A couple of years ago I gave up making New Year’s resolutions. I typically found that each year I set an unrealistic or unachievable goal and I simply got tired of failing to achieve them. I also found that I usually ended up feeling worse about myself for not sticking to a resolution that I had made.
For these reasons, I decided to ditch the New Year’s resolution and choose a word of the year instead. One word that sums up the change I would like to see in my life for the upcoming year. Some of my past words have been "shine" and "grow." This year I selected the word "emerge." The definition of emerge is to move away from something and come into view; to become apparent or known. When I think of something that emerges, I think of something that has been in existence for some time, but finally comes into the light. To me, the word also suggests a slow yet prominent force that, once apparent, cannot be denied.
And so, I am ready to emerge. To become visible. And, I see 2022 as a year of growth, opening doors and immeasurable change.
If you are ready to find your word of the year, here's a list of steps to help you get started.
How to find your own word of the year
Spend a little time thinking about an area of your life you would like to change or improve. Is there an area that you are struggling with? Is there a space where you would like to grow? If you decide that there is an area that you would like to change, be realistic about how to approach it. Especially this year as we are still dealing with a pandemic, our stress levels are high and we continue to deal with uncertainty. Rather than making a big change, choose to make small adjustments. Try selecting something that you can do daily that will make you feel better. Seeing daily progress will also make you more likely to stick with your endeavors!
Make a list of word choices that define an area you would like to focus on. Write down anything you can think of and then chose a word that is actionable. Here are just a few words to get you started:
Keep it simple! Don't overachieve and try to choose just one word. The idea of a word of the year is to incorporate more simplicity into our lives by taking small steps toward achieving a larger goal.
Let’s say that you decide that you want more happiness in your life, you might select “volunteer” as your word. Then, find ways to help pitch in and help out where you can. If you want to improve your health, you might choose “better” as your word. Then make small adjustments in your daily life by making better choices such as walking more, taking the stairs whenever possible, drinking more water, or cutting back on sweets.
Once you select your word of the year, make it visible and practice it daily. Write it on your bathroom mirror, place it on your cellphone screen, print it on card stock and attach it to your keychain. Anywhere that you will see it as a daily reminder. The more you focus on your word, the more often your brain will seek it out because what you focus on tends to expand.
For instance, have you ever noticed that when you decide to buy a new car, let’s say a red Honda, suddenly you see red Hondas everywhere? That is because you have told your brain that red Hondas are important to you. Immediately, your brain starts to focus on the thing you want and you begin to notice it more easily than ever before.
Come up with a plan to incorporate your word into your daily life. If you selected the word “gratitude,” for instance, you might start a daily meditation practice. Don’t let the “M” word scare you. You don’t have to sit cross-legged while chanting and eating granola. Meditation is simply the practice of training your brain to focus better. Just as you can train your muscles to improve, you can also train your brain for better concentration and the ability to quiet run-away thoughts. Meditation has also been proven to increase productivity and decrease stress.
If you are not sure where to start, there’s an app for that! You can find many different meditation apps that offer exercises and guided meditations. A few we like are Headspace, Calm and Healthy Minds Program.
Regardless of where you start, remember to start small and keep it simple. A daily practice doesn’t have to take more than five minutes to be beneficial.
Feature photo courtesy Unsplash / Gabrielle Henderson