If you were to take a peek inside of my house, one thing you would find is a lot of notebooks. Journals in every which way and size, color and style, brands ranging from the cheapest dollar store variety to the high end specialty stores. I really, really like journals. What might look like chaos from the outside looking in actually has its own meticulous system and function. I operate well in madness, some might say. On my good days, I dare say I thrive in it.
I have one notebook for my fitness goals, two for my Bible study notes, one for my meal plans and grocery list, two for my thoughts as I read a particularly good book that gives me pause to think, an everyday notebook I tote everywhere. I also have plethora of others started and stopped, scribbled in, stashed away out of sight or towering on my table. I take great enjoyment out of writing.
The theme I might be presenting here may suggest “wow, you’re organized!” Or perhaps “Wow, you have a stationary aisle addiction.” What I feel when I look at my collection of notebooks is a life spent stopping and starting, restarting, moving in a different direction, retracing my steps, giving up, giving in and stashing things out of sight. I move on in favor of new things. I give up. I get flustered or embarrassed that I’m not “enough”—smart enough, creative enough, thin enough, fast enough, wise enough, put together enough, making enough progress, not enough success. I have always been my own worst bully.
I find myself chastising myself, saying if I’m “not enough” then I shouldn’t bother to try. I should pack up my things and slip off quietly into the night. No fanfare, no acknowledgement. Just awkward embarrassment and another page turned in favor of the next new thing. Onward to the next project. Time to hit the Target aisle for a new notebook for new thoughts and ideas.
Despite all of that, largely the themes of my life are very consistent even if the mechanism I use to nurture them differs as wildly as the weather. I want to take care of myself, I want to love others well, I want to deepen my relationship with God, I want financial freedom, and I want to pursue creative passions. The end goal is clearly in sight, but the road I choose to take often does not take me far before I take a turn in a different direction.
I don’t want to wander in circles this year.
Word of the year
The idea of a choosing a word to make up your year is by no means a new concept, but the popularity of it has appeared to be peaking in interest the last few years. I see it flood my social media from November to the present as people explain why they feel like words like “courage” and “perseverance” are their words of the year. It might seem strange to think about, or even downright bizarre to think of “one word” that you want to focus on for the year when there are so many characteristics out there that make you a good, whole person. We strive for many things: loyalty, honesty, faith, endurance, strength, joy, bravery, contentment. Why narrow down to just one?
Two years ago, I thought it was silly too. I went through the motions of choosing a word because I felt like it was “the thing to do.” Like if I didn’t, my year would be aimless. I went with “courageous” because I felt like I was weak and needed to live up to something. Last year, I went with “nourishment” because I felt like a lot of my life was being neglected (and honestly, I don’t feel any more courageous. My first word of the year was long forgotten until I unearthed the notebook with the notes about it.)
As I dived deeper into introspection and uncovering the parts of my whole, I realized that choosing a word of the year is valid, and often incredibly helpful in guiding how I want to move forward with life. However, the word of the year concept can be expanded to meet you exactly where you are: living month to month, season by season, or thinking in terms of a whole year. Wherever you are, be reasonable with yourself.
How do you choose a word of the year?
Take your time. Spend some time going over where you were last year, season, or month. Reflect on where you are now, and where you want to be. Have you been neglecting something? Are you unhappy? Do you feel like you are not in control of your life, but instead floating through it? Do you suffer from guilt about not being “enough” (see: me.) Wherever you are, be honest with yourself. You don’t do yourself any favors by sugar coating or lying to yourself.
Where do you want to be? Imagine a set period of time (for me, a year). What do you want it to look like? What type of person do you want to be. Visualize that person. What are they doing, how do they spend their time, what have they made progress on? Write about that person. Lean into the feelings and sit with them, because it may reveal the parts of your life that may not be easy to face.
Word dump. Write down adjectives. Reflect on that visualization of the person you want to be and think of words to describe them. Make a list, with no shame nor sense of comparison. Big words, small words, words that don’t make sense, words you hate (that becomes relevant for me later). Be unrestrained. Be fearless in pursuit of finding your fire.
Put it aside, and come back to it. It took me a month to decide on my word of the year. I scribbled and scratched, restarted and backed up and finally after sitting in my own discomfort, settled on my word. I came back to my list multiple times. I knew I found the right one this time because it made me afraid. It made me uncomfortable.
Remember you’re not on a deadline. Don’t focus on what other people are doing. Don’t feel pressured to hit a certain day. Don’t focus on the first day of the month, don’t focus on the next Monday to hit the ground running. Spend your time intentionally, and the timeline you’re on will be perfect. Once you’ve chosen your word, the next step is to…
Make it a visual. Keep it at the forefront of your mind by whatever means are most effective for you. Phone lock screens, lettered prints, post it notes, metal stamped bracelets, and notecards plastered in the common areas you spend your time are some of the more common ideas I’ve seen. Whatever it is, do you. If you try to do what someone else does because you feel like you “should” you’re probably not in the right place.
What word did I choose?
I went through Powersheets prep work (there are still some left!). They helped unearth a lot of feelings I had on how 2017 went. I read several Pinterest posts on the subject. I Googled “Word of the Year Inspiration” and read over what other people chose. I scoured blogs. If I was going to do this hooplah this year, I wanted to do it right. I wanted it to stick.
Think back to my notebook diatribe. I start a whole lot of things and quit. When things get hard I give up, shy away, or shrug it off in favor of something else. I don’t see things through to the end. I’m inconsistent, I lack the courage to try, I fail one day and don’t pick up on the next because now I am not “perfect.”
On my word dump list, I wrote the following attributes:
Bravery, consistency, endurance, strength, perseverance,
loyalty, persistence, steadfast, faithfulness, courageous,
boldness, fortitude, determination, dauntlessness.
I followed the rabbit hole on the synonyms of all those words. I noted the overlaps and strings that tied them together because when you really put all the floweriness aside, they all are very similar in nature. I noticed one word appearing over and over again.
To be honest, I hated it. I hated the sound of the word. I hated the way it rolled around my mouth when I tried to explain it as an option. After time, the words to explain it just came to me. It felt like coming home, a sign of relief, tension abated. From that point onward, I couldn’t get the word out of my head.
I want to lean into the hard things, and endure them for the common good. I want to be brave and courageous to not shy away from difficulties. Instead of giving up when I don’t feel like I am “enough” I want to persist and keep moving forward. I want to see things through to the end and be consistent in what I start. I want to persevere, even when it doesn’t feel good and sometimes even downright awful. I want to be loyal to what matters. I want to have steadfast resolve and determination, keeping my eyes on the bigger picture, not temporary instant gratification. I want to be bold in pursuit of the life I was destined to lead. I want to be faithful. I want the fortitude to do what is good for my little family and the strength to resist succumbing to the person I am not proud of. I want to be the type of person that dauntlessly seeks to improve all areas of my life, because I am given but one life, a blip of time, to make the most of the time I was given.
My 2018 Word of the Year is:
grit ( /ˈɡɹɪt/ )
Courage and resolve, strength of character, firmness of character; indomitable spirit; pluck. fearlessness, fortitude
Whatever it takes for you to make the most of your life, feel inspired and encouraged to wake up every day, do it. Don’t waste another second wishing you were “enough” because I promise, you already are. Find your muse and be fearless in pursuit of what lights your heart on fire. Friends, I very much am preaching to myself, but I’m trying to make the most of this year, and I hope you will as well.
Tell me below!
Are you doing a word of the year? What word did you choose?
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