Do you have a word of the year?
It’s something I do every year and a question in my free 2023 Reflections workbook (click here to get your copy – a great way to start the new year).
I thought I had my word of the year sorted. I usually start thinking about it in November. This year is a little bit different and unexpected.
I can’t write too much about it at this stage (because we have had pretty much no guidance yet) but my husband and I became emergency foster carers at the beginning of December.
It’s been an unusual month of mixed feelings, emotions, a heck of a lot of juggling, and having to throw my hands up in the air multiple times and say “Fuck it”. The realisation that I really cannot control any aspect of my life, something I hugely struggle with, has been hard. This whole of 2022 has been hard. Last year, and particularly this last month, I have had to learn to let go and be at peace with whatever comes our way.
The Twixmas Time of Goals and Motivation
Every year, this week between Christmas and New Year is my favourite time of year. As a goal-striving, self-improvement addict I love the reflection of the year that has been and the projections of goals and dreams I’ll start to plan for the year ahead.
I usually make a vision board at this time, I journal a lot, I set my intentions, I plan out my calendar with military colour-coded precision, and create milestone reminders. I might sign up to a coach or a mastermind to keep me accountable, I get motivated by podcasts and I buy far too many books on Amazon. I’m that knobhead in the gym every day, determined to start my new year goals before everyone else.
But this year is different.
My best-laid plans need to be screwed up, churned up and set on fire. I have no choice but to go with the flow because there’s a possibility that a newborn child will need our nurture for a few months too. A newborn, a 5-year-old and a 12-year-old don’t care for Zoom meetings, colour-coded schedules or adhering to content strategy deadlines. They care for warmth, love, support and my undivided attention.
Before the pandemic, if our kids needed us we dropped our work and we cared for our kids.
During and after the pandemic it became the norm to try the impossible task of balancing both work and children…at the very same time.
It’s perfectly normal right now to expect young children to fend for themselves or spend hours in front of YouTube, placated with biscuits and promises of sweets if they could “Just keep quiet sweetie while I’m on this meeting. Yes I know Susan is in my computer and ooh yes Geoff does have a cat there on his desk but please, go on, please put Peppa Pig on again and I’ll be down in a minute.”
It’s totally fucked. And it’s too much trying to hold down a job and work while you’re also needed to care for children.
So this year I might have to give up my work as I knew it. Or work in ways that require a heck of a lot of flexibility.
It means that for the first time in my life, I’m not planning ahead with things to look forward to over 2023 or obsessing over goals.
Which is probably exactly what I need. Thanks Universe. Funny that, eh?!
Wanky Word of the Year
My husband and I were watching a comedy and someone was talking about their word of the year. Shaun laughed and turned to me saying “Sounds like something you would do.”
“Yes, every year.” I replied.
He looked quizzical. “Really? You do that every year?”
“You know you always bollock me for writing on mirrors with chalk pens? That is my word of the year. I’ve had ‘Reclaim’ ‘Boundaries’ ‘Discipline’ ‘Strong’ over the years and affirmations like ‘I am enough’. That’s why I write them everywhere and change them every year.”
“I just thought you wanted to make the house look like a posh crack den.” he laughed.
This year I thought my word of the year was going to be ‘surrender’. I’d made myself some new phone wallpaper featuring the word and started to roll it around the tongue in my morning meditations. But it kinda doesn’t feel right.
I know that with so much uncertainty in our lives right now that I do need to let go of the grip of control I always try and exert over everything and surrender. Yet it also feels defeatist and weak. The dictionary definition of surrender literally means ‘to give up’. I feel like I need more courage, strength and power than to give up over these coming months.
Due to life as I know it effectively being firebombed, (I type this sentence right now with one hand while a sleepy 5 year old cuddles into me on my lap) I know that I can’t fall into the trap of letting my needs slide. I did that in 2022 when my son broke his leg and it had disastrous consequences for my mental and physical well-being.
My Affirmation for 2023
This year, instead of a wanky word, I’m going for a sappy sentence which is…
This came from a conversation with a friend on New Year’s Eve that went like this…
I truly am committed to stopping the habit of constantly letting myself down like I did in 2022. I am committed to raising my voice and being direct because people-pleasing and being passive has not worked out for me so far.
‘I matter’ is a sentence I’m already putting into practice.
Gemma’s head voice: ‘Go on, watch one more episode of The Traitors’
Gemma’s positive head voice: ‘No, let’s get some sleep. I matter and so does my rest.’
Gemma’s head voice: ‘Fuck the washing, do it in the morning.’
Gemma’s positive head voice: ‘I matter so let’s do it now and not add to tomorrow’s stress today.’
Gemma’s head voice: ‘It’s raining. Can’t be arsed taking the kids out.’
Gemma’s positive head voice: ‘I matter, so let’s get out, get some fresh air and play with the kids. They will love it too. Win-win.’
Whether you’re a wanky word of the year type or not, I want to remind you too that you do indeed matter.
You are worthy of self-love and self-care, despite how difficult it can be to put yourself first.
If, like me, your default setting is to people please above all else and put your own needs last, I invite you on this 2023 journey with me of discovering how joyful it can be to be selfish for the right reasons.
We matter. We really do.
Let’s go rock 2023, OK?
PS – If you’re sitting in the fuzzy feeling of new year motivation and goals, why not check out my best-selling books on Amazon?
For more useful blogs, check out…
- How to Dominate Your Deadlines
- Why We All Need To ‘Sit In Our Sh*t’ At Times
- The Power of Productivity
- FREE Goal Setting Workbook 2023
Gemma Ray is radio presenter, best selling author, communications coach and always the most filthy person in a WhatsApp group chat. Gemma tells it like it is and opens up about the stuff most people would never even dare admit to themselves, let alone put out in public.
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