What is your valued word of the year?
Yes I am a little late in talking about new year's resolutions, but hey reflecting on the things that are important to us and how to improve our lives does not need to be done on the 1st of January.
January is the time where most of us set a goal to improve our lives for the year to come. You might be one of the many who have set a new year’s resolution like eating more plant-based food or exercising more. Fantastic! Unfortunately, statistically you will only keep at it for two to four months before giving up or forgetting about it. Here is what I suggest you do instead.
Pick a valuable word.
Instead of a specific goal, pick a word that has value to you. A word that represents a principle, quality or trait that is important to you, and which you would like to exhibit more of in your life. Here are some reasons why you might consider this approach:
Focus: A valued word can encapsulate a broader theme for the year, which will apply to a range of situations in your life.
Catalyst for Change: A valued word can act as a catalyst for change by encouraging a shift in mindset or behaviour. By repeating a word that is important to you and acting accordingly throughout a year, you will physically be changing the neurons in your brain, and in due time this way of responding to life will become a habit. Acting out on a value can serve as a powerful tool for transformation and growth.
Simplicity: A word is easy to remember and can serve as a daily reminder
Flexibility: Unlike specific resolutions that might be too rigid, a valued word allows you to adapt your goals and strategies throughout the year as circumstances change.
Personalisation: Choosing a valued word allows for a highly personalised resolution that resonates with your aspirations, and current life circumstances.
Pick an active value.
Values are typically expressed as nouns. They might include words like "Balance," "Courage," "Resilience,". I find those too abstract and fluffy. If you find yourself in a difficult situation for instance, it is pretty useless to tell yourself to be “resilient”. Instead, make sure your valued word conveys a sense of what you would like to do. The word should guide you on how to think and behave in life. So instead of “resilient” you can pick an action that you know helps you be resilient. It could be “pausing” (as a reminder to take pauses). You are also allowed to make a brief sentence like “take time for myself”. You might be able to transfer your noun directly into a verb or an attitude by adding “being” and “-ing”. Examples of this could be “being curious”, “being patient”, “being kind”.
As you can see, the values are highly personal, and it might be that a noun works for you because you know what kind of action lies behind the noun. Also, some words like ‘gratitude” are both nouns and verbs. You might even come up with new words or phrases that only make sense to you. What is important is that they convey into tangible actions in various aspects of your life.
How to Choose a Valued Word of the Year
Whenever I need to make a decision in my life, I make sure to use both my head and my body. Here is what I do:
1) Start with a meditation. It gets me into the right calm state of mind, where my nervous system is calm and relaxed and where I allow myself to feel the messages my body is sending me.
2) Explorative Writing: Then, immediately after, I sit down to use my head. I am a writer and writing make all the mess in my head come out a little clearer. I often use some kind of explorative writing exercise (for a brilliant book on this, I recommend my publisher, Alison Jones, who wrote the book “Explorative Writing). I set a timer for maybe 10 minutes where I allow myself to respond freely to a prompt. In this case the prompt could be; “what matters most to me in 2024”
3) Brainstorm; Based on what came up, I then set down to brainstorm for words or short sentences that resonates with me.
4) Narrow down the list; As I go through the list, I ask myself, which value is the most important to me right now. Eventually I end up with one.
5) Clarify the wording: A process of clarifying the wording till it gives me clear and active instructions on how to behave and think (see above)
6) End with a meditation: Now, it is time to check in with the body again. I go back to my meditation cushion and switch my attention from the head to the body once more. After focusing on my breath for a while I start to repeat the chosen word or phrase silently to yourself. I explore how my body respond. Does it “feel right”? What physical sensation and emotions come? It might be that I need to start all over or that the phrase or word needs some finetuning. On the other hand, if it feels right, it is time to let the chosen value do it´s work.
7) Carry it into the day: I allow my chosen value to guide my behavior in my everyday life and see if it makes a positive change. I also bring the valued word into my daily meditations - often by ending the practice with a kind with that reminds me of it: I.e. “may I be kind”, “may I be patient”, “may I pause often”.
The valuable word might need finetuning over the year or something might happen in the year that calls for you to replace it and focus on something else. Taking the time out to feel and reflect on the things that are important to us is an important way of looking after ourselves. It shouldn’t be reserved for the 1st of January. Remember that continous self-care is not a luxury. It is a fundamental necessity for our health and for ability to be there for others.
May 2024 bring you closer to what is important to you at this moment in your life.
 According to Forbes Health survey findings (https://www.forbes.com/health/mind/new-year-resolutions-survey-2024).