This year I’ve started a tradition with my family and few close friends, one that was introduced to me last year by the family of a good friend of mine. The tradition is this: One New Years day, the family gathers together in the morning, usually with coffee and breakfast, and each individual takes their turn in disclosing and explaining their “word of the year”. The word of the year is any word that you choose to describe what the coming year will be for you, what the year ahead of you will signify, what you want to focus on, what you hope to accomplish, etc. etc. It can be anything. But you are essentially choosing a theme for your upcoming year.
Last year I woke up with this family; they gave me a short warning and introduction to the tradition and before I knew it I was on the spot explaining my word of 2013. And I loved it! It truly made me reflect on my previous year and what I wanted my upcoming year to be. And it really stuck with me. In moments during 2013, when I was feeling discouraged, lost, unsure, tired, I would remind myself of my word.
Here are some of words that were chosen by the family last year – bounce, party, confidence, organization, and family – with each explanation varying between funny, unique and inspiring.
This year, I had my parents, siblings and close friends participate. We gave each other two days to think about it, though most of us knew our words within minutes. We gathered, and each took their turn saying their word of the year, why they had chosen that word, and what it meant for them at that point in their life.
Now I’ll share my word with you all. My 2014 word of the year is relationships. This word encompasses my focus both personally and professionally. Personally, I’ve started to realize that relationships, for me, are what life is all about. Building relationships with others and connecting with people in a meaningful way. Whether it’s connecting with a family member or friend, the barista I see each day, cultivating a relationship with a colleague, or with the stranger sitting next to me on the plane. It all matters to me and I find it important to make those connections and build relationships on a daily basis. It’s both the ongoing relationships and the start of news ones that fuel me and give me purpose each day.
Professionally, the word relationship fits perfectly with i-ACT and our approach as an organization – “building relationships across continents”, working to create a new culture of participation and connecting the Darfuri refugees to the world. Working with i-ACT, I’ve come to learn that it’s truly our relationships with the refugees that allow us to design and implement programs that are refugee–led and meaningful to their community. It’s also been our personal relationships with individuals and communities across the U.S. that has allowed us to continue expanding our programs to reach more people here and in the camps.
My 2014 will focus on fearlessly creating more relationships with people in my community, locally and globally, personally and professionally. I will inquire about somebody’s day, share my work and experiences with others, make the effort to meet new people so I can equally learn from their work and experiences, and relentlessly be there for family and friends and all those close to me.
What is YOUR 2014 word of the year!? Please share : )