It’s time to reveal my word for 2017! It’s…. ENGAGE.
I choose a word every year. Last year’s was Brave. It served me well; I accomplished a lot this year, and whenever I balked at the fear of what would happen if I moved forward, I used Brave to remind myself to conquer that fear. It helped that I had the perfect talisman for Brave in my pocket at all times: my Gryffindor key chain.
I haven’t yet found a talisman to represent ENGAGE (a faux-diamond ring, maybe?) but I’m hopeful that this year’s word will have just as much impact as last year’s.
What the word means to me:
ENGAGING means getting involved on a deeper level. It means joining conversations and participating in groups that I might not have otherwise sought out. It also signifies fully committing oneself, which I’m interpreting as staying in the present moment and doing the activity in front of me instead of allowing myself to be distracted.
Why I chose it:
I’m a huge proponent of self-study and personal growth. Two books that have greatly influenced me over the past few years are Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before, about knowing oneself better in order to create habit changes; and Susan Cain’s Quiet, about what it means to be introverted. In Better Than Before, I learned that I was an Upholder, which means I don’t feel that I need outside help to accomplish things. After reading Quiet, I felt like my introversion was legitimized, and I allowed myself more alone time to recharge.
Both of those lessons boosted my self-awareness and happiness, but they came at a price that I’ve only lately understood. I’ve allowed those messages of not needing anyone else for company or for accountability affect how I view new relationships. I’m good at keeping in touch with my family and close friend group, but I rarely reach out to make new connections. I rarely ENGAGE.
For example: I had an epiphany about an online book group I’d been thinking of joining. My first thought was that I didn’t need the group in order to get myself to read. I knew I could meet reading goals on my own. But I’d allowed myself to forget that engaging with fellow readers is not only about my productivity. It’s about making connections, joining a discussion, and meeting the people who might potentially read my books someday! It’s about finding my tribe, and that’s something I can’t do on my own, even if I am an Upholder/introvert.
That’s one of my reasons for picking ENGAGE: because I want to reach out into the reading world and find my tribe. I also want to reach out into the world of political and social activism, because I think our country is going to need more of that work in 2017.
Finally, I chose ENGAGE to remind myself to commit to the moment and be present. (“Present” was also a contender for my word this year, until I thought of “Engage.”) I want to be fully there when I play with my kids, when I take a walk, when I talk to my husband. I don’t want to get distracted by my phone or even my Kindle. This year is so precious, with my first child in his last year before school, and my second child a sweet, adorable baby. I want to be ENGAGED for all of this time.
What’s your word for 2017? Please share in comments or on Twitter, and tag me @sowulwords. Don’t forget to include why you’ve chosen your word. I love getting inspired by other people’s words!