Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I am seeing many people online choose a word to focus on for their year ahead; Words like joy, freedom, vitality, strength, and truth.
I have also been doing this for the last few years, but of course the end of the year comes and I don’t even recognize the word I chose for the year because life derails my aspirations. Even when I decide not to set specific resolutions but rather an intentional word for the year – the universe says “nice try” and I find myself reflecting back on the year and seeing it had an entirely different theme to what I anticipated.
I don’t know about you, but so far for me, the decade of the 2020s has sucked.
2020 started off great and I had the best of intentions to cultivate more “adventure” in my life, only to reflect back on 2020 and find that the theme of the year was “home”.
In 2021 my word for the year was “health” and while I did get my own health back on track that year, the idea of “health” took a complete u-turn as my mom suffered a rare CVST stroke in October of 2021. All of a sudden I had to be confronted with the reality that sometimes, despite our best efforts to take care of our health – shit just happens. The word for 2021 ended up being “unpredictable”.
I entered 2022 as a ball of anxiety and worry. I chose “peace” for my word, but my year was anything but peaceful. My mom’s health continued to decline and she was hospitalized several times. Looking back at my Resting Heart Rate from my Apple watch data, I bet you can tell when.
Devastatingly we had to pull her from life support at the end of August after near-constant seizure activity in the scar tissue of her stroke made a life-worth-living an impossibility. My word for 2022 ended up being “anguish”.
To be honest, I’m not super optimistic heading into 2023. The world seems to be heading towards a financial crunch and lately it seems my kids bring home a different virus every week. So I’ve been considering my word for 2023 very carefully. In previous years my intentional words were all nouns; all changeable and redefine-able by the other words around it in a sentence. I had a boring adventure. It was a year of haphazard health. My mom now rests in peace. My intentions in this decade have all been words easily derailed by forces beyond my control.
So this year I’m choosing a verb. Something I do. Something I do slowly, or beautifully, or happily, or gratefully, or angrily, or tearfully. But still, a verb is something I do and I control. This year my verb is “create”.
I consume a lot. I eat. I read. I watch. I buy. But I don’t create nearly as much. My consumption is passive and procrastinatory. My consumption is usually not even that good for me; I drink too much caffeine, I eat too much sugar, I buy junk from Amazon to fill a right-now need, I re-watch the same things on tv. I consume to avoid the more difficult task of creating. I don’t write very often any more. I often feel like I need to read another book on the subject before I could possibly write about it with any informed opinion. But really, five books on the subject is *probably* enough for a blog post. I get takeout or eat chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs as often as I cook. I buy things that I could make. It’s just easier to consume. It’s safer to consume. It’s more comfortable to consume. But creating fills me with more of a sense of self-worth and purpose, which, I am told (from all my reading on the subject), are two cornerstones of happiness.
Creating takes more time, so the next thing to do, now that I’ve decided on my “verb”, is carve out time in my weekly rhythm to “create”. Some of the ‘consuming’ time will have to go out the window, along with those intentional nouns. Can I set aside one evening a week to write instead of read or watch TV?
What about you? Do you choose a word to focus your year ahead? Reflecting back, how have your intentional words panned out over the year? Would you like to try a verb-year with me? What is your verb?