How to Choose Your ‘Words’ (and Define Your Goals) for the New Year

Happy New Year!

Let’s begin our 2020 together with one of my favorite quotes from the poet Rumi, who said:

“The words we speak become the house we live in.”

I absolutely love that saying, and remind myself of it often. The phrase evokes an image in my head of a house built of actual language. I imagine words stacked atop one another, making walls of thick, inky, overlapping lines. I see not just single words among the fray, but whole sentences and phrases, too.

Our words, says Rumi, become a sort of home — a spiritual residence, an invisible space, an emotional place — in which we reside, day in and day out.

It’s from this “house” that we operate, every day.

Your house is made up of everything from little turns of phrase — the kinds of niceties and polite responses and conversation that you use — to words that describe your innermost beliefs and define your core values.

Your house is built of words that describe your hopes and dreams for the future. Your house is built of stories from your past, like formative moments and fond memories, hard-earned lessons and painful wounds, too.

Your house is built of mantras, affirmations, and intentions that you may strive to live by.

According to Rumi, our days start and end in the “house” that is built of our words, stories, and beliefs: the invisible but powerful content of the mind that governs our perceptions and perspectives.

If you’ve ever heard the notion that we become “the product” of the people with whom we spend the most time, you’ll be familiar with this idea. The concept is that whatever we focus upon, think about most frequently, hear the most, or tell ourselves the most holds a powerful influence on us because it shapes our perceptions and perspectives on a deep, instinctive, unconscious level.

The same goes for our words: they make up the “narrative fabric” (or, our essential understanding) of who we are, what we do, and why.

These days, it can be easy to forget that our words carry such significance, influence, and power.

It’s easy to take our words for granted.

Every day, we’re tempted by attention-draining tech devices and even basic impulses to use our words unconsciously, mindlessly, even haphazardly.

That’s why I find myself reciting this quote from Rumi so often. It’s a self-reminder. When I notice my mind running down its own little path of narrative nonsense — telling a story that serves no good, or reflecting upon some old story that I’ve long since outgrown — it’s a reminder to stop “building my house” with words and stories that I don’t want to live under.

That’s my cue to slow down, breathe, be considerate, and select my words and thoughts more carefully.

I want to live in the proverbial “house” of my own making.

And I know you do, too.

So, today, I’m inviting you to kick off your 2020 with me by considering and carefully selecting just a couple words — only two, maybe three — to define your intentions, desires, or core themes for 2020.

What words will build your “house” in this new decade?

To start your New Year on the right foot, pause today or tomorrow — maybe for 10 or 15 minutes of UYT (or, Uninterrupted You Time) — to reflect upon what words feel as though they can help you build the so-called “house” in which you wish to reside in 2020 and beyond.

If you could use some inspiration, I’ve got your back. I prompted my Insta-fam (which is cool-kid slang for “Instagram family”) to tell me what words they’re selecting to define their focus for 2020 this past week.

Here are a few select samples of what I’ve received so far:

  • “Trust and Explore”
  • “Surrender and Joy”
  • “Rediscover and Revive”
  • “Build Momentum”
  • “Pilgrim and Create”
  • “Potty Training”
  • “Growth and Organization”
  • “Bright and {Low-Key} Ebullient”
  • “More Autodidactic”
  • “Possibility”
  • “Breathe”
  • “One-Hundred Percent”

For me, my words for 2020 are “Elevated and Expanding.”

What are yours, friend?

You don’t have to share yours with me, but, the word nerd in me (who, after all, writes this stuff for you and with the explicit hope that it benefits you in some small way) would really love to know what words you’re using to build the house of your 2020.

So, you can either respond to my story on Instagram by clicking here or by subscribing to my newsletter, Chronicles of a Self-Storied Life, and replying to any of my emails to you with a quick note.

I really enjoy getting to know how you’re striving to live your self-storied life, even from afar.

Your words, stories, suggestions, and responses directly shape how I strive to create for you, so, thank you for taking the time to share.

Remember, you are the teller of your story. Your story is entirely your own to tell. So, own it! Use your words. Build your house. Tell it well.

Until next time, have fun selecting your words for your 2020!

PS — If you missed my last letter to you, click here to read and enjoy 16 Fill-the-Blank Prompts to “Story” Your Year (in 30 Minutes or Less). In response to the piece, one of my subscribers wrote: “I just completed this and it was beautiful and profound and so very healing in this moment.” I’m so glad that it resonated with her, and I hope it does for you, too!

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