For the last ten years, I spend late-December or early-January pondering what has gone well in the past year, along with what my hopes are for the year to come. It has always been a powerful and grounding exercise, whether the year is the best yet or a complete dumpster fire. A word can’t be “broken” in the way that resolutions can. Thus, I would love to share some of my experience, as well as guidance and resources to help you identify whether choosing an annual theme might be right for you.
So, what is the Word of the Year? I view it as a theme and intention for the year to come, a robust hope that allows for more flexibility than the rigid goals we associate the new year. The word is meant to be encouraging, inspiring, and empowering. When you’re having a particularly rough day or failing to acknowledging a small win, the word can serve as a guidepost. Feeling lost? What was your word for the year, and how can you invite a little bit of that dream into the present moment?
How do you pick your word? Some years, the obvious answer jumps out at you and sometimes we need to ask ourselves some questions to go a little deeper and unearth that which we need to most. The exercise, at least for me, offers permission to reflect inward and discover what I want, what I need, and where I currently feel unfulfilled. If you aren’t sure where to begin, I would highly recommend Susannah Conway’s free five-day Find Your Word program (along with her free Unravel the Year workbook) or simply searching the internet for “word of the year,” where you will find dozens of suggestions.
To give some context, I would like to share my Word of the Year for 2021, as well as some examples from past years to, just maybe, inspire you to set an intention that will prime 2021 to be a great year for you. Whatever you need now–whether that be rest, personal growth, or a sense of abundance–I hope that 2021 provides.
Without further ado, here we go…
I have decided that my intention for 2021 is CLARITY. For several years now, I have feel lost, ill, and devoid of anything resembling energy or enthusiasm. Now that my emotional larder has been restocked and my health has risen to a sustainable baseline, my next goal is to assess where I am presently, determine where I would like to be, and to discern what the path to that desired future may look like. I hope for an open mind, a clear vision, and a willingness to explore all available options. What is my next step? What action can I take to reintroduce a sense of purpose into my life? How can I bring more joy into each day? I hope that each day will be filled with smart questions and deep answers.
In 2020, my theme was REPLENISH. My intention was to focus on health, nourishment and stress-reduction. After years of feeling ill and pushing myself to perform, I finally accepted my body’s current capabilities and committed to refilling an empty tank. It was a year of rest, relaxation and relearning how to listen to my body and trust my soul. It was a slow year in terms of accomplishments, but I am okay with that because my goal was simply to allow space for healing. Within that context, I feel that I was true to the theme.
In 2019, my word of the year was PROSPERITY. I moved through the year with a sense of enough, despite taking a lower paying job (for reduced stress) and several unexpected home expenses, such as flooding, mold, and dead appliances. A belief that I was in a good place financially gave me permission to take a much-needed two-week vacation, invest in high quality kitchenware, and spend money on medical specialists and supplements that improved my health. I felt abundance in my relationships, and my retirement funds grew.
In 2018, I strove to feel FREE. At the start of the year, I felt suffocated by a toxic job and the charade of pretending I had enough energy to be everything to everyone. I wanted to be released of the many chains I wore. While the feeling at the end of the year was one of helplessness, loss, and defeat, my word helped guide me through quitting a stressful job, ditching unhelpful doctors, and–in retrospect–clearing space for a brighter future. I opened up space for something new.
In 2017, my aim was for ENGAGEMENT. After eighteen months of struggling with an ever-dwindling energy supply, I longed to feel like an active participant in my own life because I felt as if I couldn’t begin to keep up. I was aggressive with my goals, sacrificing sleep in pursuit of career advancement, friendship, and the appearance of good health. It was an outwardly successful year, but I had been burning the candle at both ends and was paying for it by the end of the year.
Between 2011 and 2016, I was too cheap to print out a 60-page workbook, so the words of years past are trapped in old journals, packed like sardines in a large box on a high shelf that I won’t even attempt to scale. The words of years passed shall remain a mystery to all. Sorry, folks…or, perhaps, you’re welcome.