In Search of a Word

We all know that New Year’s resolutions don’t work. In fact, pretty much all of us have made them and not kept them at some point in our lives. I’m no different. I have made resolutions to exercise or organize or self-improve, and pretty much all of them fell by the wayside before January was over.

All the same, I think that a new year can offer a great opportunity to make some changes. There’s something about a new year that seems fresh and clean and full of possibilities. Sometimes a natural shift like that can provide a great impetus to do something new and different, and improve your life in the process. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of the feeling of a new start that comes around at New Year’s, and doing a little bit of soul-searching and personal reflection. But nobody wants to set a bunch of goals that go nowhere, so what do do?

Last year I decided to choose a word for 2011. The idea was that it would give me something to focus on, and something to keep in mind as I went about my life. My word was “space”. I wanted more space in my life for myself, my family, and the things that I enjoy doing. I wanted to end the year feeling as if I had more time, a better living space and more room to maneuver.

the best is yet to come
Image credit: Jeremy Yerse on Flickr

Did choosing a word for 2011 work? Yes and no. On the one hand, I did make changes and choices to bring more space into my life. I let go of some things that weren’t working for me, set some priorities and started saying “no” more. On the other hand, I started a new job in July, wrote an e-book, and started a podcast. As I see 2011 out, the truth is that I probably brought more things into my life than I let go of over the course of the year. But there’s something critical that makes it worthwhile, and it’s that I love the things I brought into my life. I adore interviewing people for my podcast, I love my job at, and I’m immensely proud of my e-book. Maybe I filled up the space I created, but I filled it up with good things, so I’m calling it a win.

Buoyed by my semi-success, I’ve decided to choose a word to represent what I want to bring into my life in 2012. But with January 1 closing in on me, I still don’t know what I want that word to be. When the word “space” came to me last year, it just felt right. I’ve been spending a few weeks thinking about my 2012 word, and so far nothing has really resonated with me. I’ve considered joy, play, sustainability, purpose and passion, but none of them quite fit. Peace is the closest one so far to being a winner, but it’s still not there. And so, I’m continuing to work on it.

I trust that the right word for 2012 will come to me. In the meantime, I will sit with it, and think about what I want to bring more of into my life. No resolutions – or magic – required.

Do you choose words or set intentions at New Year’s? And have you decided what you want more of in your life for 2012? I could use suggestions!

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  1. I love it Amber! I love the idea of a word. I just picked mine…
    Thanks & happy new year to you!

  2. First, I wanted to say that it seems to me that your word was very successful: If you hadn’t made that space in your life, you might have had to say no to doing podcasts, or the new job. Focusing on your intention for the year made the room for you to accept more things into your life that you love.

    I’m in the same boat as you…thinking and searching for a word right now and not quite coming up with anything. So far I’ve been thinking about action but it feels a bit too heavy.

    I have used a word in the past, once or twice, and I like that it’s easy to remember and focus on, that it’s concise and simple but I’ve had varying degrees of success with it. The method I’ve stuck with the longest is this one: I like the idea of looking at the last year and the next year in the context of the continuum of years…how they interconnect.

    Can’t wait to hear what you come up with in the end. I’m sure it’ll be great.
    Alison @ Bluebirdmama’s last post … Personal Space for MomsMy Profile

    • My word is “progress.” To me it means taking steps in the right direction but not being hard on myself for not quite meeting a particular goal. Any progress is good! Happy New Year Amber!

  3. i’m still musing on some roadmaps for 2012, exercise, space, clarity and all that jazz, but my word which will encompass all my goals is grace.
    then my therapist (!) added in abundant …

    so my 2012 will be abundant grace

    stay tuned 🙂 with a snotty head cold i can scarcely pronounce the the words, let alone achieve them “oh, 21 buckets of snot up my nose, 21 buckets of snot …”
    pomomama’s last post … wordless wednesday: art in the afternoonMy Profile

  4. To enjoy the pleasures in life and observe beauty around me
    Rebecca B’s last post … The movies of 2011My Profile

  5. Amber, I think that you are an amazing woman and I am so glad that 2011 was full of ‘space’ for your success ;). I love the idea of one word. I hope you don’t mind if I adopt your brilliant idea :).
    Naomi Jesson’s last post … It’s OfficialMy Profile

  6. My current thought is about New Year’s REVELATIONS rather than RESOLUTIONS.
    right now if I was to pick one word, it would be gratitude.
    I’ve written a bit on my website on my take on the topic.

  7. Neither resolutions nor goals for me next year. Hey, a baby will be arriving within the first quarter, and who knows what that will bring? The very idea of setting goals for myself seems foolish and absurd.

    The idea of a word, however, seems good. A touchstone for decision-making, if nothing else. How did you arrive at space last year? Did it just pop into your head and feel right? Or was it the result of purposeful brainstorming?
    Rachael’s last post … {Almost} Wordless Wednesday: Back Home, Back to WorkMy Profile

  8. This will be my 4th year of choosing one little word. The first year, my word was not right and so I don’t think I got a lot out of it. The next two years, I was pleased with my words (2010 grow 2011 move) and what it brought to my life. This year my word is choose. I want to choose to live more simply by buying less (we are starting a budget). Choose to let things go and not let them stay within and make me bitter. I want to choose to eat better and be more active in my life. I know it sounds like a lot, but I have a whole year and really I want to be mindful when making choices for myself that make me happier and healthier.
    Lisa’s last post … Visions of Christmas Past: Wednesday of Few WordsMy Profile

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