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One Word

For the New Year or Any New Beginning:
One Word
Several years ago I read an article on the internet about choosing one word as inspiration and motivation for making changes in the new year, and I apologize to the unknown author for not being able to credit him or her. I've lost the article in the webosphere, but the concept in all it's beautiful simplicity remains. I've often used the practice with myself and clients since then, and pass it on to you today.

Instead of making a New Year's resolution (you know how those tend to go....), pick a word for the year. One word. But not just any word.

First, take some time to think about what you want for yourself and your life this year. We’re not talking new shoes and a great job here, although both would be nice. We’re talking about a word that describes a quality or energy that you want to focus on because you sense it is something you need for your growth and well being. Or maybe the world is asking this of you. The word will then act as your inspiration and guide throughout the year. Let’s say you want to improve your sense of self worth. As you think about it, you see that you’re rather mean to yourself in your own head. So you pick the word Kindness. Each day you focus on that word. You let the word guide you through your days, as in;  “What would be the kind step to take now?” or  “What would kindness say?”

Find a guiding word from the list below, think of a word on your own, or let a word choose you while you're meditating or walking....

Compassion          Generosity          Effortlessness           Resiliency          Abundance        Caution     
Creativity            Willingness               Change              Growth                Freedom             Balance            

  Mastery         Kindness         Self-Esteem        Laughter         Health         Gratitude           Integrity       
Acceptance            Courage            Magic           Confidence           Self-Compassion               Action
Stillness           Forgiveness             Release              Trust              Knowing              Patience        Fertility

Friendship                Fun                Grace               Laughter               Love             Expansion           Honesty

Independence         Optimism            Exploration           Adventure            Openness              Discipline
Clarity             Communion             Belonging               Responsibility               Serenity               Enough

Curiosity                   Awe                      Awareness                Risk                  Prayerful               Activating

Powerful           Allowing         Centering               Transformation             Mindfulness           Attention

Beauty                 Joy              Unity                Authenticity                Focus             Brave          Healing   
Self-Forgiveness          Order           Community           Steadiness           Presence          Faith          Vision
Connection               Mindful               Softening               Healing            Interdependent              Wisdom

Now that you have your word, here are some suggestions for living your word.....

Make a collage or another type of visual reminder and hang it up where you can see it. When you start not-seeing it, make a new one.

Find or create an object that embodies and reflects the energy of the word you chose, and keep it where you can see it. If you start not-seeing it, move it to a different location, find a new location for it, or make a new one.

Find or create an object that you can carry with you - a talisman or touchstone for your pocket, purse, or as a piece of jewelry.

Practice embodying the word: Where in your body is home for that energy? How does it move through your body? How do you sit, walk, and dance when you are embodying that energy? How do you move when that word-energy is your dance partner?

For some of us, resistance to living our word may arise. Instead of fighting it, welcome your resistance and invite it to the dance! Dance the opposite of your word. What  do you learn from that? Example: When dancing between Warrior and Worrier energy, I discovered that neither extreme is beneficial and went on to learn how to blend with both.The dance became much more interesting!

When you allow the word-energy to animate you from within, how do you sound when you speak, chant or sing? What would you say? How would the way you talk to yourself and others change?

If you play an instrument, how would you play and what would it sound like?

Find (or even more effective - create) a chant, song, or piece of music that can become your “theme song” or mantra for the word-energy, and play it/sing it/chant it whenever you want or need the inspiration. Let it become a call to action, or a soothing lullaby, or an internal fortifying tonic - whatever it is you need. If you start not-hearing it, find or create a new one.

Write a letter to yourself from the word you chose. What would Integrity say? What would Self-Compassion write to you? Let this develop into an ongoing dialogue in your journal, and allow the wisdom of the word help you navigate through your days - especially through times of confusion or discomfort.

Collect quotations and poems (create your own!) having to do with your word, and read them often.

Use the word as you would a mantra for meditation, or as an idea to contemplate in a quiet time of reflection, and just notice what arises.

Look for, read about, study, hang out with and generally learn from people (alive or dead) who seem to live the word you have chosen. They are your mentors and teachers.

Act as if. As if you are already living your word. Ask yourself; “What would (your word) say right now?” and then say it. Ask yourself; “What would (your word) do in this situation?” and then do it. This is called practice. Practice is priceless. All Masters and Maestros still practice.

Pick one small (do-able) task a day, a week, a month (or any combination) that draws on the energy of the word and has you acting in the world with that energy. It might be something from the above suggestions, something you come up with, or an opportunity handed to you.

Above all, have fun practicing!  Happy New Year!


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