Dr. Marry and Me,  Personal Writing

Looking ahead to 2021

Happy New Year!

Last year, I began an annual writing of my thoughts for the upcoming year on January 1. I laid out what felt like aspirational but achievable goals on January 1, 2020. It’s easy now to look back on 2020 and say, “Boy, nobody could have predicted that!” I actually think that sentiment’s true of many years. The big difference, of course, is that most years’ uncertainty and lack of predictability is relatively personal. 2020’s global focus on COVID makes it a truly unique (and devastating) year.

Dr Marry and I just did the Word for the Year worksheet that we began last year this morning.

A quick look back:

My last year’s word was Uncomfortable. In retrospect, you could say I achieved that in spades. While I loved many things about 2020, and in many, many ways it will go down as one of my favorite years, a lot of it was uncomfortable, in both the best and hardest senses of the word. It can be uncomfortable to be in a constant state of pivot, which we were at The Arts Partnership. But that pivoting can also be exciting. As someone who craves new and challenging opportunities, 2020 asked more of me as a leader than any other year in my 10 years at the organization.

It was uncomfortable to go back and relive the years before Dr Marry got sober in such a public way. I thought I had dealt with all of my complex emotions around that. Multiple times throughout 2020, however, it became crystal clear to us both that I hadn’t processed everything I needed to. Those moments were challenging, but the way we worked through them together was truly healing and necessary for our continued growth as a couple and for me personally.

Looking ahead:

My word for 2021 is Clarity.

Much of the work I did in 2020 to enhance and expand my writing, my public speaking, my content creation feels a bit like I was composing in semi-darkness. With the exception of the writing during my two-week retreat, nothing else felt like I was working in full light. And of course, a big part of that is that everything else was created while managing a demanding full-time job.

So much of what I produced was kind of like throwing wet spaghetti noodles at the wall to see what would stick. We launched our nine-week series on Dr Marry’s addiction and journey to sobriety. We launched Daily Dose of Dr Marry & DD. I created a short-lived podcast series, e2. I coined the phrase and created the Personal Systems Disruption weekend retreats. I wrote about politics, parenting, devastating professional losses, personal insecurities, time, COVID, baking, gratitude, money management, Black Lives Matter and more.

Maybe by pursuing any and all topics that intrigued me, either for a moment or over time, I have diffused my voice. Perhaps it’s the old adage of “When you try to be all things to all people, you end up being nothing to anyone.”

So my word for this year is clarity. Specifically, clarity of time and purpose. And of sentence structure. I write like I think, which is in long, connected ideas that link idea to idea to idea. It gives my writing a very specific voice that clearly identifies me as the author. But it also demands a lot of the reader, perhaps too much.

I met a number of the goals I set last year, and I missed many more. But so many of the goals I set were dependent on the world not being upside down with a pandemic.

In no particular order, here are some goals for 2021:

  • Get vaccinated against COVID
  • See my boy in person, both here and in LA
  • Continue to create compelling content for Daily Dose of Dr Marry & DD
  • Year 4 of (almost) no shopping
  • Continue to bake bread and find interesting recipes
  • Conduct 10 Personal System Disruption weekend retreats with 8 people or more at each
  • Grow our Daily Dose audience significantly (100+ people tuning in regularly)
  • Grow my daynadelval audience
  • Work with a coach to continue honing my public speaking skills
  • Get our garden and yard into better shape
  • Find someone who can help us better produce Daily Dose
  • Maybe go back to podcasting with e2
  • Continue to invest in my relationship with Dr Marry outside the bounds of Daily Dose
  • Travel when we safely can
  • Keep my overall health a priority
  • Get clear on who I am and who I’m for as a content creator, particularly of daynadelval

I’m deliberately keeping this a little more vague than I did last year because if I learned one thing in 2020, it’s that the best laid plans can be pretty quickly wiped out by something much larger than anything you can imagine. And besides, so many of my goals last year were specific to number of times, number of people, number of posts, etc. I know there’s value in getting highly specific to help manifest dreams, but more growth is just one way to “prove” our value. I know we’re making a difference with Daily Dose, and I’m making a difference with daynadelval and The Arts Partnership because people let us and me know that it matters.

To each person who wrote a note, shared their success and/or failures, sent off support to something we are doing—thank you. Much of what I do I do for myself, but I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that I’m also doing it for others.

My hope for us all is that we find a way out of the challenges that were created in 2020. I hope we continue to be kind to each other, and that we look out for and support small businesses and nonprofits. I pray that we never again take teachers and artists for granted. I hope the politicization of COVID goes away with a new administration and that herd immunity becomes a real thing. I hope we continue to dismantle the inequities of being a person of color or of the GLBTQIA+ community here and around the globe. I hope for clarity for the work I want to pursue and the paths I want to take.

Happy New Year. The clock is ticking. It’s time to get clear on where you are going and take the first step towards it.

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.


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