I heard about this concept around 2015, when I was working with a dear mentor in the US, Paul Zelizer. Up to then I was very familiar with choosing goals for the upcoming year — yet just “one word” was new to me.
I didn’t get into it for another year or so and the first word I chose to really get into it was “Consistency”. I’d been only showing up for my business intermittently… doing little disappearing acts now and again. I finally realised that inconsistent action wasn’t going to bring me a consistent income.
I must admit that there were periods during that year, that I forgot my word. And even so, just having it brew somewhere in the background had an effect. That year (2018) was the year I finally started getting consistent with writing articles for my FB business page. Thanks to George Kao, my current business mentor, who keeps setting a fabulous example!
Why it’s a good practice for Introverts
Introverts are known for being deep thinkers. We love using our minds to investigate concepts and ideas from every angle. That’s what we do virtually all day anyway, with great ease. I experience that it’s productive to give our minds a specific focus, to spend all that mental energy on.
Since our minds are so active, it’s easy to go into ‘analysis paralysis’ or procrastination (when we think in circles instead of doing). Having that one word to redirect and focus us continuously feels supportive.
It can also help us introverts to expand or grow in a gentle, consistent way. We love growing– in small steps. The nervous system of a sensitive introvert can easily be thrown into turmoil (fight or flight) and then no action can happen. We need a gentle road to growth. Having a word that can continuously stretch us in small bits, feel very helpful in my world.
How I arrived at my Word for 2020:
The purpose of “the word” is to help us grow, stretch or aim in a new direction. It’s almost like a very wide-angle intention. (The root of “intention” is “to stretch in the direction of”).
With a word, we’re not aiming for a specific goal, or to reach a specific finishing line. It’s more like a stretch, new territory we can discover, and grow in. It’s like an exploration and adventure into a new area, without setting deadlines, outcomes or the need for specific results.
We can approach it with curiosity and wonder and an adventurous spirit to see what might be possible for us.
On one of my daily walks, I “tried on” each of the 3 possibilities I’d been considering for 2020. They were: “easy”, “welcome” and “expand”.
How did I try them on?
I started making sentences with each of them, for about 10 mins each. I played around with how I could use each word during the year to help me grow or stretch in areas I’d not considered for myself before.
Why was I considering “welcome”?
I want to practice surrendering to whatever shows up. Things show up in our lives anyway, and there is so much we have no conscious control over. I wanted to practice relaxing about it all.
I tried on some sentences like:
- “I welcome whatever is showing up for me today.”
- “I welcome even this challenge”
- “I welcome that the wind is really cold on my face.”
- And so on… until I’d exhausted what felt like the possible ways in which I could welcome even the difficulties.
Then, I tried on “expanding”.
I’d been wanting to expand my income, my capacity for the number of clients I could see in a week, the number of participants I could host in a workshop.
So I played with:
- “I love expanding my capacity for clients”
- Feeling into the contraction that started when I thought of December and January’s income, I practised saying “I’m expanding, my income is expanding”
- I practised just feeling “expansion” in my body when I thought of money, my bank account and income
- It was good…and somewhat exciting but it didn’t really fully land
Lastly, I tried on “easy”.
Whenever I try something new, my current default is to think “This is going to be hard work”. I was really curious to see what “easy” could bring me.
I want to thank an EFT colleague and mentor, Sejual Shah, for giving me the idea to play with this word. I likely would not have even considered it because my default mode network is used to talking about ‘hard work. In the brain, we all have that constant chatter in the head and it’s called the DMN or default mode network. It shapes the way we usually talk to ourselves.
So I started playing with it:
- I thought about the looming tax deadline, felt the contraction starting and then tried on “Oh, it’s going to be easy”. I felt myself relax.
- I thought about expanding my capacity to see more clients, felt some stress and then tried on “Oh it will be easy”. Again, relaxation.
- I thought about more participants at an online workshop and felt anxiety building… and then “Oh but it’s going to be easy!” Phew. Relaxation again.
I kept playing with it, thinking about the most stressful things in my life… and whenever I added “It’s going to be easy” — I felt myself relax.
And there and then, I decided that EASY would be my word for 2020.
I was ready to bring in more ease, “easy” ways of doing things. Feeling ‘easy’ about trying new things, and having them feel ‘easy’. I’d never explored this as a possibility. I’m willing to work hard usually so this felt like a pleasant ‘stretch’ in a different direction.
I felt excited and inspired when I’d decided… and that was another clue for me that I was on the right track.
I asked a few other introverts about their experience of having a “Word for the Year”.
Marlene Rose Shaw (www.howkindpeople.com) said:
“I find it very helpful to have a word each year, especially for business because it helps me refocus. Last year my word was “Align”. It worked!
This year I have two words one for personal life and one for business. For business my word this year is “Visible” because I’ve reached a point where I know that this is the best way forward. And for my personal life I have chosen the word “Allow” because I want to put more trust in the universe I guess that’s carrying on with the aligning.
There is something in there about making the intention to be more visible, despite my introvert nature, but also allowing the universe to help me do that without feeling it has to be forced or pressurised.”
Rebecca Herder (https://conversationstrategies.com/) said:
“Having a word for the year has been a great practice for me! It anchors me, guides me, and helps me determine where I’m getting off track and how to return home. Last year my word was “polish” this year it’s “contentment “. It’s always an adventure to see where my word leads me.”
Verna Bowen (https://www.vernabowen.com/) said:
“I love picking a word for the year. For me it started six years ago when a coach shared an idea from Brendon Burchard, to pick three words as your guiding motto.
I chose two groups of three and put up a poster in my office that said, “I am creative, caring, and confident. I live with passion, purpose, and personal power.”
I also picked a word for each year since, and now when I look back over the past four years, I see that even though I didn’t get to 100% where I had hoped, the power of words moved me towards it in leaps and bounds.
For instance, from it I came up with three main words for my new website: clarity, courage, confidence. (Clarity of aim with a dose of courage brings confidence).
In 2020, my word is breakthrough.”
Shiv Kaur (https://onewomanrevolution.tv/) said:
“We always choose a word for ourselves and our group program. This year is Cultivate.”
I asked a few introverts how they decided on their word:
Shiv Kaur said: “Ha! I don’t choose the word, it chooses me!”
From Margareta Theron:
“I put it to myself “What is my word’? Then I allow it to come. I usually get inspiration. It just surfaces. Occasionally more than one word does but usually one only first. When I get that answer I check my immediate reaction. Does it feel ok? Does it feel so-so? Does it feel YES? Do I resist it?
I don’t ask for a word to be inspiring, stretching, easy etc. Depending on my reaction to it I might look at why only so-so (is it too bland, too generic, too easy, too hard?) and find something similar but that feels more right to me.
If I resist it I ask myself “Why? What comes up?” A lot of this thinking is mind and gut thinking together. I would use substitute words until I’m happy with it if the first one didn’t quite resonate. And if I’m happy with it I ‘try it on’, taste it. Sit with it.“Does it warm me? Does it resonate within me?”
Sometimes it evolves further.”
Choosing your word
If you haven’t already, and you’d like to give it a try, I invite you to give it a go.
Ask yourself either:
“What would I like to stretch towards?” OR
“What would I like to explore? OR
“What should my word be?”
Then proceed to have fun with options and possibilities until you land on one that feels just right.
Write the word somewhere where you’ll remember to see it daily. We can’t work with it if we’ve forgotten. If a concept is currently a bit foreign to your nervous system, it’ll be easy for it to just slide out of your awareness.
Then, at every opportunity, find ways to incorporate your word into your experiences during the year.
For me, I’ll keep asking myself “How can this be easy?” or “Could this be easy?” or tell myself ahead of a daunting thing “this is going to be easy!”
And really, my taxes were easy peasy this year!
Liesel helps sensitive introverts to see their sensitivity as a superpower, love their work and practice awesome self-care so they can be energized and make a difference in a meaningful and fulfilling way. She helps them to overcome the fear of being visible, avoiding the spotlight and conflict, being ‘too nice’, perfectionism and procrastination.
She’s the author of “No Problem. The Upside of Saying No”, which is a handbook for those who struggle to say no, are overwhelmed and exhausted.
Click here to read about the book.