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Word of the Year: By Cindi Broda

Word of the Year:  By Cindi Broda

 

New Year’s resolutions don’t hold much appeal for me. They feel like a set up for a letdown. Resolutions tend to compel sweeping oaths, such as “I’m going to get healthier this year.” Or they may sound reasonable: “I’ll eat more vegetables, go to yoga three times a week…” Regardless, they don’t leave much wiggle-room, other outcomes, or evolution throughout the year. But it does leave room for feeling like a failure, or like I’m falling short.

 

On the other hand, choosing a word for the year feels inspiring. A chosen word is like a friend or an ally that cheers us on. It can be called on at any time. It can be tucked it in a pocket and pulled out to weigh decisions or consider if an action aligns with it. It can be used to infuse wisdom and discernment into daily activities. Or it might even be forgotten about for periods of time, only to find it pops back in mind right when needed.

 

This is the 5th year that I’ve chosen a word and I love how it influences my life. My word for the year is ‘EXPANSION’. I chose that word because this year I want to continue to grow and expand in my health and wellness, in my business, and in any other areas that this word may inspire.  

Usually I will pick a word that applies to something I’m working on, or something I need in my life. For example, one year I chose the word ‘Breakthrough’ because there were some areas of my life where I was spinning my wheels and feeling stuck. The funny thing is, right as my word came to me I looked up to see a rainbow on the horizon. I took that as a positive sign! I also began to notice this word everywhere – in movies, in titles, in conversations. These all seemed to align to confirm my word. (And I did attain the breakthrough I desired!)

The reason people love to use a motivational word(s) for their ‘word of the year’ is because it’s easy to remember throughout entire year and you can be applied it to almost everything in life. I can say with confidence that it’s an exercise worth trying. If it sounds a little silly to choose a word for the year, or like finding your word is too much work, or you don’t know whether you should bother, I encourage you to play with it and see how it influences your life. 

Just the process of choosing a word helps you reflect on your life, your desires, and your priorities. It can serve as a guide, like a compass, for where you want to go. It helps determine what is most important to you, such as whether you will concentrate on family, self-care, personal growth, health and wellness, etc. It provides something to ground and emphasize.

Whether you work on one life area or several, having that common word to weave the parts of your life together helps you focus and pay attention to how in alignment you are with your priorities.

The key to selecting your word is to not stress or overthink about choosing that one perfect word – it is perfectly fine to choose one word, a few words, or even a sentence for the year. So how do you choose your word (or words) for the year? One thing to keep in mind is that you can’t get it wrong! If this is something you’d like to try, read on for some ideas on selecting your word…

While we can’t predict what challenges and blessings will come our way in the next year, we CAN take time to assess where we are now and where we want to go. It may be helpful to begin with a pause, a deep breath, and then to consider the following questions:

  • What would I like more of in my life?
  • What areas of my life brings me happiness?
  • What would I like less of in my life?

Outline a few notes about your answers to those questions. Is there an area of life that you would like to expand or grow in, such as health, time with loved ones, or personal growth? Are there things or habits (or even types of people) that you need to release from your life? In essence, what do you need to say ‘yes’ to and what could use a ‘no’.

Once you have some rough notes on the above, sit back and take another deep breath. Close your eyes and visualize yourself living an ideal day. What are you doing? Imagine an ordinary day, one that you will experience most days during the year. What would a really good day look and feel like? What makes it ideal?

This process is simply about exploration and about how YOU would like your life to look – not about perfection or what others might want. Your visual doesn’t have to be crystal clear, we are just looking for guidance and clues. This will help gain clarity as you narrow in on a word that supports your ideal life.

Most of all, remember there is no right or wrong! You may have ideas for words coming to mind, or no idea at all – that is okay! Be gentle and patient with the process. Your word may come to you quickly or it may take time. You may need to marinate in the concepts and the play with the process (or over various words) for days or weeks. There is no deadline (and your word can be changed if another fits better in a few months). What I’m trying to emphasize (for you who are over thinkers or perfectionists) is to relax and allow your word to unfold and reveal itself

After you’ve reflected on the above, press pause. Maybe go make yourself a cup of tea or go for a walk outside. Do something that relaxes you or makes you feel happy. Could the dog use a walk? Allow the work yourself to marinate in what has come up for you. Continue to the next suggestions when you’ve had some time to reflect on the above. Maybe after that cup of tea, or maybe not until tomorrow. Or the next day 😉 

When you’re ready to continue, shift gears a bit and begin to reflect on what 2023 holds for you. Perhaps there are some big events coming up. Or there might have some big plans you dream of moving toward. Maybe there are big changes on the horizon. Or maybe you simply need a change of direction from last year.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What are some things that will be happening in 2023?
  • What are some things I would like to happen in 2023?
  • What are my values and how could I align with those?
  • What do I desire to be at the forefront of my actions/choices for 2023?
  • What does my soul long for?

(I have created a worksheet to help with this process, along with a list of words for ideas. You can download this here: New Year, New Word) 

Keep in mind that this is not an exercise in perfection, or in answering everything fully. This is simply an exploration. Consider writing general answers to the above (or to other questions that come to your mind) like a stream-of-consciousness that you can refer to. Use whatever approach resonates best with you. Stay open to the process and allow it to unfold with ease. Release any tension or pressure that arises. Pause to breathe.

Sometimes the word reveals itself from the insight or epiphanies that arise during this process. Other times, the word comes, seemingly out of the blue. It may arise as a word or theme that you keep hearing – as though the Universe is speaking to you. Or it might be a word that leaps out while reading, or in a conversation. Or you might be enjoying a warm shower when suddenly your word appears in your mind like an “Ah-ha! That is it!”

Review any notes you’ve written and highlight any words that jump out at you. Note any words that come to mind, whether from the above questions or from sudden inspiration. Try to gather a list of several words that hold potential, anywhere from 5 to 15 or 20 words is fine. Not so many words that you feel overwhelmed, but enough to contemplate. (I have provided a list of words at the end of this article if you’d like inspiration.)

Once you have several words written down, read through them. Do any of them feel like they have a strong pull? Your word could be in this list, or these words might be part of the map that is guiding you toward your word. Let’s continue to explore…

Look over your list of words and select 3-5 that speak to you the most. Any more than five and it’s going to feel overwhelming, so stick with a maximum of five for this part of the journey. Take out a page of paper and explore the following questions:

  • In your own words, write out a definition of the word.
  • What meaning does the word hold for you? Could there be deeper meanings? 
  • Look it up in a dictionary and/or thesaurus and jot down anything that speaks to you.
  • Can you think of any secondary words that would support your primary word? For example, WISDOM could be supported by learning, knowledge, growth
  • How does this word make you feel? Excited? Motivated? Anticipatory? Does it give you a few butterflies when you think about it?
  • Any other thoughts or feelings you have about this word?

 

There might already be a couple of words on your list that you feel more drawn to than others – great! Stay open play with your potential words, returning to them as you go about your day. You may be settled on your word, or you may want to explore a bit more.

 

If you’ve played with your words for a while, other related words might be coming to you. Perhaps you’ve whittled your list down to just a couple of potentials. Wherever you are in this process, know that nothing is set in stone and you can always change your word. You are in charge! 

As you contemplate the remaining words you’ve gathered, here is another thing to consider: Do you need an ACTIVE word or a PASSIVE word? For example, if last year was filled with busyness and an overwhelming schedule, you may long for a more peaceful upcoming year. If that’s the case choose a word that inspires that feeling inside you. Some examples might be: Peace, Restoration, Mindfulness, Home, Calm, Soften. Or you may want to focus on your internal world with words such as Nurture, Glow, etc.

 

On the other hand, you may feel inspired for change and forward momentum. You may want to grow and reach new summits or horizons. If so, choose a word that mobilizes, inspires and gives courage. For example: Yes, Powerful, Courage, Strength, Ignite, Invigorate, Expand, Adventure.

 

Now take a look at the words that remain. Consider:

  • Which word creates a reaction in your body when you say it, such as a flutter in your stomach? 
  • Do any words light up your heart, or feel warm? 
  • Do any feel like ease and comfort, like a trusted friend who offers a reprieve?
  • Do any words excite you? 
  • Which word feels delicious, maybe even sexy? 

 

Which word do you want to gift yourself for 2023? Not the word you think you should choose, but the one you really want – not the one someone else would want for you. Trust your instincts. Are there any words you feel a little bewitched by, or that captivate you? If you’re having trouble narrowing down your list, try this: 

Write each word on a piece of paper and lay them on the floor. Now take turns stepping on each piece of paper. Notice which one resonates more in your body. This is a trick that is so helpful when deciding between things! Pay attention to your inner reaction when you narrow in on the word that your body reacts to — do you feel pleased or disappointed? Trust your instincts here! 

 

Remember that you can always change your mind. You may get to spring and realize you prefer another word, like BLOOM. Words can be changed, tossed aside, or added to. You select, iterate, and evolve as it feels right for you and for your path – you are large and in charge, boss!

 

If one word just isn’t cutting it for you, select a few words. Or add some supporting words. For example, if COURAGE is your word, you may want to support this word with BRAVE and TRUTH. Add a couple of words if it further inspires you. Or you may want to choose a word for different aspects of your life. You could also turn your words into a sentence for the year, or a mantra. 

 

The word may easily come to mind throughout the year as you need it. There is no need to obsess over your word, but it can be helpful to place it in the forefront of your life – especially until it really takes root. Some ways to do this may be:

  • Share your word on social media. (If it resonates, share this article and the downloadable worksheet/word list.)
  • Use your word as a personal hashtag.
  • Write it in your planner.
  • Notice where your word manifests desirable things in your life and make note of them.
  • Create a vision board with images that ‘feel’ like your word.
  • Write it on sticky notes and place all around.
  • Make your screensaver on your phone and laptop something that brings your word to mind.
  • Write it on mirrors using an erasable marker.
  • Paint it on a stone or paint a picture of it.
  • Decorate your journal or your calendar with it.

Each year I look forward to seeing how my word takes shape in my life, what it holds, how it influences my life, and what it manifests. I sincerely hope that you will consider coming up with a word for your life and that it blesses you in so many ways. I’d love to hear your word if you’d like to share it with me!

 

(I have created a worksheet to help with this process, along with a list of words for ideas. You can download this here: New Year, New Word)

Cindi Broda is a Master of Science, a Board Certified Health and Wellness coach, neuroscience and brain science educator, and yoga teacher. Cindi lectures at institutions and other locations on lifestyle and brain health and overall wellness. Cindi coaches clients in an individual, one-on-one basis, and also offers group courses. She can be contacted through her website at www.DynamicWellness.life

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