Never mind making resolutions or setting SMART goals and you can definitely forget the new year new you nonsense! There’s one practice I love to do at the start of a new year that feels supportive and inspiring without any pressure.
In this episode we look at:
Pressing Pause Podcast episode 77 A guiding word for the year ahead
Welcome to Pressing Pause. I’m Gabrielle Treanor, a coach and writer, and I’m here to share with you ideas, inspiration and actions to empower you to overcome your overwhelm so you can feel calm, confident and in control.
Hello and welcome to episode 77, the first episode of 2021!
It’s a new year but we’re still the same people we were in December, there was no magical, radical transformation to us or the world, as far as I know, when the clock struck midnight on the 31st of December. I’m not keen on the new year new you message (is anyone?) and I haven’t made resolutions in years but there is one practice I love doing at the beginning of January.
I’ll get into that in a moment but there’s something else I want to share first.
Over the Christmas period I was reading and watching and hearing more and more about how overstretched the health system here in the UK is. How exhausted, stressed, undervalued and overwhelmed nurses, doctors and NHS staff are feeling. And as the whole of the UK is now in lockdown we know how precarious things are for our health system.
As I thought about this I felt overwhelmed by how humongous a problem this is and how powerless I felt. I don’t have any power over what’s happening in hospitals, so what can I possibly do to support the overwhelmed NHS staff, apart from continue to stay home and abide by all the safety guidelines?
And then an idea popped into my head: I can make my self-study, instant access course called Rooted – all about reducing overwhelm and feeling able to cope when life gets stressful, which is available to everyone – available to NHS staff for free.
I didn’t create it with the specific challenges those in the medical world face, it isn’t going to fix the fundamental issues at the heart of the crisis, but it might just help someone working in the NHS to start bringing down the overwhelm and find a little calm. And this is something I can focus on because it IS within my control, even while so much is outside of my power.
So, if you work for the NHS and you would like to take my Rooted course for free go to gabrielletreanor.com and click on the course image you’ll see on the homepage and then you can read all about it. Or you can follow the link in the show notes at gabrielletreanor.com/podcast. You’ll just need to give me your NHS email address to get access to the course. Or if you know someone in the NHS please do let them know about this offer. And if you’re not NHS staff and you’d like to find out about Rooted go to gabrielletreanor.com and click on the Rooted course image, same as before. Like I said, it’s available to everyone and I’ve had some wonderful feedback from those who have taken it already, in particular how it’s helped them cope with restrictions and lockdown.
At the start of a new calendar year I choose a word to help inspire, guide and remind me of how I want to feel and be, and what I want to do in the coming months. Over the years it’s become more and more popular so you might have heard about it or seen posts on social media. Or perhaps you’ve seen me posting about it in previous years!
It’s nothing complicated or heavy, it’s not a goal or a resolution and it’s definitely not meant to feel like a pressure. Choosing a guiding word is something I’ve done for several years simply because I find it useful. Some words and some years more than others. If the idea doesn’t appeal to you that’s no problem, I just thought I’d share about how it helps me in case it’s of some use to you.
So, like I said I choose a word for the year to help inspire and remind me of how I want to be, how I want to feel as well as what I want to do during the year. I see it as a tool to support me, not something that I have to stick to out of some kind of duty, or for it to make me feel bad or guilt me into action.
There are different ways you can go about choosing your word, Susannah Conway has a free five-day e-course called Find Your Word which you can sign up to, I’ll link to it in the show notes. I have a pretty simple, straight forward approach to picking my word, remember this isn’t supposed to feel like another pressure.
I think about how I want to feel in the coming year, what I want to do and how I want to be in the world. It can help to think about what you didn’t like about how you felt in the past year to give you a steer on how you do want to feel or be in the next year. Have a listen to the last two episodes 75 and 76 on reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the next for more on this.
So, I might just think about it while I’m having a cuppa, or ponder it while I’m walking the dog or write down my thoughts in a notebook, journalling on it essentially. I notice what words crop up as I have these thoughts and what other words might describe my intentions. If none of these words feels quite right I might check the thesaurus to see if it brings up a different word that is more fitting. I don’t put pressure on myself to have a word chosen by a certain time, I just let them percolate until one keeps popping up as that’s probably the word to pay attention to. It’s not about having what I think is the right word or the word I should have, or the word that would be good for me, it’s about finding a word that feels right.
I don’t want my word for the year to make me feel obliged to be a certain way out of shame or guilt. I don’t want to use it to beat myself for not being or doing something I’m not. I want to learn and develop and stretch myself but that will happen by encouraging myself kindly, not by bashing myself over the head with a word that makes me feel bad.
You want a word that feels inspiring, challenging and stretchy in a good way (not a terrifying way), a word that feels like it’s going to be a positive reminder, one that will support you in your intention for how you want to feel and be and what you want to do. A word that makes you smile and look forward with excitement rather than dread. I know I’ve found a word that’s going to support me when it keeps coming up over and over and it just feels good in my gut.
I’ve chosen a word each year since 2013 and they’ve included grow, connect, balance, share, and visible. Sometimes the word works brilliantly for you, it helps you move forward the way you want to and it feels like a wonderful guiding light. Other times you realise that it’s not the right word after all, it feels heavy or you forget about it completely! There’s no right or wrong in choosing a word, you can have more than one, you can have a main word with supporting words too, you can have a different word for each month, you can change your word part way through the year if that’s what you want to do!
Personally I like to choose a word that has a meaning for all areas of my life but you might find it more helpful to have a different word for different parts of your life.
Last year, for 2020, my word was trust and I loved it. It turned out to be the word I really needed for the most upside down year of all our lives and although it felt hard to trust in myself and in the world at large at times, I felt inspired, supported and guided by my word throughout the year.
So, what is my word for 2021? Well, for the first time I’m having two words! See, I told you there are no rules. And the two words are ease and intuition.
I was almost settled on ease but something was holding me back from deciding on it for sure. And then the word intuition popped into my head, and I knew (of course!) that was the word for me, not instead of but as well as, ease.
So why ease? I have a tendency to make things feel harder than they need to be. It’s partly due to the story that so many of us are given that work has to be hard, that good things can’t come easy. And it’s also due to my fondness for a plan, to be in control because this can then lead to being rigid and feeling I have to stick to the schedule even if it’s a self-imposed one. I’ve made strides in addressing these stories and tendencies but this year I really want to bring more ease into my work and my life. To ask myself, how can I make this seemingly challenging or tedious task more easeful? How can I play with it, how can I bring more joy into it? It’s not about making life super easy, it’s about not making life so hard.
I already do it in little ways like listening to podcasts when I’m cleaning the bathroom or working on my laptop snuggled under a blanket. I want to remind myself to find ways to bring more ease into my daily life and so this word is going to keep me focused on this intention.
And then intuition goes perfectly with ease because it’s all about connecting with what your gut instinct says, what your inner wisdom is trying to tell you but gets drowned out by thoughts of what you should do or what other people are doing. I don’t mean I’m going to ditch all rationale or logic or discount experience to only go on how I feel. I know that a mixture of thinking, feeling and taking experience into account is a great cocktail for making decisions that are right for you. But when we make choices or act solely on what we think and ignore what we feel, that’s when we can come unstuck.
When I think back to the big choices or decisions I’ve made in my life, when they’ve felt right in my gut they’ve been right for me. That doesn’t mean they were easy or that everything was straight forward or that other people always agreed with me but, I know they were absolutely the right choices for me to make. My intuition hasn’t steered me wrong yet so I want to be able to hear it even more clearly.
And, as a lovely side benefit, I know that the more I’m able to tune into my intuition and to find ease, the more I’m able to support those around me to do the same whether it’s friends, family, coaching clients, members of The Calm Mind Club, those who take my courses or you listening to this podcast! Tied into ease and intuition is also permission and joy – you need to give yourself permission to be more easeful and to not only listen to but to act upon your intuition, and when you allow yourself, when you create ease, when you tune into your intuition, you feel and make space for much more joy. You’ll be hearing more from me on these juicy topics of permission and joy…
So, if you decide to choose a guiding word for this year I’d love to hear about it. You can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Instagram where I’m @gabrielletreanor.
And remember my course, Rooted – all about reducing overwhelm and feeling able to cope when life gets stressful – is available to everyone and I’m making it free to NHS staff to support them in this incredibly fragile and challenging time. Go to gabrielletreanor.com/podcast for the links in this episode 77’s show notes.
Thanks for listening, until next time, lovely people.
Throughout this website and my work when I refer to women I include people identifying as women.
If you have, or think you may have, a mental health problem that requires professional diagnosis or treatment, please consult a mental health care professional and your GP.
You can also talk to the people at Mind on 0300 123 3393 or SANE on 0300 304 7000 or Samaritans on 116 123.
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