Around the blogosphere posts have been filled with recaps from 2022, goals for 2023…and exciting reveals with “word-of-the-year” intentions.
I love these posts and tend to jump in with two feet. You want goals? I’ll give you 23. Highlights and favourites? Done. It’s the one-word theme that has a tendency to trip me up.
About 8 years ago, I jumped on the bandwagon and picked the word Simplify. At that point, we were living in a small, two-bedroom apartment that served as our home office, living space, and a storage facility for large work equipment (think eight drones; yes…EIGHT of them). Also, we had an infant and a preschooler. For obvious reasons, I was craving space and order and…simplicity.
And I think setting that word as a year-long intention did help. I wrote it out on a little sticker that I pasted to the front cover of my planner. Sure enough, I’d periodically take time to pause and say “no” to a commitment or “yes” to downsizing a storage tote in light of my goal to Simplify.
Last year I proposed the motto of Be Kind. I wanted to be kinder to:
- my kids
- my spouse
- my friends
Honestly? While I tried to exemplify kindness (hopefully at least quasi-successfully), I didn’t spend time reflecting on this being a year-long intention. It was a nice idea, but the impact may be debatable.
As I’ve been reading background stories and plans for “word-of-the-year” ideas (e.g: Jenny = Nourish; Gretchen Rubin = Wave; Elizabeth Craft = Scale; Sarah = Deliberate), I’ve smiled and silently cheered for each person and their decision, before realizing I wasn’t interested in coming up with my own word.
I was walking home from school drop-off on the first day back post-Christmas break. When I got to within eyeshot of our house, I could sense my body physically drooping (I even felt a bit light-headed) and I thought: Wow. I’m really tired.
It’s an abrupt transition to go from holiday scheduling, company, and home life back into school and work routines. I had a long list of tasks that needed doing, including the final dismantling of Christmas decor and organizing an important work meeting (for which scheduling has been a nightmare).
And in that moment I told myself: Elisabeth, be gentle with yourself this week.
Lighting bolt! I had a word for the week: Gentle.
I think one of my big hangups with a one-year theme is the fact that I may be craving polar opposite intentions during different seasons. Maybe I want to Think Big in January…and need to Think Small by April; I might want to go Fast and then Slow (I guess Pace could cover all the bases?). I might want to Expand in the New Year, but be craving Simplicity by the following Christmas season. Words like Adventure, Vibrant and Celebrate can be broadly applicable, but many choices seem a bit constrictive if life events throw a major curveball.
I wrote the word Gentle in giant cursive letters at the top of my weekly planner spread last week. This week, I chose two words. Rest and Restore. I’m still feeling a bit more tired than usual. Things are still slightly off-kilter from the holidays. I want to prioritize rest – and restore those things that need to be put back to rights (from routines to leftover holiday clutter – though, for now, the downstairs tree is staying).
Next week I may (or may not) choose a word but, where applicable, I really like the idea of setting short-term intentions.
Your turn. If you select a one-word annual theme, what word did you pick this year? Would you ever consider approaching this on a week-to-week basis?
Header photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash