One Word For The Year

Author: Naomi Liddell

I love the fresh start feeling. I get it at New Year, on my birthday in March and in September (probably a hangover from being in the academic year for so long). It’s the time that makes me feel like I want to be better. Sleep better, eat better, workout more and generally be a better human. Judging by the fact that I can’t get booked onto a yoga class at my gym this month, it seems a lot of us feel the same. But I’m also 33 and know that this fresh start feeling has historically never been enough to propel me into a better way of being. Well for longer than approximately three days anyway. So let me share with you my alternative to resolutions. It’s a more flexible, yet strangely focused approach.

Choosing a word to focus on for each year. Yep, one word a year. It’s not a brand new concept, I know. But I was inspired to start this waaay back in 2014 by a friend. She had one word, an overarching theme of sorts. As she explained how her year had ended up following that theme and her life improved because of it, I figured I’d give it a shot. And I’ve been doing it ever since.
I’ve had many words over the years since, 6 to be precise. They’ve been: Light, Values, Simplify, Learn, Focus and last years was Progress. I’ll explain my thinking behind a few to show how having one word can impact many areas of your life at one time.
“Light” came at a time when my health was not its best. I felt anxious, sluggish, heavy and generally bleurgh. I also felt bogged down in work and just generally too… Serious. Keeping the word “Light” in my mind that first year literally transformed everything for me. I ate lighter, laughed more and moved more. I started taking life less seriously and had more fun with my son and my husband. I had a kind of ‘shrug it off’ attitude towards things that would otherwise have been more triggering. I got out in the sun. I walked. It changed everything.
“Progress” from last year was an interesting one. I was feeling a bit stuck at the end of 2018 as my maternity leave was coming to an end. A bit like I didn’t know where I wanted to go with anything. I was then made redundant from my old job at a marketing firm, called Charlotte the same day and asked to work for Rock My Ltd instead and I have been a team member ever since. Progress. I’ve progressed with work goals, personal goals and some financial goals. It was a year of moving the needle forward just a bit on everything and having that word in my mind made otherwise tough parts of the year feel surmountable.

For 2020 I’ve chosen the word “Ease”. I’m travelling for work now, as is Gavin and we’re about to start some renovations on our house. Add two kids (one a toddler) to that mix and it’s a recipe for chaos. So my goals for the year revolve around making our hectic lives easier. With systems, planning and a more relaxed attitude. I was inspired by Tim Ferris for this one. In a podcast he mentioned that when he feels like something is tough or he feels resistance towards starting anything he asks himself “What would this look like if it were easy?”. This was a mindset gamechanger for me. Whether it’s a complex work problem or facing a pile of laundry (every day then), asking “What would this look like if it were easy?” allows my brain to lay out the path of smaller, simpler steps it takes to complete the task. Then it doesn’t seem so daunting. Like if I’m exhausted and have just put the kids to bed, then look around at the enormous mess of my house. If I ask myself “what would this look like if it were easy?”, the answer to that is… Stick my headphones in, call a friend and catch up whilst I tackle a room at a time. I know time will fly by and before I know it, I’ll have a tidy house, will have caught up with a pal and will be in a guilt-free flop in front of the telly.

A feeling of relaxation and ease amidst the madness is what I’m after this year for sure. From past experience, I also know that having a word like that is going to make exercise feel easier, drinking more water feel easier and put my mind at ease when I start to feel stressed out or overwhelmed.

Have you ever chosen a word or a theme for an entire year?

If you were to pick one for 2020 what would it be?

Naomi loves daytime baths, learning things and rock music.
(Oh and her kids. She loves them too)
Follow Naomi on Instagram @naomiliddell
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12 thoughts on “One Word For The Year

  1. Happy New Year!

    I really like this Naomi, and it really resonates with me. When I started reading the article I thought my word would be something that almost punishes me – “lose”, “move” “change”- but actually reading the rest of the article has made me realise how counterproductive that would be. So I think I will pinch one of yours and go with “light”. My work is tough, we’ve not long moved house and struggling to wholly make it feel “ours”, I want to lose some weight, but more importantly I want to move more (I have such a sedentary job). I want to feel my age (33) and not older. I want to enjoy my family. I want to grow my family. But I think trying to approach this with a lightness will make things seem manageable. Thanks for a thought provoking article at 8am, and welcome back RMS!

    1. This made me feel all warm Marianne! I’m so glad I could convince you to choose a word that lets you be kind to yourself. I find it so much more motivating, loving and long-lasting to approach it from that perspective. “Light” is a great word, and if I’m honest, it’s probably the word that’s worked best for me over the years. Even now, if Gavin and I notice each other getting a bit bogged down, we’ll say “Let’s keep it light love”. Instant mindset shifter.

  2. I love your reasoning and ideas behind your word choices.

    Mine for this year is Patience, and I can already feel the effect it is having in my relationship with my daughter and in being kinder to myself. It’s easy to lose sight of in the nursery run rush, but it also reminds me to take a deep breath and forgive myself when I haven’t planned ahead or taken an extra few minutes with my book on a morning I probably shouldn’t.

    1. Patience is an amazing word to choose Rebecca! And it covers pretty much everything. But especially potent for parenting. I know it’s something I could do with more of. It’s also a good one to remind you that change takes time and to hold off on the self-judgement.

  3. I love this idea! I might go with Relinquish – I have too much physical stuff, I have anxiety, I have really high expectations for myself. It would be nice to voluntarily make the choice to let some things go.

    1. Oh wow Em! I know we all have different word associations but for me Relinquish feels amazing. It’s like the feeling of letting out a deep breath and dropping your shoulders. Perfect for calming an anxious mind. Also a great one if you’re looking to declutter things or let go of thought patterns that aren’t working for you anymore.

      I’m loving hearing all of these words, it’s so inspiring.

  4. Thank you for this great post. I love this idea. I start every year with a list of resolutions which I never manage to keep. I feel really inspired from this post and have decided my word for this year will be ‘breath’.

    I want to spend more time relaxing, practicing yoga and feeling generally more connected. Most importantly I’m expecting my first baby in April and am practicing hypnobirthing in the lead up to labour so think this is the perfect word all round!

    1. That sounds like the perfect word for the year you have ahead Charlotte. One of my favourite things about when my kids were just born was midnight feeds in the quiet, just listening to their breath and my breath. It’s such a special time. And that word will help you soak up the joyous parts and remember to breathe through the more challenging ones. Nice choice!

  5. I love your word for this year Naomi! Last year was the first year I really tried it and I actually had two words: Trust & Surrender. After the end of a very long and toxic relationship in 2018, I was dating someone new, living on my own and was pretty anxious about life in general, so I chose to trust and surrender – that all good things would happen. And they did, by the end of the year, I was in a serious, healthy committed relationship and we were living together in a home we adore.

    This year, my word is FLOW. I’ve still got anxiety around lots of things – when to start a family is a big one, but I’ve decided to try and let go of the things I can’t control and go with the flow. Here’s to a less stressful, calmer year full of joyful adventures!

    1. Oh Anneka I’m so glad that your words have given you a bit of guidance through what sounds like a tough time full of change. Flow is a great one. It automatically makes me feel relaxed. Happy New Year my dear!

  6. Absolutely love this Naomi, so simple and effective! I’m going to pinch “light” too as I tend to get bogged down in stuff so remembering to keep it light will be amazing, and I’ll tell my husband your phrase too, instead of him moaning at me for me being stressed 🙂 Happy New Year!!

    1. I think Light is still my favourite Laura. So good for the aul head. I might find myself repeating that word one year.

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