Some Assembly Required

January 19, 2024

Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

Happy belated New Year! I’m mostly back from my extended break after a productive, in-depth review of 2023.

As I wrote in December’s Happy Little Thoughts, I did not accomplish many personal or professional goals in 2023. I spent most of the year navigating grief and the practical and administrative matters related to two deaths, and it was all I could do to keep my own life somewhat functional. When I wasn’t doing those things, I was mentally and emotionally recovering from doing them.

But now things are starting to settle down*. Starting a new year feels like starting fresh.

Choosing a word of the year

As usual, I have been pondering the choice of a word of the year. I would like 2024 to be, as professional sports teams call it, “a rebuilding year.” Now that I’m no longer responsible for caring for my mother-in-law, I can begin to think again of what I want to accomplish.

I toyed with the idea of rebuild as a word of the year, but it didn’t feel quite right. My circumstances have changed. My dreams have changed. My tolerance levels for some things have changed. I’m staring down a milestone birthday. Instead of rebuilding what I had before, as great as it was, I want to build a life I love, one that makes me happy to wake up in the morning, on the foundation of my old life. If that makes sense.

Here’s the quote, from Jamie Varon, that inspired me to choose build as my word of the year:

“Imagine the woman you want to be. Think of what her daily life, her habits, and routines would be. Start showing up to those habits and routines, start building them, step by step, and day by day. You don’t become her like magic. You build her. Start building.”

Words of support

Knowing that I am still somewhat shaky emotionally (especially considering what’s been going on with Tank—see * below), I’m choosing a couple of “background” words to support build: restore, gentle. At least right now, I’m not up for any major disruptive changes. I am up for building small habits, little by little, gently, while allowing time for restoration.  

After I wrote down some big goals I want to achieve in 2024, I broke them down into smaller goals, sometimes into something I can achieve in a month. Some of these subgoals are process goals, like “work on [insert project here] 15 minutes 3 times a week.” January has been kind of a trial run, as I figure out how to build the habits I want.

Some fun supportive practices

Thinking about choosing your own word of the year? That’s only the first step. While you can leave it to chance, if you want to make the most of the practice of choosing a word of the year, it helps to keep that word uppermost in your mind. Here are a few supportive practices I’ve heard about and might try this year: 

  • Keep a notebook to record ways your word of the year has shown up in your life
  • Create a Pinterest board for your word of the year
  • Create a vision board focusing on your word of the year
  • Put your word of the year on sticky notes and post them in strategic places.

What feels different?

I feel a certain determination I haven’t felt before. A few of my goals have migrated from year to year without my making any real headway on them and I want that to stop. I feel more likely to look for solutions and work arounds when I hit a roadblock, rather than giving up at the first significant obstacle. One lesson I learned from losing my mom and mother-in-law is that you don’t have all the time in the world. If you want to do it, do it. Do not keep putting off things that are important to you. Build the life you want now.

Do you choose a word of the year? If you’d like to share, please do in the comments below!

Read about past words of the year here, here, and here.

*Last week, my horse, Tank, developed some kind of serious mystery ailment and for the past week I’ve been alternating between hope and despair. As I write this post, he is doing better and I’m cautiously optimistic that he’ll pull through. He’s due to come home from the vet hospital tomorrow.

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  1. Hi Kathy, Sketchbok Wandering Rita here, I can't post with my Google account. I send you much comfort for the hard time you've been through and for this new year. I have experienced such a phase in life with the caring of my parents. I hope Tanks pulls through with strength. I love your posts, always they tap & reinforce relevant ideas for me. I only have words for THIS month right now, 3 of them: "I did it!" I've been moving from an idea phase to action. Carrying intentions out, small or larger, is a new habit that is forming & it is fun to acknowledge each time it happens with a mini celebration.. I do understand my time is not unlimited. I love your word, "build" & the quote that you shared. It is about building verses magic. "Think of what her daily life, her habits, & routines would be. Start showing up to those habits & routines, start building them, step by step, and day by day." Thank you, Kathy. Love, Rita

    1. Hi, Rita--Thanks for your good wishes. So far Tank is doing fine at home, with a follow-up recheck tomorrow. I like the idea of having words for different months. That could be a really useful way to stay focused rather than try to use one word for the whole year. And I love your focus on follow-through and celebrating accomplishments. I hope your momentum continues!

    2. Rita, Sketchbook Wandering again. I just read something about The Law of Attraction. What one focuses on manifests. Dreams into reality. Affirmed all that work I've been doing on learning to organize, to declutter, to actualize ideas. Congratulations on your quiet process in the last year...and on decluttering which to me is so much more important than it sounds...And yay for Tank.

  2. Dear Kathy I am so sorry to read about Tank...will be "looking up" for him and you. I know how much you love him. Your word "build" is a great word and I appreciated the idea that if it is something we have wanted to do - don't wait to do it. Sometimes when we come through certain storms in life God gives us wisdom and knowledge to know what is important. Perhaps until we have faced those times (and we all do) we don't grow into who we are meant to be. I think the "building" concept is a wonderful plan. Take care friend. Hugs!

    1. Thank you, Debbie! Tank is doing well so far, knock wood.