The Power of A Word

10:08 AM

Have you heard about word-of-the-year idea? Simply put, the idea is to choose a word to guide you through the upcoming year. A lot of folks have adopted this practice over setting resolutions. I find it works well in tandem. The word you choose becomes a touchstone that remains with you throughout the year. (Check out Christine Kane's post for more info.)

Two years ago, I chose the word bold. I knew it was going to require courage, strength and boldness to build the new life I was envisioning for myself. I had no idea just how accurate that statement was when I chose that word! Many, many days, if it hadn't been for the thought "okay, if I were going to take a bold action, what would it be," I don't know if Imaginary Trips would have taken flight. 

In fact, bold has been so important to my life and my thinking that it has become a permanent watchword for me. A watchword is simply a word-of-the-year made permanent so that it stays a part of my thinking. As Goethe said, "Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." I would add brilliance to that statement as well. 

This past year, I chose cultivate. I come from a farming family so cultivating was quite familiar. You cultivate the land and you do things to prepare for the next growing season. Sometimes you prune the plants to make them more fruitful in the following year. It's a rather quiet process that goes on in the background but is vitally important to a successful growing season. Cultivate worked much the same way in my life this past year as I built processes and systems, pruned or eliminated steps that weren't working. All of this was/is in preparation for future growth.

To choose my word of the year, I start a file at the beginning of December and throw "possible" words into. Sort of an audition, if you will. From time to time, I'll add a few notes as to the reasons and whys of each word. Then towards the end of the year, I make some quiet time and sit down with myself to find out what my wiser self (SAM) thinks my word of the year should be (and she always knows far better than I ever could!). 

The words in my file included grow, glow, allow, joy and effortless. All good choices, but not destined to be the word for the year simply because I felt some hesitancy towards each of them. 

As I sat chatting with myself, the word move began to appear and come into focus. I asked SAM if she was sure. She smiled gently and turned to walk away. Well. Okay then. Move will be my touchstone for 2011! 

As I sat  pondering the word, I realized there are many, many applications....move forward, move physically, move mentally, move to a new business location, a new home, a new studio, a new country, a new way of thinking, move up, move down, move around, move through, re-move something that's not working, movement, motion.

The next thing I did was scribble out some "word art" using move. I find that by illustrating my chosen word and posting it in areas where I will see it frequently helps me to keep it upmost in my thoughts. Below is the best illustration of the word I've come up with. So far.
Word Art of Move
Scratch Art
Just as I asked you to join me in setting an artistic goal, I'm going to ask you to join me in choosing a word-of-the-year to guide your next year. If you decide to play, please post a comment below about your word or a link to your post on your blog!

I'm sending out kudos to Donna, The Happy PainterLisa of Greenbow, Elva of Elva's Field Notes for stepping up with setting their goals and being vocal about them! Check out this post and the comments to read what they had to say.  

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20 Creative Thought(s)

  1. Oh, the word move is a wonderful choice!

    Last year, I think you challenged me because I chose the word explore, which I used two years in a row. That word has served me very well, but I think I want a new, bright, shiny, energy-filled word for 2011. Hmmmm.... I'm thinking.

  2. Thanks for this very interesting challenge. Next week I will be away on a 8 day silent retreat... plenty of time to ponder this idea. By the way, who is "SAM"... your muse?

    I think my word may be BALANCE... this has been up for me this year as I face the challenges directly opposite of yours. I seek a balance between activity and solitude.... there are times I am lonely as a senior living independently with too much time on my hands. I am guessing you find this to be hard to believe with your life style! :-)

    Thanks so much for this post.


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  4. Okay. I've got it .... the word for 2011 is.... drum roll... PROSPER.

    To prosper means to succeed in an enterprise or an activity (esp. to achieve economic success) and to become strong and flourishing.(The contenders were flourish, ignite, chutzpah and blast-off.)

    ... oh right, I need a journal page to go with that. Well, I'd best hop to it then.

  5. I am a new reader to your site and I am enjoying it very much. I find it inspiring. You see... I paint...a little...not nearly enough.

    I write...a little at my blog entitled "Overhaul" which has inspired me to change my life a little at a time. We have recently moved to an 800 sq foot home from a 2500 sq foot home. I am loving it!

    So...after reading your blog today, I have been inspired to choose a word to carry throughout 2011. "Cleanse." We are still in the process of downsizing. That word seems appropriate and will keep me focused.

    I am also going to call on that word as i deal with unhealthy relationships. I want my life to be on a positive note. This will help.

    Thank you!

  6. What a great challenge! This can not be taken lightly, so I will need to think about what my word for 2011 will be. I keep a list of words that I visit occasionally. Maybe there is a clue for me there.

  7. My word-of-the-year guide will be "ideate" which means "to form ideas or images" form an idea, conception, or image think". Ideate will be the light bulb above my head that illuminates my path to a higher awareness and a new way of seeing the world around me. My code symbol will be a light bulb. Thanks for the idea(te) Laure :)

  8. Just like your post about setting an artistic goal, this one also makes me think about 'what am I gonna do next year?'

    Still thinking of (a) goal(s), so a word... I like BALANCE, what Oma5 is thinking about... don't know yet.

    But thank you for making me thinking about it.

  9. Love these last two 'thinking posts,' Laure. Had a brief moment this morning to ponder. Need more. Love your word.... especially the cannon on the e! I see my word for verification for the post is 'going'! I've never had an actua;, make sense word for this function.... is it a sign :)

  10. Oh, Donna, this is gonna be good...waiting....

    Hey, Elizabeth! No actually, I don't find your lifestyle hard to believe. My grandmother faces the same challenges—she's 96 and lives independently. Her challenge is finding things to fill the hours. I think Balance might be an excellent way to approach the subject and help you to find more opportunities.

    Yes, SAM is my muse. SAM I am. I am SAM.

    LOVE it, Donna!! Chris and I alway choose a theme for our year and PROSPER is one of our words. The other is REFINE. I look forward to seeing where you go with this!

    Hi, Wendy, welcome!! Wow, I can see where you have your work cut out for you! I can see "cleanse" being an excellent word. I would also think "transitions" would be another good one. Good luck on the vast changes you're making! Loved Owen's quilt, by the way!

    No, Jacqueline, this is not to be taken lightly, though humor does go a long way! It sounds like you like words as much as I do!

    LOVE it, Bob! Nice job on using creativity to create your word and make it meaningful to you.

    Brigitte, you'll know it when you find it. I find that the word I finally wind up with is not usually the one I'm expecting it to be. Please post when you have it figured out!

    Pam, goals and word-of-the-year have been very important to me and my life....I'm glad they've resonated with you as well. Please post your thought when you get it figured out! (Re: the cannon...I intend to be SUPERWOMAN this next year! LOL!!)

  11. Oh I am so not into making goals. :O Move is a good word tho.
    I think my goal is to really LOOK at things around me. So many people see without really LOOKING at things. How can you enjoy life or create something if you don't SEE whats around you. I like to record it with my camera. I really want to do more journaling too. Lots to think on here.

  12. Great post! I like your word choice, 'move', it's a bit bold and motivating! I have had a word in mind for 2011 for several weeks now, with many notes scribbled in my journal, but your statement of using the word as a touchstone for the year is perfect. My word is 'balance', something I nearly lost last year and so plan to keep it in mind as I move through this one. I am putting together a post about it for Jan 1.

  13. Cris, goal setting is not for everyone. Sometimes, we accomplish more by just focusing on what we like to do and doing that. If you decide to go further, please let me know!

    Ann, balance is one of those elusive "ideas" that I often struggle with so I can relate quite well to choosing that for a word. I'll be sure to check your post on Jan. 1st. Good luck in finding your footing in 2011!

  14. I like your word. The sketch for it is very moving, especially when you are being shot out of a cannon. Now that is moving. Thanks for the shout out I will have to get busy and get my word chosen. I think posting it around is a good idea.

  15. Let me know when you decide what your word is, Lisa!

  16. My word is simple this year...
    100 more paintings...more birds...more learning...more fun!

  17. My word for 2011 is POSSIBILITIES. I have spent the past fourteen years not really believing that my life could be different.Sometimes pain can make you shut down and even though you are going through the motions you don't really believe. Today, I actually believe that I can bring about some real changes one small step at a time. Embracing LIFE ONE LITTLE MOMENT AT A TIME.

    Move is a great action word. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  18. After much deliberation, I'm taking my cue from Thoreau...... s i m p l i f y... is my word for 2011.

    2010 was crazy busy. Moved, downsized, hit the payment running to earn a living w/o truly becoming totally organized... hurry, hurry, hurry. Finish this, start that, and oh by the way.... you didn't put away supplies from the last project... who has time... blah, blah, blah.

    The new year is a perfect time to stop, sort, discard what's not been used ..... you know the drill. So, I may be out of touch for a week or so but I will feel soooo much better when I come back :) Thank you. Laure, for helping me take time for the thought process that so often gets ignored!

  19. Oh, Kelly, be careful what you wish for, girl! That's a BIGGY!!

    Leone, I love your word "possibilities!" Now couple that with "opportunities" so that you not only see what is possible, but also the opportunities to step forward. I look forward to seeing where the year takes you!

    Pam, "simplify" has been a running theme in our lives and it has some powerful mojo attached to it! (It's only gonna take you a week or two?!! Wow, I'm in awe!)

  20. Ok, now that my last Christmas ornament has been put away.... I can move on to 2011 thoughts/plans/ideas etc.

    My words for 2011 are 'Color My World'. I got this idea when I saw a rubber stamp on the Elvie Studio blog with the words "Color Your World'. Darling stamp - but more importantly, the words just kept nudging me. I know this is more than a single word, but there is an idea here that really speaks to me. I've changed the middle word to 'My' to make it more personal.

    In the past couple of years I have realized how important color is in my life. My current passion for color is most obvious with sketching and painting. But, beyond luscious watercolors... I'm drawn to color in flowers, colorful foods at the farmer's market, fabrics, papers, paints, or even crayons. Sometimes I wear something colorful, but usually I prefer to wear neutrals. But I find that my spirits are lifted when I have colors around.

    "Color My World" conveys to me some amount of choice, initiative or intention on my part. Just how do I want to color my life? or a particular day? my role as mom? or wife? I've got a couple of reflections on crayons - what is in my box of crayons today etc.? So.... I hope 2011 is a colorful year for me.


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