Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Choosing a Word of the Year

I love the change of the year because I'm one of those people who gets really motivated by that January 1st fresh start.  I realize that's all mental, and that an arbitrary date doesn't actually mean anything, but it works for me nonetheless.  I'm not great at 'resolutions' though, per se, so I try out different types of goal setting each year (though the 101 in 1001 list undoubtedly works the best for me.)  Something I've done in the past is to set a word of the year, so I'm trying that again this year.  If you're interested in trying this yourself, I've got some tips for you for choosing your own.  And if not, scroll to the bottom to find out my word of the year and why.

A lot of people choose a word of the year so I'm sure you've seen it around, but in case you haven't, it's generally just a word or phrase that someone picks at the beginning of January, something simple, that's going to sort of be a theme of year and guide the goals of that year.  Something that speaks to your 'ideal self' of 2018.  I know that we're still in December, but it can take awhile to really find what's going to suit you, so I wanted to make sure I posted this early enough to give you time to figure out what your ideal word or theme is.  Sometimes a word will come to you immediately, but if you're still not sure, then here are the steps I take to figure out my words and goals:

Determine how you want your life to look in the new year.  What would make 2018 successful for you?  It's not by anyone else's standards, but come December 2018, if you looked back on the entire year, what would make it feel successful for you?

Reflect over the past year.  What parts were good for you and what parts need improvement?  Hindsight gives us the most honest perspective and answers.  There's no need to dwell, but just being honest with yourself about what worked and what didn't can often spark ideas for the next year.

Start listing your goals for the year.  They can be big or small, and they could take more than a year to accomplish.  Maybe you want to stop shopping, get a new job or a raise, organize your home, and take a vacation to Paris.  All of those things are possible!  Add them to a list and you might start to see a word forming - if those were my four goals, I'd probably make my word 'discipline' or 'focus' because that's what I would need to buckle down and make all of those things happen.

Take time to figure it out.  That's the benefit of starting this exercise early - you have time to think on it for awhile, list out some goals and words, and then come back to it closer to the new year.  If you're the kind of person who likes to weigh all options before making a decision, put your list away for awhile and then decide on New Year's Eve.  The answer will be much more clear.

Consider all areas of your life.  A word might come to you when you're thinking just about work or just about your home, but try to see how you can apply that word to all areas of your life.  Everything is so intertwined, and often we don't realize just how much.  A good word of the year will be able to encompass all aspects of your life.

Still need inspiration?  There's an entire website devoted to it that you can check for ideas.

So, the word I choose for 2018?  Healthy.

I mentioned when I was recapping my 101 in 1001 progress that I was feeling proud about the health goals that I was able to accomplish, and that I would have more on my third list, which begins in April.  (And I do!  Preview the list here if you're interested.)  And when I sat down to start planning out those goals and how I wanted to tackle potential other, smaller goals in 2018, it sort of came to me that I'd like to check in monthly here on the blog about the things I was focusing on, namely a health related goal each month.  I tend to decide to do everything at once (eat healthy, exercise, take vitamins, floss twice a day, switch to all natural skincare!) and then fail because I overwhelm myself before those good things can become habits.  In 2018, I just want to concentrate on one of those things at a time, master it over the course of a month, and then add something new.  Making 'healthy' the overarching theme of 2018 was just the next natural step.  All I need to do when staring down a deep dish pizza or debating whether or not to get on the treadmill is ask myself if my decision is in line with my word of the year.  Hopefully that guides me on the right path.

How do you approach January 1 - do you set a word of the year for yourself?  What is yours going to be for 2018?

P.S. Fitting that this post is going live on the day after the birthday of one of my best friends, Megan.  She's the person who's most into doing this healthy 2018 with me, because she's going to apply for the fire department here in Illinois in the suburb she lives in just north of Chicago.  Physically, that's intense!  I think a lot of people are like me in that they're externally motivated and achieve more goals if they've got to be accountable to someone else, and she's that person for me.  If you feel the same, then I highly recommend you find yourself an accountability partner who has a similar theme or goals for 2018.

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