It happens every year.
The new year comes and we feel compelled to write a long list of goals for the year (or resolutions, if you will).
Week 1 brings great satisfaction. We are OWNING this task.
Week 2 sees some tempering off of the excitement but we are certain that as soon as we get over this little hump, we’ll be right back to it (whatever it is: juicing, training for a marathon, being supremely organized, etc.).
Week 3 comes and we are trying but, boy, does this juicing, marathon training, supreme organization not delivering what I thought it would.
Week 4 is a big ole’ shame bath. How did we let this happen again? How come we cannot complete anything?
I’ll tell you why. Because resolutions are too often focused on what we think we should be doing. And shoulds operate in our mindset like some authority figure bossing us around. They don’t feel like an opportunity. They don’t feel like a desire. They feel like expansive. And feeling (or not) like that is always going to backfire.
The real question to ask ourselves at the new year is what feeling do we want to have more of in our life? Once you hone in on what you most desire from deep within, you can start thinking about what means you wish to do but our dos- our goals, our actions- should always be driven by the most essential question: for what does our soul hunger?
What’s in a word?
Ready to choose your own word for the year to guide you? Start by asking yourself some introspective questions.
What do I want more of in my life?
What do I want less of if my life?
What do I need right now more than anything else?
What feeling do I most want to have (and why)?
Once you have a sense of what feeling you want, try to capture that feeling in just one word. You want it to be broad enough to encompass many different aspects of your life yet specific enough to really inspire meaningful growth for you. I also want to encourage you to think about the “dark side” of the word. For example, maybe you are thinking about boundless for the word. Are you okay if that ends up translating to boundary-less for you?
As you consider words, feel free to look up definitions and synonyms to help you land on what touchstone you most need right now.
Put that word to work
Your word is going to serve as a guide for you. When you wake up in the morning, answer the question, “What can I do today to help me feel like I am X (whatever your word is)?” Then, meet that need.
When you are presented with an opportunity, ask yourself if it is an opportunity that will help you feel whatever the word is.
Finally, use the word to come up with your goals. If you want to feel a sense of peace, what actions can you choose this year (as long term goals) to help you feel that (reconcile with your sister, let other people’s opinions go, etc). Our to do lists should always be driven not by shoulds but by our deepest desires so rooted in how we want to feel.
What I am looking for in 2016
It took me a while to get to my word for 2016 but, boy, have I found the perfect word for my 2016.
For the longest time, I thought my word would be delight. I wanted a lightness to my being and so much more joy after a year that was filled with heart break, deep grief, challenges, anxiety and more. I wanted to feel vibrant again and to glow, but I also just wanted to reacquaint myself with the deep happiness that I used to emit more effortlessly before life got so. damn. hard (as life does when you have kids and parents and partners and friends whose wellbeing greatly affects you while balancing work and volunteering and laundry and, well, you know the whole entire drill here).
But there were two other things speaking to me, too, for the new year. In addition to wanting more delight, I also wanted to accomplish more of the things that my own heart had been calling me to do. If you know me in real life, you know that I am a completer. I complete whatever you ask of me before the deadline and, I hope, at a nice quality level. But my desire to not leave anyone else hanging means that I leave myself, my ideas, and my desires hanging A LOT more than I care to admit. I wanted to accomplish things that have been on my personal to do list for a long time—not because they will make a difference to anyone else necessarily but because they will make a difference to me. So completion and accomplishment were speaking to me, too.
Finally, I found myself wanting to channel that desire for delight and completion into sprucing up the daily-ness of living. I am the kind of person how ‘makes do’ always. Why get the thing you really want if this thing over here that only kinda speaks to you over sorta works? I am sure it’s a scarcity mindset leftover from growing up lower middle class and also from being so invested in the community that I would just rather invest those resources back, but, seriously, sometimes a girl just needs to get new underwear. And I wanted to quit denying myself those things— new underwear, a $10 candle, a rug for the kitchen. I literally have splinters in my bum because our thatch dining room chairs are so old they are disintegrating and, yet, it feels too extravagant to get new chairs. If I am honest with myself, I want super simple luxuries that probably wouldn’t be all that fancy to anyone else but would feel like heaven to me. And so there was that truth, too, swirling around my head as I considered my 2016 word for the year.
So delight, accomplished, and luxury were Word for the Year fight-clubbing when a friend and I got to talking about my word for the year. In trying to summarize all of these thoughts, I said, “Basically, I just want a life upgrade. I want my feelings upgraded, my work upgraded (because I was completing these dreams of mine), and my house upgraded (goodbye splinters! hello rug on the kitchen floor so it’s not so cold in there).”
And though upgrade wasn’t the right word, it was the feeling and so I played with that feeling until I arrived at my word for 2016 which is lift. I want to aim high, elevate my professional and personal presence, soar beyond my own expectations, and live with light and optimism. I want a lightness to my life this year—of spirit, yes, but also of brightness.
What about you?
What is your word for 2016 and how does it capture what you are most seeking?