It’s January 1. The time of year for resolving to do more, better, healthier. To be more productive, mindful, prosperous. For the last couple of new years, instead of resolutions, I’ve chosen a oneword (sometimes called oneword365 or one little word) to set my intention for the year, a lens through which to view my decisions, to reflect upon daily and to embed into the rhythms of my year. Unlike the traditional resolution, it’s not possible to fail at a oneword. You can’t get it wrong or fall off the wagon. You just revisit it across the year, rolling it around in your head and allowing it to guide your thoughts and behaviours.
In 2015, although I began with three words, these were soon overtaken by one word—CONQUER—as I climbed to the summit of my PhD thesis. Success! In 2015 I submitted my thesis, within 3 years of enrolling (O, happy days!). Then in 2016 my word was MOMENTUM, as I looked to put one foot in front of the other in order to keep moving, despite not being sure of my destination. In 2016 I did plenty. I taught, led, coached, worked, fought for what I believed, became a doctor, presented, published, wrote, read, connected, advocated, won a couple of awards, was appointed to two new positions (one at a university and one at my school). I got somewhere. These words served their purposes, but I finished 2016 spent. I had conquered and moved at a cracking pace, and 2016 was pretty good in my book, but I reaped the exhaustion of pushing hard. I knew that in 2017 I needed a word that allowed me to be kinder to myself. A gentler, slower word.
As I was considering words, I considered ‘consolidate’, but that seemed too inert. I want to do more than stay where I am, but I am ready for a less frantic, more mindful pace. I considered ‘joy’ and ‘illuminate’, but a Twitter poll told me what I already knew: my oneword for 2017 is NOURISH.
The thing I love about oneword is that it can be applied to all aspects of life. Nourish can mean nutritional nourishment. It can mean doing what helps me to feel centred, like coastal walks, yoga and seeing close friends and family. Nourish can mean saying yes to work that feeds my inner nerd, and saying no to being ruled by metrics or external measures. It can mean connecting with others who encourage and inspire me, and vacating conversations, Twitter arguments or relationships that wring me dry. Nourish gives me permission to withdraw from that which does not sustain me—physically, emotionally, intellectually, professionally—and to immerse myself in that which nurtures, supports and strengthens. This year I intend to be mindful of how my time, food, drink, sleep, exercise, relationships, writing and work give me something positive, or whether they sap me of energy and fulfilment.
In setting my intention to seek nourishment this year, I’ll use this question to focus myself:
Does this nourish me?
I’ve started my nourishing year as I mean to go on. Today I woke and made a yummy breakfast of paleo pancakes with raspberries. I exercised by the beach and drank coffee from one of my favourite coastal cafes. I cuddled and played with my kids. I’ll work on abstract for a book chapter that I’m excited about, an example of something that feeds my brain and my always-itching-to-write fingers. I’m writing this blog post because it helps to set my intention and to help me think through what’s in my head. I’ll be catching up with old friends on the beach later today and will see the sun set into the ocean.
I’m looking forward to a year in which I turn away from what depletes, drains and undermines me, and in which I am attentive to what feeds my body, mind and spirit.