When Choosing One Word Isn’t Enough

January 20, 2023

Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash

The practice of choosing a word of the year is meaningful to me, probably because words are meaningful to me. Since 2010, I’ve chosen a one-word theme each year (except for 2013—I either didn’t choose one, or I didn’t write it down anywhere I can find it now). My word of the year is often something I aspire to (“flow”), or want to have more of (“delight”). I try to choose a word which will influence many areas of my life, one with layers of meaning I hope to discover over time. Some years I’ve found my word meaningful, while others I’ve barely thought of it, or it wound up being a mismatch for what the year turned out to hold (I’m looking at you, “Dare”/ 2021).

I also continue to incorporate previous years’ words in my life—I still try to work “deeper,” for example, and 2022’s “simpler” will continue to guide me for the foreseeable future.   

Life moves swiftly and is complicated, so having just one word/concept to guide me simplifies things when I’m making decisions or unsure of something. However, this year I couldn’t land on one word that resonated. I played with at least a dozen, until earlier this week, I realized 2023 needs three words.

1.      Flexible

As most of you know, I’m the main caregiver for my mother-in-law, Carol. At this point, she needs support more than actual physical care. I mostly coordinate with Hospice, manage her medications, and try to keep her supplied with foods she finds appealing. I’m able to leave the house when I need to, because mostly she takes care of herself (and our adult son is currently living with us and can keep a watchful eye on her). This situation could change at any time, and fast, so I don’t want to load myself with commitments and goals I might not be able to complete. I’m not actively seeking freelance work (though I’m still available!), but I have some writing projects I’ve been working on, off and on, for years, that have no deadlines. While this can sometimes be death to my productivity, this year, I appreciate the flexibility. I plan to use my writing time to explore them. (I’m hoping to spend more time with Catching Happiness, too.)  Which brings me to the word…

2.      Forward

Even before Carol’s health crisis, I’d been waffling about my way forward. Do I still want to write? If so, what types of writing do I want to do? If not, what meaningful work could I do instead? I don’t want a new career (I don’t think?!), but I still want to engage my mental faculties. I also want to earn money. I’ve been stuck for a while. I want to move forward.

3.      Fun

And last but not least, I want to have fun in 2023! The past three years have been decidedly un-fun. I want to be more proactive about finding and indulging in fun. I’ll write more about fun in future blog posts!

There you have them—2023’s words of the year: flexible, forward, and fun.

Do you have a word of the year? Please share in the comments below!

For more information on choosing your own word of the year: