Last week, Frank and I were sitting at the chef’s table at one of our favorite restaurants, watching pizzas being thrown together, Brussel’s sprouts slung in and out of the deep fryer, and zesty cannoli shells filled and plated for desserts. Our backs were to the rest of the diners and we were able to really focus on each other and our conversation.

Frank asked if I had a chance to think about my “one word” for the year. It has been a wonderful break but one in which I just never found much time for journalling and reflection. I took a sip of my white negroni and shrugged. “I don’t know. Next year feels like there are a lot of unknowns. Maybe my word should be status quo.”

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

My eyes got teary as soon as I said that. I don’t really think my life needs to remain at status quo. We talked about other words that could embody the idea of rest, peace, and contentment. But none of them really rang true or sparked excitement.

This coming year is full of change for our family. Nothing major but as the girls grow older, our schedule seems to get fuller. And then, Elle will be starting full-time school at the end of summer. While that’s still eight months away, it adds a major layer of unknown to my own plans and dreams.

As a planner, I love goals and ideas and dreams. It’s hard to simply live in the moment and not prepare for what’s next. But maybe this is what I need to do, at least for the first part of the year. This doesn’t mean I’ll just ignore things that come my way, but I think I need to live right in this moment, not in the future – even if the future is just months away.

Reading through this essay, I see a handful of words that would be perfect for a “one word” of this year but I think what I need to do is not even assign an intention. Maybe part of my challenge for the year will to be a bit less intentional, less focused, less goal-oriented.

We’ll see how this goes. A word or intention could hit me mid-February and I’ll run with it. But for now, I’m going to enjoy this moment. I’ll volunteer and write and dream. I’ll spend my Thursdays enjoying a day without commitments with Elle. I’ll read and pursue ideas. I’ll get discouraged by the monotony and encouraged at just the right moments.

I think this year is going to be one of discovery. It may be the year I step over the threshold – my word of 2019. When I think about stepping into the new year without much of a plan, I feel open and relief. Maybe this is exactly what my perfectionist tendencies need – a chance to go with the flow.

What about you? Do you pick a word to guide your year? How do you start the new year?

14 thoughts on “Starting the Year Without a Guide

  1. Annie, When my boys were young, rich was away flying half of the days. I had to make a conscious choice not to plan. Now MANY years later, I definitely know it was the best choice I could have made. My oldest has acknowledged this on more than one occasion. It took a while for this choice to settle in so don’t beat yourself up when you catch yourself filing in the calendar. Just know this is a good place Annie. xoxo

    1. I love your wisdom and encouragement, Sandy – thank you! Sometimes I feel like we aren’t “doing” enough and yet my girls thrive on pajama days and unstructured time. Leaning into what’s best for our family… xo

  2. 2020’s really here,
    oh my golly, oh my gosh!
    And thus my does One Word appear:
    it is, quite simply, ‘Yosh!’.
    It is not a striving tool,
    and has no bold cachet.
    In Japanese, it’s “Dude, it’s cool,
    and all will be OK.”
    You may think I’ve lost my mind,
    as cancer grows and thrives,
    but there is treasure that I find
    in each day that I’m alive.
    And the hand gesture that I choose
    is the famed Hawaiian, “Hey, hang loose!”

  3. I don’t pick one word for the year because I feel God changes my “word” from day to day, sometimes moment to moment. He shows me what He wants me to learn and to show others. 🙂

  4. I’m not sure about it either. Last year’s word was embrace. It was most fitting. The word open keeps coming to mind but I’m feeling a lot like you expressed. And it does feel freeing.

  5. Last year I had a word Courage the first time I did this. It has been a rough 1 1/2 years. Well this year, through DaySpring my word is Bloom. And on Sunday morning I knew I had to drop all the things I was halfly involved in. Therefore did nothing well. I am involved in reading (launches, challenges), and Ruth Soukup’s booklet on Goals. As I finish that I will pick one more goal.

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