HOW DID YOUR WORD OF THE YEAR PLAY OUT?

Choosing a word of the year gives a different focus to a New Year's resolution - why not give it a try?

CHOOSING A WORD OF THE YEAR

Every January for the past five years I've chosen a word to focus on rather than getting tied to New Years resolutions. I love that it's more general and it prompts me to think about how I'd like to grow in the 12 months ahead of me - rather than pledging to do things that I might not achieve. 

As far as previous #WOTY's go, the first year I chose Release (so many things I needed to let go of), then it was Embrace (so many new things to open myself up to), then I moved on to Enough (being enough and having enough). I changed track with Rise (rising up from a difficult year) and followed that with More (becoming more rather than fading away to less). This year I found it really difficult to settle on a word - nothing felt right and I nearly gave it all a miss. Then at the last minute I stumbled upon this quote....


The words resonated with me because it spoke to the type of life I want to live. A calmness and contentment, a sense that my life had harmony and flow - and so, with that in mind, I chose Symphony for 2020. The year didn't quite go as I expected, but that didn't stop me from returning time and again to this William Channing quote and the reminder that a simple and slow life is something to be sought after - and the pandemic certainly returned us to a gentler pace of life.

SO HOW DID IT GO?

A group of friends were discussing how our #WOTY's played out for us through this very topsy turvy time and it was interesting to hear what they each thought about their expectations for 2020 and how those expectations were met or challenged.

When I wrote my Symphony post I said:
Channing clarifies a lot of what I’ve been searching for recently and what I’m discovering is important to how I want to live my life in the years ahead. As I turn my back on consumerism and step out of the rat race, I want to replace the hustle and bustle with living a meaningful life that resonates with my values and grows me as a person. I love the concept of a Midlife SYMPHONY that brings together all the diverse areas of my life so far, and orchestrates them into a bigger picture that makes sense of it all.
I was heading into a new year with the quiet realization that I probably wouldn't look for another job, that I'd need to redefine myself and my future plans, and that I'd be living a slower and less "busy" life, which meant being less stressed and having no drama to deal with. What I didn't know was that it would all be underlined by a pandemic that closed the world down and insisted that we all stay home and do a lot less socially.

A SYMPHONY OF PEACE AND GRATITUDE

I learned a lot about myself this year as I stayed home, re-assessed, and generally looked at what I take for granted and what's really important to me. My symphony continued to play and I found out what was truly in harmony with how I wanted to live and what wasn't. I discovered that:

  • Family is my heartbeat - I really missed my kids and grandgirls when we were shut down.
  • I can spend a lot of time with my husband and still really like him as a person.
  • Technology can be a godsend - where would we be without Facetime and Zoom?
  • I actually really like a quiet life - I'm very good at entertaining myself.
  • I don't have a consumer mentality - there's so much available for free these days!
  • Early retirement is the best thing that's happened to me in a long time.
  • Flexibility and freedom from too many commitments really suits my approach to life.
  • I need very little in life to be happy - family, friends, a good book, coffee, and my laptop will see me through just about anything.

a cat in your lap

WHAT'S NEXT FOR 2021?

2021 is the year I turn 60 - I'm still trying to get my head around that one! Fortunately I have until November before it's a reality, but I'm thinking that my next #WOTY needs to tie in with what I was writing last week about self-acceptance and finally settling into truly being "me" by the time the new birthday decade rolls around. These last few weeks have brought several words to mind - and I love them all. I've been swinging back and forward from one to another, and then onto something else, but I've now found a word to encompass them all and I'm so excited about how I'm going to apply it to the year ahead.

I'm also hoping to have guests telling their stories in relation to my new word too - so I'd love you to put your hand up in January when I publish my #WOTY post and offer to be a guest for me during the first half of the year. This year I had fifteen wonderful bloggers who shared a post here and I'd love to do that again next year - so stay tuned for January!

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Did you have a #WOTY? Did 2020 turn out to be your annus horribilis or were you surprised by how little the pandemic impacted on your approach to life? Did you find some good in amongst all the inconvenience, sadness, and upset? I hope as you look back over the year that's almost gone, you'll find that there was enough joy to outweigh the unpleasantness.

RELATED POSTS


Choosing a word of the year gives a different focus to a New Year's resolution - why not give it a try?
Choosing a word of the year gives a different focus to a New Year's resolution - why not give it a try?

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39 comments

  1. Oh, I love the word symphony as a word of the year. So many wonderful connotations. I think actually it was the perfect word for the year 2020. In a symphony, it is important that everyone plays their part. We learned in 2020 how important is is to work together, how we all need to protect each other and how community is more important than ever.

    I do have my word for 2021 and am looking forward to thinking about it and writing about it.

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    1. I've got my word for 2021 too Laurie and will tackle writing the blog post about it in the next week or so. I love how choosing a word begins and then often morphs as the months go by - sometimes into something quite different than what I first started with. A bit like life really :)

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  2. I loved your WOTY 'Symphony' Leanne. A Symphony is an orchestral piece consisting of multiple distinct sections or movements, often four. This certainly describes how 2020 was: starting the year with normal life, moving to cautious living, then moving to lock down and restrictions and finally for us here in Australia more freedom as restrictions were lifted. My WOTY was actually a statement 'Make it Happen'. I didn't think I had achieved that but looking back over the year to write my post scheduled for next week, I was pleasantly surprised. I also have a WOTY for 2021 which evolved from a group discussion I had with some friends recently. x

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    1. Hi Sue - I think you made a heck of a lot of things happen in 2020 - look at all the achievements you can tick off - from completing your qualifications in fitness instructing through to vlogging and podcasting - you inspire me with all that you tackle and succeed in. I'll be fascinated to see your new word and how you plan to use it in 2021. x

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  3. I've been choosing (or been chosen by) a word of the year since 2014. I usually pick a quote about the word and wear it in a locket. This year my word was "Drive" and I was considering it in the context of motivation and drive for my crafting business. Even before the pandemic, though, my drive turned into actual driving as my son had a seizure and couldn't drive to work so I've been doing that every day since late January. Fortunately he is okay, just still can't drive. Additionally, new California regulations regarding independent contractors caused my business associate to decide to retire and while at first I was panicking, she turned over all of her client base to me so I have been driving this transcription business alone all year. I am in the process of uncovering my word for 2021 now. I have an idea but I need to do some thinking on it before I settle with it. Love your word, Symphony. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with for the big "60" year.

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    1. Hi Janet - well your year certainly was a busy one - and you are lucky to have been given that extra client base to keep you busy when the world decided to stop for a while. You're very fortunate to be able to work from home and to be available for your son's chauffeuring! I look forward to seeing what you come up with for next year - I always enjoy the variety of words that pop up each January.

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  4. Your word has been perfect - and I look forward to seeing what next year's word is...and may even put my hand up to guest post...

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    1. Oh Jo I'd LOVE you to do me a guest post - it's been a while since your last one. I really enjoy it when a few people offer because it brings in some variety and a new flavour to my usual stuff. I've loved having Symphony, but I'm ready to tackle a new word now - and next year's covers a lot of ground.

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  5. This was a perfect word for you Leanne and you've done it justice. I always enjoy the selection and then focus that a WOTY brings me. I have been happy with my word JUMP for this year and have a new word all picked out for 2021. You will enjoy your last year in your 50s and turning 60 isn't too bad, I'm only into day 2 of my 60s so maybe I'm not the best advocate just yet! I'll put my hand up for a guest post if you'll have me. #lifethisweek

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    1. Hi Devb - of course I'd love to have you write me a guest post. I'm feeling a lot more settled with next year's word - I had quite a few to choose between and then landed on one that I could tie them all together with - and back to the idea of becoming more "me" as60 looms on the horizon. I'll be looking forward to seeing what you come up with too - I just love everyone's different approach to the #WOTY theme.

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  6. Symphony was such a perfect WOTY for you Leanne. I look forward to following your adventures with your Word for 2021!

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    1. Thanks Donna - I'm looking at a word that will encompass a lot of the feelings and wishes I have for 2021 - and hopefully inspire others to want to share their stories too.

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  7. I've started to think about my word too, Leanne and still haven't come up with an exact word or phrase but I'm getting there.
    I'm so glad that despite the trying times, your year went well and you learnt so much more about yourself and what's important. What more can we want, right?
    Looking forward to reading what your WOTY for 2021 will be.

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    1. Hi Corinne - I mulled over several words - which is funny because in the lead-up to 2020 I couldn't even come up with ONE until the last moment. I had words popping into my head all through the last few months and hopefully have found one word to pull them all together and springboard me into a new and interesting year ahead. I'm looking forward to reading what everyone else comes up with in January.

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  8. I love the word "symphony" ... I may have to put that in the mix for future years.
    My word for 2020 was acceptance, with the idea that I would learn to accept myself. Little did I know that the word would play out in an entirely different way (learning to accept a global pandemic of which I have NO control)

    I plan to write a reflection post later in December - and then finalize my word for 2021 in the next couple of weeks. Right now I'm learning toward "Confidence" or "Intentional" I'll keep you posted :)

    BTW... for someone reason I can only comment via the Google platform. My "midlife" blog posts will start again on www.mollytotoro.com/blog :)

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    1. Hi Molly - yes Blogger is a bit finicky when it comes to commenting - it particularly doesn't play nice with Mac products for some reason. I'm glad you found a way to keep posting though and I'll definitely be following your blog now that you're back writing again.

      I think Acceptance certainly came into play for a lot of us in a way we never expected this year - and maybe it was a good way to learn to let go a little and stop trying to keep all our ducks in a row?

      I like both your words for 2021 - I ended up with about half a dozen and then found one word to pull them all together - so decided to stand firm on that one and let things play out as they unfold during the year. I hope you'll put your hand up to write me a guest post during the first half of next year when you read my #WOTY post. x

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  9. Leanne, I enjoyed reading the list of things you learned about yourself this past year and can relate - especially 'flexibility and freedom...' I'd say your symphony played out just fine. You know I'm more than happy to contribute a guest post and can't wait for your WOTY reveal.

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    1. I'm doing a happy dance that you're onboard for a guest post Suzanne - I always love what you write for me. I'll do the "big reveal" in January and then feel free to jump in and we'll make it happen. And yes, freedom and flexibility became even more important once we all saw what it was like to have them curtailed by a virus!

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  10. I love and appreciate this post. I have just recently started thinking of choosing a WOTY. I had done so a few times in previous years and not done very well with keeping them in focus. I like the idea of choosing a WOTY instead of a traditional resolution, although I have 2 specific things I want to try to do and am resolved to do them, but New Years' resolutions can quickly go the way of Christmas wrapping paper, gone, gone, gone. I too, reflected on different possibilities and wondered who I would ever choose one or if a word might even "choose me." I do not knwo if that is what happen, but a word came to mind that felt like exactly THE right one for 2021. I will hopefully write about it Christmas week so Ic an have it ready to go on the 1st. Thanks Leanne and blessings, Michele

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    1. Hi Michele - I'm so interested to see what you've come up with. I think #WOTY is such a flexible way to do a resolution - you can tie them together without being locked in to one particular goal. Every year I choose a word, it plays out in its own unique way and often in unexpected little detours that show me new insights. I think 2021 will be full of interesting word choices and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with.

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  11. A wonderful synopsis of your WOTY...and you have me very intrigued to hear about your 2021 WOTY. Like you, I'm contemplating mine and need to spend some time this month delving in a bit more. Last year's Release for me was powerful. 2021 looks to be a year of change for me ... another transition, a post-pandemic world (which I think will be different here in the US). Like you I need a word that brings multiple things in... like your Symphony did!

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    1. Hi Pat - I think Symphony gave me a lot of scope (and also gave my guest posts a lot of variety - which I loved). My #WOTY for 2021 dropped in my lap and it tied up all the little thoughts I'd been having with a nice bow - so I decided to stick with it and see how it plays out over the year ahead - I'm SO looking forward to everyone's words when they write about them in January!

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  12. Symphony was a wonderful word for you, Leanne. I look forward to hearing more about your WOTY for 2021.

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    1. Hi Natalie - I definitely like how it ended up playing out over the ups and downs that 2020 threw at us all. And yes, I'm pleased to be thinking about a new year and a new word as we head towards the end of December.

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  13. All of your words over the past years were great, Leanne. It is almost like they were stepping stones, leading to the next quote. William Henry Channing’s quote is powerful and filled with gems. Your word, Symphony, seems perfect for 2020 for you. I appreciate how you describe “...it would all be underlined by a pandemic that closed the world down....”. I agree with everything on your list of self discovery.

    I have not given a WOTY any thought (yet) for 2021. I briefly mentioned to you how words seem to choose me. I don’t choose them. “Trust” continued to reappear for all of 2020. In retrospect, it was a perfect word for me. I look forward to sharing 2021 with you.xx

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    1. Hi Erica - interesting that you could see the stepping stones - because that's exactly what my words have been. Each one has led me further along the path to letting go of a lot of my preconceived ideas and allowing new thoughts and positivity to take their place.

      I feel like who we're becoming as we mature and gain wisdom is really so much more exciting than I imagined and I'm really looking forward to seeing what my 60's have in store for me - and the stepping stones along the way. Thanks for being a part of my journey xx

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  14. Hi Leanne, I love this follow-up post on your WOTY and how it guided your year. It was a year that took a symphony to drown out all the background noise around the COVID pandemic and political battles that raged around the world. At least your symphony was positive. Thanks for sharing a small part of your symphony as a guest post on my blog. I hope I can return the honor some day. Marsha Ingrao

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    1. Hi Marsha - as I mentioned in my post, I'll be open for guests to share their take on my new #WOTY next year. If you'd like to be a part of that, then I'd love to have you. Hopefully your world will have smoothed out a little by the time 2021 is underway. Merry Christmas!

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  15. I’ve enjoyed reading along with your symphony in 2020 Leanne. It was the perfect word for you at this time. Looking forward to hearing about your WOTY for 2021

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    1. Hi Jennifer - I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with for their words for 2021. I love hearing them and the reasons why they've been chosen. I'm assuming you have one up your blogging sleeve?

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  16. I selected the word BELIEVE because 2019 was very difficult for my family and I wanted to believe that 2020 would be better. In some of the ways that 2019 was hard, 2020 was kinder. But what a crazy year this has been.

    Through it all, though, I have believed that everything would be ok. And it will be. This year will soon be behind us and brighter days are ahead.

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    1. Hi Leslie - it's really how we choose to interpret our #WOTY isn't it? I think believing in the innate kindness and goodness of people really came out in the pandemic. The little displays of neighbourliness, the response to lockdown, and the general "we're all in this together" feeling certainly meant that 2020 wasn't as bad as we'd expected it to be. Now they just have to kill that darn virus!

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  17. Really interesting to read this and I loved your 'review'. I was not going to have a word of the year for 2021 until I had my 71st birthday and my husband's words to me reminded me of what I want to be and doing. I shall post with first one back on 4 January. I would do a guest post if you like. A kind of why each of the words...since 2018...


    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek on my blog. Next week it's the final week for 2020. I have appreciated the bloggers who visit regularly to link up and to comment on my post as well. Next Week: 51/51 Own Choice. 21.12.2020
    #LifeThisWeek Returns on Monday 4 January 2021. May the festive season be kind to you and yours. Denyse.

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    1. Hi Denyse - I'm so glad you decided to have a #WOTY - they're always fun and sometimes are a great reminder of what we had intended for the year ahead. I always enjoy looking back on mine and seeing how it unfolded. I'd love you to be a guest next year if you're interested - just email me in January when my post goes live x

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  18. I loved the word "Symphony" and I'm glad the year turned out good for you! I'll stay tuned to find what word you choose for 2021

    Ruchi Nasa https://thevagabond.me

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    1. Hi Ruchi - 2020 certainly gave a bit of a twist to my word, but fortunately it didn't impact us too awfully here in Australia. I know India has been hit hard and I feel so sorry for those in countries with high numbers of the virus and the difficulties and restrictions it imposes on them. Hopefully 2021 will bring an end to it all.

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  19. Hi Leanne. Hmmmm...symphony. I must confess I would never even thought of that word and hadn't heard that quote before. But it IS really nice and I'm glad to have heard it. Thank you. My WPTY was "Yes!" and of course that was long before what that might mean as the year unfolded. I do believe it helped me to stay more open and accepting of things as they unfolded, but there were a few times when I was ready to toss it out. I've been thinking about my new one quite a bit and will be doing a "reveal" on SMART Living soon. Who might have thought that doing something so simple really does stand out as a great process? ~Kathy

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    1. Hi Kathy - I think exactly the same thing - such a little choice, and yet it often guides our thinking or gives us an anchor point to come back to over the year. I struggled to find the right word for 2020 (maybe I subliminally knew what was ahead!) but my word for 2021 is locked and loaded - I'll look forward to reading yours because I'm sure it'll be thoughtful and insightful x

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  20. Symphony is such a wonderful word and so appropriate for the year you've had I think. I look forward to hearing your self-acceptance related word for 2021. I may even put my hand up for a guest post in the new year. I know I didn't come through with one for your last series as things just got on top of me this year with people working from home and so on. I don't do a word for the year anymore. I used to. Not sure if I will again. I'll think on it. If I were to do one - a word around self-acceptance would also be appropriate for me! Have a fabulous Christmas Leanne. xo

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