How a Word of the Year Helped Change my Life
There's been a growing trend over the years out there as the new year rolls around to not just make New Year's Resolutions, but to select a Word of the Year. This word requires much thought and intention as it will be one that will help shape the trajectory of your year. I've personally done this the last few years and can attest to the power of selecting one small but mighty word to keep at the forefront of the goals and decisions you will be making, both big and small, all year long.
I had the word "Encourage" in my mind a few years ago. It was before I selected a word of the year, but kept that word close as a reminder to try to be an encouragement to others. The compliments and kind and encouraging words flowed extra freely that year. The next year was "Intentional" where I sought to be intentional with how I planned and and spent my time with my family and in life. Intention is always an excellent word to keep at the forefront of your mind, to help keep time and life from just passing you by.
This past year I chose a very different word. REDIRECT.
I had not liked the direction my life choices and attitude especially had gone the year before. Some areas in life had become stressful and I encountered some disappointing and seemingly unfair circumstances. And while I can't really go into what was getting me upset, just know it was really stressful. The attitudes of others around me were bad too with a lot of complaining and frustration. To add to my stress, my mom who had been sick and in and out of the hospital a lot, had to come live with this that year before. We didn't have an easy, loving mother-daughter relationship. It was a hard relationship with mental illness and poor choices overshadowing most of the good times. She lost her place to stay and the only choice was to move in with our family. Some days were fine and other days she really needed medical care and lead to almost more than we could handle on our own. She ended up going back into the hospital for months and passed in the spring of 2015.
So there I was having come out of this very stressful year. My attitude was shot. I also had been dealing with a terrible skin rash like hives for about 2 years. This rash broke out on my hands, on my neck, and at one point, all over my body. I'm not one to discuss gross stuff, but it was so bad it at times the rash on my hands would bleed. I had attributed the rash to having started drinking a high quality whey protein shake every day. As I drank the shakes, by body became covered in welts. I cut those out and although it got better, they still weren't completely gone. I then cut out dairy, thinking it was possibly a dairy allergy. That helped as well, but still the rashes would come and go. I was tested by an allergy doctor who said I was testing negative for food allergies. Through the intention of my word of the year which is mapped out below, I had a major change in my mindset and attitude. After 2 years of struggling with the terrible skin rashes, about a month in to the new year, I realized my skin was clear and the rash was gone. I had no idea I was that stressed out. I believe the skin rashes were attributed to stress and a poor attitude. I don't think I can attribute it to anything else. My skin has remained clear all year. I have noticed when I get stressed, my hands start to itch and flare up. It's so interesting to note. Also note, this is my personal experience and is to not be interpreted as medical advice.
That year shortly after my mom died we decided to build a house and we moved temporarily into an apartment for a few months while the house was built. We moved into our house the week of Christmas 2015. That was exciting to be able to be in our new house, but my attitude still had taken a beating from the last couple of years.
So, that led me to my quiet time with my Bible and journal as the New Year rolled around. This is my weekly practice every Monday morning to renew and prepare for the week ahead. Each new year I reflect on the past year and what was good and what was bad. What would I want the new year to look like? What did I want to accomplish with work and in my personal life? I was sick and tired of the negativity and complaining space. I had gained weight from the stress and had not been exercising like I used to in those last several months. I'd had enough. That's how I chose the word REDIRECT. It was time to redirect myself back on a good path for my life. I am a positive and encouraging person who tries to live fully. I had just gotten off track from where I like to be. I set my goals for the year and decided I had enough of the negativity and complaining. Here is how this was possible:
1. I made a shift in my mindset. When people wanted to complain and stay negative, I told them I can't stay in that space any longer. It's too unhealthy for me to be there. If there's a legitimate complaint, say it, but otherwise I can't participate it in anymore. This isn't a super easy thing to do, but if you commit to it, you will see if difference. When I shared this with people, eventually I saw a shift in other people's attitudes as well. If you become a leader in a positive direction, you have the opportunity to help lead others in the right direction and make a difference around you. Remember you can't make people change or control how they act, but you can control your own reaction and attitude.
2. I started listening to Podcasts every day. Oh, Podcasts, what a difference you have made in my life!! If you haven't added these in your routine yet, you are missing out! Every day while I got ready for work this past year I listen to 1-2 podcasts while I get ready. These are found online and you subscribe or just listen to topics that interest you. You have this wealth of great information to teach and inspire you right on your phone. I've received so much great knowledge, encouragement, and motivation from these just while I'm getting ready or doing household chores. There's all kinds of topics available for what interests you. I personally enjoy topics on business and leadership, women and business, health and fitness, work/family balance, and finances. Read more about my favorite podcasts HERE!
3. I made a commitment back to healthy living. I am someone who loves to exercise. It's not a chore to me, but rather feels like "me time" and I enjoy the endorphin high from exercising. That being said, when life gets extra busy, it's easy to get out of the routine. I set out to lose 15 lbs this past year. I worked really hard and did lose some, but not all. I lost 9 lbs, however, which was a big win for me since it's hard for me to lose and seems to take me forever. Unfortunately I gained a few back toward the end of the year, but it's still a loss and I maintained a great workout schedule the majority of the the year and logged my food on My Fitness Pal most of the year. All in all, I consider it healthy and a success with a healthy mindset and I'm no longer beating myself up over not being exactly where I'd like to be. This is an ongoing commitment for me each year to stay healthy and strong and take care of my body and mind.
4. I decided to move ahead with in some areas where I am gifted. I started my business, Grace & Joy Events, this year. I just decided to go for it. This post is long enough, so I'll write about that in another post! No more holding back. I believe we've all been given certain talents and abilities, and God has equipped each of us in a special and unique way. I've been planning events and decorating for years, so finally decided to move ahead with a business. There will be ups and downs, but I'm going to see where it goes and try to be faithful along the way!
5. I want to pay attention to my role as a wife and mom in our family. I have a long way to go and it's hard to balance life with work, a side business, fitness, general responsibilities, and family life. I don't expect to be perfect in any of this. That would just set myself up for failure. I want to be aware that life goes by fast and our kids are growing. I don't want to spend precious time on things that don't matter and want to be intentional with how time is spent. My goal this next year will to keep working on this and paying attention to priorities and how I'm spending my time.
That leads to my next word of the year...PRIORITY!
I hope you have a thoughtful word for your new year that will help shape and direct your time and choices you'll make!
From my family to yours, we wish you an awesome New Year!