2024 Word of the Year

2024 Word of the Year

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions anymore. That dreaded list always just ends up making me feel sucky: Unaccomplished, undisciplined and like another year has passed without me bettering myself.

While having a list of measurable, realistic goals can help us gain focus on what we would like to accomplish, I don’t think that ticking those items off of that list is necessarily an accurate measure of personal growth. I think it’s more intangible than that. No one but you can really know if you have grown or not. You feel it in your gut; you hear it in your heart.

Personal growth is also never a static thing. While we are chasing our dreams and attaining our goals, our surroundings and influences are constantly changing. And so are we! Possibilities, opportunities and what we may want won’t always stay the same from day to day, never mind year to year! And that’s why I think our list of resolutions so often just end up being a disappointment.

Every year, instead of making a list of resolutions, I decide on a Word of the Year: One word that will encapsulate that special intangibility of what I’d like my personal growth to be like. And it doesn’t have to be all deep, emotive or clever! One of my most successful, most transformative words in the past few years was simply, “NO!”. I was just tired of being a doormat. I needed to learn to stand up for myself and set healthy boundaries without feeling guilty. So that year, the word “NO!” guided me to self-improvement.

Reflecting on 2023: My Word of the Year was, “Rethink”. I realised that my life goals were no longer the same, and I wanted to reimagine my journey moving forward. When I think about the changes that I made this past year to really live this word, I feel proud. I feel accomplished, disciplined and like a better version of myself. Not sucky at all!

We took on Big Things in 2023; lots of change, rethinking. A lot of it was super challenging.  And a lot of things went ooh-so-very-wrong and scared the living daylights out of me.

Reflecting on 2023 and projecting onto 2024: I wish I could go back in time and relive the year exactly as I did, but with a sense of calm and confidence, certain that in the end, everything will be okay (like in the movie “About Time” - go watch it! It’s totally charming!).

I feel like I manoeuvred the entire 2023 in overdrive — Revving like a road hog and skidding around corners, constantly on the brink of burning out my engine. Yes, I had a friggen awesome year, but I wish I had just geared down so that, a) I would have been able to overcome adversity without feeling like my anxiety levels are about to careen right off the road; and b) I could have been able to mindfully revel in the joy of it all.

When you function in overdrive - constantly racing at impossibly high speeds - chances are you’ll probably arrive exhausted at the other end. And you wouldn’t even have noticed the flowers along the side of the road...

In 2024, when the pawpaw hits the fan, I want to gear down: Take a deep breath, surrendering to the truth that nothing is really in our control except our reactions. Then, manage my reaction by trusting firmly, both in my ability to handle difficult things and that everything will eventually work out the way it should. In equal measure — In 2024, when the pawpaw blossoms and bears fruit, I want to gear down: Take a deep breath, revelling in, celebrating, giving thanks to everything working out the way it should.

By the end of the year, I want my lowest gear to be the default mental state that I function in when things go both wrong and right. If I pull up to 1 January 2025 as a calmer, lighter, more rested, less anxious and more joyful version of myself, I would have reached my goal.

And there you have it - My Word (or Words!) of the Year for 2024 is, “GEAR DOWN”.


I would love to hear what your Word of the Year is! Share below, or send me an email: info@thehappystrugglingartist.co.za

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Cover photo by Sreekumar P on Unsplash

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1 comment

Excellent Blog. I can relate to it completely!!!!! May I please use this one for Watercolor Art South Africa again please?

Marian Mattinson

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