One Word to Rule Them All—A Closer Look at Choosing a Word of the Year

January 08, 2018

One day in December I was cleaning out our pantry while listening to Marie Forleo interview Tim Ferriss. Something Tim said struck me as I stood in my kitchen, clutching cans of black beans and tuna: 

“What would it look like if it was easy?”

I realized I’m not used to expecting things to come easily. I’m used to expecting to work hard, to struggle, to sweat, to grind it out. What is this concept “easy” of which you speak?!

Because even when “it” is easy, I find a way to make it hard.

It’s my superpower.

I grasp, I cling, I obsess, I worry, I engage in procrastination and perfectionism and many other unhelpful habits.

And you know what, I’m tired. I’m tired of struggling, of swimming upstream, of overwhelming myself in “shoulds” and over-analyzing and over-researching and over- everything.

I’m “over” it.

I realized, standing in my kitchen, listening to Tim and Marie talk, that I want my life and work to flow. And just like that, my 2018 Word of the Year (WOTY) presented itself to me.



My words of the year have often appeared this way, without my having to dig around in my subconscious. A word pops into my head or keeps showing up in what I’m reading and seeing in a fashion impossible to ignore. I’ll roll it around in my brain, noticing how it makes me feel. Is it a word that can apply to multiple areas of my life? Is it a stretch, but not so far outside my comfort zone that I’ll feel constantly intimidated by it? Does it have layers of meaning? Do I get excited at the possibility of having it guide me during the upcoming year? Flow fit the bill for 2018.

It’s always fun seeing the ways my WOTY pops up throughout the year, whether it’s in art, music, or words. I’ve already stumbled on several passages that connect to the concept of flow in my mind. Here’s one paraphrased from the novel The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles:

“Life is like a dance partner, and if you relax and let yourself go, you’ll find yourself waltzing.”

Doesn’t that sound lovely?

So in 2018, I plan to focus on putting aside things that impede flow, such as fear and perfectionism. I’m going to take up habits and practices that lead to flow, such as Morning Pages, and remembering to take a few moments to plan out my day so that things will run more smoothly. I’m also going to focus on not over-scheduling, because that leads to rushing, and rushing is not flow.

Working with a Word of the Year is a gentle way to set a tone, intention, or expectation for the coming year. It can be as simple or as in depth as you like. In my experience, it can be a useful tool in advancing your goals and enriching your life. 

Have you ever tried choosing a Word of the Year? How did it work for you? 

You Might Also Like

12 comments

  1. Delightful post! I like the thought of life as a dance partner and I quite identify with your sentiments of everything being a struggle and whatever isn't, we turn into a struggle because we're not able to accept it as being easy or simple.

    I'm "wordless" so far. I'm not sure if the word that has been following me is really my word or if I'm resisting or if I'm making this complicated. The word doesn't resonate with me, so I'm waiting. I think too, I have more work to do on last year's word...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Laure--glad you liked it! As you well know, I struggle with things I don't need to struggle with, so maybe this year will help me remedy that.

      I firmly believe your word has to resonate--even the words that have been more challenging for me have just "felt right." Good luck finding the right one--and enjoy the journey.

      Delete
  2. I really like WOTY, I read about it in your previous post. I was not sure to find a word at first, but to my surprise a word surfaced in my mind: clarity. Last year my word could have been 'letting go', because that seemed to be the theme that year in many aspects. But now.... away with the cobwebs in my head and find clarity. It really feels fantastic, and I hope it will inspire me the whole year. Thanks for sharing!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Judy--It's exciting when the WOTY finds you, isn't it? Hope you enjoy exploring clarity all year long, and thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Delete
  3. Kathy, I love your word, and I equally love the self-awareness you used to reach it ("even when 'it' is easy, I find a way to make it hard"). My word for 2018 is LIGHT, because I need to lighten up! I'm posting a newsletter on it tomorrow and a blog post later this week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leanne--I look forward to reading your post and newsletter. Light is a great word. I also chose it--or it chose me--a few years ago, because I needed to lighten up, too! I still have a magnet on my fridge encouraging me to "Live light".

      Delete
  4. What a great post. I haven’t had much luck with words of the year. I’ve done them a couple of times and then promptly forgotten about them. So I’m not doing one this year. But I love your word. It sounds just right for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, Cheryl, I've done that too--forgotten all about the word. But I've had good experiences for the last couple of years so I'll keep going until it doesn't work anymore.

      Happy New Year, and hope 2018 is a great year for you!

      Delete
  5. Dear Kathy - I love your word...it sounds just perfect. Sometimes when we focus on one thought or word it leads to great change. Wishing you the best "flow" in 2018. Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you, Debbie. I wish you a brilliant, beautiful and "new" 2018!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Kathy, I love letting a word choose me! Last year it was Clarity and this year it is Enjoy.

    I have had a standing luncheon with a few long-time female friends on New Year's Eve for many years. We go to a fine old hotel here in Louisville that is famous for its Hot Brown (an artery-clogging concoction of turkey and bacon on toast smothered in a cheese sauce - of course I order it every year!). Anyway, I have learned to immediately cut the portion in half and take home the rest for another meal. The waitress brought out a Styrofoam container and a bag to carry it in so it wouldn't seep and ruin anything. In huge letters across the bag: ENJOY!

    Ha! I already had that word chosen and this just confirmed that it is the right one. So let's get in the Flow and Enjoy 2018.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Belle--I love it, what a great story! Yes, let's get in the Flow and Enjoy 2018.

      Delete


Look for my travel writing here