For the last eight years I have spent every December reflecting on the year that was and looking ahead to the year to come. Instead of setting resolutions I choose a focus word, a word that I want to drive my personal and professional life. Sometimes the word finds me, like in 2020 when I knew GRACE would be my word long before the pandemic even hit. Other times I have to do a lot of journaling and searching to find what feels right. Even after I choose, some years I tend to have laser-like focus on my word all year and other times I forget what it is or don’t feel connected to it.
In 2022, my word was CONNECTION. I was seeking more personal connections with family and friends, and lots of connecting flights to expand my travel. It was so nice to be connected to people and places I love throughout the year!
In 2021, my word was DARING. This word felt like a challenge to my introverted self, but also like something I needed after a year of grace and masks and isolation. I was ready to be daring in some big and small ways in my life.
In 2020, my word was GRACE. This word found me long before we knew what 2020 would bring to the world. I needed to leave space for grace for myself and for others as we lived through a global pandemic.
In 2019, my word was SHINE. My goal was to shine personally and professionally, and I did that through a new job, a published book, and a sunflower tattoo 26 years in the making!
In 2018, my word was POSSIBILITY with a supporting phrase of Adventures that Stretch. This idea helped me looked differently at what was possible if I shifted my viewpoint. I also enjoyed some incredible adventures that did help me stretch in new ways.
In 2017, my word was CHALLENGE, and it served me personally, professionally, and on a global scale. I love new challenges and appreciated the permission I gave myself to rise to some new challenges and to say, “I’m not going to take this on,” to other challenges.
In 2016, my word was REJUVENATE, with a more internal, physical focus that I needed.
The first time I chose a focus word was 2015, and my word was MINDFULNESS. This proved to be a fulfilling year of learning to be more present, learning to mediate, and to enjoy each individual moment.
Back in November someone used the word impact at work and it struck a chord with me. I want to do work that impacts student and adult learners, and the community at large. That is my leadership vision, but I already work with that in mind. I decided that I didn’t need that as my word because it is already a core part of who I am. Instead, I am leaning in a different direction.
As someone who walks, talks, reads, and works exceptionally fast, I found a word that might help me slow down once a while. A word that might remind me to be kind, to show more empathy, to be more delicate in challenging situations… a word that I want to be with others and also with myself. My word of 2023 is GENTLE.