2020. the dumpster fire of a year, was kicked out the door at midnight. It did not go out with much fanfare but with a sigh of relief.  It would be nice to say that it is history. It never will be. 2020 will live on for years in our memories, changes in our lives, and stories.

Most of us are grazing on the last of the Christmas cookies, the misfits overlooked when the sweets stash was much more plentiful. It is the sad end to the indulgence of holiday overeating fueled by traditions and eating the pandemic away.

Most of us are resurrecting the perennial resolutions of eating healthier, losing weight, and getting in shape. That seemed so simple in January 2020. Grocers’ ads abandoned sweet indulgences for healthy foods. Fitness centers peddled the picture of fit people celebrating life at the gym. Thin, happy, active people inspire us to open our wallets to be that person.

I have struggled with resolutions since I retired. I am a believer in setting goals that move me forward. As my retired years passed, I began weighing the value of setting goals in a life where I should be concentrating on living a good life with fewer constraints.

Early in retirement, I read an excellent book, How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free. Ernie Zalinski, the author, shared three things that contribute to a happy retirement: having passion, a sense of community, and structure in life. I have revisited those three over the past four years. Like Zalinski, I am a firm believer that these are the keys to happiness as a retired person.

How do goals and resolutions fit into a life lived with Zalinski’s three keys? My first four years of retirement were driven by setting goals that traded bad habits for good habits. Goals were driven by the three keys. Four years in, I sensed this was not the right approach.

Having goals is a necessity. Goals are the means by which I become a happier person. I am not setting structured goals for the first time in over fifteen years. Goals are fewer and much simpler. That is a stretch for me, a person previously driven by SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals, the legacy of my former corporate life.

The past four years have shown that it is happiness that moves me forward. Happiness is achieved by pursuing my passions that very much involve community involvement. Having structure is equally important. It encourages me to be involved in the community and discovering new things; testimonial to the validity of Zaleski’s How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free.


This year my goals may be set on the fly as life unfolds. I am starting 2021 with a single goal. Every day I am going to reflect on a single word that speaks to me.

I was gifted a My Cinema Lightbox for Christmas. I am posting these words on the lightbox to my Facebook and Instagram feeds with my thoughts about the word and the #365daystolive hashtag.

The goal is to be more reflective and raise my awareness of how the word impacts my life. I have learned over the years that lasting change must happen first from within. That self-awareness identifies what is good, bad, and needs to change. Let me see if a single word can make a difference.


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