A Word to Last the Year

Some of you might have come across the idea of picking a word or words to focus on throughout the year.

My friend Jon Swanson picked three words for 2010, inspired by Chris Brogan’s practice.  Other people have written about the power of one word, something I’ve read a lot about via singer-songwriter-blogger-coach Christine Kane. (Some articles from Christine on the how and why of working with one word listed below.)

This year, I was tempted.  And at the start of the year I was tempted by words that made me feel bold, and courageous.  Perhaps I was inspired by the story shared by my friend Karen Wallace about what happened with a year with the word ‘emerge’.  Or perhaps I was trying just a little too hard.  ‘Bold’, I tried. ‘Voice’, and ‘shout’, and ‘roar’.

But the words wouldn’t stick.  They seemed to have the baggage of ‘shoulds’ attached to them, which wasn’t helping on the days when soaring or roaring was the last thing on my mind.

Another word starting knocking at the edge of my thought.  Quietly, thoughtfully, gently.

Rhythm, it said.

Try rhythm.

And so I am.  Letting myself hold the word rhythm in my mind… (fingertips, feet, heart, head).

I like it.  I like the effect.

It reminds me to:

  • Walk
  • Write
  • Go outside
  • Go gently
  • Go with the flow
  • Trust in the natural cycle of things
  • Notice the power of the natural world
  • Reflect on where I am in the rhythm of the day, the year, my life
  • Roar when the time’s right to roar
  • Move between different projects I’m working on 1-2-3, 1-2-3
  • Dance
  • Dance not just metaphorically, but literally too
  • Be quiet when it’s time to listen, and rest
  • Write poems
  • Write with a pulsing heart

It feels like a word that will help me find my feet and keep my rhythm not just at the start but all the way through the year.

How about you - have you experimented with one word (or three words) for the year?  What have you learned?  Are you playing with a word or words this year?


This piece is a contribution to the theme of Start! Stay tune for more while we run through January…

The image is a dreamboard created for the blue moon on the last day of the year.

Christine Kane on one word for the year:

You say you want a resolution…

Resolution revolution - a better start to the new year

Related Posts with Thumbnails

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29 Responses to “A Word to Last the Year”

  1. On January 18, 2010 at 12:49 pm Betsy Wuebker responded with... #

    Hi Joanna - This is a powerful process, isn’t it? I liked how your choice evolved and the thinking behind it. It’s a great exercise to achieve focus and clarity at inception and maintains a root system for further action.

    I, too, was inspired by Christine’s writing, as I had chosen one word for 2009 after participating in a comment string on Lance Ekum’s Jungle of Life site a year ago. What initially got me going this year was Chris Brogan’s post on January 1. I wrote about the process that resulted in my three words here: http://passingthru.com/2010/01/my-three-words-for-2010/

    The funny thing is, in the weeks intervening, discussing what originally seemed to be a quite light-hearted choice actually revealed greater and deeper associations. Others have been inspired to make their choices, too. Thanks.
    Betsy Wuebker´s last blog ..When Your Inner Critic is on Steroids My ComLuv Profile

  2. On January 18, 2010 at 5:22 pm Alex Fayle responded with... #

    Given my goal for this year, my word would have to be “professional” - not as in acting professionally but as in writing fiction is a profession and that means approaching it like one with the hours invested, the connections made and all that goes with running a business.

    Yes, it’s art but it’s also a business and 2010 is the year I focus on that.
    Alex Fayle´s last blog ..Resolving to Be Happier: The Happiness Project My ComLuv Profile

  3. On January 18, 2010 at 7:01 pm Janice Cartier responded with... #

    Rhythm is such a favorite word of mine. And I love the list of actions and words you’ve associated with it. What those bring into being. I am playing around with a few words myself. The recurring one? Win. One I don’t usually use. But it’s lingering. And I used Christine Kane’s nice worksheet to examine why…so we are surrendering to it…trying it on for size.
    Janice Cartier´s last blog ..Something about Tension and Vision My ComLuv Profile

  4. On January 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm Tom | Build That List responded with... #

    Wow! What a unique but full of power word! Rhythm makes me think consistency (which could possibly be my word for the year).
    Tom | Build That List´s last blog ..RSS Subscribers VS Email List | Which Is Better? My ComLuv Profile

  5. On January 19, 2010 at 3:25 am Shari Smothers responded with... #

    Awesome post, Joanna!

    I named my year “2010: my cyber-space odyssey” in my Telling Stories blog post, http://slstellingstories.com/2010/01/proceeding-to-goals/.

    Your post gave me the perfect thing I didn’t realize I was missing-rhythm. I read it and thought YES! I can enhance my plans for the year by finding my rhythm through what I do. Your conclusion nailed it, rhythm would take me all the way through the year. I’ll be spent probably, but not burnt out.

    As always, thank you for sharing.
    Shari Smothers´s last blog ..healthy habits: 7 sources of stress and how to manage them My ComLuv Profile

  6. On January 19, 2010 at 5:05 am Davina responded with... #

    I hadn’t read this post yet when we were chatting today on Twitter about life being poetic. I almost tweeted back to you that poetic meant rhythm to me; that would have been neat. I chose three words after reading Betsy’s post a couple of weeks ago: The Adventure Continues.
    Davina´s last blog ..I Find Stillness My ComLuv Profile

  7. On January 19, 2010 at 8:19 am Bengt responded with... #

    I love your choice of word, rhythm associates to a lot of good things. It will be a great second layer or background to my own key words.

    I use three words: Trust, Connect, Grow.
    Bengt´s last blog ..What Impact Do You Want To Have? My ComLuv Profile

  8. On January 19, 2010 at 2:09 pm Karen Swim responded with... #

    Joanna, what a powerful idea. A word that frames the mind, heart and actions of a year. I love the word rhythm and the sense that it allows you to flow in the now. I agree that some words do carry the baggage of should, would, must while rhythm lets you be who you need to be in the moment. I have not done the one word for a year but I like your word so much I’m going to find one or three of my own. I shall report back and share. :-)

    Karen xo
    Karen Swim´s last blog ..The Gift of Written Language My ComLuv Profile

  9. On January 19, 2010 at 3:00 pm Tim Bossie responded with... #

    We often underestimate the power of just one word. When we think about how much words can affect our lives - in our relationships especially - it is only a fair extension to bring the power of a word into our businesses.

    The more I think about the one word you chose, Joanna, I have to say, what a powerful word. Rhythm can often times be an elusive character. However, it is a powerful trait to be sought after. I wish you the greatest of luck in your pursuits this year and hoping that we can all find that rhythm that sustains, conquers, and elevates us as we strive to reach ever increasing goals.
    Tim Bossie´s last blog ..Your Daily Kick – Jan. 18, 2010 – Fix Your Landing Page My ComLuv Profile

  10. On January 19, 2010 at 3:34 pm Jaymie responded with... #

    I chose the word “savor” this year and blogged about it here: http://justmejaymie.blogspot.com/2010/01/2010-in-word.html
    Jaymie´s last blog ..MONDAY: The Quiltmaker’s Gift My ComLuv Profile

  11. On January 19, 2010 at 3:38 pm Tyrean responded with... #

    I love that word.
    Can I borrow it?
    It reminds me of the patter of rain,
    the stomp of feet,
    the tap of tap shoes,
    the melody of a song,
    the beat of my heart,
    the roar of ocean waves,
    the trickle of water over pebbles,
    the bark of my dog,
    the purr of my cat,
    the laughter of my children,
    the sound of my husband’s breath at night,
    the quietness of the early hours
    when the only sound I hear is the slip of pages of my
    Bible turning, and the click of my laptop keys.
    Thanks for your post!
    Tyrean´s last blog ..Hoping for a jump start My ComLuv Profile

  12. On January 19, 2010 at 6:19 pm Wendi Kelly~Life's Little Inspirations responded with... #

    My word of the year is actually two words I guess, Living Inspired.
    For me it is already becoming a filter through which I am choosing to view the world and make choices about how to spend my time. I find myself asking..Does this inspire me? Am I just going through the motions? How can I look at the world through fresh eyes? So far so good.

    I love rhythm. That will be a great word to watch and see how it evolves in your life this year.
    Wendi Kelly~Life’s Little Inspirations´s last blog ..This Little Light of Mine My ComLuv Profile

  13. On January 20, 2010 at 7:50 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    @ Betsy, it is indeed (powerful). I love your three words - I hope you have a wonderful year drinking more champagne, metaphorically and literally :-)

    @ Alex, makes a lot of sense. I’m wondering if you’re using affirmations / writing it down to make it happen approach… as you write it, you adjust your behaviour / expectations towards it. Becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    @ Janice, I liked the worksheet too - must redo it now I’ve actually settled into the rhythm of a word ;-) I love the word that’s emerging for you… please do let us support and cheerlead as you move into it…

  14. On January 20, 2010 at 7:53 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    @ Tom, interesting - there is an element of consistency (though I don’t think I could be inspired by that word for a year). What I like about rhythm is that it allows me to move around within one overall (hopefully consistent ;-) ) pattern… or even dance

    @ Shari, here’s to finishing the year not burnt out! Your plans sound wonderful… good luck on your odyssey :-)

    @ Davina, that would have been a neatly poetic response :-) I hadn’t thought of the word when we were tweeting but you’re right, that’s part of what I meant about the life poetic - as we feel, see and hear rhythms of our lives it will become poetic, life doesn’t need to *be* poetic, it’s how we perceive it. I love your three words. Sometimes I beat myself up for not having a conventional life (as if that’s something I’d want if I landed in it). I like the idea of celebrating the adventure… and allowing it to continue and unfold. Have fun in yours and please do keep blogging about it!

  15. On January 20, 2010 at 8:00 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    @ Bengt I love those three words… they feel grounded - there’s also a natural rhythm to them as you say them don’t you think? ;-)

    @ Karen, I was nervous about giving myself any more shoulds - too many already! - but did find this exercise helped me find a reminder to go with the flow… and write with that pulsing heart. I will be interested to see what you come up with!

    @ Tim, thank you. I wanted a word that would work for me on lots of levels as well as work… one of the reasons I went for this one.

    @ Jaymie, ‘savor’ is a powerful word - a great reminder to slow down and enjoy each and every moment. I’m going to steal a bit of that one to add to my mix for the year, thank you

  16. On January 20, 2010 at 8:04 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    @ Tyrean, I am glad of your borrowing of that word…. I love your response to it, and you know, I can hear the beat of your heart in these words x

    @ Wendi, thank you, again I suspect there was something of your call to live the inspired life behind this choice of word and this post. I like your questions and the way they call you to live the way that will inspire you… and in so doing… inspire others, lighting the way.

  17. On January 20, 2010 at 4:24 pm Alex Fayle responded with... #

    I track everything I do writing-wise so that I can see my progress, plus it’s in my schedule without exception (well there are exceptions - like today which is a holiday here in the city so no writing).

    As for affirmations - I’m not so big on those. Actions and results speak more loudly to me than pep talks.
    Alex Fayle´s last blog ..Resolving to Be Happier: The Happiness Project My ComLuv Profile

  18. On January 21, 2010 at 2:46 pm Hilda responded with... #

    Hi Joanna,

    I came across Christine Kane’s project in December and I loved the idea of using one word to encompass a number of intentions. For me, the word for 2010 is connection. Towards the end of 2009 I moved to the west of Ireland and I need to create new connections in every aspect of my life. But I don’t want the geographical separation to lead to the loss of the connections I already have.

    Already I’m finding it very powerful. I’ve drawn a chart of the different connections I want to create or maintain in my life, and glancing on that a couple of times a day and just thinking “connection” is already yielding delightful results :-)

  19. On January 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm Juliana responded with... #

    I chose one word for the year… Nourish.
    So far, so good!

    I wrote about my choice on my blog here: http://writeplayrepeat.com/2009/12/30/if-you-could-choose-one-word/
    Juliana´s last blog ..Show review – GARR My ComLuv Profile

  20. On January 24, 2010 at 4:10 am Jeanne Dininni responded with... #

    I love your word, Joanna! It’s one with such a personal application-a meaning that would differ for everyone who chose it! That’s what I think is so wonderful about it. It speaks of individuality, of the ebb and flow of each person’s own unique brand of creativity. And it seems to fit your own adventurous exploration of all you hope to accomplish as you enter a new year-and a new phase of your development as a writer.

    Have thought about this but so far have not chosen my own word as yet. Soon, perhaps…but not until it feels just right…

  21. On January 25, 2010 at 1:36 am Karen Wallace
    Twitter: karenwallace
    responded with... #

    Joanna, where to start? I love rhythm… it’s a brilliant word for you and I cannot wait to see the steps you take in time to the beat… and, of course, the rests in between the beats where music is made.

    I’ve found we sometimes cannot chose a word, it choses us. Like your Bold and Courageous, I thought of similar words, but no sooner had I thought of them than they’d vanish into thin air. For me, getting quiet and waiting for the word to emerge (ha!) is what works best. And so in December I waited quietly for my word.

    Once I gave up trying to find it, it snuck in… took me unaware. Every time I thought about choosing my word, there it was. There is power in the choice, as well as in the word itself.

    Who knows where this one will lead… all I’ve done is hit the switch. My word for 2010 is Glow.

  22. On January 28, 2010 at 10:03 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    @ Alex… interesting… I know what you mean, but do think we can reinforce and also trigger action by shifting our language use

    @ Hilda, how nice to see you :-) I love your word… and am so excited by your move, including the meditation work… wonderful

    @ Juliana… nourish is a wonderful word - works on so many levels. Hmmm, I am savouring it :-)

  23. On January 28, 2010 at 10:06 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    @ Jeanne, you know me so well :-) Yes, those are many of the reasons that it appealed to me…

    @ Karen - I am so struck by what you say about the word choosing us… much more powerful if we allow it to emerge ;-) that way. I love your word. Will watch you glow.


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