As I consider the ending of one year and the birth of another, I find myself trying to figure out what one or few words might best tap into the essence of the coming year I want to live out. I don’t do this to tap into something mystical, though such is welcomed if it happens.
I did this last year and found the words I chose vibrating through the year, my mind returning to them constantly and the simple truth of the words I chose became a mantra of sorts.
Reboot and keep moving forward. That was last year’s words. At the time I chose them, or perhaps they chose me, I had no idea how true they’d feel through a year of constant change. That’s the essence of what I most want to tap into for this coming year as well.
Let’s take a closer look into all of this.
It’s ok to change your mind, and change your direction.
I was just reading about how Tim Ferriss is revisiting some of his choices about personal optimization and it got me to thinking about similar themes in my own life.
First, there’s power in revisiting what you believe to be true from time to time. Maybe you’ll discover that those things are still true, have carried you through much, and feel sturdy enough to continue. Or, maybe, from time to time, you may discover that those truths need a bit of an upgrade.
Both realities are valid ones. Tim Denning on the subject recently tweeted:
“If you really want to push your boundaries as a writer then dare to change your opinion. Niklas Goke said: “All writers are liars.” We change our opinions because they evolve through experience. I once told people to wake up at 4 a.m. Now I have changed my mind….” (@Tim_Denning on Twitter, Tweets From Tim Denning)
If you find a truth needs some development, that you and that belief need some evolution, that’s OK. This isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t say anything against you or what you believe. It just proves that you’re still a vibrant, living, and thinking being. It proves that you’re self-aware and growing.
Growth is important. Whether it is big strides or small steps, growth is the often quiet background momentum of our personal evolution.
There will be growing pains.
When I was a kid I had the worst growing pains. Every bone in my legs and feet ached and hurt to a point of almost overwhelming discomfort.
My father used to put one pain-relieving cream or another on them. I remember the burning sensation of the medicine, the coolness of the air that chased the spicy feeling afterward. And eventually the quiet rush of relief.
It was all a testament to the growth that my body was experiencing. Like a tectonic shift inside my skeletal structure as my bones stretched and time carried me forward to a slightly older and slightly more grown version of myself.
The mind, the body, the soul, and life itself experience these same growing pains. There will be days when the challenges life throws at you feels like too much, the pain and difficulty can feel overwhelming.
But then the happy times and the good days come like a soothing cream to the deep ache of all those pains. And if we are attentive, the pain and challenges we experience just might help us grow into some newer and better version of ourselves.
Seek harmony in your life.
Remember to feed the fires that need stoking, as they need stoking. You might call this an act of balancing things in your life, but the more I consider this, the more I like to think of it as an act of striking a harmony between your different realities through the days, months, and years of your life. Here’s a truth to keep in mind:
“For a few goals, the answer might be efficiency, productivity, and optimization. For a few others, the answer might be personal fulfillment, meaning, and gratification.” (inc. magazine, Tim Ferriss Is No Longer Living the Tim Ferriss Lifestyle. Neither Should You)
That’s why the more I consider what word might best hold this coming year for me, I think it might be something related to transformation. To becoming. I haven’t decided yet, but these are the words that seem to hum in my soul as I look ahead.
Life is in the momentum of who we are, what we are becoming, who we are evolving into. Stagnation — standing still, not making decisions, or letting fear hold us back from one thing or another — is the destructive opposite of this forward momentum that life and our future selves call to us to become.
Choose your word for the year.
- If you journal, flip to a new spread of pages, title it something simple that makes sense but still feels loose (Word of the year brainstorm, for example)
- Then, put on some focus music, white noise, or whatever you need to focus
- If you have difficulty staying on task, use the Pomodoro technique and set a timer for 25 minutes
- Now, simply list every idea that comes to you. No wrong answers, no maximum amounts, just let words come and don’t overthink it
- (but you should aim for at least 20 or so words, the more you have, the more you have to work with)
- Now, when the timer is up or you feel like you have a healthy enough list, put the journal away. Go do other things and come back to this list later
- After an hour or two, or better still, a day or so, flip your journal back open to your list
- Skim over the list, read fast, but let the words soak in. Which ones stand out? Circle, underline, or put a star next to them
- Now, consider each of the words that stood out. On your second page, jot these words down, but leave space between them to write any notes on why you think these words stand out, what they mean to you, and how they might motivate and inspire you through the new year
- Refine this list down, no more than three words can survive. Once you have these, let them sit for a while, consider them a bit further, then record them in your journal and prepare to use them as a mini-mantra of sorts and a guiding light for your coming year
Life doesn’t come cheap, in its time it’ll cost you everything. But that’s OK, the experience is worth it. To have lived, to have loved, and to have been loved and all the multitude of things in between is a journey like no other. Our lives are grand adventures, if we allow such mindset and perception to guide us and give us the clarity to see it as such.
None of knows what will meet us around the next corner, and even if we could know such things, I’m not sure we should want to know. The mystery as much as the impermanence are what gives life its richest flavors and deepest possibilities.
That’s why I like the idea of choosing a few words to build a frame around for my year. These words are loose enough to adapt but big enough to inspire me to grow. Whether it’s my mind or something else, life finds a way to connect my reality to my words, and as such, I find them pulling me along on even the toughest days. They become a mantra.
Whether you choose a word or a few words or not, as you consider your coming year and the things you want to accomplish, be sure to take time to consider who you’re becoming as well. Consider your growth and the deeper meaning behind things. Here’s to a brand new year and a brand new journey!