#OneWord2021: Freedom

I always find it interesting to reflect on which of my blogs resonate the most. In 2020 my stats show a clear favourite from my 100 blogs written during the global pandemic for the #DailyWritingChallenge on the theme of Freedom.

For the header I chose an image from one of my favourite writers and favourite books, is ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou. I studied it for my A Levels and changed my university and degree choice as a consequence. It also inspired me to become an English teacher.

Writing this blog on April 11th we were less than month into our lockdown as I reflected on the freedom I had experienced in my 41 years and the freedom I was craving. As I continued to write as part of my coping strategies for processing the world around me and as we moved from the Daily to the #MonthlyWritingChallenge, to my surprise, my stats for that post kept creeping up. Some days 100 more people would read it – it was clearly being shared far and wide, and it kept snowballing as the year progressed. On the final day in 2020, nearly 4,000 people have read my musings which makes it my 2nd most read blog ever. (My most read blog ever at 14,000+ was my blog reflecting on the leadership resilience I needed when I found myself in the tabloids due to my commitment to diversity).

So why am I telling you this?

Each year for the last 7 years I have chosen a word to frame my year ahead. I can’t remember who ignited this in me, I think it might have been Dr Carol Campbell, but I have done it religiously each year. I can trace back decisions I have made based on this focus word.

My #OneWord2015 was Courage:

I re-joined Twitter, I started blogging and going to grassroots events.

My #OneWord2016 was Connect:

I co-founded #WomenEd, I grew my network and started organising/ hosting events.

My #OneWord2017 was Change:

I relocated to a new region, for a new role – my pace of life and my perspective changed.

My #OneWord2018 was Thrive:

I was determined to get work-life balance as a school leader and create a school where the whole community could flourish.

My #OneWord2019 was Joy:

I turned 40, I bought a house, I lost my mojo and needed to remind myself of my vision, my mission and what made me light up. As Marie Kondo says: Does it bring you Joy?

My #OneWord2020 was Purpose:

I lost my way a little as I left the system and looked for my next step as I didn’t have a map for my new journey, so I returned to my Ikigai and reminded myself of what drives me.

I always shortlist before I decide on my one word – so for 2021, I was reflecting on Passion, Adventure, Impact, Influence and Freedom. I went back and forth in my mind as I walked along beaches and drove along motorways during my Christmas break, on the kind of year I might have if I chose each to frame my decisions and actions. But one word kept popping up in things I read, things I was discussing and the pattern appeared to be symbolic.

So my #OneWord2021 is Freedom:

I am looking forward to seeing how this frames my year and shapes my decision-making and action-taking. These 3 quotes resonated with me on this theme and I am hopeful what I will reflecting on this time next year:

“Freedom is the oxygen of the soul”.

Moshe Dryan

“Freedom lies in being bold”.

Robert Frost

“The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom is courage”.


This year I want:

  • to embrace the freedoms of working independently
  • to appreciate that I have the freedom to choose who I work with/ what work I do
  • to have the freedom to leave my house more than I could in 2020, without a mask
  • to enjoy the freedom of being spontaneous once again
  • to be grateful for the freedom to socialise with friends and family once again
  • to take advantage of the freedom to spend the winter somewhere warm
  • to support others in making the choices to liberate them from situations that do not serve them

If Freedom, is having the ability to act or change without constraint, then I look forward to feeling freer and lighter than I have in years.

If something is “free” if it can change easily and it is not constrained in its present state, then I look forward to singing as I fly into the new year.

Published by Ethical Leader

Leadership Development Consultant, Facilitator, Coach, Speaker and Writer. Experience of teaching schools, initial teacher education, mentoring & coaching, diversity and equality. Passionate about integrity, ethics and values.

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