Word of the Year
The idea of a word for the year comes from Christine Kane, whose blog I enjoy reading. She explains the concept in this introductory post from December 2007. Instead of making New Year’s resolutions (which are almost guaranteed to fail) you pick a single word that exemplifies your intentions for the new year, whether it be health, clarity, love, effortlessness, focus, or whatever.
Most of the people who participate on her blog seem to be quite keen on self-improvement. Their word of the year becomes a great spiritual journey for them. For each day the entire month of December, Christine has one of her readers write an article about how their word changed their lives over the year. Many are quite touchy-feely, but all are heartfelt. People seem to be getting a lot out of their words.
Me, I’m a little more pragmatic about it all. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of choosing a word as a sort of mantra to remind you of your intentions throughout the year. But my choices tend to be rather more prosaic, and even a little uncomfortable. I want my word to push me a little.
My word for 2008 was “discipline”. It reminded me to do the uncomfortable and unpleasant things necessary for attaining my goals, whether they were running a 5K race, finishing a certain number of paintings, or putting together my portfolio. It got me up in the morning, got me running even when I didn’t feel like it, and helped get me painting. It wasn’t exactly a spiritual awakening, but it did help nudge me in the right direction whenever my motivation flagged.
For 2009, I had a long list of possible words: focus, fearless, do, explore, boldness, flourish, action. All seemed reasonable words, but none really stood out for me. I know 2009 is going to be a difficult year for selling art, but I’m determined to make it work somehow and my word for 2009 needs to reflect that determination. (Now that I think about it, “determination” would have been a pretty good word.)
Finally it struck me. My word for 2009 is “hungry”. As in “be hungry”. As in, I have to be hungrier than everyone else if I’m going to succeed as an artist during a recession (a depression?). I have to want it more. I have to be unafraid of the hard work, the long hours, the perseverance. I have to embrace it all. I have to be hungry for it.
“Hungry” also speaks to a personal goal I have for 2009. I’d like to finally shed the extra weight I slowly gained over the last 15 years. It’s not a huge amount, about 15 or 20 pounds, but 2009 is the year to finally lose it.
My word “hungry” does not mean I’m going to starve myself. Far from it! I love good food, I enjoy dining out, and I don’t shy away from rich food, sweets, and other goodies on special occasions. I subscribe to Julia Childs’ philosophy of eating: eat real food, in moderation. I use butter, not margarine. I use sugar, not synthetic chemicals. I use real cream, not that fake stuff. Just not too much at a time.
Rather than starving myself, “hungry” here means that I need to keep an eye on the amounts I eat. Just exercising doesn’t work, or at least not for me. I have to eat less. That means I have to stop eating just before I get full. In other words, I have to always be a little bit hungry. Not starving, but also never stuffed. My word “hungry” will help me remember that. (Actually it already has: I started using the word a couple weeks ago when I chose it. I’ve lost a pound in that time.)
So that’s my word of the year. How about you?
Christine Kane provides a great list of possible words to help get the wheels turning. I highly recommend it. At the very least choosing a word is less ridiculous than making yet another bunch of New Year’s resolutions that don’t even make it past the end of January.