A year ago, I started my Instagram account with a post about my 2016 word of the year. I shared a photo of a Pocket Letter card that said “Run the mile you’re in,” and I wrote about why I chose to spend a year with the word NOW.
I used alphabet stickers to spell out the word NOW on the back of that card. I punched it, and stuck it in the front of my planner. It spent a year hanging out there next to my planner cover, reminding me that I wanted to focus on living in the now in 2016.
I’m posting about my 2016 word of the year: NOW a little later than I planned, because it took me a while to put my thoughts together. Better late than never, though. Right?
On having a word of the year:
2016 was the first time I selected a word of the year, and I loved it so, so much.
For a few years I followed along as my favorite bloggers chose yearly words and posted about them throughout the year. It always seemed like such a great idea, and I finally decided to join the trend in 2016 with a singular word that would serve as a theme for my goals during the year.
The theme I had in mind when I chose my word really took on a life of its own and followed me throughout the year. Even when I wasn’t intentionally trying to incorporate it into my life, there was somehow always a reminder to keep me on track.
Here is a fun example: In the spring, I decided to re-do the gallery wall in my living room. I spent a few weeks picking out photos, prints and other fun pieces to add to the mix. About a week after we hung the gallery wall, I realized one of the prints I’d chosen said “Bloom where you are planted” which goes with the word NOW so well. It was totally accidental, but I loved having that reminder on my living room wall all year.
I also continually found myself choosing planner stickers that went with the theme “NOW,” and I was regularly drawn to quotes about being present and living in the moment.** I’m sure these are all things I would have encountered without having a word of the year, but because I intentionally decided NOW would be my focus I noticed and thought about them a lot more.
The theme of the word NOW kind of grew throughout the year. I started out thinking about being present. It grew to focusing on one project at a time, being more focused and living more intentionally.
On the word now:
I chose the word NOW, because I wanted to be better at living in the moment. I wanted to be fully present. To focus on my current joys and struggles. I didn’t want to waste time dwelling about the past or dreaming about the future.
I’m an impatient dreamer. I don’t really struggle with dwelling on the past, but I’m constantly thinking about how awesome things will be two or three (or four or five) steps ahead.
SO many things went wrong in 2016, and everything seemed 100 times harder than it should have been. When I chose the word NOW, I couldn’t have foreseen that it would be a difficult year. This word really served me well through our struggles, though. I spent a lot of time learning to focus on one problem at a time. I started mentally using the term “the NOW problem” to drive home the idea that I can only take care of one thing at a time, and that should be my focus.
I worked on being more present in 2016. I had several technology-free weekends, and I got more comfortable with leaving my phone in another room for a few hours. I focused on paying more attention to whatever I was doing. If I was working, I wanted to be working. If I was with family, I wanted to be with family. I tried to be 100 percent in the NOW.
If I’m being honest, I didn’t succeed. I wasn’t 100 percent present and focused 100 percent of the time. I had great moments, sure — even some great weekends — but being present is hard.
I do feel like I made great progress, though. I strengthened my NOW muscles. I’m better at noticing when I’m not being present. I feel more comfortable putting my phone away and focusing on one thing at a time. It’s something I’ll continue working on, but I feel like 2016 gave me a jump start in this area.
**Some of my favorite NOW quotes from the year:
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1
“In today’s rush, we all think too much — seek too much — want too much — and forget about the joy of just being.” -Eckhart Tolle
Run the mile you’re in.
Bloom where you are planted.
Be here now.
“To be present might be exactly what we’ve needed all along. To feel a place while we’re in it. To be fully with people while sharing time. To know this moment and this moment only may actually be the closest thing to ecstatic living we’ll experience. So wherever you are, be there. In your body. One foot in front of the next.” -Victoria Ericsson
“Wherever you are, be all there.” -Jim Elliot
“Never half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing.” -Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation
“You can’t ride two horses with one ass sugar bean.” -Earl Smooter, Sweet Home Alabama