How to Use Your Word to Plan a Fantastic Year

A brief history of my one word through the years:

  • 2018: Steadfast
  • 2019: Augmentation
  • 2020: Beyond
  • 2021: Cognitive
  • 2022: Anti-Fragile
  • 2023: Alacrity!

I’ve been picking a focus word for 6 years now. 

Every year, it’s been a great way to reign in my energy and to bring intentionality to all the various goals and things I want to accomplish. 

This year, it took me a month to decide, but I picked alacrity as my one word. 

The dictionary definition of alacrity is “brisk and cheerful readiness,” and this is an apt way to describe what I’d like 2023 to be. 

In various aspects of my life, in the inner work I need to do and in the outer work relating to other people, I want to be improving.

But it needs to go beyond. 

I want to be cheerful about that improvement and about the things I’m doing, not just doing it begrudgingly because I feel I’m supposed to.

I want to be cheerful:

  • About my body and the work I am doing to improve myself physically. 
  • While thinking strong thoughts and guarding my mind. 
  • During prayer, meditation, and while with fellow believers. 
  • Whether I am with new friends or old. 
  • As I write and work. 
  • When I am fulfilling my life purpose. 

I want to be extra grateful for where I’m at in life in all aspects. 

In this post, I’m going to share my alacritous plans for 2023 in 6 areas of life: 3 areas of inner growth and 3 areas of external growth:

  1. Physically
  2. Mentally
  3. Spiritually
  4. Relationships
  5. Work
  6. Purpose

There are many other areas of life that I could delve into, but these are the most important to me right now. 

I’ll rate where I’m currently at with each one on a completely (un)arbitrary scale from 1 to 10. 

1) Physical Triumphs for 2023 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. —John F. Kennedy

I am most excited for a year full of lifting at the gym, walking all around Lisbon, nightly stretching, and of course, playing padel as much as I can. 

I feel stronger than I have since my Camp Gladiator boot camp days. When I play padel, I feel like I could go all day and not overdo it.

My physical fitness is on the upswing, and I’m becoming more anti-fragile every day. 

Of all the various aspects of life and growth, I feel probably the most positive about my physical state and the way I’m headed. I’m making better decisions about food and eating and I’m enjoying cooking various meals. 

I feel alacritous preparing my body to do what it needs to do, and beyond. 

My plan is to continue steadfast with all the good habits I already have relating to physical fitness:

  • Drinking a ton of water each morning, afternoon, and evening.
  • Exercising every day.
  • Intermittent fasting.
  • Stretching before bed.
  • Sleeping at least 8 hours every night. 

To get that last star and hit 10/10, I need to decrease my intake of soda, desserts, and just bread in general. If I can cut down a bit in these areas, I think my health in 2023 will be the best yet! 

2) Mentally Spry and Aware ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mind is a flexible mirror, adjust it, to see a better world. ―Amit Ray

I’ve made so much improvement over the last couple of years with the mental side of life. Where I used to over-focus, get upset, or spiral downwards, I catch myself more often than not. 

Anxiety doesn’t have the hold over me it once did.

But if we aren’t improving, we’re heading backwards. There is no neutrality in growth. 

I’m rating myself an 8/10 currently because I still have a lot of room for improvement. 

In 2023, I want to be positive and cheerfully ready for things even if I don’t really feel like doing them:

  • If I have to deal with a difficult client, I want to be positive about the interaction and not grumble about it under my breath. 
  • If my partner in padel tells me what to do or how to play, I want to respond in a way that diffuses tension but also gets them to stop. 
  • If I receive feedback on my writing I don’t agree with, I want to see the truth in what they have to say, but not perseverate on my faults. 

In addition, I want to continue a new habit that has made a world of difference. 

You’ve likely heard many people talk about it. 

For the past few months, I’ve been taking cold showers. 

I know what you’re thinking! “Ugh, that sounds horrible!” Well, it doesn’t have to be. 

Taking a cold shower feels miserable in the moment, but I put myself through it anyway. There are much worse things in life than cold water blasting you until you are shivering. 

I live in Portugal right now. The water temperature is not that cold compared to if I was in Maine. My biggest fear is visiting home, turning the water to cold with all the bravery I can muster, and then running out of the bathroom naked and screaming. 

Maybe it won’t be that bad? Still, I think of this every time I turn the faucet to cold, that it’s really nowhere near as cold as it could be. 

And yet in the moment, it still feels challenging and I get that sense of why would I put myself through this? Why would I choose to do something that’s hard on me physically? 

Well, because it has so many mental benefits. In that moment, I’m so focused on the feeling and getting out and getting warm, that it feels great when I get out because it’s just a shock to my system.

I feel so much alacrity toward life after the last icy drop falls on me and I leap from the shower in relief.

But then, as I warm, my cognitive abilities shift into overdrive and I feel great. 

This habit has given me a mental boost and new resilience. 

I feel great about my mental state going into this year and I’m excited for new challenges. 

3) Spiritually Open, yet Uncertain about the Future ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

In my experience, take the Holy Spirit out of the equation of your life and it spells boring. Add it into the equation of your life and you never know where you are going to go, what you are going to do, or who you are going to meet. —Mark Batterson

Spiritually, this is very interesting to rate from 1 to 10. 

It’s hard to be cheerfully ready for something you don’t feel zealous about. Since we left our church in NC because of our move, I’ve not since felt the same spiritual alacrity I’m used to. 

Honestly, I’ve been struggling to find the motivation to go to church, to be involved with the church community, and to live out my faith in that way. 

It’s so much easier to stay home and not go to church. It actually feels fantastic to have that extra time that isn’t spent traveling, having awkward conversations in the church lobby, and feeling guilty for not staying all afternoon to continue in fellowship. (Church is and can be so much more than this.)

It’s just all so exhausting and honestly, not something that currently excites me. 

I want to want to go, but I’m just not feeling it right now. Spiritual alacrity eludes me. 

I feel very secure in my beliefs. I’m not doubting that there’s a God. In my humble opinion, Christianity still makes the most sense because of its exclusivity, truth, and capacity for love and grace. 

This year, my goal is to challenge myself and my beliefs, not so that I can delve further into a sea of confirmation bias, but so that I can put my beliefs under the microscope.

But I’m still not sure what to do about church. This is a question that’s been nagging at me for the last year or so. 

I don’t really like the idea of “church shopping” because it’s not really about us and our wants and needs. But I don’t feel able to give back and serve in the right capacity with our current church.

The best I can do for right now is to pray and remain open. If something comes up or if there’s a wonderful new opportunity to attend a new church or serve in a different capacity, I want to be open and excited for any new experiences. 

In addition, I plan to:

  • Schedule time for meditation and prayer to discern next steps. 
  • Read the bible and think on God’s word. 
  • Read from other scientific authors, various leading authors, and from wise pastors and other influential thought leaders. 
  • Expose myself to the beliefs of others and be open to thoughts and feedback. 
  • Be unafraid to voice my thoughts and opinions, even if they’re not commonly held or supported by the majority. 
  • Keep an open mind and heart to new opportunities. 

Every year, my mom takes all the word’s of the year in our family and puts them on display. I love the creativity and energy she puts into the project!

It’s something we do as a family and this creates fun and excitement around not only picking the word, but referring back to it throughout the year.

Here’s what she made (Scroll for second image):

4) Relationally Optimistic and Cautious ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. —Maya Angelou

Miranda’s word of the year is connections. I love that word for her, and I think she’s already doing superb things. I plan to listen and learn from her and implement improvements where I can. 

I want to be ready for new relationships and not feel the heavy burden of the initial period of small talk. 

I’m ready to learn not to shrug off past relationships. This is very easy for me to do (sorry any old friends reading this!). Being cheerful about keeping up with connections and forming new ones is a good strategy.

I want to seek new opportunities to connect with people, build relationships, and strengthen old bonds.

What this means for this year: 

  • Staying after padel games and having a few beers, regardless of the late hour or how I may feel in the moment.
  • Seeking opportunities for deep connection and conversation. 
  • Inviting friends over for games in our apartment. 
  • Keeping up with old friends over email and the occasional Zoom call. 
  • Giving myself a break when I need it and refusing any of the above if I’m not up to it. 

I’m apprehensive about my relational plans, but as an INFJ hardcore introvert, this is okay. I’m going to do my best (and not forget to rest). 

5) Work: Staying in the Zone ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Be humble. Be hungry. And always be the hardest worker in the room. —Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

I get to wake up and go to my computer and work on meaningful projects. I feel so much gratitude for this every day.

I want to continue to be alactritous about work. 

I want to maintain this lifestyle and growing my business is the next step to accomplish this goal, and I have a ton of ideas.

I’m so pumped.  

Here’s what I’m planning:

  • Talking about what I do with joy and confidence. Most people noticeably stiffen when asked what they do for work, but I want to shine with alacrity as I answer!
  • Being extra positive about work projects and doing as good a job as I can. Once I get into a project, it can sometimes feel like work and I think that’s normal, and you can’t really 100% avoid it, but I want to enjoy each part as much as I can. 
  • Taking feedback and criticism with aplomb. I can’t avoid negative reviews or clients who aren’t a great fit. I can choose how I react. 
  • Striking off all fears of imposter syndrome and moving forward with confidence. 
  • Posting client’s projects and testimonials to my website (when contracts allow). 

Work is going well, but I plan to make it even better in 2023 by augmenting it with an attitude bereft of obligation and full of alacrity. 

6) Purpose: The Reason for Living ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Our lives matter. No matter what people tell you otherwise. God created everything for a purpose. —Edric Prim

I’m purposefully not rating this one as high as I would have in the past. As I wrote in a blog recently, I’ve been stymied a bit with writing towards my purpose

Purpose is usually directly related to work, as we spend so much time each day working. It goes beyond this into every other aspect of life as well, but it’s difficult to work towards purpose if we spend our best energy elsewhere. 

This was the heart of my book, Catalyze Your Destiny, in that I aimed to infuse people with the motivation to chase after their dreams. 

My purpose is to write and create. I feel good knowing that I am living out my purpose each day. It took me years and several jobs that were wrong for me, but I finally spend every day doing what I am most passionate about. 

To live out my purpose I will:

  • Write every day.
  • Give my all to each project.
  • Not be afraid to write something controversial in an increasingly unforgiving world. 
  • Begin work on my next book. 
  • Read, read, read so that my words are not merely my own thoughts, but the combined wisdom of a handful of people smarter than me. 

As long as I’m writing in some capacity and working with people on their books, I’m where I’m meant to be. 

Having a sense of purpose that’s beyond you grants you cheerful readiness toward other aspects of life. 

Finding your purpose and pursuing it is the most important task we can have as humans. 

Pursuing this passion and purpose is my fervent goal for the year ahead. 

Have you chosen your word for this year? Are you excited about your goals? What do you need to do next? 

I’d love to hear from you. 

Thanks for reading,