December 31, 2023

I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions—I Choose a Word of the Year.

For most of my teenage years and early 20s, I made tons of resolutions on the first day of the year.

I failed at almost all of them because they were unrealistic and there was no planning behind them, so I gave up.

I stopped making resolutions on the first of January, but ever since I turned 30, at the end of every old year I sit down with my journal to reflect on the events of the past 12 months and think about the next cycle coming. And it’s become a tradition for me to choose a word for the new year. The word always pops in my mind during meditation, so I know it really belongs to me.

When I was 30, I’d had enough of my life the way it was. I was unhappy, in a desperate, dark place, and wanted to escape. My word for that year was “wild”—little did I know how this word would manifest wild things into my life.

I found the book Women Who Run with the Wolves, and it changed my life, I embarked on some wild solo travels and a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, which gave another turn to my life. I met inspiring people who led me to amazing experiences.

At 31, I choose the word “freedom.” That year, I resigned from my office job as an IT service desk agent, sold all my belongings, gave up my rented apartment, and moved to Scotland and started to plant trees and write about my adventures on different blogs and websites. I did work exchange on farms and lived in communities that completely changed the way I thought.

This year, at the age of 33, my word was “love” and the year ended up being a roller-coaster of discovery of what real self-love is, finding romantic love, as well as rediscovering what real love means in my family relations and between me and friends and co-workers.

For 2024, the word that called to me was “revival.”

According to the Oxford Dictionary, revival means an improvement in the condition, strength, or fortunes of someone or something.

To be honest, I had to double check the translation as this word wasn’t in my vocabulary, but I guess I’d heard it somewhere for it to pop up in my head. English is not my native language, and it’s only the third language I’ve learned in my life. So I’m really excited to discover how revival will show up this year and what kind of wonders it will manifest in my life.

I love choosing a single word because it’s easy to remember and easy to apply. Rather than imposing another set of rules on myself, a word inspires and empowers me in many ways. The word “wild” became my personal mantra since that year, and I think of it as my personal word now, like Liz Gilbert’s “attraversiamo” in Eat Pray Love.

But how do you choose a single word for your year?

You may know in your gut what word belongs to you. When I chose freedom, I had this word in my mind for days before I even sat down to think what my word would be.

If the word doesn’t come to me intuitively, I sit down in meditation. I like to sit somewhere comfy, like my bed or my favorite sofa, and alone or at least in quiet, if possible. I close my eyes, rest my hands on my knees in a comfortable position, and just focus on my breath first until I feel calm enough.

Then I ask myself questions, such as:

>> What are the things I would love to do in the next year?

>> What do I want more of in my life? (I think about things like more mindfulness in my days, peace, more rest.)

>> How do I want to feel in my day-to-day life?

>> What do I need to live that life? (I think in terms of skills and characteristics.)

The more I think about these things, the more clear the word gets in my head. But sometimes nothing comes during meditation, so I let it go and return to the meditation another time or sit down and journal about the thoughts and feelings that came up during meditation. This can help to clarify the word.

For some people, the word crystallizes a few hours or a day later. Don’t worry if your word is not clear yet—when you find the right word for you, you’ll know it. It’s a definite feeling of belonging.

Do you choose a word of the year or do you make New Year’s resolutions?


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