Part of Kathy Caprino’s series “Becoming The Most Confident and Powerful Version of You”
Each year in early January, I decide on one key word or “theme” for the coming 12 months – a theme that represents a quality, behavior or experience that I’d like more of and that I believe will help enrich my life and work in valuable ways. And it’s also a word that helps me support others perhaps in a new or different way, too.
For me, focusing on a new theme for the year is more effective in generating true results than trying to achieve one or two big New Year’s resolutions. I’m not alone in that either, According to studies, 80% of people’s New Year Resolutions fail, and most falter by February. Here’s why.
On the other hand, focusing on one core theme – if it’s approached in a helpful way – is eye-opening and motivating as it touches on all parts of our lives and has an expansive impact beyond just one or two outcomes.
Back in 2021, I wrote a piece on how we can arrive at a meaningful theme for the coming year by asking 8 key questions to clarify what you want most going forward. These are vitally important questions to address and answer, and they help bring into clearer focus what you need and want more of to experience more happiness, freedom, joy, reward and more. It also helps hone in on what needs to be released and healed or overcome in the next 12 months for your goals to be achieved.
In thinking about my theme for 2023, an interesting experience occurred this past weekend that was instrumental. During the past months, I’ve made a commitment to participate regularly in the choir of a lovely church near me. I’ve sung there many times in the past 10 years for holiday concerts and special services and loved the experience. But this year I wanted to participate more fully and in a more regular manner, and become more of a part of the community.
This Sunday, during the section of the service devoted to the children in the congregation, a leader of the church’s Children’s and Youth Ministry offered a very interesting story and exercise for the kids. In short, as I interpreted it, the idea was this: Just as a star in the sky can help give us direction regarding where we wish to go, we can think of a word or idea that can guide us forward in our lives as well, with Divine assistance.
Each child was encouraged to pick a gold star from the basket in front of them where each star had a word written on the back, signifying a special quality or experience that God would support in their lives going forward. And each time they thought of that word, they would be able to feel the presence and help of the Divine in their lives, to facilitate that quality or experience to emerge more prominently. I loved that idea, and after the service, marched up to the basket to pick my own word.
I reached my hand into the basket without looking, and the star word I chose was AFFIRM. It was hand-written in black ink and in all capital letters on the back of a little gold star.
I thought to myself “Hmmm – affirm. I love it, but affirm what?” I look back at this and laugh now, but I felt like I needed guidance from someone or something else outside of me to tell me what I needed to affirm!
To help with that, I later went back to see if I could pick another star with a word that might help point me to what I “should” be affirming in my life and work. Of course, (and thankfully) the basket has been taken away and I was on my own to determine what would be helpful to affirm. And of course, that is the most empowering way to approach this whole exercise – to tap into your own knowingness, intuition and feelings and honor what’s inside of you to lead you forward.
I assumed that I understood what AFFIRM means as a word, but curious about that, I looked up the definition. Merriam-Webster dictionary shares this:
Example: He was affirmed as a candidate.
2: to state positively
Example: He affirmed his innocence.
3: to assert (something, such as a judgment or decree) as valid or confirmed
Example: The court affirmed his conviction.
4: to show or express a strong belief in or dedication to (something, such as an important idea)
Example: laws affirming the racial equality of all people
Driving home, I thought about what I would personally like (not “should”) affirm in the coming year. Interestingly, a long list of items came flowing into my mind.
I recognized I’d like to AFFIRM:
- Myself, and my abilities and talents – and not falter in recognizing and appreciating those, especially during very challenging times when my self-trust and self-love wanes or is challenged
- My career, business and work projects, and what they can do to help others and how those can be expanded or reshaped
- My clients and program members – who I loved dearly to serve and are so gracious and open to learning and growing
- My values – what I value and believe down to my core that I may not be honoring as fully as I need to right now
- My boundaries – where I need to more decidedly say “YES” and where I need to say “NO” in order to live in a healthier, calmer, less stressed way
- My flexibility and bravery to pivot and change what has to change and shift this year towards new directions I want
- My physical and emotional health – given some deep challenges I’ve faced in the past year, I recognized I need to affirm a deeper commitment to caring for my physical and emotional self
- My spiritual self – expanding my focus on spiritual growth and on a number of projects that will support my own spiritual development and that of others (including co-hosting again (as we did in 2019) an amazing spiritual retreat in Ireland with the beautiful Lorna Byrne, if we can)
- My fortitude to deal powerfully with certain types of hurt and challenges that I’ve sometimes felt were too painful or difficult to address head-on
- My personal friends – who are so caring, dear and supportive and without whom I’d feel very lonely and isolated in this world
- Last but not least, my family – whom I love and cherish with all my heart and who inspire me every day
For me, AFFIRM is a word that has positive power just bringing it to mind. It immediately generates more joy, relief, gratitude and interestingly, a flood of new ideas that have been waiting to emerge that I wasn’t aware I was contemplating.
What is Your “Star Word?”If this one word has that kind of positive power for me, I’m thinking it might support you as well – as a theme for 2023 or just something that stimulates some new thinking that generates relief and excitement.
Spend some time this week and think on one key word that represents a quality, condition or trait that you wish to expand on that could be your theme for the year.
Or perhaps write down 20 words that represent something positive and meaningful to you on the back of gold cut-out stars, and place them in a basket, and choose one without looking. Another fun idea is to host a dinner party with some of your dear friends or family and do this as an exercise together, where you commit to supporting each other in creating more of what they choose as their theme for this New Year. Each person can pick a word and then talk about what that theme would mean if they brought it forward in their lives, in 2023.
I’d love to hear what word you choose as your “star word” or theme, and what that signifies for you. And if I can support you in bringing into being more of what you really want in 2023, I’d love to help!
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For career and leadership growth support and information, visit kathycaprino.com