Sunday, September 7, 2014

Word for the Year

The new school year started with a day of teacher in-service. A guest motivational speaker included in his message the concept of choosing a specific “word for the year.” His thinking was simple enough. If we could choose a word that represents an area of our life that we would like to improve, and if we focused on that word on a daily basis, the word would become part of our lives. It would seep into our existence and change us. He challenged us to choose a word and commit to allowing it to impact our lives. As a teacher, words like patience, relationships, serve, or optimism might have been good words for me, for instance.

The language arts department at my school, of which I’m a member, decided to challenge our students to choose a word for the year, and the activity worked well. I’ve decided to challenge you too. Let me give you some examples first. Maybe your word could be goal or dream. Are you good at setting goals and plotting out a plan for success? Is there something you’d like to accomplish, but you just can’t seem to push yourself to do it? Maybe if you chose goal or dream as your word and meditated on it each day, you’d be able to accomplish something meaningful in your life.

Maybe your word could be moment. Do you find it difficult to not dwell on the past or worry about the future? Is it possible that if you try to focus on the moment—the only time you actually have some control over—that you might be more productive, happier, more content, or healthier?

Maybe your word could be grow. Maybe you could strive daily to learn from your experiences. Maybe you could try to see the good in things or try to use your circumstances as an opportunity to help others. We should learn from our mistakes and see the good that may come from our trials. Maybe if we looked at things as life lessons, we could be more content with our lives.

Maybe your word could be give or help. How much better would the world be if we were able to put ourselves second and think about others first? What if we decided to be a servant and actually look for opportunities to give of ourselves—our time…our resources…our love? Isn’t it possible that we could have an impact on others? Isn’t it possible that our impact on others would make our own lives more fulfilling?

Maybe your word could be positive or optimistic. What a change this word could make. If we could show more optimism, I think we’d have less stress in our lives. I think we’d be more at peace, and we’d sleep better at night. I think we’d find good things to cheer us and say good things to cheer others. I think we’d like more people and be better liked. We’d be a better friend, we’d feel better, and getting up in the morning would be easier. We’d react better to the troubles in our lives and we’d be happier.

What if our word was smile? Do you think that maybe we’d get more smiles in return? Do you think that maybe we’d be more relaxed, more joyful, and more likable? Do you think we’d make better first impressions and be better counselors? Do you think we might notice the beauty in things and see the good in others if we smiled more?

Maybe your word, like mine, could be prayer. I considered so many words, but in the end, I realized that for this year I might be able to accomplish more if I just took a minute to settle myself and consider what is important. I can pray for help to be more joyful and smile more. I can pray to be more optimistic and less stressed. I can pray for opportunities to help and serve others. I can pray to grow from my experiences and learn from them and be more content. I can pray to live in the moment and stop rehashing the past or worrying about the future. I can pray for help in achieving certain goals or accomplishing my dreams. I figured that maybe if I took a moment to stop myself each morning, I might have more peace and joy and love in my life. I might remember to be thankful for all the blessings I have, and I might be able to step out of my own selfish world and consider how as a teacher, I can have a positive impact on the lives of other people.

So what will be your word for the year? What do you need to do better? How can you improve yourself and have a better year? I challenge you to pick a word for the year and consider it daily. Take note of the changes, benefits, and impact the word is having on your life. I think it’s a challenge worth taking. Maybe you can share your word as a comment…and maybe you can share your word and a similar challenge to others in your life. You know, everyone wants to change…just very few are willing to take the steps necessary to actually create the change. That is my challenge to you. Pick a word, and tomorrow, begin making the changes.