A few years ago, a friend told me about an end-of-year practice of choosing two words. One represented the year that was ending, one the year about to start. I’ve continued this practice since then, and found it a simple and surprisingly powerful way to realize my intentions about the new year. It doesn’t involve goal-setting or resolutions or month-by-month reviews of what happened in the past. All of those practices can be helpful, but this is a hell of a lot simpler. Just choose two words, or sets of words, that represent each year to you. (There aren’t any rules, you can choose nouns or adjectives or verbs, many words or just one.)
It’s been interesting doing this over the course of multiple years and keeping a record of the words, as I often find in December that the word I chose the previous year accurately described my experiences. Last year I chose thriving as my word for 2014, and I felt like it was truly a year of thriving. It was also a year of personal breakthroughs, so that’s the word I chose to describe it in hindsight. Other words I’ve chosen have been adventure, acceptance, grace, loss and freedom. My words have even switched midyear, when I felt like they needed to change.
The simple practice allows me to both look backwards and to set intentions in a positive, effortless way. It never feels like a chore—it’s just two words! I look at where I’ve been and where I want to go, finding a word that represents what I’d like to accomplish in the months ahead. At the same time, the word for the previous year gives me a gentle resolution for what has come and gone.
My coming-year word is open to all kinds of interpretations and uses. It could be a sort of mantra, or a theme for my journal. I could choose to write a poem a week on the topic of the word (or more realistically, maybe a poem a month), and/or try to embody the word in the choices I make. It’s up to me how much or little I want the word to stay with me.
And, if I look back next December and the year had nothing to do with my word, I just choose another one to describe what happened, feeling empowered to change my story as it unfolds.
My 2014-2015 words…
My 2015-2016 words…