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choosing your word of the year

February 3, 2022

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Years ago I made a resolution to STOP doing resolutions. Instead, I started an annual tradition that has served me well for the past several years. 

A word or phrase of the year. It’s my compass, my North Star for how I want to approach whatever the year has in store for me. While you never really know what the year has in store for you, you do have some idea of what lies ahead. The intention is this word or phrase will remind you of how you want to show up through the high and low moments of the year.  

discover your word or phrase of the year exercise

The reflection questions below will help guide you towards a word or phrase that resonates with you. I want to offer that you are in the power of choice to change your word or phrase later in the year if it’s no longer serving you.

Ready to dig in? Here’s what you need.

  • A quiet space, free of interruptions for the next 10-15 minutes. Optional to have soothing or light music in the background.
  • Pen and paper or journal to take notes. Optional to just reflect and not write anything down.
  • If you’re feelin’ it, maybe you light a candle nearby, too.

All set? Let’s begin.

For each prompt, reflect or write down…

  • Three things you’re focused on for the year ahead. Be specific.
    • Examples: Seeking new career opportunities in <X industry or company>, starting a family, or taking time to discover what I really want for my life. Maybe you’re contemplating moving cities, changing careers, or going back to school.

  • If one of those focuses were to come true this year, how would it make you feel? Try using single words instead of sentences.
    • Examples: Proud, elated, satisfied, thrilled, overwhelmed, nervous, excited, anxious, courageous.

  • If one or none of those focuses were to come true this year, what feelings would you want to lean into to cope? Again, try to use single words instead of sentences.
    • Examples: Resilience, courage, stamina, strength, patience, love, trust, bravery.

  • Think back or look at the words you just reflected on. Circle three that stand out to you the most.

  • You now have three words. Imagine something unexpected happens this year that brings you a tremendous amount of joy. Circle or reflect on which of those three words resonates with that scenario.

  • You still have three words, one of which resonates with unexpected joy. Now imagine something unexpected happens this year that brings new challenges. Circle or reflect on which of those words resonates with that scenario.

  • You have three words, one of which resonates with unexpected joy and one which resonates with unexpected challenge.
    • Are they the same word for each unexpected happenstance?
    • Are they different words?

  • Finally, take a moment to reflect or look at the words you’ve written. Typically one of these words will begin to stand out. A word that hits a nerve, feels powerful. A word that you’ll need and can be applied to any life moment that comes your way this year.
    • If you are stuck between two words, keep them both! Alternatively, play with them and see if they can be made into a phrase. For example, when I was stuck between joy and choice one year, I turned it into a phrase for the year, happiness is a choice.

The goal is that you now have your word of the year. If you’ve written this exercise out, circle the word. Whether you reflected on it or wrote it all down, I want you to close your eyes and imagine your three focuses for the year. Then say your word out loud. Let it settle in your mind, feel it in your body.

There you have it. You have a word or phrase to guide you through the expected and unexpected for the year. Try it on for the next month. Keep it on your mind as you go about your daily life. Maybe you post it in a place where you’ll see it every day.

Finally, if it doesn’t resonate, revisit it. Change it. This is your year, your word, your compass.

my 2022 word of the year.

I’ve spent the past six months working with a coach, Jeanne, who has been a phenomenal mentor in my life. Check her out at her website Red Circle Shadow. I just wrapped up my final session and after reflecting back on our time together, the word surrender kept coming up. When I flipped back on notes from our sessions, surrender was written many times.

In many aspects of my life, I desire control and plan things with great detail and high expectation. I create intense pressure (on myself) to get it all right. Through these coaching sessions, I discovered I was holding myself back from being fully present, creative, and mindful of my own needs. Practicing the art of surrendering over the past six months has transformed my way of being, my expectations of myself, and my day-to-day life.

For 2022, the word surrender feels right. I will surrender to this transition of becoming a mom of two and release expectations of what I want or need them to be. I will allow it to be exactly what it is and embrace the joys and challenges. I will surrender to the journey of creating this blog and Settle Up community, not tether my satisfaction or joy to followers or subscribers but do it because I love it and the connections it creates.

For anything unexpected that comes from this year, I will surrender to it instead of resisting it. I am capable of handling anything that comes my way. Plus with another year of the pandemic and the lack of control that comes with that, surrender feels appropriate, too.

So tell me, what is your word or phrase of the year? What did you think of the exercise?

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