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Have you noticed, over the last few years, that people standing on the cusp of a new year choose a word, or couple of words, to capture how they want the year ahead to be? It seems that finding your word has replaced the concept of setting New Year Resolutions, which most of us know simply do not work, not necessarily because we're lazy or can't commit (though sometimes, let's be honest, we are), but because all too often life changes and the specifics of your New Year Resolution just don't fit anymore.
A word, or a couple of words, can be applied to any and every area of your life. It's specific in that it's what you want to achieve but it's not specific in that you're leaving the 'how' open to evolve.
Personally, I think it's a brilliant idea and one I've tried to jump on to for a couple of years now. But, until now, haven't been able to.
You see, it sounds very easy, it seems like a simple concept: "pick a word for your year". However, when you get to the crux of it, picking one word, or even a couple of words, can actually be debilitating. There are so many words to choose from, what if you choose the wrong one? Or you look, for inspiration, at what words other people have chosen and then you suddenly feel inadequate because the word you had been considering could never be on par with theirs. Or you're not even sure exactly what you want to achieve in the coming year so how can you confine yourself to one word?
As I realised this year, these are just all excuses that stop you taking that step forward, they're all excuses that arise from a place of fear (fear of getting it wrong, fear of not choosing a good enough word, fear of not following through...).
It's not like you're committing your life to something and if you fail, you'll get punished, persecuted, or worse. So why all the pressure? Why the need to get it right? Why can't you (replace that with "I") pick a friggin' word?
Because fear is crippling. That's why.
And that's why we fail to do so much in and with our lives. Because fear perks its ugly little head up and casts a dark shadow over us. And yet, if we think sensibly about it, in nearly every circumstance, what really is fear? It's an unpleasant feeling or emotion that results from a perceived danger. And, as far as I know, to date, feelings and emotions arising from a perceived danger, have never physically damaged or killed anyone.
When we were younger fear showed up as the fear of not being chosen to play with the kids in the playground, it was the bogey man hiding in the closet. As you got a little older fear was not being asked to the school dance, not having your feelings returned by the girl or guy you fancied. And as you reached adulthood, fear was not bagging your dream job, not being successful, of looking stupid.
Fear is a part of our make up because it's designed to keep us safe from physical dangers. In today's modern world, however, it's highliy unlikely that the real danger of a sabre-tooth tiger sneaking up behind you in the middle of the city and choosing you as his next meal, is, well, highly unlikely.
So why do we continue to live our lives from a place of fear? And, to bring it into context here, why on earth have we (read that as "I") been frozen by fear for years over the thought of choosing one little word to describe the oncoming year? How is a word going to physically endanger you or me?
It was only when I realised this and how ridiculous it was that fear had stopped me in my tracks from picking a 'word for the year', for the last few years, that I was finally able to relax and the word picked me as i was reading a book.
And now I can step forward into the new year and, indeed, new decade motivated by my word.
And my word for the coming year is "change" (you see... it doesn't have to be a complicated, intricate, difficult-to-spell or hard-to-understand word, it just has to have meaning to you and your life).
I had considered two words: change and grow, but then I realised that when things do change, you naturally grow. So I decided to stick to one word and keep things 'simple'.
For me, "change" is the perfect word because I struggle to embrace change. Change fills me with uncertainty as I never know, in advance, what the outcome will be. So, for me, "change" is challenging.
"Change" is also perfect because it sums up exactly what I need in my life in order to let go and walk away from the things that aren't working in my life (such as limiting beliefs, blocks, self-sabotage). So, for me, "change" is a necessity.
"Change" is a word that means transformation and, for me, transformation leads to growth and expansion, and that's what I next need to create in my life. So, for me, "change" is cathartic.
And "change" is about relooking at things that are holding me back and seeing how I can turn them around and alter them so I can move forward. It's about fixing what's old and no longer serving me and turning it around into something that supports and benefits me. So, for me, "change" is reframing.
As you can see I haven't gone into specifics about what or how I'm going to change. And that's the beauty of choosing a word for your year. You keep your chosen word at the forefront of your mind throughout the whole year (eg write your word on post-it notes and stick them where you'll regularly see them, create affirmations about your word that you can repeat everyday, find inspiring quotes about your word, create an uplifting screensaver around your word etc) and as you work through each day at a time you ask yourself questions like "how is this situation bringing <your word> to fruition?" or "what do I need to do in order to bring <your word> to the forefront of this situation?" or "what can I do through my behaviours or thoughts to ensure <your word> becomes my goal?" etc. And then you do and act to ensure you are in aligment with your chosen word.
So, tell me, what word feels challenging, is a necessity, is cathartic and stimulates positive reframing in your life? Then that's your word for the year. Write it down, read it out loud everyday, have it tatooed deep into your brain, and then this time next year look back and see just how positively influential that word has been.