Have you ever wondered just why, exactly, people choose a "word of the year?"
...wondered how they choose the word, why they choose it, and, more importantly,
how it benefits them to have one?
I mean, at first look, it does seem a little silly.
How can one word change the trajectory of an entire year of 365 days?!?
Well, sister, I am going to weigh in on this exact question by telling you some of my own experiences and why I find that choosing a Word of the Year is a helpful endeavour.
My Previous Words of the Year and My Experience With Them
First of all, I want to be perfectly transparent here and just say that
I do not always choose a word of the year,
and, also, the way I choose the word often changes from one year to the next.
In some years, I just don't feel inspired by the idea of a word at all.
In other years, a word doesn't come to me until several months have passed by,
or I end up changing the one I chose halfway through the year.
And, sometimes, the word itself shows up in retrospect...
when I'm reviewing my year in November or December.
That's what happened the first year.
It was a year when I was still grieving the loss of my marriage and the loss of my mother,
my ex and I sold the marital house in the summer (and I had to pack, and sort all of our belongings... an incredibly emotionally painful task), I'd searched for and bought a new place for me and my youngest daughter to live in, I started work at a new school
after finishing a stress leave of absence, and then we moved into the new place in the fall.
After we were settled, I realized I felt like I had spent the year battling against not falling apart every step of the way... that I had fought on everyday to just keep moving
in order to do the things that needed to be done.
And I realized in hindsight, while working in my art journal,
that I had actually been a warrior! And so that became my word for that year!
Year of the Warrior!
Some of the other words I have used are
Simplify, Discipline, Ease, Tapas! (not the food!), Visibility, Heal, Create.
Why Choose A Word of the Year
There are a few reasons why you might like to try the Word of the Year.
First of all, it allows for a little more freedom
than some of our rather cumbersome or tight-fitting New Year's Resolutions!
Making a resolution locks us into a particular behaviour that the resolution calls for.
For example, if the resolution is to workout 5 days per week,
the only way to be successful in this resolution is to workout 5 days per week!
There's no room for deviation or flexibility
when things come up that make it so you cannot fulfill that resolution.
Then we feel like we have failed which brings up a lot of guilty feelings and negative self-talk which turn the positive intent of the resolution into a negative experience.
On the other hand, choosing one word allows for flexibility in how you use that word
and how you apply it to the different areas of your life.
There are always a number of different ways to be successful in applying it to your life
(which I will elaborate on a bit further on in the blog).
Secondly, choosing a Word of the Year allows you to embody the meaning of the word
in all aspects of how you live your life including
how you want to feel, what you want to think, what you want to do,
and how you want to be.
And finally, choosing a Word of the Year provides you with a framework within which to live.
The word acts like an intention you have set for yourself or like a theme you want to play out in your life, or like a bright light to guide you throughout the year.
So, How do You Choose A Word of the Year?
There are a few different things you can do to get inspired
about which word you will choose for the year.
A good way to start is to do some reflecting about yourself and your life.
You can do this by asking yourself some questions.
is there something you want more of such as adventure, travel, or rest?
By looking at this desire,
you might feel inspired to choose a word that encompasses it in some way.
You might choose the word adventure, relaxation, or enjoyment.
Another question you might ask yourself is,
what things might improve the various aspects of your life
(career, relationships, emotional well being, etc)?
Maybe your word will be something that inspires you to improve this area of your life.
In this case, you might choose words like discipline, communication, boundaries, or growth.
A second step you can take to find a word is to look into words that other people are using.
One of their words might work for you or might help you think of other ones.
Or simply do a search on the internet for inspiring words.
Write down the ones that call to you and then review the words on your list
to see how they make you feel.
You will know when you've hit on the right word for you.
It will make you feel excited or determined, or a resounding "yes!" in your gut.
It will resonate in some way with your soul heart space.
Sometimes, you don't even have to choose a word because the word chooses you!
A word just pops in your head and you immediately know it is your word!
And sometimes, the complete opposite happens...
where you go through all the suggestions to find your word,
but nothing resonates or jumps out at you at all.
And that's okay.
Give it a bit of time and space.
It's okay if the word doesn't show up until February.
There's no rush and there's no time constraints for choosing the word.
And finally, in terms of choosing a word, it's important to remember that, occasionally,
a word gets used up part way through the year and if that happens,
feel free to pick a new one.
There is no rule that says you have to keep the same word all year.
It would be silly to keep a word that is no longer resonating with you.
Choose a new one!
Once You Have Chosen Your Word of the Year, What Do You Do With It? How Does It Work?
This is the beauty of the Word of the Year.
You can literally use it however you want.
You embrace it and all that it can mean, and then
you apply it to the various aspects of your life.
For instance, a few years back, I chose the word "declutter"
(which eventually morphed into "simplify" which is very similar but not quite the same.)
I originally chose declutter because I wanted to get rid of clothes
and other belongings from my life with my ex.
But I started realizing there were other areas of my life I wanted to simplify, as well.
So I began to apply the word simplify to many things.
It was at a time in my life when it felt like everything was sooo haaard,
and so I would often catch myself overthinking and stressing about things.
Then I would remember to "simplify".
So.... I would buy an appetizer to bring to the party instead of making it from scratch.
And I asked my friend who is an administrative assistant
to help me with some difficult paperwork.
And when I was decluttering my closet,
I would limit myself to 5 pieces of clothing a day so I wouldn't get overwhelmed.
And thus, the word "simplify" completely changed my year.
Oh, it was still one of the most difficult years of my life,
but that word allowed me to find some ease
that I probably wouldn't have experienced without it.
It gave me a framework of grace within which I could function.
This year, for 2024, I have chosen the word "Gumption"!
And yes! My art collection, "The Girls of Gumption" was definitely the inspiration for this word!
The stories of these girls have motivated me to live from a space of gumption this year.
I want to stop just thinking about all the ways I want to live my life
and actually use my gumption to live my life the way I dream of it being!
I'm so excited about my word this year.
Gumption is going to change my life!
Here's to the Word of the Year 2024!
I hope you find or have found a word that you are as excited about as I am about Gumption!