So, if you can only choose one word on which to focus on in 2021, what will it be? Some of the words which I have chosen over the past few years included organize, transition, patience and declutter. I am still a work in progress on each of these words. But I have made great strides in organizing my personal and farm stuff and am being more patient in all aspects of life.

So, what is my word for 2021? A lot of words bubbled up as I did my self-reflection. Even harder yet is choosing a word that will stand firm even in the midst of a lingering pandemic. After much thought, I settled on the word intentional.


Being intentional about getting my estate plan updated. Being judicious with life/work balance. Focusing on spiritual growth. Being mindful of time squandered by social media. Knowing when to leave the Zoom meeting room. Making time for the crucial conversations that need to happen.

Being intentional in determining what battles to fight and which to walk away. Making room for and relishing in the divine appointments of life. Knowing that saying yes to something means saying no to another.


So, if you pick one word for your farm business in 2021, what will it be? What word will help drive your focus, energy and work into a very uncertain new year? I encourage you to ask this question to yourself, family members, employees and neighbors.

When you choose your word or words, make sure to post them on the bulletin board in the milk house, in the farm shop or in your farm office as reminder of where to keep your focus.

Final thoughts — I know there is a lot we will take away from 2020. It is my hope that we are able to focus on the positive adaptations we have made in both our personal and business lives as we move into a “different” normal. Remember to focus on the blessings, not the cancellations.

As we begin the year of 2021, I would like to offer the following quote from John C. Maxwell: “Personal growth doesn’t just happen on its own. Personal growth requires intentionality; it requires a plan, and it takes work.”

Seize your word, and have a good and safe new year!


Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!

Previous articleKanagawa Treaty initiated a new era in the Far East
Next articleProviding extra energy in bad weather
David Marrison is an associate professor and Extension educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension. He can be reached at 740-622-2265 or



We are glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment policy.

Receive emails as this discussion progresses.