Words have a lot of power; they can uplift or tear down, motivate or procrastinate, make you unstoppable or freeze you in your tracks. I never shared this with anyone, but since 2015, I’ve been creating a ‘word theme’ for each year. In 2016, it was perseverance because I was recovering from a debilitating surgery, and needed motivation to keep fighting through pain and not give up. In 2017, my word was ‘chance’ because it was all about stepping out of my boundaries and investing in myself, taking chances only I could to improve my life. 

This year, my word is ‘perspective’ because I have a strong feeling a lot is going to change. I don’t know what, exactly, but usually, these intuitions I have are spot on. How you view situations determines a lot, whether you’ll move forward or remain stuck in that same place, you know what I mean. It’s all about how we look at something, the angles we choose to focus on, whether they go up or down. Throughout the year, I use my ‘word theme’ to rewire my thoughts, force myself to open up my mind and see something differently. In all of the chances we take, sometimes, we’ll experience failures and successes, but the important thing is if your mind is in the right place. I’d said it before and will repeat: failure is a request for change, to try something with a new approach. Perspective!

How you think and the things you say to yourself or out loud result in actions all the time. Words have the power to propel or repel you. So this year, why not change your focus? Since I’d been journaling every day, I discovered how my thoughts and what I put on paper creates a ripple effect in my day, afternoon, and evening. There are quite a few words and phrases I make sure to never use, in my writing, in my mind, and out loud. If you find yourself saying these a lot, you’re more stressed and anxious than you realize. 

I should have…

Whenever you begin a sentence with, I should have, you’re being a willing participant in exacerbating your stress. You’re referencing the past and dwelling on it instead of being proactive about what you can change now. The past is gone. You can’t control outcomes. You can only control your behavior and reactions now. That phrase also references regret, and well, you shouldn’t dwell on regrets. Though it’s a little phrase and we use it often, it’s very destructive and is known to cause setbacks. Instead, you can say: In the future, I will…, and see how that transforms your thinking.

I can’t…

I know—this is a given. But I hear ‘I can’t’ being used very frequently. When I do hear it, I assess the situation and find myself thinking, ‘Um, yeah you can.’ Three years ago, I told myself, ‘I can’t write a book, I’ll never…,’ you can finish that sentence I’ll bet. It’s three years later, and I’ve written a book. I used to be all about playing the compare and contrast game, and my sentences also used to start with, ‘I’ll never…‘ If you believe in yourself, then you can. If you don’t have beliefs about your capabilities, then you’re right, you won’t do what you so badly want to do.

I am overwhelmed… 

If you are overwhelmed, you’re doing something wrong. It’s normal to feel things piling up in life, time and again, but saying you’re overwhelmed is like pushing your own default button. “I’m overwhelmed” leads to “so I can’t” which leads to, “I’ll never…” It’s a vicious, cyclic ripple effect. You might not even realize you’re saying or thinking it. If you feel overwhelmed, consider reorganizing areas of your life so you can function and work more efficiently. In 2016, I had a lot of time to get organized, and within the last year, I haven’t said out loud or to myself, ‘I’m soooo overwhelmed!’ at all! Now, I have systems and routines to rely on, blocks of time I created and I honor them. If you have goals or dreams to do something, break everything into small chunks of time and devote yourself to that schedule. You’ll never say or even feel overwhelmed again.

It’s amazing how words can carry us through and foster perseverance or keep us down and unwell. If you want to use my ‘word theme’ idea, try it and see how your mind and life changes. I write the word at the top of every journal entry and flesh out situations and things that have happened using a variety of approaches. It has brought me through tough challenges already, and as a result, I’ve met yet another massive deadline that three years ago, I said I couldn’t do. If you believe in yourself and choose your words and thoughts wisely, you will do anything you desire. And who knows, you might succeed and set yourself on the path toward an enriching, wondrous life.