If you’ve been keeping up with my various
oversharing writing outlets for a while now, you will know that a new year is a big thing for me. Whilst I’m not a huge fan of making dramatic resolutions (I tend to go all out initially, petering out rather pathetically about 2 months in) I do love a fresh start.
I know some people find January a bit depressing but I relish the feeling of a slate being wiped clean, a whole fresh set of opportunities. Of course in reality it’s just another day rolling on from the past 16520 days I’ve been on the planet (you can decide whether that’s accurate or not) but don’t spoil my moment.
With each new year, I look to choose one word to kind of shape the next 365 days. Being a Christian, I usually discuss this with God and some of my church buddies before making a decision that I think is fitting for my current season.
I also go through a workbook called ‘Unravelled’ written by Susannah Conway. When I discovered this three years ago, it was like all my Christmases had come at once! If you can relate to my first paragraph then I highly recommend this workbook for you. It can be worked through at your own leisure, but encourages reflection on the past year as well as making some plans/changes for the one ahead.
Last Year’s Word
The first part of the workbook is spent considering your ‘One Word’ for the year. Last year mine was Trust.
I picked the word ‘Trust‘ because I felt that I was lacking this in my life. I was far too self-sufficient (*cough* control freak) and reluctant to give my total trust to anyone, least of all God. Well what do you know? He had a funny way of challenging me with this word! So yeah, when my eldest daughter had a mental breakdown and I realised that I could not control any aspect of what was happening to her, I had to put my trust in Him.
Boy was it a steep learning curve! It was not a straight forward journey by any means and I did seek out counselling to try to help me reconcile what had happened to her and to let go of that big, bad, ugly demon – Mum Guilt. You know the one. Vicious little monster isn’t it?
Nine months later and I feel much lighter in my spirit and having experienced various occasions when God did come through for us as a family, I now know that He can be trusted.
What about this year – 2017?
I picked out a Word almost immediately, something which I already felt I was beginning to implement into my life during the latter part of 2016. That Word is Release.
I mulled it over for a while, mainly because it felt too passive. I’m a ‘doer’ by nature; always looking for a new hobby, the next challenge, something to get my teeth into. Rush, rush, rush. Busy, busy, busy. Then I realised that this is the exact reason why this Word is perfect for me right now.
And the more I consider this Word, the more it means to me. I’m not just talking about releasing the ‘Mum Guilt’ (although that in itself is a great goal to have) it goes deeper than that. I have a strong tendency to be driven by the words ‘should‘ ‘ought to‘ and ‘must‘. I use them a lot in my everyday vocabulary – something my therapist picked up on during our first session – and they aren’t particularly helpful. They inevitably lead to resentment, exhaustion and a lack of joy.
Don’t get me wrong, I do seek out some time for myself (my kids would tell you that’s all I do!) and my life is far from ‘doom and gloom’ but when the scales are weighed too heavily on the ‘should‘ side, this is what happens.
How will this Word shape my year?
One of the questions in the ‘Unravelled’ booklet is this:
‘If you lived and breathed your Word every day in 2017, what would be different for you?’
I think this is key to working out whether the Word you’ve chosen is the right one. If you like the sound of the life you might end up with, then you’re on the right track!
For me, if I truly embraced the Word ‘Release‘, I think that I would feel considerably lighter. Less striving and more opportunity for spontaneity. Less expectations on myself and others, more freedom and acceptance. Less disappointment and general frustration, more respect for imperfection. As a result of all that? I would like to think that there would be more laughter in my life – something that I adore and my soul has ached for this last year.
How will I live out this new Word?
I think initially you need to work out how you are going to embody this new Word or phrase in your every day life. The act of writing down what that looks like for you as an individual, is powerful. It can be small things like having no big expectations for the year ahead – that in itself is a huge release for me. Or bigger more challenging things, like letting myself off the hook when I make mistakes, or choosing to see the good in someone when I feel they’ve let me down (releasing those high expectations).
The first thing I’m doing, is reading the book ‘Present over Perfect’ by Shauna Niequist. Shauna seems to be living and breathing my Word for 2017, which is making it a challenging and exciting read. One that I would highly recommend.
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Have you got a Word for 2017? I would love you to share it in the comments below. Perhaps picking One Word is not something you’ve considered before, why not experiment and jot down some ideas on a piece of paper? Other people I know have chosen a phrase – a kind of headline for the year. There are no rules, just have some fun with it!