For so many years, I’ve chosen an inspirational word to represent my year to come… and then promptly forgotten about it. I am a champion at forgetting my yearly goals, sometimes for multiple years at time! This year, when I saw other people posting their words for the year to their social media accounts, I realized I hadn’t picked a word of my own. I hadn’t picked one for 2021 either. I was struggling with my health and trying to find a balance between my job, my body’s need for rest, and time to spend on and with the things and people I love. Something had to give.
I posted this tweet:
I’m committing this year to making space in my life for myself. To giving energy only to what matters. To prioritizing creativity and making things over naysayers and noise, including (and especially) my inner naysayers and noise.
My word for the year is NO.
— Kate Branden (@katebranden) January 1, 2022
Choosing “no” as my word felt bold. I was making a statement about what I wanted, and moreso about what I didn’t want. But more than that, I was giving myself permission to pass on anything that I didn’t have the capacity for, that would be too much for my health. Permission to let go of what didn’t serve me to make room for what really mattered.
I can’t say that I never agreed to anything I shouldn’t have, because it’s in my nature to do it. I’ve always wanted to try and do and experience more than I have time for. I could live ten lifetimes and still not have the time to do everything I’d like to.
I also can’t say that I never dwelled on something negative, never replayed a miserable interaction in my mind, scrubbing it backwards and forwards, finding every single tiny thing I’d done wrong. That, unfortunately, is also in my nature. I’m working on teaching myself a new way of being, and reminding myself that I could forgive myself and move on has helped immensely in that.
I can say no to self-hatred. I can say no to overthinking. I can say no to replying to that person baiting me into a debate.
I don’t need to buy that new fountain pen that I really want but can’t afford.
I don’t need to read this book right now if it’s not connecting with me. I can read something else.
Giving myself permission, even encouragement, to say “no” was the most liberating and healthy choice I could have made for myself. It’s helped me to find some semblance of balance. It allowed me to stop working when I needed to for my health, and to go part time when I started back up, so that I could avoid burning out again. This choice has allowed me to be more productive and successful at my corporate job––doing less is absolutely doing more for me.
I feel like “No” still has a lot to teach me, and it’s going to be part of my life philosophy for 2023, though I’ll be picking a different theme word. Check back for my next post at the beginning of the year to find out what word I’ve chosen and why.
If you haven’t chosen a word for 2023 yet, I highly recommend adding “No” to your short list of options. Of all the words I’ve chosen in the past, this one has helped me the most.
Did you choose a word for 2022? If you did, how did it help you––or not––this past year?