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My Word of the Year for 2023, Plus How to Choose Yours

Happy new year! 'Tis the season for setting goals and resolutions, but I honestly can't remember the last time I set a New Year's resolution.

Instead, almost a decade ago, I started choosing a Word of The Year (WOTY).

This practice has been so helpful that I'm going to share it with you all (again!) in case you want to join me this year. 


What's a WOTY?

I use my WOTY as a way to get clear on how I want to feel and relate to the events of the coming year.

Essentially, I use my WOTY throughout the year as a way to get intentional. It becomes a touchstone that guides and supports me. 

For example, my word in 2022 was Trust and Julian of Norwich's quote "All shall be well" became a mantra to connect me to my word. 

So when I was facing a difficult moment, I would try to remember to ask myself: How would things be different if you trusted that all will be well? What do you need to do (or stop doing) to feel more trust? 

Your WOTY is like a compass, reminding you of how you want to feel and behave as you move through the year.


How I Choose a WOTY

I think about it in the last few weeks of the year and then, on New Year's Day, I write in my journal to decide on my final choice.

For the past couple of years I've used two prompts from Patti Digh:

What do I want to let go of in the new year?

What do I want to create in the new year?

I circle any words and themes that pop out until I can distill what I wrote down to one word.

Then I might look for a few quotes or passages that relate to that word, to help me connect with how that WOTY could be my mantra or inspiration. 

If you want some help choosing your WOTY, Susannah Conway offers this awesome free workbook every year.


My WOTY for 2023

I thought about some of the projects I'm taking on this year: writing the first draft of a book, getting back on the road to do (a few) in-person workshops, and re-configuring Compassion in Balance to meet the changing needs of animal shelter workers. 

I realized that what I most wanted in 2023 was to enjoy those challenges (and life in general!). 

And when I'm not enjoying myself, I'd like to remember that I can adjust my approach or the goal itself to bring more enjoyment into the process. 

So my WOTY is: Enjoy!

The quote(s) that really captures this for me is: "Do anything, but let it produce joy" - Walt Whitman

Or in more concrete terms: "The important thing is to enjoy the activity for its own sake..." - Mihaly Csikszentnihalyi

Thinking about how I can use my WOTY in 2023, I might ask myself, as I go about my week or tackle a challenge:

If I want to feel enjoyment while working towards this goal, how would I approach it? If I want to enjoy this experience more, what do I need to do or stop doing?

We'll see how it goes in 2023 and in the meantime, I'd love to know if you have a WOTY.


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