Choosing Your Word

Never a friend of New Year’s resolutions, I discovered another ritual with more spiritual engine power and more potential than a spur of the moment list. The ritual is choosing a word of the year. You choose a word that will symbolize the year for you–set the intention or create a verbal amulet.

Light poem from Shapeways.

The word should be limber and supple, without any stiffness of punishment, or hashmarks to measure yourself with and find yourself coming up short.

I prefer verbs–because they embody action. And taking action is a favorite step of mine to get unstuck or move ahead.  Of course, there are also the state of being verbs: is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been. Small verbs, but powerful in their own way. You have to know a lot about yourself to choose a state of being verb.

Other people prefer nouns–things or ideas: creativity, intuition, freedom. Nouns can be things you hold in your hands–paper, pen, seeds, feathers. Or they can be things you hold in your heart: wishes, wisdom, peace.

Now is a good time, at the end of the year, to think of a word you can hold and use for all of 2012. Choose a word that will last, that will build you up and support you. You can choose a word that is both a verb and a noun. The one I chose for 2010 was light. I could light a candle or a fire. I could help others discover the light hidden within them. I could make someone else’s load light. It was a good word for the year.

Your word can be any part of speech, and you can use it in as many ways as you want–present tense, active voice, transitive with an object or not. Use it as many ways as you can and see how you change it and how it changes you.

Custom made light poems at Shapeway.

If you keep a journal, you can write it down and visit it every week or month and see how that word has shown up in your life at the end of every week and how you would like it to show up the next week. You can write it on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket and rediscover it every day. Write it on a key you use every day and remember it when you use the key to unlock a closed door. Think of the word when you push open the door and move beyond what you couldn’t see into what you can experience.

Begin now to choose a word. It should be a good, chewy word that will last a whole year. This year I used the phrase “step up,” and it was a powerful tool with sometimes surprising results. It’s tempting to keep it for another year, but each year needs a new, fresh word.

What are the words you want to invite into your life for the year? You don’t have to know–this is the time to taste words and test them. Leave them in the comments, if you’d like, and tell us why.

Disclosure: I found the light poem link online. I’m not advertising it, I’ve never used the service, no money or good exchanged hands for my mentioning the product.

Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach for whom words are  the heartbeat in her life.