productivity

The One Word Challenge: How to Overcome Overwhelm in 2024

January 1, 2024

Reading Time: 9 minutes

The One Word Challenge: How to Overcome Overwhelm in 2024

Feeling swamped already with new year’s overwhelm? Let’s simplify! In this episode, I’m giving you a One Word Challenge that will help you cut through the clutter and keep you focused on what really matters. Say goodby to overwhelm, and hello to clarity and purpose.

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Tackling overwhelm, chasing big dreams, and finding your path to clarity in 2024…

Hey friends, and welcome to Episode 207 of It’s About Time!

Today, on this special New Year’s Day episode, we’re diving into something that I know many of us struggle with as we flip the calendar to a fresh year – and that’s the feeling of being completely overwhelmed.

About a week ago, I sent a message to a group text with 7 other working moms asking the question, “Hey yall – Just curious, how many times have you felt overwhelmed in the last week?” Responses ranged from 487 to eleventy thousand to the limit does not exist. And one friend just sent a bunch of head exploding emojis.

You know what I’m talking about, right? That sense of having so much to do, so many expectations to meet, and so many goals we want to achieve, that it all just feels… well, overwhelming. It’s like standing at the bottom of a mountain, looking up at the peak, and wondering how on earth you’re going to make it to the top.

Sometimes it just seems easier to just stay at the bottom and spend another year playing it safe and just doing what you can to avoid the overwhelm instead of conquering it. 

And that’s the thing about overwhelm – if we don’t address it, if we don’t find ways to manage it, it can really take a toll. Not just on our productivity and time management, but on our overall wellbeing. It can lead to wasted time, endless procrastination, and before you know it, another year has gone by with no real progress on those big, important goals.

But don’t worry, that’s not going to be us this year. Because today, I’m going to share with you a simple, yet incredibly powerful tool that can help you cut through that overwhelm and give you a clear path forward.

So today, we’re talking about

  • How tackling overwhelm – instead of hiding from it – can transform our time and help us chase big dreams in the new year.
  • Why doing the One Word Challenge is time well spent to set your direction for the next twelve months
  • Fun ways to choose your very own focus word that expresses what you want to experience
  • How to use a single word to propel you through the year with purpose and intention

So what exactly is that simple, yet incredibly powerful tool that can help you cut through that overwhelm and give you a clear path forward?

It’s a concept that might be new to some of you, and it’s something I find truly exciting – and it’s called choosing a ‘Word of the Year.’ This is a practice that has gained a lot of momentum in recent years, and for a good reason.

Imagine having a single word, a simple yet powerful term, that can guide your decisions, influence your actions, and align your goals for the entire year. It’s like choosing a theme song for your life’s journey over the next twelve months, but in this case, it’s a word.

Why You Need a Word of the Year 

You might be wondering… how could a single word have any kind of impact on something as big as overwhelm? 

A Word of the Year Reminds us of our Priorities 

First of all, having a Word of the Year acts like a lighthouse in the fog of our daily lives. In a world where we are constantly bombarded by distractions, choices, and demands, it’s easy to lose sight of what we truly want. Our Word of the Year serves as a constant reminder of our priorities and intentions. It’s not just a word; it’s a mantra, a focal point that brings us back to our path whenever we start to drift.

And why is this focus so crucial? Well, without it, our goals and aspirations become like puffballs on a dandelion in the wind, scattered in a whole bunch of different directions. When we’re not focused, we’re more likely to get distracted. We take on tasks and commitments that don’t align with our core objectives, leading us down paths that stray far from where we originally intended to go. We chase the shiny things, grease the squeaky wheels and put out whatever fire is right in front of us at the moment. 

And to make matters worse – all of this distraction and drifting leads to… you guessed it. Overwhelm. We spread ourselves too thin. Our energy and our efforts are diluted, making it harder to achieve any of the goals we set for ourselves. It’s like we’re moving half an inch forward in 27 different directions. We feel like we’re working hard, but it also feels like we’re not getting anywhere. Then that lack of progress feeds a yucky cycle of frustration and disappointment. 

It’s starting a year with high hopes and wondering where the time went, and why we didn’t achieve what we set out to do. And a lot of times we blame our lack of progress on “not having enough time” when really it was not having enough focus. 

Overwhelm is not just about having too much to do and not enough time to get it all done; it’s also about not knowing what should take priority. When we don’t have direction, everything seems equally urgent and important. This indecision and confusion are what often lead to procrastination, burnout, and a feeling of being stuck. No fun, right? 

This is where our Word of the Year comes into play. It simplifies things. It takes all our big, complex goals and aspirations and distills them into a single, guiding principle. When faced with decisions, we can ask ourselves, ‘Does this align with my word? Does it bring me closer to the essence of what I want this year to be about?’

When we choose a Word of the Year and keep top of mind, we navigate through the noise and clutter of daily life with more ease. It doesn’t mean we won’t face challenges or have to tackle unexpected tasks. But it does mean that we have a clear beacon to guide our choices, reduce overwhelm, and stay on a path that leads us to a fulfilling year.

What is a Word of the Year? 

So, what exactly is a Word of the Year? It’s a word you choose for yourself that encapsulates your intentions, aspirations, and what you hope to infuse into every aspect of your life over the year. Unlike New Year’s resolutions, which are a list of things you want to do, a Word of the Year is more about setting an overall direction, a theme that you want to weave through your days.

A Word of the Year isn’t just any word. It’s a theme, a mantra, a compass for the next 365 days. It’s a single word that encapsulates your aspirations, your dreams, and the path you wish to tread.

Think of it as your personal north star. In the chaos of daily life, in the myriad of decisions we have to make, this word helps to keep you aligned with what truly matters to you.

Now, let’s get into the heart of it – How to choose your word and make it work for you.

How to Choose a Word of the Year 

This isn’t about picking the first word that pops into your head. It’s about finding a word that truly resonates with who you are and who you aspire to be.

Start by setting aside some quiet time for reflection. Maybe grab a journal or just a piece of paper. Think about the areas of your life you want to focus on or change. It could be your health, your career, your relationships, your personal growth, or maybe your overall life balance.

Start by reflecting on the past year. Ask yourself, what went well? What didn’t? What do you wish to change or achieve this year? 

As you ask yourself these questions, think about what you need most. Is it patience? Strength? Joy? Creativity? What word embodies the journey you want to undertake?

Maybe you want to focus on growth, in your career, your personal skills, or your relationships. Perhaps it’s ‘Courage’ that you need, to take those bold steps you’ve been hesitant about. Or it could be ‘Serenity,’ especially if last year felt like a rollercoaster and you’re seeking peace and balance. If your word is ‘Balance,’ it might remind you to seek equilibrium between work and play, or to find harmony in your physical and emotional wellbeing.

You might find it helpful to write down a few words that come to mind. Don’t rush it. Let these words sit with you for a while. Say them out loud. Feel them. The right word will resonate with you. It will feel like a ‘fit.’

Choosing your word isn’t about predicting exactly what will happen in the year ahead – it’s about setting an intention for the type of journey you want to embark on. It’s a way to focus your energy on what matters most and to stay aligned with your true self, even when life gets busy or challenging.

Your Word of the Year should resonate with you. It should make you feel something, ignite a spark within. When you think of this word, it should remind you of the journey you want to embark on this year.

Once you’ve chosen your word, it’s time to bring it into your daily life. This is crucial. Your Word of the Year isn’t just for January – it’s your companion for the entire year.

It’s not helpful if you choose a word of the year and write it on a sticky note that falls off your desk, gets thrown away and never sees the light of day again. 

How to Keep Your Word of the Year Top of Mind 

Here are a few ways to keep your word front and center:

  • Write it down where you can see it every day – on your bathroom mirror, your fridge, or as a wallpaper on your phone.
  • Include your word in your vision board so you’ve got another visual reminder of your word alongside pictures that represent your goals. 
  • Share your word with friends or family. Better yet, ask them what their word is and why. 
  • Regularly check in with yourself. How is your word guiding your choices and actions? You could even make this a part of your workday startup or shutdown routines, or your weekly planning session. 
  • You could also write your Word of the Year at the top of your Big Picture Year calendar. When I designed the 2024 Big Picture Year calendar collection, I created a special place right at the top to write your Word of the Year so it’s visible all year long as you’re planning your year. If you haven’t grabbed your 2024 Big Picture Year calendar yet, you can head straight to bigpictureyear.com. 

Remember, your Word of the Year is a tool, not a rule. It’s there to guide you, inspire you, and help you focus. It’s okay if some days you stray away from it. What matters is that it helps you move towards the life you want to lead.

So, what will your word be? What chapter are you going to write this year? Remember, there’s no right or wrong choice here. It’s about what resonates with you, what challenges you, what helps you grow.

So there you have it. As we wrap up this episode, I encourage you to take the One Word Challenge. Pick a word of the year. Embrace it, live it, and let it guide you through the wonderful journey that awaits in the year ahead. Your Word of the Year is more than just a word; it’s a reflection of your hopes, dreams, and the path you choose to walk this year. It’s a commitment to yourself, a promise to focus on what truly matters.

And that’s what this is all about right? It’s about spending time on what matters most to you. 

Keep Your Word of the Year Top of Mind with a Big Picture Year Calendar 

My favorite way to keep my Word of the Year front and center, top of mind all year long is to write it at the top of my Big Picture Year calendar. 

Back when I started big picture planning several years ago, I looked high and low for a calendar that gave me a simple, year-at-a-glance view of all 12 months ahead. Somewhere that I could really see what I had planned, and make sure I wasn’t overloading myself and that I was being strategic and thoughtful about how I wanted to spend my time in the year ahead.

But it was SO hard to find one that wasn’t… let me be frank – ugly. 

So – last year, I created my own. It’s called the Big Picture Year Planning Calendar, and it’s exactly what you need to step into your year with a purposeful plan. 

And when I say BIG I mean BIg! The Big Picture Year Planning Calendar comes in a 3 foot by 2 foot vertical layout, and a 2 foot by 3 foot horizontal layout, so you can pick your favorite way to layout your year. Plus, it comes in four colors: Classic Navy, Hydrangea Blue, Peony Pink and Cool Gray so it’ll fit right in at home or in your work space. 

In addition to having a space to plan out all 366 days of 2024 – oh yeah, it’s a Leap Year – each month also has a special spot to capture your  Focus for each month and a place to capture your 2024 Word of the Year. My 2024 Word of the Year is Believe, and I know that having it visible all year long is going to be huge for driving my decisions. 

When you get your Big Picture Year Planning Calendar, you don’t just get a calendar, you get access to the entire printable Calendar Collection. That’s right! Both layouts, and all four colors to choose from. Plus a Printing and Supply Guide so you’ll have everything you need to plan your year at your fingertips.  And did I mention that when you get your Big Picture Planning Calendar, you get a VIP invitation to the 2024 Big Picture Planning Party happening LIVE on January 10th? 

To get your 2024 Big Picture Year Planning Calendar head to bigpictureyear.com. 

So, don’t wait! Choose your word of the year, Grab your Big Picture Year calendar now, and be ready for whatever opportunities and adventures come your way.  

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