Word of the Year Activity

written by Erica Quam

I love the new year. There's something exhilarating about a fresh start, a clean slate, and a chance to begin again. 

In the sport of swimming, teams are often training over the New Year's holiday. We had a lot of international athletes on our team. We had a new year's count down for the different time zones across the world and even learned how to say "Happy New Year" in lots of different languages. 

I wanted to take time to celebrate this new beginning with the team - and tap into this powerful energy. Since we were already training hard and the team was pretty tired, I didn't want to add another serious "goal" to their plate..like coming up with a bunch of resolutions. I wanted to do something more fun...more powerful...more meaningful. That's when we started our annual tradition of choosing a word of the year.

What do I have against resolutions?

There's nothing inherently wrong with setting a new year's resolution. The idea is fine...it's just for me, it never really clicked. It always seemed like one more thing I had to add to my to-do list.

Resolutions bring out perfectionist tendencies and leave lots of room to fall short.

Most people set resolutions from a more superficial level....trying to DO this thing so we can HAVE this other thing so we can BE more of this other thing. For instance...let's just say you've set a resolution to workout more.

Essentially, by working out more (do) you hope to (have) more self esteem so you can (be) more confident. This approach skips the most important part of the equation...which is who you want to become in the process. Confidence is built from the inside out...instead of the outside in.

Setting the resolution 'to work out everyday' rarely leads to any lasting change - because it's more about what you think you should do. The first time you skip a workout, the downward spiral starts. You get down on yourself, feel guilty, and probably end up less confident than before - unable to live up to expectations, again.

There are plenty of obstacles, reasons, & excuses that get in the way of resolutions. All of the 'should's' and 'have to's' set us up for failure.

How do we become?

Change happens when we choose who we want to become - the BE level - first. When we shift our focus to 'becoming' we can tap into our true potential. We 'become' in three simple steps: 

  1. set an intention
  2. take a small step forward
  3. acknowledge your progress

Intentions can be more powerful than goals. You don't have know the exact steps to get "there". 

You still have to take action

It doesn't mean that you don't do anything. You have to take action for any change to happen. It just means it's not all about willpower, discipline, and how driven you are. 

This approach opens you up to the freedom of allowing an intention to unfold and all of the possibilities that come up as you align yourself with it.

Choose ONE WORD to be your intention of the year

1. Allow some time and space to get quiet

Reflect on the past year. Write down a few things that you are proud of or grateful for that happened in 2016. This helps move you from your head to your heart.

2. Choose one word

Words are powerful. Words evoke images, emotion, and energy. Read over this list of words to start you thinking and then open yourself up to other possibilities and ideas. 

Highlight, circle, or write down words that you like or you keep coming back to.

Don't just go for the word that sounds best or the word you think you should choose. Maybe even choose a word that questions or challenges you. Maybe there's a word that keeps coming up for you - and you're not even sure why.

3. Align yourself with your word

Write your word on a piece of paper and look at each day. Put it on your mirror, or your locker or computer, or have it in your car. Be open to the opportunities that come up when you can align yourself with your word. 

4. Acknowledge

Notice any small changes and progress you make as you align with your word. Acknowledge these things at the end of the week, the month, & definitely at the end of your year.

What's your word and why did you choose it? Share your word for 2017 in the comments below.