A new year is upon us. Now is usually the time when everyone starts making plans, creating goals, and coming up with their word of the year. To this, I am no exception and I’ve been planning, coming up with goals, and focusing on what word I want to guide me through 2018.
Back when I first started doing this word of the year thing, I did what I always do when faced with something I’ve never encountered before. I asked around. “What’s your word?” became an actual question I would ask people who didn’t look at me crazy when I mentioned having a word of the year. I also researched. Thesaurus.com was my jam and I’d search words that were of interest to me and then look up their more sophisticated sounding synonyms because, you know…extra.
Last year was the first year I actually just practiced being open to receiving the word. Not The Word, but the word. I didn’t seek out any help from others. I didn’t do twenty million worksheets to help determine the word for me. Thesaurus.com wasn’t opened once, and I didn’t feel the overwhelming pressure to check in with everybody else who’d chosen a word of the year. For the first time, I let the word choose me.
Now, I know this sounds woo woo as hell and because I am usually a pretty grounded, logical person, I’m completely there with you, but I’m being totally honest here. It may seem impractical and weird to “let the word choose you” but in my opinion, it’s one of the best ways to really direct your life.
Around this time last year, it finally came to me that my word for the year would be surrender. When my attention was first focused on it, I felt an instant connection. That little feeling in my stomach that I get when things are very right or very scary happened immediately. And then I knew. Again, no research, no group brainstorming sessions, just straight up being open and intentional.
Granted, surrender doesn’t seem like a hard hitting, guide my life type of word. If anything, at first glance, it appears weak and not necessarily how one should spend his or her life, or a year of his or her life. Surrender and the act of surrendering was powerful for me though. There were so many areas of my life where I was holding on to strings because I refused to let go. This is the way it has always been, so this is the way it always has to be. It didn’t matter what holding on meant for me physically, emotionally, or mentally. I could deal with the anguish because that meant I hadn’t failed. Surrendering taught me that I needed to fail in order to be free. In order to truly begin the process of renewal, I had to let go of that dead shit.
But I’m not here to sell you on the word surrender. If it’s right for you, you’ll know. I’m basically just here to help you find your word of the year for 2018 in the simplest way possible. I literally only have three tips for you because I honestly think that’s all it takes. We (I) overthink this thing so much and it’s not necessary. No matter what word of the year you choose, if it’s not right for you, it’s just not right for you and you will notice that throughout the year. Like the year, I chose abundance for my word of the year. It was so wrong for me. So very, very wrong. But I went forth and by the middle of the year, I’d forgotten the word was wallowing in a space called lack. That was a fail, but a learning win.
Three tips for choosing a word of the year
Read more. This is so simple, ain’t it? Like books have words and I need some words, so I should read more books. More than that, though, books expose us to scenarios, or situations that we otherwise may never have exposure to. Along with that comes exposure to a vocabulary that we might not otherwise be privy to. Even more than that, books give us an opportunity to see the words we do know stretched and manipulated in different ways for further expansion on how we use them. It’s hard for someone to be something that they’ve never seen and it’s hard for someone to use words that they’ve never been exposed to. Read more and expand your inventory of words from which to choose.
It has to feel right. This is my problem with arbitrarily choosing just any ol’ word, or choosing a word because it sounds good, and pretty, and sophisticated (I did that). It’s a waste of time and energy. I believe that everybody has intuition, so most of us know, deep down, if something is right for us, a possibility, or just a flat out hell no. If your intuition is underdeveloped or underutilized, like mine, it can be hard to discern intuition from fear from dread from excitement. I get that and honestly, I have no idea how to make that better yet. But I think that intuition plays a key role in choosing a word of the year. As I mentioned above, when I came across surrender or a variation of surrender, each and every time I would feel a knot in my stomach. A little bit like that feeling you get when you’re riding a roller coaster or when you just got called on to speak unexpectedly (or expectedly in my case because I loathe public speaking). If that’s not there when you choose a word of the year, choose another word of the year.
It doesn’t need to make sense. Not right off. Eventually it will, but the word making sense to you in order for it to be your word of the year is not a requirement. Sometimes you grow into a word as the year progresses. Surrender was scary, and big, and the exact opposite of what I thought I needed in a word and it turned out be exactly what I needed at that time in my life. The actual act of choosing the word (or allowing the word to choose me) was my very first act of surrendering.
Feel free to share your 2018 word of the year and how it came to be in the comments. If you’re like me and don’t share your word until the end of the year, what was your 2017 word and how did it manifest in your life this year?