Do You Choose a Word of the Year? You Should. Here’s Why!

Do you choose a word of the year?

This strategy is a popular alternative to making New Year’s Resolutions. Often, resolutions seem overwhelming, or they’re exciting in the beginning and quickly take a backseat to more pressing matters — like binging the new show covered in chips instead of working out (just me?)

Choosing a word of the year takes a lot of the pressure off because you’re not necessarily trying to check all the boxes or do a major upheaval of your life. But it can help you make progress towards your goals in a way that resolutions can’t.

Why I started doing a word of the year

I started doing a word of the year in 2019 sort of by accident. I had heard of people doing it, but I hadn’t ever explored it for myself. As 2019 began, I was miserable. I was working as an English teacher, had a two year old and 10 month old at home, and desperately wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.

While I wanted to quit, my husband was a stay-at-home-dad and had a part-time job, and mine was the main income with the benefits. If I quit, he was going to have to transition into a job, and if I was going to quit, I wanted to be able to replace my income so we could still meet and exceed financial goals.

The problem was…I had no idea how to do it.

Word of the Year 2019: Relentless

Sometime in the beginning of the year, I reflected on what I needed to do or be to make something, anything, happen. It was January, so if I was going to quit in May, I had five months.

After some thought, the word came to me: Relentless.

If I was going to start something from scratch while working full-time with two kids, I had to be relentless. And I was.

I woke up at 4:30 am almost every morning this year to work before going to work.

I had done some editing and beta reading over the last few years, and I looooooove editing, so I figured that was a good place to start.

Initially, I pursued editing blog posts for bloggers. I send out hundreds of cold emails asking bloggers if they could use an editor, someone to give their posts a polish and final read before they went live *crickets*. I eventually got a few bites, did some test edits, worked with a blogger who paid me. But it didn’t seem to be taking off in any real way.

I also tried doing some graphic design. I worked with a massage therapist and traded a 90 minute massage for some social media graphics and I traded my hairdresser, and now dear friend, for a few haircuts. Still wasn’t it.

When I stumbled on to an affiliate marketer who needed beekeeping blogs written, I applied and got the job! I made $30 for each 1,000 word post, and I was so excited. I also wrote property descriptions for a luxury property finder in Spain. I wasn’t making much, but I was making something.

The whole time, I kept the word in the back of my mind: Relentless.

I would be relentless. I would get up early. I would stay up late. If someone said no, I’d ask someone else.

The power of choosing a word of the year is that you can always go back to it when things get hard.

When I got frustrated, it didn’t matter. I was relentless.

When I got tired, it didn’t matter. I was relentless.

When my son woke up early and we playing instead of working, it didn’t matter. I was relentless.

And so it went, day in and day out.

I quit my job at the end of the year, and my husband worked insanely hard all summer doing a few different jobs to give us a bigger financial cushion before he went full-time at his part-time job. And I got to stay home for the summer knowing I didn’t have to start working again in the fall.

I kept working in the morning and at naptime and pursued content writing with the clients I had found on UpWork.

At the end of 2019, I was pregnant with our third and deep into the First Trimester Tireds. If you know, you know. If you don’t, the First Trimester Tireds hit you deep in your bones. I spent a lot of December laying on the couch battling the Tireds, a stomach bug, and achy knee, and the worst sinus infection I’ve ever had. But I had my first $1,000 month.

Though I made less than $4,000 that year, I was on a path. I had been relentless, and it had paid off.

Word of the Year 2020: Abundance

The beginning of 2020 brough a new decade and a lot of optimism for the future…we didn’t know what was going to hit us in a few months.

At the time, I was struggling with frustration around money and was concerned that I just wouldn’t ever be able to make enough. I read Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass at Making Money and realized I had a lot of limiting beliefs and a was working with a scarcity mindset, so I chose Abundance for my word of the year and focused on believing that I could and would make enough money (“enough” being a very relative term dependent on everyone’s individual situation).

One of the mantras in Sincero’s book was “money flows to me freely and easily,” and even though I felt very silly saying it to myself, I did. Every time I had a negative though or feeling about money, I repeated the mantra, and I couldn’t believe how many times a day I had to say it in the beginning. Some days it felt like a constant refrain, but it stopped negative though patterns

When COVID hit and everything shut down, my husband was laid off for about a month, giving me time to work and an abundance of time to be together. We were also pregnant and had our third kid in July which meant I did not have an abundance of sleep, but there were lots of snuggles.

As I repeated the mantra and focused on abundance, I noticed that I had fewer and fewer negative thoughts and limiting beliefs, and by the end of the year, I had made five times what I made in 2019.

Word of the Year 2021: Systems *I think*

I have been wracking my brain for three days trying to remember what my word of the year was this year, and I cannot remember for sure. I think it’s because 2020 and 2021 seemed to blend together.

If I had to guess, I think it was Systems because I wanted to take things to the next level and get systems in place that would make that possible. I created a system to track invoices, a system to plan my weeks, a system to track assignments. I started to raise my rates and got a few rate raises from clients.

During this time, my four year old was in school, so I was home with a two year old and a baby who didn’t sleep well in her crib, so I spent lots of mornings typing in the dark in bed, so I wouldn’t wake her up. The nights that she slept in our bed, I didn’t work, so I used nap times and play times to work.

At home, I set up a cleaning strategy and organized toys in bins with pictures so the kids could (in theory) put their toys away on their own.

At the end of the year, I had made almost exactly what I made in 2020, but because my rates had gone up, I had worked significantly less. And because I started getting systems in place, everything just ran more smoothly and felt less chaotic.

Word of the year 2022: Strategy

For 2022, I wanted to be very strategic about how I went about my business and life. I created the Mickelson Master Lists which is a running Doc and binder that holds lists and documents that help make things a little more automated. For example, our tax document checklist, packing lists for myself, my husband, and the kids, holiday meal plans, weekly meal planning sheets, cleaning lists, etc.

I stated doing my weekly schedule and weekly notes that helped me keep my weeks organized while also looking to the future — you can check these out on Twitter!

Getting in shape and working towards a more functional body was also a goal of 2022. It took me awhile, but toward the end of the year, I started Caroline Girvan’s Iron Series (it’s free on YouTube) and love it. I also worked on getting a morning routine nailed down that would help me start my day off well. I tried a few different things, and I really like what I’ve been doing.

Morning Routine:

  • 3:55 Wake up
  • 4:00 – 4:25 Ten minute meditation, stretching, Pilates 100, 10-15 pushups
  • 4:25 Coffee Time!
  • 4:30 – 5:30ish Work time
  • 5:45 Skin care
  • 6:00 The little one usually wakes up and we snuggle

While this doesn’t always work out perfectly, it works most days and I can go about the rest of my day knowing I’ve strategically frontloaded a lot of the things that I want to get done.

Once the kids are up, things vary day-to-day based on what we have going on, the general vibe (is everyone screaming or are they pretty chill?), my husband’s schedule, and who’s going to school that day (my daughter has Wednesday’s off and we went through a bout of sickness not too long ago).

My goal for 2023 is to Optimize the systems and strategies I have in place, which brings me to…

Word of the Year 2023: Optimize

With most of my systems and strategies in place, this year is when I want to optimize.

Decluttering is a priority this year as we live in a small home with us, three kids, and a dog. Optimizing how we use our space can elevate how we spend our time, increase creativity, give our kids space to play and imagine, and reduce cleaning/tidy time.

While my systems for my business are in place, I’m sure little tweaks will come up throughout the year that will allow me to optimize how I use them.

Rate increases will help me optimize my income as will continuing to take advantage of early mornings and my husband’s days off.

When I think back to the my state of mind and how I felt when I first started choosing a word of the year, I’m so thankful for where I am today. I was sad and desperate and felt very hopeless. I knew we had made the best choices for our family to that point, but I knew there was more that we could do to move forward. So here we are four years later, and in 2022, I’ll match the income that I gave up when I quit teaching.

I think having a word in mind, a reality that you want to create, a state of being you want to achieve, a goal that you want to reach can have an incredible impact on how you show up everyday and the choices you make.

What’s your Word of the Year???

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