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Creating a Word of the Year
Word of the Year

Nikki and Laura discuss the concept of creating a word of the year and the difference between having a New Year’s resolution and having a guiding word to live by for a year.

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Topics discussed

  • Laura talks about what exactly a word of the year is and how she learned about it (1:00)
  • What to think about when choosing your word (2:15)
  • Laura shares her past words (3:18)
  • Nikki shares her past words (4:33)
  • Laura coaches Nikki through choosing her word for 2021 (5:40)
  • Laura shares her word for 2021  (10:19)

Laura

0:07
Hi, this is Laura.

Nikki

0:08
And this is Nikki with the Startist Society inspiring you to stop getting in your own way and start building an art biz and life that you love.

Laura

0:17
We are artists who believe strongly in the power of community, accountability, following your intuition, taking small actionable steps and breaking down the barriers of fear and procrastination that keep you stuck.

Nikki

0:31
Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours.

Laura

0:39
Hi Nikki.

Nikki

0:40
Hi, Laura.

Laura

0:42
So what are we talking about today, Nikki?

Nikki

0:44
Today, we’re talking about creating a word of the year. It’s something that a lot of people do at the beginning of each year. I’ve done it for the past several years. But I think you have more experience with this. So why don’t you tell everybody what this is all about?

Laura

1:00
Sure. I learned about this about 12 years ago after attending a women’s retreat in North Carolina that was led by Christine Kane. And what I learned was really the difference between having a New Year’s resolution and having a guiding word almost as an intention to live by for a year. So, if we break that down and look at it, a lot of us will say, okay, it’s the beginning of the year, I’m going to the gym every single day fo 45 minutes…

Nikki

1:29
I’m gonna be a whole new person, because the calendar clicked over…

Laura

1:33
I’m going to give up sugar, and it’s not going to ever enter my body…

Laura

1:39
I’m going to draw every single day and never miss one.

Nikki

1:42
Absolutely.

Laura

1:43
We all come up with these impossible resolutions that we get very excited about. And then, what inevitably happens is… on January 2, we break that promise to ourselves. And once we do that, we feel like it’s all spoiled, and the resolution goes down the drain and we just give it all up.

Nikki

2:01
Right, we’re totally setting ourselves up for failure at the beginning of each year, because we’re just convinced that we’re going to fix all of our flaws all at once.

Laura

2:11
Which is very depressing.

Nikki

2:13
It really is. So what do we do instead?

Laura

2:15
So by picking a word of the year, it’s really looking at things from somewhat of an intention perspective. It’s choosing an inspiring word that you can sort of live by throughout the year; and all of your decisions and goals and the things that you want to do can filter through that word. A word of the year is a little bit less pressure, it’s more inspirational, if you screw up, it’s okay… you can just return to that intention for the next time. It’s almost like a mantra, like when you’re meditating and you return to that word or that mantra over and over again.

Nikki

2:49
It’s not a list of items that you have to check off.

Laura

2:51
Right, it’s not a list of items you have to check off, it’s really a way of being versus rules for doing or accomplishing something.

Nikki

2:57
That sounds a lot more doable, because we all at the end of the year / beginning of the new year want to fix all the things that we screwed up from the year before. But that’s so much pressure, and you go into it, really knowing that you’re not gonna do it. So Laura, tell me what some of your words have been in the past?

Laura

3:18
So some of my past words have been things like Create, Trust and Flow (that is the one that I’ve had this past year). So to me, these words are multipurpose, so it doesn’t mean just one thing, there can be a lot of different interpretations of them. Creating could be creating art, it could be creating classes, it could be creating more joy in my life, it could be creating relationships. Trust could be trusting myself more, it could be trusting the people around me, it could be trusting the process. And then Flow could be the flow of creativity, getting in that flow where you lose track of time, it could be the flow of abundance, it could be…

Nikki

4:00
It could be the flow of bourbon into my glass…

Laura

4:02
It could be the flow of bourbon into your glass, Nikki.

Laura

4:07
So there are all different types of interpretations for a word, you just need to choose one that sort of inspires you, that gets you excited to think about and something that you can return to again and again to motivate you. And it’s also okay, if you decide to change it – like in the middle of the year, if you decide this isn’t my word, I want something else… you can totally do that.

Nikki

4:26
Awesome.

Laura

4:27
So Nikki, tell me what some of your words of the year have been in the past and why did you choose them?

Nikki

4:33
Okay, so I know that I have chosen words of the year several times in the past few years, but I tend to choose it and then pay more attention to resolutions that I inevitably don’t follow through on. Because I’m terrible to myself. So the only word that I can really think of that I know that I’ve chosen probably for the last 87 years has been Focus?

Laura

5:01
Focus. Okay. Yeah, I could use a little more focus in my life.

Nikki

5:06
Yeah, so I feel like, I’m trying to do so many things. And it’s not things I feel like I have to do. It’s all things I want to do. There’s so many different projects that I want to do that I have a really hard time prioritizing, and so I feel like I’m jumping from project to project and feeling scattered and overwhelmed. So I feel like I tell myself all the time, okay, Nikki, just focus.

Laura

5:31
It sounds a little bit like a fix for something that might be wrong. I don’t know. I don’t know.

Nikki

5:37
Yes.

Laura

5:40
Fixing something that’s wrong isn’t that inspiring, is it?

Nikki

5:44
No, it’s pretty stressful.

Laura

5:46
It’s kind of like the law of attraction where you say, what you resist persists. You know, what you’re thinking about, and what you’re focusing on, if you’re focusing on focus?

Nikki

5:57
Right.

Laura

5:58
And that word happens to have sort of a negative connotation to you, then you might be bringing more of that scatter into your life and things like that. So..

Nikki

6:06
Okay, so thinking about how not focused I am, keeps me not focused?

Laura

6:13
It could. I guess it’s just not as sort of an inspiring place to exist in, so…

Nikki

6:18
Right.

Laura

6:19
Let’s pretend that you were the most focused person on the planet.

Nikki

6:22
Oh, that sounds nice.

Laura

6:23
Isn’t that nice?

Nikki

6:24
It’s really nice.

Laura

6:26
If you were the most focused person on the planet, how would you be being? How would life be for you?

Nikki

6:31
Okay, if I were super focused, I would be less scattered and overwhelmed. And I would be on task and things would feel easy.

Laura

6:45
I love that, easy. So “ease” sounds kind of inspiring to me.

Nikki

6:49
Ease sounds inspiring.

Laura

6:51
I’m not getting the 100% excitement from you about the word ease. So maybe that’s not exactly the word?

Nikki

6:58
I mean, there’s something there, but I don’t know… maybe you need to just get me one of those Staples Easy Buttons, and then I could feel ease.

Laura

7:05
Yes. You could just press it whenever you want.

Nikki

7:09
Yeah, I mean, yes, I would like to feel ease, but that doesn’t really feel like the word for me.

Laura

7:14
Okay, so that’s not quite the word. So let’s think about other words that might work. I know that one of the exercises that I’ve done in the past is when you look at people that you admire, like if you think about people that are your idols, and it could be artists or relatives, your mom, you know, who knows?

Nikki

7:38
Hi mom.

Laura

7:39
Hi mom.

Laura

7:41
It could be people that you admire, and you think of adjectives to define those people. And so if you can put somebody in your mind that you really admire and think about an adjective for them. What comes to mind?

Nikki

7:52
Okay, who do I admire? Well, I can probably think of a lot of people. But what comes to mind immediately is Amanda Palmer. Do you know who Amanda Palmer is?

Laura

8:02
I don’t know her.

Nikki

8:03
So, she is a musician, but way more than a musician. She’s an artist. She had like, the first big successful Kickstarter, and one of the biggest Patreon’s and she did a TED Talk that was called The Art of Asking. She runs her whole life by just asking for what she needs. She started off when she was in college, she dressed up as one of those statue people who just stands there not moving. Basically asking for money to be put in a hat. And she started her career when she was traveling around doing shows asking for a place to stay where she would be going for a concert. So it was all about asking and not being afraid to ask for help. And the whole, “you don’t get what you don’t ask for.” And brilliant to me! Amanda Fucking Palmer.

Laura

8:58
It sounds to me like asking for help is something that’s inspiring to you. But that’s still a little bit like a fix. So what does it take to ask for help?

Nikki

9:06
Oh, courage.

Laura

9:08
Courage.

Nikki

9:09
Courage.

Laura

9:11
THAT’S an awesome word.

Nikki

9:12
That is a good word. I like it. I don’t know. Do my eyes – are they lighting up?

Nikki

9:19
I think courage is a really good word. Because we’ve talked before about how you just have to take that like, five or 10 seconds of courage to ask for what you want.

Laura

9:28
Right? Like it could be the courage to hit the submit button to send an art director your work, it can be the courage to hit the publish button on this episode of this podcast.

Nikki

9:37
Right? It could have been the courage when I said to you, “Hey, Laura, what do you think about doing a podcast?”

Laura

9:42
Right? It could be courage to have difficult conversations with the people in your life.

Nikki

9:47
Right?

Laura

9:48
Courage to sit down and focus on something.

Nikki

9:51
Yes, yes. The courage to actually finish something so you can release it out into the world.

Laura

9:59
Which may be what’s underneath all of the not feeling focused, right?

Nikki

10:04
Well, yeah, cuz if I don’t finish it, then I don’t have to have the courage to put it out there in the world.

Laura

10:11
All right, I like it. Courage is a great word.

Nikki

10:13
I like it. Okay. Courage is my word. What about you? What’s your word gonna be Laura?

Laura

10:19
My word of the year for 2021 is going to be connection.

Nikki

10:23
Connection is a really, really good word.

Laura

10:26
Right? Like its connection to each other. It’s connection to my students, it’s connection to putting work out in the world, it’s connecting to myself. Now that I’m in a space where I’m developing my own business, it’s connecting to what are the things that I really want to do, and maybe questioning some of my ideas of what I should be doing. And replacing that with the things that are really true to myself and my intuition.

Nikki

10:50
And connection to your own art.

Laura

10:52
Connection to my own art, connection to the powers-that-be, the divine, the universe, maybe starting that meditation practice that I’ve been procrastinating on.

Nikki

11:02
Maybe you just need to focus.

Laura

11:07
Some people may have some difficulty coming up with their word. So why don’t we come up with a list of say 50 words or so that we can give people examples of in case they’re having trouble coming up with their own?

Nikki

11:21
Okay, I think that’s a great idea. So let’s put together something that people can download.

Laura

11:26
Awesome. So Nikki, I think if we wrap this episode up, I think we’ve got three main takeaways. One, just ditch your resolutions. Instead, choose a single word intention to guide you throughout the year.

Nikki

11:38
And don’t think of it as something you have to do, think of it as just a thought to hold in your mind throughout the year.

Laura

11:46
And make sure that you pick something that inspires you and it’s not a fix or something that you think is “wrong”, but something that really calls you forward into possibility.

Laura

11:57
Now, it’s your turn, we’d love for you to share your word of the year with us through our Startist Society Facebook group, or over on Instagram @startistsociety.

Nikki

12:06
And if you’re still struggling to find your word, head over to our show notes at startistsociety.com and download our free PDF with 50 example words to get you started.

Laura

12:16
If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, we’d love for you to rate and subscribe so you never miss a Startist Society episode, and new episodes drop every Wednesday.

Nikki

12:25
Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

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