I love rituals. Every January I take the opportunity to re-focus and to claim the next 12 months, like a potter claims her clay. I look ahead and ask myself what will I make of this year? What shape will I create ? What impact will I make? Where will I devote my energy?
Of course there will be unpredictable, crazy winds of change. There will be births and deaths. There will be re-structures and amalgamations. Things will end and things will appear, as if from nowhere. But in all of this where will my attention be?
I have a ritual every new year where I choose a word. A word that captures a value or characteristic that I most want to grow in the following 12 months. I’ve been doing this for a lot of years now. Let me give you an example. One year I chose the word gratitude. I chose this word because I wanted to explore how gratitude works for me. I wanted to feel a greater sense of appreciation and wonder at the abundance in my life. I started out taking a moment to feel grateful each day. I started to notice things that I hadn’t seen before and I felt a little bubble of something rise up inside my chest. I realised it was gratitude. As I got the hang of it I started to notice times when I didn’t feel gratitude, I felt the complete opposite. I would quietly move in closer at those times and look more carefully.
To be completely honest I loved exploring gratitude so much I chose it two years in a row. There are no rules. One year I chose a question instead of a word. My question was What would love do? I would ask myself that question many times throughout the week as I made decisions. You’d be surprised how useful and revealing that question is.
Last year I chose the word connection. I asked myself questions about how my connections impacted on me and how I could increase the value for others. I started to explore what it might be like for the people on the other end of the connection. After a while I started to experience a sense of greater belonging, as if I had found my own space in the world fully connected to everything around me.
I discovered that there are more ways of being connected than I realised at first. I found time to let people know they were in my thoughts. I would send a simple sms when I thought about a colleague or a friend. When I look back over the last year I can see all the joint projects that grew for me. I started to think more creatively about partnering with others to make great things happen.
“Words, in my humble opinion, are the most inexhaustible source of magic we have.”
I’m inviting you to join me in 2016 and choose a word. I’d love to know what your word is and how it’s going for you. To help you get started here are a few things that I found helpful as I got the hang of this ritual.
1. Don’t feel you have to rush into choosing your word. Let it emerge. Think about a characteristic you’d like to grow or explore. It doesn’t have to be something you lack. It could be a value or characteristic that you think you have a handle on but you’d like to become even more friendly with.
2. You don’t have to share your word if you don’t want to. It can be a secret little charm that you keep to yourself or it can be something that you share openly with your friends and family. This can be helpful if you hang with the sort of people who will offer you lots of encouragement. Remember this is your word and you chose it because it was important to you. Treat your word kindly and take care of it so it will last you through the year.
3. Be playful. It’s not all serious work. I’ve had lots of fun with my words. What you’re trying to do here is to learn more about a characteristic or value – you’re not trying to beat yourself up. This isn’t a competition. Think of it more like a lens to help you focus.
4. If you like to write then jot down in your journal some thoughts about what you’re learning. If you think a monthly reminder on your iPhone will help you stay on track then pop the word in your calendar. You will likely discover some new ways of staying on track and I hope you will share them with me.
Enjoy your word and may 2016 be a year of discovery for you.