The importance of choosing your word(s)

As a writer, I’ve always loved to collect words. The ones that ring with a unique sound, tingle the tip of your tongue, make you smile as they form. I’ve also learnt the power of affirmations during challenging yoga practice, intention setting to bring focus whilst building my portfolio career; the right words create a special kind of magic for goals, new habits, ambitions and future achievements.

These spells are so important but until last year, I hadn’t really considered how I could use them to look ahead after such a difficult couple of years.

For 2021, I chose the word ‘novel’. I decided on this because I wanted to “finish” writing my novel, and I wanted the year to be full of new things. It must be noted now, deciding on your word for next year won’t always work in the way that you think it should.

I’ve already made the joke enough times that I’m sick of it, but for quite a while it felt that the only new thing I experienced was broken bones. I’ve managed to break my wrist and fracture my ankle in the last 7 months, and it’s not something I’d like to repeat. However, if I take the bigger picture view, there has been a lot about this year that has been novel.

I’ve worked with people who have been kind, and generous, and understanding. Who have helped me find my feet whilst they’re still finding theirs, in a business that does exactly that for so many. If you don’t know The Portfolio Collective, and you want a career that’s built to suit you – check it out. Being understood, supported, directed when needed, celebrated no matter what, was incredibly novel.

Understanding how resilient I am, where the limitations are and how boundaries can help me, has also been novel – especially given that I’ve tried to keep working as much as possible whilst dealing with physical pain, isolation/limitations, and the knock-on both had to my mental health.

The novel hasn’t been completely forgotten either. I started working with creativity coach, Paul Macauley in the autumn and with his help I’ve started to see the wood for the trees. I’d made some progress myself, helped by conversations with incredible writers I get to call friends but I didn’t actually get to the writing. Now the writing has started, albeit slowly. Whilst I continue to work on forming new habits, making the most of the fallow time of winter, I have been challenged to write for just two minutes a day on the novel. Mostly it’s musing on ideas but I’m half way through the challenge and spending more time in addition to these tiny blocks every day.

So, how to choose a word for 2022?

When I heard about this process in 2020, it was a combination of two sources that I found invaluable. Firstly, Susannah Conway provides a free workbook to ‘Find Your Word’ – read the accompanying article to see how her words have guided her and been more useful that New Year’s resolutions!

Once I had my word for 2021, I wanted to ensure I wouldn’t forget it. Stacey from Darwin & Grey creates beautiful hand-painted banners, and this will be the third year she has created them. Her post on choosing is so wonderful, I had to copy it here:

My Word: Fearless, 2022 ✨ What’s yours?

Forget setting any resolutions this year. Nine times out of ten, we ditch them a month in anyways! Instead choose a word, just a single word to take with you into 2022.

Give it some thought, opt for one that can be your focal point, a simplified anchor to use as something to help you recenter when you find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed or lost.

My word of the year is Fearless. I was toying with all kinds of bold, enthusiastic and positive words to do with starting new chapters and growing up and realised more so than anything, next year is my year to just bloody go for it so Fearless fits the bill perfectly!

Stacey Gray – Darwin & Gray

If you’d like to have your own banner created, you can order up until 2nd January 2022.

This year, I’ve got another source to help me choose my word. Saori at Mogami 最上 Wellness generously shares her Japanese roots to empower individuals to achieve a sustainable wellness life, and her recent posts on Japanese calligraphy (shodo 書道) and Kaki-zome (書き初め) have led me to think on how I can create my own physical manifestation of my 2022 word.

Kaki-zome (書き初め) is one of the most important traditions in Japanese calligraphy – and translates to “first writing (of the year)”. The yearly intention is set during this tradition by choosing to write a character (ji・字) piece. Saori is running an intention setting event on 15th January if you’d like to learn more.

My word for 2022 is going to be “meraki”. It’s Greek, and encompasses more than English words like, love, soul, devotion, embodiment, essence, can do. It’s what’s been missing from my work, particularly my writing, and it’s what makes my writing in particular “good”. I’m all the better for showing up, sharing my experiences, and learning from them, and this is what I need more of next year.

This gorgeous embroidered art is by Natalie Gaynor and I’m so glad this word found me via her this year!

If you’re still searching for your own word, do take a look at the workbook that Susannah has generously supplied again, and in the meantime, here’s some inspiration from Keeley Shaw!