How I Decided on My Word of 2020

In high school, my least favorite English lessons were ones involving Greek mythology. 20 years hasn’t changed my opinion but I do appreciate the ancient philosophical works of Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates, of which I became very familiar during my political theory courses in college. There is one quote that particularly resonates with me as another new year commences…

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old but on building the new.”


New Year’s resolutions nowadays are about as popular as landlines and Canadian tuxedos – it seems most people are forgoing the traditional “Lose 20 pounds!“, instead choosing a word or phrase to sum up their intentions for the coming year. Identifying a word to focus on throughout the year can assist with achieving a wide-range of goals; no matter how big or how small. The word can become a personal mantra – something to repeat over and over when said goals feel unattainable or stagnant.

So how did I go about choosing my word for 2020? First, I wrote down everything I hope to accomplish, regardless of how preposterous. I filled a page in my journal with aspirations, benchmarks, goals, and dreams. I circled the goals that were specific, measurable, and attainable. I starred the ones that made me the most excited. And then I mapped my goals again, this time categorizing them with like-minded aspirations. When I stepped back and looked at everything I want to accomplish in 2020, it felt like a tangled web of less/more statements…

  • less fear/more risk
  • less apathy/more passion
  • less sugar/more greens
  • less idleness /more mindfulness
  • less planning/more doing
  • less social media/more books
  • less envy/more appreciation
  • less alcohol/more water

I really feel like 2020 will be a transformative year. Our family has a lot of change on the horizon and there is a fire within me that I haven’t felt in years. And when thinking about said fire, I pictured a hearth being used to shape a piece of metal – a practice I am unfamiliar with beyond observing demonstrations at Colonial Williamsburg and Greenfield Village. And then I started to think of words such as form, create, produce, commit, and ignite. Then I was reminded of a quote that I came across last month…

“We become what we behold. We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.”

Marshall McLuhan

Because of this, I couldn’t shake the word forge out of my head. It is a word that has many connotations, not all positive: to form, to create, to mold, to falsify, to copy. But perhaps that is why I was drawn to forge in the first place – it isn’t a simple word. Those five letters can have a variety of meanings – it all depends on how you use it. The word itself is a showcase of the importance of intention. The more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea of making forge my word for the year.

This year, I will forge ahead. I will move forward and strike while the iron is hot. I will allow myself to be shaped by what I’ll experience with an understanding that success isn’t a final destination, but rather a journey filled with peaks and valleys. So here is to 2020. May we strive. May we work hard. May we succeed. And may we drink more water.

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