Every year, I pick out a focus word. A word that governs various aspects of my life that year in lieu of resolutions. My previous words have been focus (2009), discipline (2010),  growth (2011),  nurture (2012),  surrender (2013),  challenge (2014), connect (2015), strength (2016), self-care (2017), evolve (2018), and simplify (2019).


On choosing my focus word for 2020…

The end of a decade looms just a few days away and the overarching feeling I’m currently basking in right now continues to be gratitude. 2019 was a year of unbelievable highs and some lows.

Personally, it was challenging with some health scares and other sources of stress.

Professionally, 2019 was the year of expansion in many ways – from giving several keynotes, workshops, speeches, and a TEDx talk (will share link once up!) to several high profile interviews, partnerships and some awards, while continuing to add bylines in magazines such as National Geographic Traveller, The Guardian, Adventure.com, and many more.

No need to regurgitate every single accomplishment here. I’ve been celebrating them over on social media with gratitude to God throughout the year.

When I picked my 2019 focus word at the start of the year, it was to SIMPLIFY. Meaning, to make space for experiences and things that truly set my soul alive, while delegating a lot more.

This was my rough list. So, how did I do?

  • Writing (currently working on two book projects)
    • I finished two books with one solid manuscript currently with publishers, one book available for download, and I’m already halfway through writing a third book!
  • Expanding my photography
    • I did a lot more commercial photography including photographing Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel. I was also part of several photo exhibitions in the US, Sweden, and Mali. Next year, I’ll be working on some personal photography projects. Stay tuned.
  • Practicing my guitar
    • I found a fabulous (!) guitar coach and here’s proof that I’ve been practicing (slowly) again -> Check my “Hobbies” highlights on Instagram.
  • Reading my never-ending stack of physical books
    • I did the Goodreads reading challenge and surpassed my goal. I read a lot more fiction and romance than I normally do. Plus, I’ll be adding 3 more books to the list before the end of the year.
  • Taking more fun courses and creative workshops
    • I was part of an amazing mastermind called Great to Greater, and I also attended several seminars and talks, and took a handful of fun online classes.
  • Nudging my Swedish further along to complete fluency
    • I’m an advanced-intermediate Swedish speaker and next year, this is high on my priority list. I’m my toughest critic, so fluency is a bar I’ll continue to raise for myself.
  • Developing solid routines
    • I totally sucked at this. Mostly because I travel a lot. And also because I am someone who easily gets bored. So, this will be a continued goal for 2020.
  • Mentoring others along their own paths too
    • This is something I’ve been doing for years and 2019 was no different. Only a continuation. From being part of programs such as Yrkesdörren that connects newer arrivals to Sweden with established professionals in their career fields, participating in mentorship programs such as Electrolux 100 Women and one-on-one mentorships, sitting on different boards including Black Women in Europe (TM), and so much more. When it comes to what I do for others behind the scenes, I personally don’t feel the need to show receipts online every single time.

So, what’s my focus word for 2020?

This photo was shot on assignment in Ghana and I call it “Freedom”.

My focus word is… ENERGY

I knew this was going to be my word moving into 2020. I am a firm believer in the force fields we choose to bring into our lives.

As a staunch idealist, my operating core is built on positivity and optimism. I am extremely sensitive to negative or heavy energy. I sense it immediately, so I have to protect myself from being sucked into meaningless vortexes of negativity.

My kindness is often misconstrued as niceness. Two totally different things.

For me, operating with this word in the new year means:


Letting go of any negative energy, be it friends, acquaintances, partnerships, or other manifestations of it. Oftentimes, as we grow and expand in our purpose and our careers, there are spaces we need to leave. 2019 clearly showed me some of those spaces. I never carry ill-will or grudges, but I do have to preserve my energy in 2020.

Gravitating towards positive energy that lights and feeds my soul. I will surround and drench myself in it.

Revitalizing my energy daily through continued self-care, regular exercise, and proper nourishment.

Continuing to project the loving energy I personally want to see in our cutthroat world. This means I need to keep on shining light into dark corners through love.

And I believe like energy attracts like energy… be it partnerships, business opportunities, and true friendships. 2020 is already off to a wonderful start and I’ll share more after the holidays.

Above all, I want to thank you my dear friends, readers, and everyone in my corner for your continued love and support, and I look forward to where 2020 takes us all together.

So, what about you? Have you picked your focus word for 2020 yet?