Way back in 1967, hippies gathered in San Francisco for their Summer of Love. But why just have one season of love? In 2014, I decided I wanted a whole year dedicated to love, so I chose this word as my ‘theme’ for 12 months.
Whenever I faced a decision, big or small, I tried to think about how I could create the most love. Rather than dismissing a date as unnecessary hassle, I agreed to go because I hoped that maybe love would follow – and it did! We’re still together three years later. I realised that I didn’t have many pictures of the people I love so I began taking more photos of them, and looking through those snaps still makes me so happy. I also started listening to the little voice in my head that whispers ‘I’d love to do that’ and found myself having more adventures, however silly – like going on the Emirates Skyline cable car in London for no reason other than I’d always thought ‘I’d love to ride on that’.
I’ve already picked my buzzword for 2017: ‘no limits’ (ok fine that’s two words, but it’s allowed).
‘No limits’ challenges me to dream big, and not to assume that I can’t do something. Too often I restrict myself, worrying that I’m not clever enough or brave enough before I’ve even tried. This year is going to be different because rather than turning down an opportunity that might be difficult for me, such as taking on a new job or signing up to the next course (I’m trying to learn Italian), I can say to myself ‘No limits!’ and then at least give the challenge a go.
If I get a bit scared and don’t manage to follow my phrase all the time, it doesn’t matter. Not succeeding all of the time doesn’t make you a loser. The best part about having a theme for the year is that you can keep coming back to it – that’s why having a word of the year is so much better than a typical new year’s resolution. Resolutions tend to be specific, like ‘lose weight’ or ‘stop biting your nails’. This means that once your efforts have failed (usually by mid-January) then you feel you have to wait until next year to begin again. Not so with a buzzword: it can just inspire and guide your behaviour throughout the year.
The other great thing about a word of the year is that it doesn’t expect you to be a different person. Lots of new year’s resolutions require us to change who we are, but trying overnight to become someone who doesn’t love chocolate will just make us feel rubbish about ourselves (and probably eat a whole heap of chocolate, tbh). Buzzwords, on the other hand, allow us to be exactly who we are already but encourage us to strive after a new feeling, whether that’s braver or happier or calmer.
Maybe you’re feeling a lot of pressure because of exams and it’s making you stressed? A theme for 2017 could help you in different ways. If you went for ‘chill’, this could cover everything from treating yourself to ice cream when you’ve finished your homework, to having Netflix downtime every Sunday, to repeating the word to yourself before you enter the exam hall. Or you might go in the opposite direction and pick ‘fun’, looking for ways to make revision more enjoyable (such as doing quizzes with friends), going to the funfair to bring out your inner kid, or practising nail art so your hands make you smile while you’re studying.
You might find your chosen buzzword comes up in other ways than you had expected, which makes it even more special and inspiring. Wondering how to pick your buzzword for the year ahead? Here are three tips on choosing the right theme for you:
1. Love a song lyric or line from a film? If you find yourself repeating a phrase a lot, then that could be a big clue. In 2015, for instance, one Swiftie picked ‘Shake it off’ as the buzz phrase for her year. Who wouldn’t feel better channelling Taylor?
2. Is something big happening in your life this year? You could think about related words that might be helpful, like my exams example.
3. How would you like to feel in 2017? This is a great way to find the best word for yourself. Maybe you want to feel less stressed (how about ‘relax’?) or maybe you want to take something more seriously (how about ‘committed’?).
Once you’ve picked your word, go ahead and try to live it. Have a fun/love-filled/powerful/relaxing/limitless year.