A Word for the New Year

As we come to the end of another year, there’s always a temptation to assess — to weigh and to measure ourselves: not just to look what happened this year, but also to check what did we achieve; where did we fall short; what did we do “wrong” and so on. My own litany of shoulda-coulda-woulda’s rapidly spawn Plans And Improvements For The Year Ahead…

The Plans And Improvements usually feel ominous and weighty, but also hollowed out and already defeated. The lists and resolutions that accompany these Plans are haunted with the desire to fix myself and the sense of not being enough. This is the time, they tell me, to be more productive, to improve, to catch up, to be something other than what I’m not. No wonder January can feel like a drag.
Rather than a list, Susannah Conway suggests the idea of a word for the year. Find a word (or three) that speaks to you and let it be your guide.

Susannah has a method and workbook she uses to get to the word (see link below*), but I prefer a simpler approach. Go in to your stillness and ask yourself what is your word…see what arises. See how it feels. Then sit with it some more.
Once you have an idea about your word (or words) – it’s time to get to know it better, both in the mind but also in the body:

Consider the dimensions and facets of each word:

  • What does it mean to you?
  • How does the dictionary define it?
  • What is its origin?
  • Does it have multiple meanings (like the word “craft”), or multiple contexts (like the word “flow”)?
  • Are there supporting words that occur to you – that enhance or complement the meaning)?

Savouring the word:

  • How does this word feel in your body?
  • What sensations arise when you consider this word?
  • How does it sound in your mouth?
  • What ideas and associations does this word evoke in you?
  • Does this word have a colour, a shape, a texture?
  • When you get to know your word deeply like this, the more clear the energy register of the word becomes, and the more easy it becomes to tune into it —like finding a radio station.

Spread the word:

  • Consider how this word would feel in different aspects of your life (your relationships, your work and do on). This is very different than doing things in your life – the focus is rather on how it feels, in the being.
  • Feel free to scribble it in a few post-it notes and leave it around the house to remind yourself.
  • Tell your friends. You’re reinforcing your commitment to the word, your intention and the feeling in the repetition.

Aaaand, that’s it. Tune into your word periodically – has the feeling of it changed? Invite the word into your life in the coming year. Invite in the feeling that it evokes. Enjoy the word…

The idea of a word for the year feels less mechanical and more magical to me than the idea of a list. It promises a North Star to guide you. It feels like a summoning in. It’s less judgy and more powerful. Tuning into the energy of the word will show you a way through your year and your word will walk with you and in you…

Much more of an ally than the weight of a to-do list of resolutions, no?

Link Susannah Conway – word for the year: https://www.susannahconway.com/word/

Header image credit: Greg Rakozy

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Deirdre Gleeson
Deirdre Gleeson
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