8 years ago I discovered a concept that switched my thinking away from setting a New Years resolution and towards something much simpler, more forgiving, and for me, more effective.
Remarkably this is my 8th year of choosing a #OneWord to guide me through the year ahead. The theory behind this idea is that our guiding word points us towards the type of person that we want to become. And unlike a resolution, a single word can’t be broken. I visualize this as a word that sits on my shoulder and gently nudges me towards a more improved version of myself. In this article by Nicole Dean she suggests that you decide what one thing, if applied to every area of your life, will have the most impact and bring the most positive changes into your life. Then you work to apply that word to every area situation and task in which you find yourself. Personally I have had much success with the #OneWord concept and will reveal my chosen word for 2021 later in this post.
This article suggests that the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is said to be about 80 percent, with most individuals losing their resolve by mid-February. Some resolutions are too generic, some unforgiving, and some just unrealistic, after all what is it about the start of the new year that miraculously makes you change your behavior when you haven’t attended to the problem in hand over the previous year? Inc. magazine suggests that “Resolution. It’s a strong, demanding word. It screams, I must! It’s a demand that we place upon ourselves, and there is no room for failure. Yet, failure is pretty much inevitable. Most of us simply don’t respond to this word, and when we don’t, we feel disappointed in ourselves–even ashamed.”
So how does one identify the #OneWord to guide them over the coming year? You could be inspired by others – here are the words that I have selected in the past:
- 2014 – Resilience
- 2015 – Advocacy
- 2016 – Provocation
- 2017 – Collaboration
- 2018 – Environment
- 2019 – Calm
- 2020 – Listen
I chose a different word each year, but there’s nothing to stop you from repeating a word if it still serves you. You could also take this “What’s Your Word Quiz” to help refine your decision.
Once I have chosen my word, I put it into action in a number of ways. I’ve blogged many times about my #OneWord experiences and I’ll continue to share my word with readers, my students, and friends and family. I figure if I share my word widely, then I have to commit to it. Plus I’ll also have the benefit of others nudging me towards a better version of myself. My reading and podcast listening will revolve around my word as I discover the ways in which it can be interpreted and applied to my life. Additionally, I like to get creative and pin quotes and artwork pertaining to my word above my desk, also adding some to my iWatch face. In 2019 a student of mine made me a bracelet with the word ‘calm‘ on it which I wore for the year.
And so to my chosen word for the year. 2020 was a year in which I found myself ‘pivoting’ from one thing to another, and then another. Firm plans were thrown out of the window and decisions were made for me instead of me having any control over my life. The pandemic disrupted both my professional life and my personal life. I went from in-person teaching, to remote, to hybrid, to remote, back to hybrid, and more changes are coming as we enter the new year. In order to survive 2020 I rolled with the punches, ebbed and flowed, and never really felt like I was being intentional. Plans weren’t made, because they were likely to be canceled, and I didn’t have any autonomy over my life. For that reason my word of the year will be INTENTION.
INTENTION to me, means making plans, setting regular short term goals, and taking control of the steps needed to bring those plans to fruition. I may or may not be successful but at least I will feel as if I am in control. By being INTENTIONAL I will ensure that school work is planned and organized in the best way possible for my students. By being INTENTIONAL I will make time to work my way through that ever-growing to-do list at home, and by being INTENTIONAL I will find ways in which to carve out time for self-care whether that be through reading, exercise, or meditation.
INTENTION does of course have another meaning, as in setting an INTENTION as a guiding principle for how I want to be, live, and show up in the world. Specific, powerful INTENTIONS, can help to align my thoughts and attitude for the day ahead. As I continue to incorporate meditation into my morning ritual, a specific INTENTION at the start of my day could positively shape the next 24 hours. If it’s true that ‘what we think, we become’, embracing INTENTIONS in this sense has the power to move me closer to the person I want to become this year.
Now it’s your turn. What #OneWord will YOU choose to guide you in the year ahead?
If you share your #OneWord2021 with me I’ll create some artwork collating the responses and embed them back into this blog post at a later date. Additionally, if you complete this google form, using the power of add-ons, you will be immediately sent an image like the one below, but with your #OneWord embedded in it! *This might not work if your email address filters out emails from outside of your network.*
If you liked this post you’ll also appreciate ‘Make Next Year Your Best Year‘.
Here are a few questions for you to consider this week:
Q1: What steps have you already taken towards embracing your #oneword2021? #slowchathealth
Q2: Which areas of your life will be affected by your #oneword2021? #slowchathealth
Q3: With whom will you share your #oneword2021? #slowchathealth
Q4: How will you know if your #oneword2021 was a success? #slowchathealth