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New Year, New Words
New Year, New Words

New Year, New Words

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

It’s that time of year again- new year resolution time. Ugh.

I ditched making actual resolutions a few years ago- they were mostly making me feel like a failure- and for the past few years what I’ve done instead is choose a word (or words; I run on the verbose side) to guide my year. I use these words as a compass when I set goals for myself (I follow the 12 week year, so I set them quarterly) and when I reflect on how I’m doing, either in my day-to-day life, or at my work, both writing and teaching. They’re a touchstone and keep me focused and grounded.


Finding the right words for 2021 was tricky- much more challenging than it has been in past years- which given how crazy 2020 ended up being, shouldn’t really have surprised me. I started a brainstorming list in mid- December, revisiting it every few days. I added a few words each time, or I eliminated a few. Mostly, I just collected words and found my mind spinning.

Was a fear of commitment slowing me down?

Heaven knows, one of the biggest lessons I learned in 2020 was how quickly things can change. Maybe it made me gun-shy- afraid to choose a word in case I had to toss it aside, like I tossed aside so many trips, goals and celebrations in 2020. Perhaps it was just my old friend, procrastination?


My writing group gathered, via Zoom, in the last week of December, and I paid close attention to the words my lovely literary witches chose for themselves, searching for inspiration. Breathe, comfort, joy, transformation- these were their words, all good, but none spoke to me. We talked about our hardships, failures and heartbreaks in 2020. We all hoped for better in 2021. Less anxiety, fear, stagnation and chaos. We all wanted to move forward, toward hope, without forgetting the lessons- some of them harsh, others surprising- that 2020 taught us.

After the call, it came together for me, and the words revealed themselves to me at long last.

Just Right Words

I want to gain momentum once more, especially with my writing. The starting and stopping is sapping my creative energy and scattering my opportunities for achieving the success I long for.

Momentum: the force that keeps an object moving or keeps an event developing after it has started.

Cambridge dictionary

My thoughts have been all over the place. My mind unruly and restless. This year, I want to focus on mindfulness– in my work, for my physical and mental health, and as an enhancement for my creativity.

Mindfulness: the practice of being aware of your body, mind and feelings in the present moment, thought to create a feeling of calm.

Cambridge dictionary

Last, I spent the last year in a state of fear- for my health and the health of my loved ones and for the future- and I found these fears seeping into my creative life, causing me to second guess my writing goals, and to wonder, once again, if now was the time to give it up all together. For 2021, I plan to tap into courage– my own and others- to propel me toward reaching my goal of being a published author.

Courage: the ability to control your fear in a dangerous or difficult situation <synonyms: bravery, guts, pluck, valour>

Cambridge dictionary

This coming Saturday, I will tune into the Creative Academy’s ’12 Week Year’ virtual retreat, and use my three guiding words to formalized the goals that will shape my focus for the first quarter of 2021. I have no idea where this new year will take me, but I’m excited and confident great things are ahead of us. And, if history decides it has other things in store for us, disrupting me once again, 2020 taught me how to roll with the punches, so I will.

Happy New Year and Happy Writing!


  1. I’ve been noticing a lot of ‘choosing words for the year’ posts lately, and I have to say it’s piqued my interest. My personal word of choice would be self-discovery, to see how much farther I can push myself past the line I think is my limit. Anyway, thanks for sharing, Kirsten!

  2. Pingback: New Year, New Tools – Kirsten Mah Writes

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