I shared recently on Instagram that I had selected “evolution” as my word-of-the-year, and I got a really great question from fellow writer Arietta Charles. She simply asked me:
“How do you choose your word?”
Initially, I didn’t think I had a very specific process or an interesting answer, but as I typed back to her, I realized that I actually do!
Not only do I have a process that I wanted to share (in case it would work well for you too), I also wanted to go a little deeper into what EVOLUTION really means to me and how I will be using this idea to set my energy and expectations in 2023. If personal reflection and intention-setting is your jam, this post is for you!
The first step in my process of choosing a word-of-the-year starts long before it’s time to choose a word. It starts with regular journaling throughout the year before.*
I’m not someone who likes absolutes, so I don’t hold myself to a daily commitment to journal (nor any specific frequency, to be honest). However, whenever I get the chance and inkling, I’m pulling out my personal journal to pen down my thoughts, emotions, and aspirations. This is a practice I’ve kept up with since I was eight years old, so it just feels natural to me.
There are no rules about what I should write there. Sometimes, entries read like objective narratives about what has happened in my life. Usually, though, they’re full of what I think and feel about those happenings as well as my thoughts and feelings on decisions and events to come. Because I allow myself to get raw and unfiltered in these diary entries, they’re a pretty honest depiction of my thought-processes, tendencies, and patterns.
*Note: I do not journal simply with the intention of using it as a means for selecting a fitting word for myself, but I realized that this practice is vital when it comes to that process.
End of Year Reflections
Fast-forward to December, when I have a year’s worth of those kinds of journal entries built up. At this time, I make it a point to go back and re-read everything I wrote in my diary throughout the year.
This is a really special ritual of mine. Depending on the year, it can be painful to read back, or it can be a lot of fun. Regardless, it’s generally a humbling and re-affirming practice for me. I find it fascinating to look back at how I was feeling at different points throughout the year (it’s usually a bit different than I remember!). I’m able to recognize that some things that took up a lot of headspace maybe didn’t need to. I’m surprised when things I see as “big” now barely featured in my musings at the time. I also get to see how my perspectives shift and my self-knowledge grows over time, and that can be really gratifying.
Alongside all the warm fuzzies that come with this ritual, there are usually some pain points too. With my 20-20 (hindsight) goggles on, it can be disheartening to see some of the same self-sabotaging thoughts and tendencies show up regularly throughout the diary. However, the juxtaposition of the positive shifts alongside these less-than-positive patterns is exactly why the practice of re-reading is valuable!
As I re-read, my recollection of the last year becomes far more accurate and I’m able to see which of my intentions I did well at executing and which I let fall to the wayside. Furthermore, I can recognize habits that I might not have noticed otherwise. When I add all these observations together, a fitting word just tends to come to me!
In a nutshell, that’s the process of choosing my word of year. To give you a clearer explanation, though, I’d like to take a look at 2023’s word-of-the-year and walk you through the specifics of its selection and how I see it influencing my next year.
Choosing my 2023 Word-of-the-Year
One theme that became evident to me as I re-lived 2022 through my journals was that we were always on the move. This was the case literally (as my husband and I moved to a new town and traveled to each of our home countries regularly) but also figuratively (as my blog partner and I moved Sincerely, Spain from one platform to another and I embarked on the journey of therapy).
Each of these actions was inherently good, but the sum of their parts was a little chaotic. Staying in motion like that required a lot of frenetic energy. So. Much. Movement. I recognized that I was proud of all the challenges overcome and the growth achieved during 2022, but I was also tired—physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I found myself thinking that I wanted to continue on moving (because if we’re not moving in some capacity, we’re dead, right?), but not in the same way. Thankfully, a lot of the literal movement will slow down in 2023, so I wanted a way of approaching my personal growth journey that felt less hectic and more grounded.
Enter the concept of “evolution.”
What Evolution Means to Me
So, what is evolution, at least in the way I’m applying it? Well, of course, it’s such a powerful process. Evolution’s the reason we’re all here today; it’s the scientifically proven method of survival. In that way, it’s the smartest and strongest and most sustainable approach to life…and yet…it is SLOW.
It is not rushed. It is not even obvious it’s happening on a day-to-day basis. Its effects can only be seen after years (if not centuries, but for my purposes, let’s say years) of steady adaptation and change, but it is so meaningful and powerful.
That’s the kind of energy I want to embody in 2023. A bit quieter, a bit more patient. Truly trusting in my process and knowing that the small shifts happening under the surface matter. That’s what I see as evolution.
And so, realizing that I wanted a more flowy, steady, feminine energy to my approach in 2023, “evolution” felt like the right word-of-the-year to represent that intention. I briefly toyed with “evolve” instead, but I quickly realized that I don’t even want an action word—I want a state of being.
What I Envision 2023, My Year of Evolution, Looking Like
Honestly? I think 2023 will look somewhat similar from the outside, but I envision it feeling very different on the inside.
Because let’s be real. This is me—I still have a TON of goals for 2023! Professionally, I plan to be producing more consistent content and publishing more than ever before. Personally, I plan to continue changing and growing each day, BUT I want to honor the truth that slow (and sometimes hard-to-detect) change can be significant and effective.
As much as I preach the importance of mindfulness, rest, and tending to your mental health, it’s not always easy for me. Sometimes, I get so caught up in the accomplishment-focused energy that I lose my way with that stuff completely. With “evolution” as a simple reminder for me, however, I think I’ll be able to get much better at that balance.
I know this is a perspective and process that I’ve already begun to take on, but in the upcoming year I really want to lean into it, embrace it, and embody it in every way that I can. That is my wish for 2023.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into my process. If you also selected a word-of-the-year, let me know in the comments section what it was and how you arrived at it! If not, and you’re resonating with “evolution,” I encourage you to embrace it as well. I hope it serves you as much as I hope it serves me.
Here’s to 2023—to everything we’ll accomplish but, more importantly, all the little ways we’ll grow.