My word for this year is ‘lean’.
I don’t usually choose a word for the year, like a theme word that I can resonate with. But I did it last year (sort of) and it worked magically. Last year my theme word was … well, not one word … but my theme last year was to slowly, steadily, and daily pay off all of our debt. I thought it might take 18 months to two years and in fact, beginning January 21st of last year, it took only until the end August. Which means I probably routinely overestimate how long things take by three-fold (or more), which is a good realization to have.
OK, now, back to this year’s theme. I’ve decided that my word for this year is ‘lean’. I was thinking of picking the word ‘thin’, but then I got worried that ‘thin’ might imply unwell or sick. I have that kind of baggage about the word ‘thin’. What’s my story?
I’ve always been afraid of being ‘thin’ for two reasons.
My mother was a nurse and saw illness everywhere. If you got a cold, it could turn into pneumonia in the blink of an eye. At least in her world. If you got sick and you didn’t have enough body weight, then you’d get ‘really sick’. At least in her world.
The second reason I have for being weird about the word ‘thin’ is that my step-mother, who’s been in my life since I was 10 years old, actually did get sick when I was a teenager, and she did get really thin. So emotionally I’ve always associated ‘thin’ with ‘cancer’. I can intellectually tell you that’s not true, but try telling my inner being that.
So this year, when I was looking for a strong and positive word that I could carry around with me all year, I decided that ‘lean’ was a better choice for me than ‘thin’. Lean implies wellness, athleticism, healthiness. If I’m lean then I take the stairs, I run, I put on my jeans out of the dryer and they feel good on me. If I’m lean, then I stand up straighter, I feel better about me.
I realize that ‘lean’ can also apply to lean finances, like “we’re having a lean year this year.” And while that might happen if I focus too much on the idea of ‘lean’, I choose to see even lean finances as kind of liberating. It can mean getting rid of magazine subscriptions that I don’t read, it can mean buying one bag of flour instead of five at a time. It can mean meal planning for the weak, buying the groceries, eating it all up, then starting again with a clean empty fridge. Lean can mean eating my way down through my freezer until it’s empty and spic-and-span clean, and waiting for abundance.
Yes, I did think of making my word for this year be ‘abundance’ but then I thought I might become abundantly overweight! I figured I should pick the ONE area of my life that I believe will make the biggest difference to me this year. Last year, the biggest thing was to finally, after 28 years, be 100% completely and fully out of debt (no mortgage, no line of credit, no car loan, no nothing). This year the thing that I think will make the biggest difference is getting lean. Physically and emotionally and financially.
Let me state the obvious.
It doesn’t matter what other people are doing. I was sitting on the metro just now, coming home from an appointment. I looked around at the other women who are thinner than I am. And I looked at those who are heavier. I realized that nothing is gained by comparing myself to them. It’s not about comparing myself to anyone. It’s just about me.
Yes, it tempting to think something negative like “she may want to lose 10 pounds, but I have to lose 80 pounds.” This may be true, but it’s not helpful.
You might think that ‘lean’ can’t be your word for this year because you have 8o pounds you want to lose.
But ‘lean’ could be your word if you thought: “hundreds of people on the planet have weighed as much as I do now and have lost the weight. People have been where I am now, and have moved to a better place. I can go there too.”
You might think that ‘lean’ can’t be your word for this year because it’s easier for other people to lose weight than it is for you. You’re menopausal, on medication, you’re short, in a wheelchair, your husband is overweight, you live in the country/city, on the wrong continent, in the fattest city in America.
Or you could instead say: “hundreds if not thousands of people who are on this medication have lost weight and I can be one of them. Thousands of athletes are in wheelchairs. Women all over the world are menopausal and are lean.”
You pick your own word.
It doesn’t matter what your word is, so long as you feel good when you say it. If you want ‘lean’, then pick ‘lean’. If you can pick ‘thin’ without the weird baggage that I have, then by all means do it! If you want your word this year to be ‘abundance’, or ‘wealth’, or ‘adventure’, then pick that word. Carry around your word for 24 hours in your head, and sort through all of the positives of your word, and make sure it fits you. Make sure you can say it and believe it’s possible for you.
Then do something radical.
Change all of your passwords, one by one, until you have your word for this year in your password. For example, if your word is ‘thin’ then your password could be “Iamthin” or “thisistheyeartobethin” or “thinthinthin99” or “ShelleyIsThin.”
[I actually did this when we lived in Montreal and wanted to be living in Paris. I changed every single one of my passwords to be “FranceIsMyHome” ... OK, that wasn’t my real password, but you get the picture.]
I’ve started changing my password this year, too. I’m slowly changing all of my passwords to contain the word ‘lean’. This forces me to type the word ‘lean’ a couple of dozen times a day, between my banking software, my blogging software, unlocking my desktop, and so on.
Then you can watch the magic begin.
You think it’s all hocus pocus until it starts to change how you think. And yes, it’s pretty subtle, but magical nonetheless.
Here’s my ‘lean’ example from today. It’s Tuesday, I’ve just delivered 11 kg of food and banana breads to the food bank, like I do most Tuesdays. I finish my delivery and I feel great right when I walk out of there. But I’m also feeling hungry. And there’s a little boutique McDonald’s on the corner of rue Commerce and avenue Motte-Picquet right next to the food bank. I’m hungry. And then I say to myself the single word. Lean. Nothing else. Just the one word.
I keep walking. I go to the health food store to buy flour for the bakery next week, I buy raisins to hopefully make homemade yeast. I buy three oranges. I come home and I have a half of a whole-wheat bagel, toasted, with ham. And half an orange. We can have a big long discussion about the merits of ham, but I can assure you that the half slice of ham was infinitely better for me than the cheeseburger, fries, and sprite that I had my eyes on.
OK, so that’s it. Happy 2012 to you. May your year be lean, or abundant, or powerful, or fun, or adventurous. Or thin, or strong, or brave, or exciting.
Now tell me.
What’s your word for this year?
PS/ If I can support you in any way, let me know. I have a few classes that might be of interest to you. I teach a very exciting motivation & self-discipline class that begins soon (www.NotSomedayToday.com) and my not-very-often weight loss class has just started (One Pound at a Time).