Since my dear friend Emily – The Startup Wife – introduced me to the practice a couple of years ago, I’ve taken a morning or an evening every December to complete Susannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year workbook.
It’s a very worthwhile activity. Susannah challenges you, in the gentlest way possible, to look at the year that has just passed and reflect on what went well, what could have gone better, and what you’ve learned about yourself and others along the way.
You then take time to think about the year ahead and what your dreams, hopes and ambitions are, as well as noting any obstacles you expect to face and considering how you might overcome them. To tie all that together, you choose one word to keep in mind and inform your actions throughout the year – an overarching theme for everything that follows.
Before I filled in my 2014 workbook this week, I took some time to read through last year’s, and it was so interesting.
Last December, Tasmania wasn’t even the tiniest twinkle in our eyes. I’m not sure that I even knew where it was. Moving across the world was not high on my list of priorities for the year ahead.
But still the word I chose for 2013 was COURAGE. I challenged myself to say yes to things more often, even if they scared me. I wanted it to be a year when I took advantage of the opportunities that were offered, even if they took me far out of my usual comfort zone.
Although we had no idea what was to come, I knew that 2013 needed to be a year for reaching out rather tucking in.
So what of 2014?
I have chosen the word LEARN.
This is a year for learning in so many different ways.
First, I have so much to learn about this new place I live in. About Hobart, about Tasmania, and about Australia. From the slang words to the bank notes… from local customs to state politics… from history and tradition to modern etiquette… I am blundering blindly through most social encounters at the moment, marking myself out as a newcomer several times a day. When I look at the night sky I don’t recognise the constellations anymore. I don’t know the names of the birds in the local park. DorkySon lent a hand at the supermarket self-checkout the other day, telling me that my red pepper was actually, now, called a capsicum. And apparently we will not be pulling crackers on Christmas Day, we will be pulling Christmas Bon Bons instead.
I learn new things, almost without trying, every time I leave the house. But I would like that learning to be more intentional, in 2014. I want to actively seek out new knowledge, experiences, and emotions.
Second, I want to learn alongside DorkySon. It is definitely a two-way thing – we have a lot to teach each other. His constant questioning sometimes drives me crazy, but it’s inspiring too. He starts kinder in 2014 – the last stop before formal schooling. It will be another wonderful year of learning through play, but it also means a uniform and a teacher who he addresses as ‘Mrs’ for the first time ever. I can’t wait to be as much a part of that as he allows. He is so open to the world, so curious, and I want to be as engaged and present as possible to support his learning, and to learn alongside him.
DorkyDad and I have some learning to do as well. We have gone a long time putting most of our energy into work and home and parenting, and perhaps not as much time with each other as we would have liked. But we have had more lunches and evenings out – just the two of us – in our 4 months in Hobart than we had in the previous two years. We are turning our phones off, turning the TV off, and starting to really re-engage with each other. We love each other dearly. We can still make each other laugh. We still interest each other. And I think we are still learning about each other. It is wonderful, and I hope we can continue it throughout the year.
Finally. The thing that will allow me to make all those other learning experiences happen is if I’m open to learning more about myself. I turned 30 in 2013. I moved across the world. I said yes to things and surprised myself, and also said no to things and surprised myself. I don’t often feel proud, but I really am proud of 2013. It is the first time in a long time when I can stand up and say yes, I did have courage this year. I was brave in ways I didn’t expect to be, and I’m proud of that. I need to step that up in 2014. More and bigger and better. I want every day to count.
This is the first time I have blogged about my word of the year and made it public. This is the first time I’ve really laid myself open in a while, and written honestly about who I am and what I want. It makes me a little nervous, actually, but it adds another layer of accountability. I hope that at the end of next year you will still be reading DorkyMum and I’ll be able to write another post telling you some of the things I’ve learned in 2014. I hope it’s another year I can feel proud of.
I would love to know what your word for next year would be. If you can carve out an hour or two for yourself over the holidays, do take the time to fill in the whole 2014 Workbook. If not, just take five minutes to think about what you want to do next year, and who you want to be. You might be surprised what you can achieve, just by being intentional and writing it down or saying it out loud.
*raises a glass to 2014* I love the idea of choosing a word for 2014, I’m off to think about what mine might be… x
Gosh what a fabulous idea. I love this kind of thing x
What a lovely idea. Here’s to an amazing 2014 for you and your family! I’m off to think about my word x
a fabulous idea. the first word that pops into mind for me is change. 2014 is all about change for the HPMcQs x
Great idea 🙂
My word for 2014 will have to be RELAX. I find that I’m putting myself under so much pressure to cram as much as possible into life that when the opportunity arises to relax I can’t. Quite astonishing considering how laid back I used to be…..
Funnily enough I went away to think about my word and I came up with change too. 2014 is going to be a year of change in my life. Such a wonderful post and you have shown such incredible courage this year and i think from reading your posts that it has served you well. I hope that 2014 is a great year for you
This was a wonderful read… and what a great thing to do to reflect on the year, and set your energy for next year. Love it. Really love it, and oh my lordy, you have been so, so courageous this year. I think my word for 2014 is BELIEF!!! X.
Funny how much things can change in a year isn’t it? I love this post. Positive and inspirational! My word for 2014 will be Laughter. You can never have too much of that! 🙂
This is a really lovely, though provoking post, thank you. I moved from the UK to Tassie in 2012 and my word for this year was: “CALM”. I wanted to feel more settled and for my family to feel more relaxed in their new roles. And, reflecting now, it was an apt (and mostly successful!) word. I haven’t got a word yet for 2014 but you’ve certainly got me thinking about it. Merry Christmas and may your first full year in Tassie be awesome.
What an amazing year you have had! This post has really made me think. I’m going to choose a word, I’m not sure what it will be yet, perhaps simplify, inspired by your paragraph about turning off the phones and the TV.
Brilliant idea – I’m actually going to sit down and have a good think about what I want my word to be for next year.
I will have a better look at that work book when I get a chance – but I have a feeling my word is ‘anger’ – I need to let go of the pain and anger, and stop letting the negative waste my precious time. It is something I really want to concentrate on, or ‘positive’ is the word is to be less negative.
Good luck with your learning.
So weird, I do this too and was just telling my sister today what my theme for next year will be. I give myself a theme rather than a single word though. 2013 was the year I put myself out of my comfort zone, and I have decided that 2014 will be the year in which I raise my game. I was just about to draft a post on the very thing when I read yours! Love your word for next year x
I’ve thought long and hard about this while blogging this evening – my word is going to be ‘time’. Here’s to 2014 x
An inspiring post Ruth – I love that you are already using ‘kinder’ the Aussie word. I filled in the unravelled book last year, so many times this year i’ve looked at it and thought, ‘must look at that again’ and then didn’t look at it, not once. I’m not sure what my word is – i need to really think about it. There’s much that needs tweaking. Well done you for putting it out there – a brave step and one that means you are more likely to stick to it – but I have no doubt that you will. Wishing you a fantastic 2014 – am sure it will be memorable.
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Beautiful. Just reading this makes me smile and I am so very pleased that your year has been everything and more of what you wanted it to be. I’m only just learning that challenging yourself can be one of the hardest and most rewarding things ever. My word for next year will be confidence. Something I lack so much and yet something that is slowly reappearing when I least expect it. Have a fabulous new year. You are an inspiration.
This is a lovely post. You really have been brave, and I love reading about your new journey. I think for me next year my word needs to be play. Too often I fill my time with too much and am always chasing my tail. That’s a shame, when I have children who want me and my time, so I need to spend more time in play mode
I love Susannah’s Unravelling workbook – I discovered it for the first time last year, and my word was ‘Confidence’. Courage is a good one; it’s amazing what you’ve done this year! I don’t know what my word is for this year yet. Instead of Susannah’s workbook I’m trying out Leonie Dawson’s ‘Amazing Life and Biz Workbook’ this December! Looking forward to 2014. Happy Christmas Ruth. x
Thanks for this Ruth – the honesty and sharing – of your word and this kind of work. I mentally do this sort of thing and think some structure could be fantastic and probably more effective, bringing about a more intense focus as it will. You have been enormously courageous this year – and very well done you. I initially thought of the word ‘Love’ but I will complete the workbook before taking a proper decision! Happy Christmas to you and yours and may whatever 2014 brings you all continue to be fabulous! X
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Love the idea of this, think I need to do it too. In some ways I feel like I have loads of challenges for next year and things I want to achieve so brave would be a good word, but on reflection enjoy might be a better one x
Oh I love this so much. I also do a word of the year and mine is NURTURE, Cass at Frugal family told me about this, as I have been offline, so I went back and altered my post to include yours. Just how fortuitous was your 2013 word. I am all about positive affirmations and I believe you are making your destiny,
I’ve been attempting this for a few years. 2011 was my first year and create was my word. I did so much more creatively that year than I had since I was a child, or since! 2012 was a bust as my son’s autism was very difficult, and it wasn’t until around spring (UK spring!) that things started to ease. I guess, looking back, my word for this year has probably been recuperate.
I’m still not sure what my 2014 word will be, but I think it may be something like enjoy, play, or fun. I’m going to be 30 and now that things are going well with the wee man (he’ll be in school full time by the summer term), I have more time for myself to enjoy. Even something as simple as reading a good book has only just come back over the last 6 months as the exhaustion has lifted!
I love reading about your amazing journey, and your word for this year has most definitely been the right one! 🙂
Merry Christmas and here’s to a good 2014!
spring (UK spring!) *this* year…
Brilliant Ruth, how fitting was courage? I really look forward to taking your learning journey with you this year. Happy new year, Mich x
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I love the idea of choosing a word for the year ahead. I think I might have to consider doing it this year!
This post has really made me think of what word I could use to help keep me focused next year, I think I have finally found it.
Oh Ruth. You gorgeous girl. Emily is a dear friend of mine. I have chosen ‘connect’ as my word for 2014. And I would love to connect with you and teach you the local lingo and history. I’m a 6th generation Tasmanian so this place courses through my veins. Here’s to a sparkling 2014! J x
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Really great idea.Been thinking about goals. This is a nice way to create an overarching philosophy.
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I like the idea of setting goals and having ideas instead of resolutions which although very similar seem much harder to keep – I’ve picked my word!
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You’ve really inspired me with this post Ruth. Hurrah for 2013 and an even bigger hurrah for the adventures that 2014 will bring. Thank you for sharing your word with us! x
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I love the idea of this. Will definitely check out her book.
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Great post 🙂 Very inspiring!
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