Word of the Year

If you’ve read my 2019 closing ceremony post, you might have got the idea that last year was busy. You’d be right.

More than that though, it was unstructured and, at times, stupidly chaotic. Part of me (okay, a very large part of me) quite likes that. I tend to have a tenuous relationship with boundaries, and chaos gives me the illusion of flexibility – and illusion is something I get along with very well indeed.

This year promises to be even busier. There’s the day job, plus I’ve taken on a new (voluntary) role as President of the Romance Writers of Australia (RWA). Most importantly though, there are the novels I want to write and publish in 2020 – the ones that for various reasons didn’t quite happen in 2019.

I tend to be constantly chasing my tail in a never-ending blur of activity. I get stuff done – I get a lot of stuff done – but I never seem to quite get there. I never seem to fully capitalise on opportunities or momentum. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come a long way in the last decade and have achieved a lot. More importantly, I think I have a better idea of who I am and what I want from life than I did at the beginning of the last decade. That’s why I looked at my closing ceremony and decided that there are three things I want from 2020:

  • To be healthier than I was in 2019. That means a continuation of Project Excess Baggage plus moving in a way that will help me move easier – and yes, that does make sense. 
  • For my bank balance to be healthier than it was in 2019. Even though it mightn’t appear that way, we’ve gone substantially backwards (financially speaking) over the last few years and can’t continue to live as well as we have been living on the salary from my day job. Budgetary belts need to be tightened yet, we both still want to travel, which leads me to…
  • To be closer in my ambition to be making a (comfortable) living solely from my writing.

How to tie these goals into a single word of the year?

Knowing how busy I’ll be professionally this year I thought of strengthpurpose or resilience. These words, however, feel more like standing still than moving forward and I’m not yet at a consolidation phase.

Then it occurred to me that while my schedule is demanding, everything that I shove in and around it, are ways for me to escape from not just the real world, but also from all those other self-limiting things like fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being invisible, fear of being seen. I could go on.

That’s why I’ve decided that it’s time to get real. 

  • To accept what I can’t, or am not prepared to, change, and do something about what I can.
  • To get real about my writing career – write the books, do the marketing, put myself out there.
  • To get real about the excess baggage – and I’m not just talking about the kilos. 

Maybe, then, my word of the year should be real?

Perhaps. But this concept goes further than that. It goes past everything that I currently use to escape from reality. It goes past the bullsh*t excuses and layers I create to control my environment, keep me safe from exposure and, in the process, ensure that I’ll never quite get to where I need to get to. I say that knowing that there is, of course, no endpoint. 

Stripping back the layers and the pretence and the masks will leave me feeling naked and vulnerable; at one point I was leaning towards naked as my word of the year but decided that could have other connotations.

Ultimately though, this year, I need to step out of the shadows and be seen. Be seen to take responsibility, be seen to step up, be seen to be out there. 

That’s why my word of the year is…drumroll…


What do you think? Do you have a word of the year? Should I have gone with naked?

Author: Jo

I write, I bake, I chase sunrises.

34 thoughts

  1. You sound like a woman with a well defined mission. Shine seems to fit, but so does naked, to some degree. If I followed your logic correctly, your mindset seems to be that one must come before the other. Open, honest, naked and real is always a good idea. Just ask Mrs. Mazel. Best wishes for a fantastic 2020 and forward movement towards independence!!

    1. That is exactly my logic. As a romance writer naked absolutely seemed right (lol) but stripping back is necessary to shine.

  2. Jo – Shine is a beautiful word and excellent choice for WOTY. Although I don’t do WOTY, I have a good idea about how I want to live this year and this decade. It keeps me focused. Best wishes to you for a fabulous and successful 2020! #MLSTL

    1. I don’t do it every year but some years really feel like they need the extra focus. This is one of those.

  3. Gorgeous word Jo – and one that I’ve tossed around when thinking about #WOTY. I think you’ve turned it into something much stronger and more vibrant and challenging – and that’s very naked and scary. But, you’re right – if you want to move forward you have to step out of the shadows and claim your place in the sunshine. I’ll be cheering you on from sidelines and basking in your reflected glory!
    BTW I hope you’re going to volunteer to write me a post about this epic new journey you’re embarking on as part of my SYMPHONY guest list? Email me!!! xx
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

  4. Like others, I think Naked would have been fun – down to the basics, the true self. Shine is lovely though … allow your inner luminescence to shine, shine a light on what’s really important, out of the shadows – so much to play with! I am sure your photography will be highlighted well on posts this year.

    1. Thanks Pat…I was so tempted on naked – it feels as though I need to do what is difficult and strip back…so to speak!

  5. Hi Jo, I LOVE the word shine for you. Based on your description, it is exactly what you need to do and can do this year. You said it yourself, you are highly capable and have accomplished a lot. Why shouldn’t you shine? My word is scale- I want to grow my business and grow myself in bigger ways. My goals are actually very like yours. I might have chosen shine if I had thought of it! I am glad we have met through our blogs and can continue to support each other as we grow this year!

    1. The word I really wanted was flameur – to wander just for the sake of wandering – but I figured that would get me nowhere lol.

  6. Love it Jo! It is positive and I know you will shine this year with all your new projects. Like JG Gibson, I enjoyed your thought pattern in arriving at your WOTY. This year, I’ve decided to go for a theme, Ageing Well, Living Well and that sums me up pretty well, really. Thanks for linking up at #MLSTL and see you next week. x

  7. Shine is a cool WOTY! It sums up what you want to be and do this year!


  8. Your post reminds me of a saying I heard many years ago (I think it was from one of the authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series) paraphrasing, ‘our inbox will never be completely empty, even when we leave this Earth.’ So much to do. So many projects. So many goals and unfinished business.

    Goosebumps when I read your word, “shine.” Great on many levels. The word that keeps surfacing for me, and seems to be choosing me is “trust.” Also a word on many levels for my life.

    In my books, Joanne, you already “shine.” I look forward to watching where you go in 2020. (Could you possibly add “naked” as a subheading?) #MLSTL and sharing SM

    1. Thanks so much Erica. There are times when I don’t feel at all shiny and then I read comments like this and I think, ‘yeah, it’s actually all ok.’

  9. Shine is a perfect word for you, Jo. I appreciate you sharing the thought process that went in to it. Naked, of course, would have been a fun one. Real made me think of authentic and vulnerable. But shine is definitely your word. I did not choose a word of the year. I haven’t chosen a focus or anything. I’m not sure what that says about my state of mind. Right now I’m trying to stay in touch with my intuition and open to the universe. I’d like to strip everything down–declutter my possessions, my worries, my to-dos. Yet a part of me also fears losing ground, becoming lazy. Hmmm…sounds like I have some work to do. I was not expecting all of this to come out. Thank you for the inspiration.

    1. I think there are years where your do have to do the intuitive version of stripping back and seeing what happens. The French have a word for wandering for the sake of wandering “flameur” (but with a little upside down triangle) and that’s what you’re saying feels like to me.

  10. Your post resonated with me very deeply. I can see why ‘real’ and ‘naked’ would be good choices too, but Shine seems to encompass it all. Have a wonderful, shiny year, Joanne.

  11. I knew I should have written my word of the year post while I could still remember how I picked it!! Hmm. What does that say? At least I still remember my word! For now.

    I think with your new book out, that shine is the perfect word for you. You are already shining in many ways – through your written word, your gorgeous photography. And your goal of becoming healthier this year. So I think you’ve chosen well, my friend!

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