Back in 2015, I was pondering the idea of New Year's resolutions and how they never seemed to work for me. It was probably for a host of reasons, much of which I attributed to being overly optimistic or overly aggressive in what I set out to achieve. James Clear had not yet written Atomic Habits, which made me completely rethink how I approached goals and habits, and I wanted to approach the upcoming year (2016) from a new perspective.
That was the first year I selected a word of the year, deciding that I would write down my ideas, goals and wants and from there, I would choose a word that I felt like reflected the focus I wanted in the upcoming year. It started very simply with confidence. As I looked down the list of what I wanted, and the various goals I set, I also thought about how so many resolutions or goals had been left behind, not achieved and how much shame and judgment I threw onto myself over not being able to accomplish goals or hold myself to a resolution. That led me to select confidence, which is something I wanted to feel more of, something that I wanted to use more of and something that felt like it would help me in achieving progress on my goals and habits.
I have repeated a similar process every year since then, reflecting on what I want to achieve, what is important to me in the coming year and how I see myself growing and evolving and learning, both from where I have been and where I am attempting to go. One of the best parts of the word of the year to me is how the word manifests things that I could not even predict when I selected the word - it is as though the word gives me power to achieve more, learn more and grow more.
Here is what the word of the year has looked like for me over the last seven years:
When I look at this list and then reflect on how each word helped me achieve bigger goals, take more chances and trust myself, I am so grateful that the 2015 version of me decided to ditch a process that was not working for me and figure out one that did. Each of these words has led to unexpected discoveries and outcomes for me and allowed me to see firsthand the power of mindset and thoughts in creating opportunities, results, changes and experiences.
As I go through the final stages of my word selection for 2023, I had to remind myself of how this process started and what my goal was for it, especially as I see so many big outcomes over the last seven years. I had to step back and remind myself that one of the early things I learned was that I cannot predict what the word will actually create for me and that part of why this works is that I have given myself the space to be curious, discover joy in new and unexpected ways, tap into courage and self-confidence and trust myself.
Next week, I will share my word of the year, what it means for me and how it is going to help me continue to grow, learn, fall and get back up, and hold myself accountable to my most important values - self-love, trust and curiosity.