This is my sixth time choosing a word to guide my year, and it has become one of my favourite practices for setting intentions and practicing mindfulness. Having a one-word theme really helps me make decisions, choose what to focus on, and find new ways to stretch myself in areas that might need more love or attention.
I first heard of the idea of choosing a yearly word from Elise Cripe and Ali Edwards, but it’s been fun to see how this practice has caught on more widely over the years – so much so that this year at work my boss encouraged the management team to choose a word and share it! I love hearing what my friends’ words are too, it’s such a nice way to connect with them, send them little reminders when I think of it, or help them make progress with their intentions. Choosing a word is such a fun thing to do, but it becomes more meaningful the more it’s practiced.
My word for 2018 is flow. Flowy flow flow. Like all my favourite words, this one has multiple meanings and ways I hope to apply it to my life over the next 12 months. Here are some of my favourites:
Go with the flow: Similar to last year’s “embrace the situation” intention, I want (need) to continue practicing intentional letting go of my desire to control situations or outcomes, especially when I have strong opinions on how things should play out. On the rare occasions that I am successful at this and remember to mentally release the vice grip on my desired outcome, my experience (and that of the people around me, no doubt!) is infinitely better. I feel calmer. I remember that there’s no “playbook” for how life is supposed to go. I figuratively and literally sit back in my chair a bit and remember that things will usually unfold the way they’re meant to unfold. I am not the tour guide. I am not responsible for everybody else having an optimal experience, no matter how much it feels that way sometimes.
Follow the flow: This year I also what to pay attention to what is flowing into my life easily and without much fuss, versus what seems like climbing a mountain to accomplish. As much as I can, I want to drop the things that aren’t flowing and turn towards what seems easy and light and fun in each moment. I love Jess Lively’s description of life being like a river that has a strong current. We can either let our boats be caught in the flow of the river, or we can turn around and try to paddle upstream. I often catch myself trying to force something to work when it’s clearly not working, instead of revisiting it later. Most of the time when I come back to a problem or a task, either it’s already resolved itself, I’m in a better frame of mind to handle it, or I’ve encountered new information I needed to make it work. This also means having less judgment of myself for not working “hard enough” some days or “too hard” on others. Following the flow means listening to my intuition’s messages about what comes next, without resistance. In 2018: less forcing it, more flow.
Choose flow activities: One of my book clubs recently read the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, so I got a more in-depth look at the phenomenon of psychological flow. Flow is described as the experience of losing track of time while doing something challenging but also enriching, and the author believes it’s our most enjoyable human experience. A comparison is made between flow activities which bring true enjoyment, and non-flow activities, which bring pleasure (at a kind of neurological level), but don’t help you develop skills, strengthen your sense of self, or make you feel very connected to the world. As much as possible this year, I want to choose flow activities, which for me are reading, writing, knitting, having meaningful conversations, playing instruments, dancing, and taking photos.
Embody more flow: There are so many definitions of flow that I love, but am not sure yet how to apply to my life for 2018. One is “to hang loosely in an easy and graceful manner.”Another is a scientific term that means “to deform continuously under stress without cracking or melting.” Another is “to abound, to be available in copious quantities”. Another is “to rise and advance, as the tide.” Another is “to proceed or be produced smoothly, continuously, and effortlessly.” All of these make my heart so happy and I can think of ways they can apply to my attitude, my beliefs, my work process, my emotions, my soul. The intention here is to remember all of these beautiful definitions of flow and bring them into my world as much as I can.
Spend more time with things that flow: You guessed it, more time near – and in – the water in 2018! As I write this, Toronto is hitting record-breaking low temperatures, so the idea of being in the water is just about the last thing on my mind. But I’m such a water baby and I know how happy it makes me to go swimming, or even just watch the waves come in down by the lake. I love hot tubs and have been meaning to go to Scandinave, and how cool would it be to try a float tank this year? So fun.
I’m beyond excited for 2018. Last year was better than I ever could have imagined it to be, and I know that this year will have so much magic and abundance and light in store for me too. And flow: lots and lots of flow. Happy 2018!
PS. I would love love love to hear what your word for the year is in the comments below.
You can read more about my words from the last few years below: