Today I am sharing my focus Word of the Year. This is a tradition I started a few years ago. And shared for the first time on this site last year. The beauty of this tradition is that you can feel your life evolving and moving forward even when you allow yourself to be dragged back into places you no longer belong.
Choosing one focus word to serve as a guiding light to take you through the year is a beautiful way to experience the year ahead. It keeps you focused on your goals and intentions.
Last year’s word…
Discovering was my word of the year in 2022. And if you read the 22 things I learned in 2022, there is a sense of profound emotional and personal challenges that came with the year. But through it all, I continued through my journey of Discovering. And Still, I am discovering so much about myself and life.
When this word surfaced in August last year, I kept pushing it away. Because I had already decided on Structure as my word. I felt I needed to bring Structure to my life in new ways. Big and little things kept surfacing. And one day, the simple task of standing up for myself without feeling terrible afterward led me right back to the word.
I wanted to change my life. But I have had so many uncertainties in the last two years that I was clinging to comfortable parts of myself, although they were no longer habitable.
My focus word of the year for 2023 is…Courage.
Accepting courage as my focus word of the year took a while.
Maya Angelou said
“I am convinced that courage is the most important of all virtues. Because without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue consistently. You can be kind for a while; you can be generous for a while; you can be just for a while, merciful for a while, even loving for a while. But it is only with courage that you can be persistently and insistently kind and generous and fair.”
I love this quote. I have always kept it with me—I even used it in my dear dad’s eulogy. And I identified more and more with it over the past few months as the word courage showed up a lot. And began thinking more about courage and what it meant to me.
Here are a few ways Courage is defined
- The mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, Fear, or difficulty.
- Quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
- The ability to do something that frightens one.
- Strength in the face of pain or grief.
- It implies firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty.
- Having mental or moral strength to resist opposition, danger, or hardship.
On the web, everything said about Courage had something to do with strength, tenacity, being fearless, and perseverance to withstand hardship, navigate difficulties, and face pain and danger.
Courage is an inward word—it encourages a mindset shift. Part of the definition of courage states “without fear,” but courage allows us to face difficulties and act despite any lurking fear.
Courage is a word of power and strength, but it means much more than that to me.
The word Courage
I want all the things that the word Courage is said to bring: fearlessness, perseverance, strength, faith, tenacity, et cetera. But I choose to bring courage into my life in different ways.
I have done as we all have looked for ways to fix myself—find ways to add what I felt was missing. Wallowing in remnants of victimhood and brokenness. Although I have consistently said I am no victim and no human being is broken still, they both lurked in the pit of my mind pushing me forward while nudging me backward. But I thought, what if I changed my perspective? Look at things differently, and the view was gorgeous, but I needed a guiding light.
Derek A. Cuthbert said: “Fear is the beginning of defeat. Courage is the beginning of Success.”
Courage is not comfortable or instinctive. And I have not gone from where I was to being courageous immediately—the little steps I take daily continue to show me that the impossible no longer exists.
“Courage is like – a habit, a virtue: you get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.” – Mary Daly.
I believe courage is a muscle built by doing the uncomfortable, heading into uncertainty, and doing the hard things. It takes practice, and it will not be perfect, and it is certainly not pretty.
“It takes courage daily to find real meaning and purpose in our lives – and this leads to joy.” – Hal Urban
So here are a few of the ways I am weaving courage into my life.
Removing things—the layers.
I started my journey with courage by removing the layers that are not Natasha. I have stopped trying to add to what is already there and stopped trying to fix but instead be courageous enough to remove the things that are not me, the ones that no longer serve me, and the ones I learned that need to be unlearned. Sometimes I am afraid to look just a little deeper—other times, I realize how attached I am to a specific layer. But I know the key is to keep going and be courageous enough to do the work—do what is required of me.
Creating new foundations for the life, I want to live.
The foundations I once had have since become rocky; some have crumbled. And I know it is nearly impossible to thrive if the foundation is not stable or well-built. The change will happen, ready or not. And I have certainly experienced change I did not want or was not ready for, but I can not stop living—I have to keep going. I am creating new foundations, and I am strengthening the rocky ones. And this is having the courage to change my thoughts—change my perspective, set boundaries, et cetera.
Belief in what is possible for me.
A few months ago, I could not see the possibilities of moving beyond where I was—I could not see the next step. But I will get there with faith and belief that it will happen. And having the courage to act or show up when the next step presents itself. I am no longer seeking evidence that something is possible; I am creating them.
“Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver.” – Brene Brown.
Comment below: do you choose a focus word of the year to guide you?