As an alternative to New Year’s resolutions, a few of my friends chose a word of the year: one word that describes a guiding principle for navigating the next twelve months. Words like LIGHT or ACTION or ELEVATE. I love watching how these big-picture words manifest themselves in peoples’ day-to-day lives.
And me? I like the idea of choosing a word of the year. But how does someone commit to a single word? Who could possibly predict the theme that would feel relevant for twelve whole months? Life is too big to be tethered to one tiny little word! I can do what I want! YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO.
Hold up. That’s my petulant toddler voice, and it only shows up when I’m avoiding something. But…choosing a word of the year? It’s one little word. What’s the big deal?
Choosing a word of the year is scary
The big deal is this: I’m scared. Much as I love the idea of finding my verbal North Star, I’m afraid I’ll get distracted. I’m afraid I lack the discipline to follow it through the year. I’m afraid I’ll quit.
Making my way through the dark
2019 was hard. The baseline of 2019 was the churning political whirlpool; the constant, sucking vortex I’ve been swimming against since November 2016. But there were also big changes in my family’s life, many of which were positive and exciting. Joyful, even. But change, even good change, is disruptive. I know this, but in 2019 I felt it, in the gut.
Even with much to celebrate, I ended the year stumbling in the dark. I’ll devote future conversations to how I crawled back into the light. But, for now, I’ll just say thank God for good therapists and great friends.
All channels open
So now it’s 2020. I read a bunch of my friends’ New Year updates and it’s inspiring to hear what they’re planning for the year ahead. I have plans too, but they’re fuzzy. I know which direction I’m going, but I’m not clear on the destination. That’s okay. I’m an intuitive decision-maker. What others might call lack of clarity I call data collection.
To my surprise, a word kept bubbling up. I ignored it for a while, but it kept bobbing to the surface. And my inner toddler didn’t seem to mind.
My 2020 Word of the Year
The word is VISION.
Okay, okay, maybe all those “20/20 vision” puns floating around on Twitter got in my head. Pun-lovers, raise your hands!
But no other word more accurately gets at what I want for 2020. What I want more than anything.
I see a future full of possibility. It looks like a spacious life as the parent of adults. A different way of working. A looser grip on my habits and hang-ups. A new definition of “impact.”
On a bigger scale, it looks like a country pulled back from the brink. Renewed awareness of the things we share. Progress toward a healthier future for our children and planet.
We’re living in dark times (no duh) with the constant drone of those in power telling us we’re weak and alone, or that we hate each other.
It’s the reality show from hell. But, like any reality show, it’s not reality. It’s a distorted and relentlessly-repeated media campaign designed to maintain the status quo.
No thanks. That show sucks.
I’m interested in the story of what we’re building, not who we’re fighting.
It’s a pretty big vision. Bigger than one year or one person. But not bigger than one word.
My friend/podcast BFF Christine chose EMBRACE. My friend Karen chose BOLD. Does choosing a word of the year appeal to you? It’s not too late. You can choose a word whenever you want AND it doesn’t have to be for an entire year. Word of the Quarter! Word of the Week! You’re the boss of you.
Leave a comment with your Word of the Year! I’d love to hear what you choose.