Explore the blog


I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.

Vlog Favorites

Looking for Something Specific?




My One Word For 2021: PRIORITIZE (Plus Business And Personal Goals)

February 21, 2021

It’s my favorite time of the year –– choosing my word and setting my goals! 

I’ve chosen a word to set the intentions for my year for a few years now. It’s always a fun and important process of reflecting on my past accomplishments and challenges and really taking the time to process what I will need in the upcoming year. Every year I feel like my word is placed in front of me and I know in my gut that is what I’m supposed to focus on and lean into.

Usually when I sit down to write this post I’m amazed at how often my word showed up throughout the year. If you want to read the recap of previous years and their words, you can read my 2020 Word Of The Year post.

But as a refresher…

2017: FOCUS


2019: TRUST

2020: NOW

(Here’s the blog post from when I chose it!)

When I chose the word NOW, I was coming off of a year of a ton of self-work. I was learning a lot about who I was after being tossed into the world of self-employment and adulthood after a year of having my world rocked. I was trying hard to understand why I felt the way I did and how to better listen to my own needs.

I was battling with my need to remember the past and plan for the future…while unfortunately leaving out the living in the present. 

So I chose the word NOW to keep me inspired to not wait “until” and to do the things I love NOW. 

And then…2020 happened. HA, so ironic, right? The year that I tell myself I’m going to jump head first into doing things right now is the year where everyone says “hold on…”


I was really bummed when I did my first check-in with myself and all of the things that I had planned with my word “NOW” in mind were getting pushed back and cancelled. But then I realized this was actually the ultimate challenge to really enforce this type of growth. 

What better time to really push to not wait to do things when there is literally nothing but waiting happening?

It wasn’t really about trips or big jumps or buying the thing I wouldn’t let myself have. It was about not waiting for situations to be perfect to chase my goals…and to my surprise, I actually met every single one of my goals (minus one) despite being told to wait.

  1. Run a half marathon –– I trained for 6 months and felt so proud of myself. The race ended up being cancelled long before I got to the point where I was really locked in on my training, so I replaced that with strength training in the gym. Kyle and I are still registered for the 2021 race so we’re doing it!!!
  2. Create a financial plan –– check!!!
  3. Create a 2020 yearbook at the end of the year –– I took SO MANY photos last year. Now I just have to organize and print them!
  4. Implement an outsourcing process –– done!!! Still more to go!
  5. Build into photography community and relationships –– definitely looked a lot different than I was expecting but CHECK!
  6. Learn to cook –– heck yes!
  7. Schedule time for friends –– you got it!!! Sometimes it looked like Zoom calls and Facetimes but we made it happen.

So….what’s my word for 2021?


I am so excited for this word and how it’s going to play out in my year. It took a really long time to come to me. At first, the word “balance” kept showing up, but something just didn’t sit right.

The definition of balance is to have an equality or equivalence in weight.

But I don’t want things to be totally equal.

There is a time for work and a time for play. There is a time to spend the money and a time to save it. There is time to focus on some things now but change it up later.

In the end, it’s really about what you’re PRIORITIZING.

Last year was NUTS. I went from planning big…to doing nothing…to doing EVERYTHING. I lost my balance and in order to regain that I will have to set my priorities and keep them in focus –– things like:

  • Giving myself some weekends back (no longer working on Sundays!)
  • Making time for working out and planning ahead to eat healthier
  • Scheduling time with friends and family and being protective over that time
  • Making financial investments for the future
  • Doing work that makes me really happy and inspired (and saying no to stuff that doesn’t)

I’m planning on making some pretty big changes this year. I’m excited to enjoy the fruits of my labor while also trying new things that will keep me excited about the direction of my business. 

As for specific 2021 goals…

Following a year like 2020 made setting goals a little harder. How are you supposed to be confident in setting “timely, attainable, and realistic” goals when so much is up in the air?

I’ll be honest…I wasn’t as resolute in my goals this time around. Things are changing quickly but I know I’m a goal oriented person so I HAVE to have them or I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing with no direction. Instead, I think I’m going to focus more on quarterly goals this year with some bigger overarching wins I want to hit (think TRACTION).

Here’s the list for 2021 (as of right now):

  1. Run half marathon –– No excuses this year. Race is in December!!!
  2. Try more new recipes –– I want to expand beyond Hellofresh and take it to the next level.
  3. Learn Procreate –– I want to find something creative that I do just for fun again. Plus the Apple Pencil is just too fun not to play with.
  4. 2021 Yearbook –– Making this annual expectation for myself, except this year I’m starting early and not waiting until the very end to start designing the album…lol.
  5. Keep up blogging + video –– I definitely fell off of posting with everything that happened in 2020. My goal this year is to be back on my game with blogging sessions and personal events, reels, and getting back on YouTube. I always love watching my memories and I want to take you along for the ride!
  6. Hit my financial milestones –– Have the jeep halfway paid off, savings accounts, retirement funds, and maybe some bigger investments.
  7. The last one is a secret but it’s a big one…

You’ll just have to wait and see 😉

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, thank you for your support!!! I’m choosing to be excited about this year and all of its potential. LET’S DO THIS!!!!

Also, it’s never too late to set your goals and bring in the people who will help hold you accountable and cheer you on!!! I would love to be on your team, so please share your “word of the year” and your goals with me!!!


I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer Helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.

Looking for Something Specific?

Vlog Favorites



How to Choose Your Senior Photographer



How to Plan a Proposal with a Photographer

The Conversation You MUST Have With Your Bridal Party

Reader Favorites

a few

a few

Reader Favorites