I have already spoken in a previous post ‘Handy ways to get prepared for the new year ahead’ about why as a New Year begins, one of the things I choose to do instead of resolutions, is to choose myself a ‘Focus Word’ for the New Year instead. Choosing this ‘focus word’ makes you really zone in on the direction you feel you are going in or, the change of direction you wish to be going in instead!
This post will go into detail about how to choose the right ‘FOCUS WORD’ for yourself and ways in which you can then use this focus word to keep you fixed on your goals, resolutions and the path you wish to take.
Why use a ‘Focus Word’?
When a New Year is here, we may have a long list of goals, things we want to achieve to tick off our lists, places we want to go to, etc. However, choosing a ‘focus word‘ makes you break all those long lists down into a single word, that you want to specifically focus on the most. E.g: Happiness, Education, Rebuilding, Love, Business, Growth, Resilience, Consistency, Balance. Really this list of ‘focus word’ possibilities could go on and on and on.
However, the point is for you to choose just one word that is explicitly personal to you! Dig down deep, be honest with yourself and really own this choice of a word for your personal focus.
How to choose the right ‘FOCUS WORD’ for the New Year ahead, to keep you fixed on your goals…
Questions to ask yourself when choosing a ‘Focus Word’ or expanding on last years word:
As you will see in the next section when I share my choices of ‘Focus Words’ for the past few years, that they too, as words, have been on a connected journey of progression just like my life journey. As each year I have asked myself the same important questions:
- Where am I coming from?
- Where am I now?
- Where do I want to be in a year’s time?
Now, these questions can apply to any area of your life. Yes, you can look at the physical location you are in for each question, but deeper than that you can really ask yourself these questions for where you are emotionally, spiritually, carer wise, money wise, relationship wise, character wise, etc.
So take some alone time and really ask yourself where you were, are and want to be in life. Usually, the area of life that you want to be your main focus will be the area that comes to mind first when you are asked these questions. Or if you are writing down your answers, see which jumps out of the paper at you more when you look at all your answers.
How a focus word can keep you centred and fixed on your goals:
Let me share with you my ‘focus word’ for the past few years and also this year’s ‘focus word’ choice and also share the reasons why I chose them, in order to keep me on track, centred and fixed on my specific goal or focus for that year. This will give you an example of how I managed to choose just one word to focus on, from the endless list of possibilities. As well as how to also expand on your focus word year by year…
- 2017 = ‘Escape’
- 2018 = ‘Healing’
- 2019 = ‘In-Bloom’
- 2018 = ‘Healing’
My word for 2017 I actually chose in the last quarter of the year, after getting out of a bad situation I should have got out of a long time ago. Hence my word for 2018 being ‘Healing’ which I whole-heartedly embraced, body, mind and spirit. So then when it came to choosing my ‘focus word’ for 2019 I assessed where I was after this journey of healing. I knew my days were full of so much more sunshine and I felt that during that year of healing so many seeds had been planted. So that by the end of the year when it came to choosing my focus word, those seeds had grown and had now produced buds that I felt were preparing to open and bloom when the time was right in this new year that was about to start. Therefore, I chose 2019’s focus word to be ‘in-bloom’.
Well those buds definitely progressed through last year and I feel like I bloomed in many areas in 2019. I recognised myself in photos again and knowing my smile was a genuine one. If you follow me on instagram @helens_journey then you will see that I love to pose for photos, esp with statues or anything I see that gives me a creative idea for a picture (come on I’m a Drama Graduate, I can’t help it! lol). So people probably see me as a right poser – which I am & I love it!😜 However, in each pose and picture I instead look at it and see my authentic self. I see strength, endurance, dignity, self-love, persistence, commitment, will power, recovery, improvement, healing, pain & Gods hand holding me up! I see the buds fully bloomed and I take pride in all it took me to get there.
How to expand on your previous years ‘Focus Word’ each year, to continue your personal progression journey…
So when It came to choosing my word for the next new year ahead, I decided to still choose a word that stems off this previous ‘year by year’ progression of focus words attached to my personal journey. I asked myself those questions mentioned above and decided that now I have bloomed, I feel it is the time to bear fruit. So the word I chose for 2020 was ‘FRUITFUL’.
This was inspired by the Biblical notion of us being like trees that need to bear good fruit to be healthy trees. After choosing this focus word I went to a church meeting and this very verse that inspired my focus word decision, was the verse the Pastor used in his discussion. I took it as a spiritual sign that I had chosen the right word for the next year in my journey. Here is the verse:
“So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”Matthew 7:17-20 ESV / 29
Using lessons from the past to help shape your future!
Trauma can definitely produce bad fruit on a diseased tree, such as; sadness, fear, guilt, anger, pain, hurt, revenge. Yet dealing with trauma, can then bring new life to a tree and help it grow new healthy shoots, such as; healing, closure, lessons, comfort, forgiveness, weightlessness, acceptance. These were the buds created in me in 2018 through my year of healing and these are what fully bloomed in me in 2019 to restore my tree to health with self-love, self-worth and self-value. So in 2020 I felt I then needed to see what fruit can be made from those things.
For example, in 2019 I supported fellow Birmingham creative Elishah StJuste as she set up a community organisation called FutureGen. I joined her in delivering a project working with a group of young females aged 11 to 16 years old, on a creative project called ‘SheRise’ covering different aspects of staying safe in an online world. You can find out more about the project on FutureGen’s Facebook page HERE.
One of the activities I ran was a drama and expressive art workshop with the young ladies covering issues of self-image and body-image. I see this as a good fruit that was bore out of going through my own journey of self-identity after getting out of a long term toxic relationship after all the negative things that person spoke over me and the names they called me, as well as how they ended up treating me. Those buds of self-value bloomed and my life and photos once again displayed that self-worth that I felt inside.
Then the next progression was the’ fruit’ – which to me is using that personal journey of my own, to now empower a younger generation of women in a world of false beauty, to identify their natural beauty and see their worth beyond Instagram likes and social media attention. I want a year full of these types of good fruits born out of the past dark sides of life, to bring light to 2020 for myself and for others….
Creating visual reminders of your New Year ‘Focus Word’ to display
If you have read my post ‘Spring: How to enjoy a season of renewed hope, new possibilities and a fresh perspective’ you’d know my talented Sister Libby, is an artist @libby.artist who runs her own art business and gets commissioned to do personalised pieces of artwork for people all over the world. Well she took my 2019 focus word ‘IN-BLOOM’ and interpreted it artistically and created a customised piece of art for me shown below:
I hung it up and it was a really useful visual reminder of where I wanted my focus to be that year. So I encourage you to also have a visual reminder somewhere that will remind you each time you see it what you wanted to focus on and when you read the word it re-centres you once again to aline with the direction you wanted for yourself. There are lots of ways you can do this:
- Have your focus word as your computer screensaver
- have your focus word as the wallpaper background on your mobile phone
- Have you focus word written on a post it note and put it in a place you look daily such as next to the kettle or where you keep your toiletries.
- Write your focus word on the mirror with lipstick that you can wipe off and change each new year with each new focus word.
- Follow my sister on Instagram @libby.artist and get a personalised piece of artwork made for your focus word 😉
So for 2020’s focus word I decided my visual reminder would once again be my Sisters artwork but instead of a physical painting to hang up like last year, I will instead have it as my background on my laptop. Here is the still life painting she did of an overflowing fruit bowl that to me represents all the fruits I’m trusting God will be produced in mass this year:
I hope this post has encouraged you to choose a focus word for this year or maybe choosing a new focus word each month would help you too. However, you want to choose your focus word, I hope you then use it to centre yourself when life can throw us off track and use it to fix your eyes on your goals and direction in life. Why not share your focus word choices with me in the blog comment section at the bottom of the post…– Helen
I encourage you to read my post ‘Handy ways to get prepared for a New Year ahead’ to read all about using goal setting and making promises to yourself as a way to be prepared, focused and ready for all that’s ahead…
Why not also read my post Be ORGANISED & FOCUSED in life, with these TOP 3 ITEMS to keep you on track! about using a few different items such as a diary, journal and calendar, in order to keep yourself prepared and organised each day of the year.
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