In this post, I share my word of the year for 2020 and how I’m letting it guide the future of my creative business.
That time I thought I was too good for the “word of the year.”
Like many bloggers, every January 1st, I declare a focus word or phrase to guide the 365 days that lie ahead.
Somewhere along the way, the masses adopted this annual ritual. Participation grew from many bloggers to all the bloggers and, eventually, the people of the internet. Whenever something starts to feel that cliche, I’m over it.
Last year, I felt ready to retire the practice. Yet, there was a word that kept popping up in my mind, and I couldn’t seem to quiet it.
“Okay, fine,” I said to myself.
I work from home. I talk to myself a lot.
“‘Abundance’ will be my word of 2019.”
And it ended up being more impactful than any other word I had ever chosen. With “abundance” as my guide, paired with the symbol of a yellow car (which became a teaching aid of sorts), I was able to train myself to see the plentiful opportunities in my life.
Whenever I spotted a yellow car, it was a reminder: whatever we decide to focus on will show up.
My year was filled with yellow cars.
I learned that my life could be brimming over with whatever I wanted to see. The yellow car was just the Do-Re-Mi— the placeholder, as I came to understand the concept of abundance. Then I began replacing yellow cars with things that mattered.
I became brave enough to ask for what I wanted. But more importantly— much more importantly— I began to feel worthy of accepting the things that I was asking for.
My word of the year for 2020
Despite my stubbornness to adopt a word for 2019, by December, I didn’t want to let go of “abundance.” I seriously considered repeating it.
But before the new year began, a new word came to mind, and it was perfection: BOUNDLESS.
I liken it to a more advanced version of abundance— a graduate-level word-of-the-year. My abundance lessons have been learned. I know what’s possible. Now it’s time to practice it, in a big way.
New rules for my new word
At this point on my journey, “going big” doesn’t mean what it used to. I don’t have any grand plans to generate eight figures or give a TED Talk.
Simply, I want to do more things that feel like me.
I made a rather long list of things I’m choosing to leave behind in the 2010s. After reexamining it, I realized that I wrote the same three things down in several different ways, cementing their significance.
In a nutshell, I’m done with:
- Asking for permission.
- Letting the judgment of others guide my actions.
- Feeling guilty about everything.
Variations of those barriers have held me back from fully being the creative person I’m meant to be. I want my word of the year to be a reminder that I’m free of those blocks.
Boundless is not selfish
The reason I consider this word to be a graduate-level version of last year’s, “abundance” is because, without an understanding of abundant living, boundless living could go very wrong.
If I’m choosing to do more things that are more “me,” what does that mean for everyone else in my life? Isn’t that a pretty self-centered way to operate?
It certainly is, if you’re coming from a place of lack (abundance’s evil alter ego). In moments when I feel like I don’t have enough love, or money, or opportunity, I make stupid decisions. We all do. We react to that feeling of lack by overcompensating in efforts to tip the scales in our favor.
But when I feel balanced, those “lack” feelings cease to exist.
I don’t care if a random person on the other side of the world has stolen one of my designs and is passing it off as their own. My business makes plenty of money, and I have no shortage of new design ideas or the energy to execute them.
I’m not jealous of that girl on Instagram with the perfect mermaid hair. My pin-straight, limp locks suit my face just fine, and there are a ridiculous amount of volumizing products to help on the days when I need a little lift.
When I see a new writer land a book deal or a friend get the opportunity to speak at a conference or a fellow blogger partner with a brand I love, I get EXCITED. Their successes don’t mean that there’s less room for me or you to do the same. These are beautiful examples of what is possible.
What I’m doing to stay balanced
Last year, I adopted some great habits that I plan on bringing with me into the new year: exercise, meditation/prayer, gratitude, reading affirmations, and listening to positive podcasts and audiobooks.
Those five practices keep me feeling on top of my game. For you, it’ll likely be something different; but the execution should be the same.
I can’t stress the importance of carving out time to do the things that keep you at your best. In my experience, magical pockets of free time do not appear. You have to choose to make your habits a priority.
I wholeheartedly believe that the best, happiest version of you is the one that is best for everyone else. When you feel centered and whole and loved, you can do anything. You can help others, be a better friend, a better citizen. This is how we can change the world.
How will my word of the year affect my business in 2020?
A couple of years ago, I received some pretty awful advice that I’m sorry to say I followed: “stop creating new content.”
It was well-meaning and is valid for anyone trying to generate more money. It can’t just be about content. You have to promote it too.
But creating content is my lifeblood. When I’m talking about being more “me,” it means doing the things that come the most naturally to me. I wake up every morning, wanting to make something. To tell a story, or design something, or create. It’s an essential part of my being, just like breathing and eating.
So you’re going to see more content from me this year. But it’s probably going to be all over the place.
If you have been following my creative journey from the beginning, you’ll know it started with wedding invitations. From there, I blogged about weddings, printable designs, blogging, building a creative business, mindset, and introversion.
Creativity without boundaries
This year, I want to share whatever is on my mind and heart, much like this blog post. I’m not going to try to shoehorn my thoughts into a category or attempt to connect it with a product or program if it doesn’t fit.
When Steve and I launched A Podcast for Creatives two years ago, it felt like a breath of fresh air. We had no agenda and granted ourselves a space to talk about whatever. There’s a reason why this has consistently been my favorite project. It’s where I feel the freest to be myself.
An ah-ha moment came when I remembered that I own my business and that I don’t need to answer to anyone. I can do the same on other platforms! This blog, my Instagram and Twitter, and the podcast will all become spaces where I’ll share snippets of my creative journey and what I’m learning along the way.
This year, there will be fewer business-building posts and more personal stuff. I’m excited to talk more about the things that light me up: movies, tv, books, and travel. And whatever project I’m working on at the moment.
Last year I started writing a novel, and I’m excited to finish it in 2020. I haven’t shared much about it so far because it didn’t feel “on brand.” I’m over that now. I can’t wait to share this story with you.
What won’t change
I often sign emails, “Your friend, Michelle,” and it’s because that’s the role I want to play. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m happy to share anything I can with you. I want to celebrate your wins and encourage you when things feel tough.
But I’m not an expert. I’m a student. I may be at a different place than you, but I’m learning just like you are, just like all of us are.
If you need some structured guidance, I offer two programs that you can check out: one for Printable Designers, one for Creative Business Owners who are looking to grow. They are self-study, in that you can work at your own pace, but very much supported by me, and our community.
I hope that as I head in this new direction, that my content will provide you with inspiration and encouragement to pursue all of the creative dreams that are keeping you up at night and making you leap out of bed in the morning.
Wishing you a bright and beautiful year.