As we gingerly tip our toe into 2022, many of us vacillate between hope and skepticism. Where are you? With rates of the omicron variant skyrocketing, I understand there is a lot of unease. Maybe even frustration? Hopelessness? Overwhelm?
Enter in a focusing exercise. Specifically, choosing a word or phrase to focus on for the year. To be honest, I have never done this before because it seemed a little self-help-y (if that’s not a word, I just made it up!) and cheesy. Perhaps, choosing a “word of the year” even falls into the category of overly positive? But maybe it’s just what we need. Especially now.
There’s a lot of science behind focusing work. It helps us compartmentalize and discard thoughts and feelings that take up energy and space. Focusing work allows us to center energy, thoughts, and time into work that is most meaningful, as defined by you as an individual. Think of it like sorting through junk mail and then deciding what to keep, what to discard and what to open first. Then, even when the mail contains bad news, bills, unwanted solicitation, we can choose to open what is most meaningful and helpful, and in what order. And we can find aspects of our mail (thoughts, ideas, and feelings) that are junk mail vs. helpful and healing mail. During the month of December, I would sort through the mail into two piles: junk and not junk. Then, recycle the junk and sort through the other pile. The “not junk” pile contained holiday cards, bills, philanthropy requests, etc. Then, I chose to open all of the business or task-related mail first. Categorize it (address bills, respond to requests, etc.) and then all I had left was a pile of holiday cards. I would sit and relish the accomplishments and love I saw on every card. The growth of my friends’ children, the fun vacations, triumphs over adversity, and celebrations large and small were all noticed. It helped me focus on what was the most meaningful part of my holiday season: People. Connections. Love.
Focusing allows us to decide what gets our energy, thoughts, and time. Does this mean we discard everything else entirely? No. For instance, I still have to pay bills. But there’s A LOT of junk mail and I CAN discard that. Choosing a word or phrase for the year allows us to be intentional about where our energy will go and how we will reframe. It allows us to center what is most meaningful to us.
Here’s my list as I brainstorm my intentions for 2022. Won’t you join me?
This is my shortlist. I’ve not yet chosen because, as you can see, one of my words is self-compassion. So, I’m choosing to not rush or pressure myself into choosing a word. And I’m reminding myself that there’s no “right way” or “right word” to do this exercise. Perhaps one of my words/phrases should be “letting go.” Maybe I’ll even choose a word of the month or quarter.
Will you email me your thoughts on this? I would love to hear if you choose a word or a phrase for 2022 and, if you’re comfortable, what you choose. I’ll check back in next week with my word and some ideas about how I intend to use it this year. For now, may 2022 bring you health and happy memories.
With gratitude for all you do,