That pesky, annoying, irritating One Word Challenge...

Graphic with a smattering of words: balance, focus, breathe... discovery

For the past few weeks, every where you turn, people have been asking what your "word for the year" was going to be. What? It's not enough to list our goals, review last year, fix what was broken, consider resolutions, throw out all the sugar, pull out the pilates dvd, join the gym, send cards to everyone we ever met, and help more old ladies across the road? Now we have to choose a theme, TOO, and sum it up with a single word?

It's well-covered territory that "choose just one" is tricky for me. Life offers so much possibility. The array of opportunities makes me gleeful. I mean, I'm the daughter whose mother once looked at the new boyfriend - During Their First Visit Ever - and said, "Did she mention her commitment issues yet?" Ahem.

So the bloggers brought out their One Word and they shared the reasons why this year the word would be their totem, and on it went.

When I wasn't being irritated that others were choosing one word and I'm in love with them all, I secretly thought back to the themes of my adult life. Over time, at whatever time was right for me (ie: NOT when the calendar declared Now We Get A Fresh Start,) I have taken on thematic words for a stretch. For the time and space I was living in, certain words took on particular weight for me:

  • balance
  • breathe
  • gratitude
  • growth
  • focus...

And so as I noticed a new One Word declaration, and then another, I decided I'm just going to be okay without one specific word this year.  I won't be kicked out of the blogger club, I won't be thought a loser for thinking of myself as committed to never ending self-improvement while being simultaneously ineffectual at choosing a tiny little ole' word to guide my year. (The Whole YEAR???!!!)

I got over it. I let it go. I put aside the word question.

Then I noticed Chris Brogan was talking about 3 words. That turned me on my ear for a minute, because on the one hand, Oh The Pressure - If I can't choose one, how would I choose THREE? And on the other hand... well, you don't have to choose one above all else. It's like a little bonus!

Chris Brogan's readers came out in droves and listed their 3, too. Remarkable. (Not to mention what a fantastic list of all those awesome words, laid out in front of my little word-loving eyes!)

Then on Monday I was wrapping up my blog post in which I shared NOT my promised Life List in its entirety, nor my goals for the year, but 6 or 7 of the things I've decided to move to the top of my focus list. And I wrote this sentence: "I do believe that 2011 shall be a very fine year of discovery." And the stars aligned, the angels sang, wafts of home-baked-bread-and-pie floated past my nose, world peace was achieved, and hunger was eliminated forever... and my word had, just like that, found ME!

My word for 2011 is Discovery.

Who knew? And I don't even feel bad that I'm leaving out all the others. Because I'm not. Choosing a word (or letting a word choose you, whatever,) doesn't mean you won't continue to work on balance and focus and breathing and stretching and learning and growing. You will and your year will be enriched for it. But your One Special Word? IF you choose to have one? Maybe it could be a handy tool in reminding you, too, of the particular flavor you'd like to have in your life in 2011. I like the idea of flavor, don't you?

But? Still. If you can't think of one word, and you're not inclined to come up with three, either? Writing, Creativity Coach and Mentor, Cynthia Morris has a clever idea! Try a symbol! I love this idea. And more than that? I love that she came up with an idea to help those who, like me, really struggle with the narrowing down of so many fine possibilities to a single essence. If your word doesn't come up and smack you on the side of the head, maybe you'll also enjoy playing with symbols for a twist.

Whatever you choose to focus on this year, I hope your 2011 is Very Fine Indeed!