Every December I take time to reflect on the previous year. I take stock of my wins and my challenges. I take time to process my learnings and opportunities for growth. I reflect so that I can reframe for the year ahead.
When I think about it, I’ve been reflecting on the year previous for as long as I can remember – as a kid, every January, I’d break out a new journal I had just received for Christmas and on the first sheet of freshly lined paper, I’d write out my resolutions, goals and dreams for the year ahead while watching the New Year’s parade on TV. By February, I had long forgotten about the first page in my journal and by the next go-round, I was pulling out another new journal, repeating the same process. As I got older (#adulting), I didn’t so much as forget about the goals I wrote, I just wasn’t achieving them and didn’t have a process for achieving them. This left me feeling unaccomplished, lazy and frustrated – the exact opposite of how I wanted to feel.
How I wanted to feel was the lightbulb moment for me six years ago. When I asked myself, “So, how do you want to feel?” Confident, Happy, Free, Abundant, Radiant, Successful, Fearless, Guided….words flooded from all corners of my mind and it was with this newfound sense of seeking a feeling, rather than an extrinsic goal, that my one-word year was born.
Feelings are at the core of what we do. We live from our feelings. We react from our feelings, too. As author Danielle LaPorte says, “Knowing how we want to feel is the most potent form of clarity we can have and generating those feelings is the most powerfully creative thing we can do with our life.”
Feelings are the reason resolutions, by themselves, don’t work. Resolutions are focused on what we want to fix (i.e. the outcome: lose 5 lbs) rather than how we want to feel (i.e. the process: healthy).
When we allow how we want to feel to inform how we plan our day, year and life – that inner clarity leads to massive outer action.
Choosing one word over the last six years has allowed me to anchor myself to a feeling rather than an extrinsic goal, a goal that may or may not have allowed me to feel how I wanted to feel. This process of selecting just one word to encapsulate how I wanted to feel for that year has allowed for greater opportunities to present themselves, things I never would have been open to or could have experience if I were solely focused on the goal itself.
Did you ever set a goal and think, When I achieve this, I will feel this way, only to achieve said thing and not feel that way? For years I told myself if I was a certain weight than my life would be perfect. If I could get down to my “magic” number of 90lbs, I’d be happy, successful and all my dreams would come true. Guess what? I hit my magic number and it still wasn’t enough. I didn’t feel happy or successful. Over the years, I’ve done this When-I-Have equation with multiple areas of my life and each and every time I was left not feeling how I thought I would feel when I had that thing.
And so, I got curious about how I wanted to feel.
In 2012, I chose FEARLESS and I chose that word because I wanted to confront my big fears – I wanted to step into fully living my life. This word allowed me to begin work with a life coach, become an intenSati leader and start a blog.
In 2013, I decided on the word FREE. After years of being curious about my sexuality, it was in 2013 that I made the hardest decision of my life: I signed divorce papers and began my coming out process.
2014 was the year of OPEN and it was a year of peeling back layers and delving deeper into self-growth. 2014 was the year I fully embraced being gay and while writing out my vision for relationships at a life coaching weekend, it was the first time I used the pronoun “her”.
After a year of inward growth, 2015 was about outward power and I chose the word TRUTH. To fully align with the power of my word required me to ask for what I wanted and to own my voice in difficult conversations. In my career and relationships, it required me asking for what I needed with a delicate balance of grace and authority. But the word truth was also about living my truth and it required me to cultivate vulnerability and to live authentically. It was the first time I took my students “along for the ride,” sharing my challenges, struggles and successes openly.
In 2016, when I chose the word CONFIDENT, I thought by “having” this word, by possessing confidence, the rest of my life would fall into place. On the contrary, this word brought up everything unlike itself so that I could learn some major lessons. During this year I learned the power of staying in my own lane. I learned how collaboration, not competition, is how I feel successful – that we both can win. And I learned I became more confident when I could support others, when I could genuinely celebrate their success, when I could simply celebrate what I was doing without it taking something away from someone else.
For 2017 I chose the word LIGHT. As I was ending my Yoga Teacher Training with LifeTime last December, I decided upon this word because I wanted to be the light for others, to see the light in others no matter how challenging it might be, and to remember that I was light. Remembering I was light was a big one because this year was really about letting my light shine and honoring my talents and gifts. It was about finally letting go of not feeling good enough.
As I look back on 2017, I know that I have impacted the lives of those around me – something that is so important for me on my Sadhana, my path. The emails, handwritten notes and conversations I’ve had with people truly fill my heart and remind me that there is no greater gift than that of service. I can also see moments where I’ve been asked to see the light in others, where I’ve been challenged to call up empathy, compassion and forgiveness in the face of hate, slander and injustice. In these moments my word reminds me, see the light. Most importantly, the word light has brought up and has had me confront every not-enoughness that exists within me. This year was the first time EVER I truly believed I was talented and capable enough, and coincidently, it’s also the year I’ve had to deal with some pretty big setbacks and losses – all of which challenged me to see and honor MY light.
Perhaps the most amazing thing that happens when you land on a word is the clarity it affords you. When you get connected to how you want to feel – when you can identify that feeling – when you seek the actions that allow you to feel that way – you find a pot of gold even bigger than any goal or resolution you were seeking in the first place.
I thought I had simply set out to honor the light and step into mine, but over the last few weeks, the word light has taken on a larger meaning of letting go.
Embracing lightness means creating space – it means saying no and only opening myself up to the things that can really support how I want to feel.
Embracing light means more quiet. One thing that becomes very apparent to me after bouts of time in the company of large groups (hello Group Fitness!), is how much I need to cultivate quiet. While I’ve known myself to be an extroverted introvert, honoring the lightness of quiet wasn’t always something I afforded myself.
Embracing light means leading authentically. I am inspired and motivated by #realleadership – people who LIVE authentically, who act of kindness rather than self-interest – people who recognize how their vulnerabilities help others – people who take leaps, not knowing where the net actually is.
2017 has been a HUGE year of learnings and as I’m looking toward 2018, I’ve chosen the word, ALIGNED. I’ve decided to live by my guiding posts, the values that are the core of who I am: integrity, impact, innovation, vulnerability, rest & rejuvenation, connection, growth and freedom. I have these guiding posts on post-it notes on a wall in my home office but in 2018 I’ve decided to align EVERYTHING I do with them. If doing “x” isn’t in integrity, it isn’t happening. If saying “y” doesn’t afford positive impact, my words aren’t worth contributing. 2018, more than any other year, is about feeling good on purpose.
This week I invite you to get curious about how you want to feel. If you were to fast forward to a year from now, December 2018, looking back, what would you want 2018 to feel like? A bunch of words might come up, all clamoring for your attention – it’s OK. Write them all down. Try them all on. Say them out loud. Envision what it would look like to embody confidence. Imagine what you’d be doing if you felt inspired. Do this with all of your words without worrying if it’s an adjective, verb or noun. None of those details matter. Only how you want to feel.
When you find stillness, when you tune into your inner guidance, when you listen deeply to the answer, you word will always find you.
I’d love to hear about your word for 2018! Leave it in the comments for others (and The Universe) to hear!
Psst: Struggling with finding the right word? Pull out a dictionary, Google “inspirational words”, or check out Danielle LaPorte’s Core Desired Feelings – a visual library of feelings.