“New year, new me” right? Isn’t that what everyone always says?
I gave up on New Year’s Resolutions years ago. They were always made halfheartedly, too general to be inspiring, and there just wasn’t enough push for me to actually follow through on it during the year. After a few years of, well, nothing, I stumbled into the world of focus words.
A word of the year (or focus word) is just like it sounds – one word that you focus on for an entire year. It’s a word that represents an area of change that you want to achieve by the end of the 365 day(ish) period. You make changes in your life and within yourself to grow according to that word. They’re a lot more effective than resolutions (in my experience) because you are only zoning in on one overall change per year.
I never really believed in the trend or even understood the point – that is, until I poured all I had into my own. My first word hit me by accident (read about my first year here or here), but I’m so, so glad I came to realize the power that having a word of the year can have.
This word will guide you through the next 12 months. It will always be in the back of your mind and it will give you the inspiration and courage to do what you need to do on your quest to be a better version of yourself. It is your daily push, your silent cheerleader, and your constant reminder of what you’re working towards. You aren’t becoming someone new and you aren’t losing who you are. You’re growing in a positive light with an almost indescribable internal goal to improve on something personal.
If you’ve never tried this before, don’t worry, you are not too late! In fact, now is the perfect time to find your word. Now that you’ve had a few days into the new year to really get a feel for 2018, I’m going to help you find your own word of the year!
First, take a few minutes and really think about the following questions:
What kind of person do I want to be?
How do I want to feel?
What experiences do I want to have?
What do I want my life to look like?
What do I want to accomplish?
What areas could I improve in?
After you’ve spent some time in overall self-reflection, start to consolidate some of those visualizations into a common theme.
What am I really looking to do? to be? to act?
Is the me 12 months from now more confident? more involved? more settled? more what?
Is the me 12 months from now less self-conscious? less shy? less flaky? less isolated? less what?
What kind of progress is the future me making? Is it emotional, mental, financial, professional, social, physical,…?
With those changes in mind, start trying on some words that fall within that category. What best sums up the change you want to focus on? You can make a list, a mind map, or just let it be for a day or two and see what comes to you. I’ve listed some contenders below to give you an idea, but remember that there are no rules as to what your word can be!
Gratitude Brave Lead Simplify Faith Content Forward Family
Present Established Peace Inspire Purpose Heart Aligned Love
Invest Joy Trust Pause Cultivate Heal Explore Kind
Connect Discipline Restore Balance Patience Clear Intentional Fearless
Look up the definition for your possible words. Look up synonyms to see which one you’re truly going for (most have subtle differences). Make sure it fits you. Fall in love with it. Get excited for it.
When you’re happy with a decision, write out “your story.” Verbalize the why behind your word. This will be great to look back on and refer to as you go through the year, and especially come the end of the year to compare where you are then with where you are now. It will also help you really decide if that word is right for you at this point in your life. If it’s hard to articulate, that’s okay, take your time and really turn it over in your mind. If in writing your why you realize that you’re actually talking about something that isn’t the word you chose, simply go back and try out another word. You don’t have to settle!
Once everything feels right, keep your word near. If you bullet journal, make a spread for inspiration or for tracking progress. Get a necklace of your word as a reminder and a comfort. Make a pillow with a defining quote about your word. Write it on your mirror so it’s one of the first things you see in the morning. Change your phone’s lock screen to what it stands for. Craft a vision board to showcase all that it means to you. Really, just keep your word in sight as a reminder to what you’re working towards.
It’s easy to romanticize focus words, but they won’t make your life perfect. Living out your word is an honest, raw journey that looks different for everyone. You will be vulnerable. You will have to live intentionally. You will have to make commitments. You will have to challenge yourself. Remember, this word isn’t just a novelty – hold it close. It isn’t just something to think about or talk about or dream about “one day…”, but is something to act on. Simply establishing a word of the year will not bring you change, it is up to you to use your word to inspire you to improve on your own.
If at any point you want to brainstorm possible words or ideas for living out a word you’ve already adopted, don’t hesitate to reach out, I’d love to chat with you!
Read my 2018 focus word story here.
~What’s your focus word for 2018?