Words to Steer a Year By

For the past several years, I’ve marked the New Year by choosing a word or handful of words to act as a sort of compass, a guiding star for the months ahead, to help me find and stay the course — whatever that course is.

Last year’s word was courage.

For 2016, inspired by Chris Brogran and the example of Tanya Gulliver-Garcia, I used a slightly more formal and detailed process to identify three words: Health, happiness, organized.

2015’s theme was organize, which, yes, I re-upped the following year. As I said, I can always stand to be more organized.

Does this process work? Well, some years it works better than others. But the point of choosing words as compass points is that they allow for regular review and course correction, with much more flexibility than a traditional New Year’s resolution. I have a bad habit of setting a goal, then getting depressed or frustrated when I hit obstacles (frequently, of course, I am the biggest obstacle!) and giving up.

But a guiding star allows me to stop, take stock, and redirect myself when things go wrong. I have often been less than courageous. Often been disorganized. Often not focused on health and happiness. But I believe that I benefit from having these reminders, of signposts on my journey, showing me where I need to go.

Last year involved some pretty substantial changes in my life — big enough that they merit a separate update rather than an aside. It took work, and yes, I think, some courage to get from where I was at the beginning of 2017 to where I am now. And while I can’t know whether things would have worked out differently for me if I hadn’t chosen to make courage my guide for the year in just the way I did, I believe that it was important and valuable to acknowledge that I needed to be braver, and to make the effort to be braver a part of my path through 2017.

Lights and Camera Optional

Sometimes zeroing in on the right word or words for the year takes a lot of time and thought.

This year, that wasn’t the case.

My word for 2018 is action.

As you may have inferred from some of what I mentioned above, or from having read the blog or, you know, ever met me — I’m pretty good at ideas, not bad at plans, and excellent at meaning well.

But I can have a problem with follow-through. Whether it’s letting anxiety over potential bad outcomes stop me from taking action, or being overwhelmed by the paralysis of choice, or confusing having a plan with making things happen.

At some point, I need to take one, last look at the plan, decide what needs to be done, and just do it. Take action.

The year is young, and it’s still easy to focus on resolution-season things like guiding words. With that in mind… so far, so good?

My Special Friend, incidentally, after giving the matter some thought, decided to participate in a similar process of finding her compass point for the year. She elected on a short phrase rather than a single word or cluster of words. Hers is “Do it now!”

We’ve combined the two as a shared invocation. “Action now!” It’s something we’re already using to spur ourselves and one another on. To help us get out of our heads and down to it. Because it’s a new year, and we’re both ready to do more, to do what needs to be done.

Happy New Year. Action. Now.

Coming Up On The Blog: Putting “action” into action with my goals for 2018! A look back at 2017 and my year in reading! And more Breaking In interviews!




One thought on “Words to Steer a Year By

  1. Pingback: Guiding Words for 2019: The Year of Getting It Done | stephen geigen-miller

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