Word of the year 2023: Rethink

Word of the year 2023: Rethink

Another annual tradition that I like to keep up with (did you catch my tongue-in-cheek BEST Worst Selfies of 2022?), is choosing a Word of the Year. Instead of creating a list of New Year’s Resolutions, I like to focus my attention on a single, powerful word that guides me through my next trip around the sun.

This year, I found it incredibly challenging to pinpoint that word. Mainly because cowering in denial is easier than admitting the hard truth… The truth that I have to rethink things. A lot of things. Big ones. Small ones. Some as big as your head (sorry if you have the coconut song stuck in your head now…).

It might seem like I’m veering right off track here, but bear with me:

I had a wonderful conversation with friends about a woman in the US that offers outdoor exercise bootcamps for kids.

This woman loves what she does, and her service is so unbelievably popular that she is booked months in advance with a waiting list longer than Stage 6 load shedding (wha-wha-whaaaaa!).

With things going so well, it’s no surprise that someone suggested that she expands. She could hire and train a whole team of coaches, and they could offer multiple bootcamps all over the country, reaching thousands of kids. Soon, she would be at the helm of a pretty amazing, lucrative and successful empire!

But here’s the catch: she would end up coaching coaches, not children. Her love for teaching kids; that precious face-to-face interaction; the whole reason why she got into it in the first place; would be lost. She would be sacrificing her passion for money. Not to be over-dramatic here (agh, who are we kidding?), but to me that kind of sounds like selling your soul to the devil…

So now to tie this story in with my rethinking things:

Once upon a time, I had a clear image in my head of what I wanted and where I wanted to be in the future. It was a big dream. Ambitious and exciting and covered in tinsel! Lately, I’m questioning that dream; questioning whether or not it’s really what I want; whether or not the sacrifices needed to attain it, will be worth it.

I’m not going to go into my once-upon-a-dream of an all-encompassing, holistic, inclusive, nurturing, creative Lifestyle Centre right now… But even if I just share that one sentence, you and I can both agree that if I were to captain a ship like that, I would have to sacrifice a lot of things. Things that really make me tick.

Painting would be out of the question. Where would I find the time - never mind the headspace? Customer-relations would be one of the first things to be delegated. Certainly no more wordy blog posts like this one… Would I ever have the time and energy to teach? I might be able to give money to charity, but hands-on grunt work would be a thing of the past. And what would my life be like as a whole? How much time would I have for my loved ones? Would I still be able to set my own working hours? Go camping? Decide to take the afternoon off?

Basically, I don’t want an empire anymore. I want to rethink my future.

This raises multiple questions:

Am I just lazy? Unambitious?
Will my future be less successful, because it’s smaller?

I already know the answers to all these questions. And frankly, I’m not interested in other people’s opinions about my life choices. But I want to ask them out loud (or write them boldly!), because it fuels a topic that I’m really passionate about: As a society, we make judgements based on a really warped image of what success looks like.

Of course I’m generalising here, but our concept of success is not based on a holistic outlook. Firstly, it does not factor in happiness. Nor does it take into account an individual’s idea of what success looks like. The silly little rule of thumb to measure success by is what we can see: The house, the car, the clothes… Success is big and loud and technicoulored!

Perhaps we need to rethink the term “successful”. “Successful human being” is already a far better concept. More well-rounded and descriptive, since it implies that there is more to measure than just the tangible. Of course, the measurability of the intangible isn’t really possible... But that’s the whole point here — success isn’t really measurable. Or at least, it shouldn’t be. Not when referring to real, holistic, all-round humanness-success.

A life that is ‘small’ but happy, is no less successful or worthy than a life that is trailblazing through the world on a magic carpet made entirely out of cold, hard cash.

And now, after taking the lengthy scenic route, allow me to finally getting back to the topic at hand: My 2023 word of the year. It marks a new beginning; new possibilities. It inspires a different viewpoint of what my unique vision of success looks like. It represents a period of reflection and dreaming new dreams, be they smaller or just… different.



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