Your 20 words to live by in 2020

At the beginning of this year, we asked you to let us know your ONE WORD THEME for the year ahead. No wrong answers – simply one word that captured what you wanted to achieve or tapped into something meaningful to you.

Thanks to all those who sent their words and reasons in (many heartfelt stories too). While we cannot share absolutely all of them, we have curated some of the words that stood out. We hope they motivate and inspire YOUR year ahead…

If this is your word for 2020, you’re in good company – as it was the most popular submission this year! Perhaps it’s the times of taking action that we’re living in, or Jayne M’s more writer-focused reason: “This year is all about taking that next step.

Taking action. Get the draft done, finish those edits, put myself out there, and, hopefully smash those goals.” Good luck Jayne! Meanwhile, Kerrie S had a message for all, stating that “when ideas strike, go into action and make them a reality!” And finally, George C was very simple in his reason for choosing this word: “Because ‘one day’ is already here.”

Another top-rating word this year, Zach M has this to say about it: “It can be easy to lose sight of goals when it seems the whole world is adamant you won't reach them. For me, 2020 is about breaking through the cycle of uncertainty in pursuit of living life on my terms.” Nice one Zach, and Adrian W agrees, stating that he wants to “push through and see growth.” Tanika T wants to “keep heading towards my goals through blood, sweat and tears”, while Holly B chose a similar word in ‘persistence’, admitting her reason was that “too often I procrastinate, if I think I don't have time, or am fearful of the next step.” Good luck persevering and persisting everyone!

There is something both literal and figurative about this word, which may be why Pamela M had it top of her list: “Embrace all that is. The good writing, the bad writing, the rejection. The no time for writing and the time for writing. Embrace the writing block or the sudden flash of inspiration. Embrace life with an open heart and a fast pen.” Well said! Meanwhile, Veronica S circled a bunch of synonyms that helped her narrow the word down as her touchstone for the year – “adopt, embody, espouse, receive, welcome, comprehend, encompass, involve, and seize to name a few. And of course embrace means lots of hugs – you can never have enough hugs.” Good point Veronica… group hug!

So many of the words this year can have double meanings – especially this one for those looking to smoky skies for weeks here in Australia. “This year I am going to have a clearer vision so that I can move towards my goals as opposed to being stuck in indecision,” said Debbi S. And for Julie L, it was the year itself that seemed the perfect clue, as she stated: “Obvious I thought – 20/20 vision!”. Kiana J shared these wise words: “Clarity is a cup. The experiences we have and the things we do are the tea leaves and water that go into the cup. Together they can make a wonderfully tasty and nourishing tea, but it doesn't work unless you have a cup.”

Have you been on the edge of your seat waiting for the next word? We see you shiver with… anticipation. Prue H explains her choice, after experiencing some dark times and looking to “rekindle hope, love of life and to experience”. Meanwhile, Ruth B is looking forward to putting the recent years of loss behind her, telling us that she was choosing it as she anticipates some goodness and joy in 2020… “Now I feel a true lightness emerging. An inner laughter. Writing has helped me find my centre even on the most difficult days.” We anticipate happy times ahead!

No, not the Jennifer Lawrence movie that nobody saw, but that special kind of elation that has been unfairly attached to Christmas when it deserves to be sprinkled throughout the year. Denise M certainly thinks so: “‘Joy’ might just be the very best fuel to choose for the journey that lies ahead – through this new year and this new decade.” We hear you, as does Teresa O, who got there first by looking back: “I've chosen 2020 as the year of Joy because after years of personal struggle combined with the global challenges we see daily, I've made the decision that it's truly time to enter into a new energetic state and simply live the small moments every day in a state of unadulterated joy!” Sounds good to us!

Now there’s a big strong word if ever we saw one. And it has a lot of fans this year. “Determination Defies Defeat. This ‘3D’ message has been with me all through my life and has been a great help in ‘down times' to lift my spirits” says Helen R – a great mantra right there. Meanwhile, Robyn H says she usually falls off the bandwagon because life gets too busy or “I lose my mojo” (Robyn – you should sign up for MOJO MONTH starting 1 February!).  But this year is different: “I want to move forward with my novel and also improve my lifestyle in 2020. Look out world here I come!” As for Year 12 student Melanie N, she had this to say: “I am determined to work hard, do my best, and hopefully reap the rewards at the end of the year so that I can get into my dream university course.” Good luck all!

The shortest word on our list, and one of the most powerful. For Leonie B, 2020 is all about: “Learning to say no and not feel guilty for doing so. In the past I have stretched myself very thin at times and always said yes to others, and when I needed the favour returned I found out that I was told NO lots of times. So I feel free and not guilty anymore when I say No…” It’s definitely something many of us struggle with, and while Aparna B’s word was ‘focus’, she also admitted that “I like to chase the shiny things, I have FOMO and then I have a problem saying no to people.” Sometimes, it’s actually better to say NO. Of course look after others, but also look after YOU.

Hey, who left this W lying around? Wait, if we add it to the word above, hey presto! We have another one of the more popular submitted words. Joanna P was simple in her reasoning: “Now. Because that's all there is.” Others clearly had writing on the brain, such as Kerrie H who announced it was “definitely time to get going on my attempts to write that novel that I've talked about for so long… the time is NOW!” Naomi C agrees, as she has realised “I will never have enough time for writing, for sorting things out, for doing all the things I have said to myself that I will do ‘one day, when I have time'. I have realised I will never have time – unless I take those minutes here and there that I have now and really use them.” Yep, you’re absolutely right – the secret’s out. Finally, Linda G saw the gentle urgency in these three letters, offering that “life is too important to waste and time is too precious to squander.” Amen.

While we’re talking three-letter words, this one popped up in the list and spoke to us. For Claire D, choosing this word was all about: “Feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I suspect that to be truly curious and open, I must allow for a certain rawness and stripping back.” Maybe it’s that ever growing organic aisle in the supermarket, but we think you might be onto something with this word for 2020 Claire!

This one ended up in the top words too, with many of you ready to add a dose of courage to your lives. For Graham B, amongst other things, it was “Courage to dream. Courage to take the next step. Courage to keep going.” For Zeina A G, it was “Courage to pursue my dreams and passions. Courage to keep writing despite losing writing contests.” Keep entering Zeina (and learning!). Meanwhile, Aylish D wanted “Courage to believe in my story. Courage to write the damn thing! Courage to believe in myself, even when my inner critic wants to scream.” In a similar vein, Taylor B’s word of ‘bravery’ was chosen because “this next year is going to be all about stepping out of my comfort zone” – good luck Taylor! Cheering you on is Agnes W, who reminded us that “sometimes amazing things are waiting for you outside your comfort zone.” Brilliant advice.

For curious minds (hi also to those of you chose ‘curiosity’!), every day is a new opportunity to explore. Judith C says it best: “This word covers so many avenues; for me to explore where my writing will lead me, my characters, as they explore their world as it unfolds and creating opportunities to explore the myriad storylines that pop into my head at the most random times!” Nice.

Did somebody say “opportunity”? These are those things that aren’t always easy to spot, but if you see one in the wild, try and grab it! For Anne T, it’s all about change (another word many of you had), stating that “2020 is an opportunity to do something different, and better use the precious time I've been given.” Meanwhile, Karina B is seeing the big picture, sharing with us that she chose it “not just for the opportunities which may come my way, but also for the opportunities I make for myself. Opportunity is about having the mindset to be open to new ideas, practice self love and love for others.” 

We were moved by the stories ‘appreciation’ and ‘gratefulness’ that many of you shared this year – a definite theme that dovetailed with other words like ‘kindness’. For Helen V, her reasons were deeply personal: “My daughter has not walked for 19 months and has been mute for 12 months. She is now walking and talking – all of a sudden, out of the blue – when everyone said that she would never recover. My aim this year is to research, write and provide information around the theme of gratitude, personal growth and journaling for mental health plus anything else I can think of that might be helpful to others.” A wonderful goal Helen – all the best with everything. Meanwhile, Jenny L takes nothing for granted, sharing why she chose the word: “Why? Because my life is full. I really do have plenty. There is nothing I am wanting. I count my blessings every day.” Gratitude from each end of the spectrum.

Many words came at us, including ‘reinvention’, ‘change’, ‘evolution’ (keep writing it on your bathroom mirror Scott B!) and ‘metamorphosis’. Jo V chose ‘transformation’ as her word for 2020 and we think her reason will resonate with many of us: “I have realised that in order to live, I need to start loving myself. I need to discard the stories of my past – first by facing them and validating the person I was – in order to give birth to the person I am meant to be.” Here’s to new beginnings!

One of the few words to carry over from our 2019, it seems that a sense of adventure is alive and well in our community. After all, it’s not all ice kayaking in Patagonia – even a trip to the shops can be an adventure. Life is an adventure! Ahem. “I chose this word because I want to explore the world and become more independent. Every second is precious on this earth and instead of being scared of trying new things, we should embrace the adrenaline and jump into the unknown,” said Lea N. Meanwhile, Janet L had this piece of wordsmithed wisdom to share: “Someone once wrote, ‘Ask yourself, when was the last time you did something for the first time?' It has been with me ever since as a sort of mantra. Having just retired and with a ‘to do' list that just keeps getting longer, I find that life equals adventure…” Janet agrees – life IS an adventure!

We’re loving the vibe of these ‘unplugged’ and authentic words this year. For Ash C, choosing trust made sense: “Being a person who has largely ‘played it safe' throughout my life, I really feel that now is the time for me to trust my instincts, trust the unknown and have faith that the pieces will fall where they are meant to. Changes rarely occur without a little risk!” In a similar area, for 2020 Suzi D chose the dictionary-adjacent word of ‘havingness’ in its spiritual sense: “To me it means allowing things to happen without resistance,” she says. We definitely think that would involve a certain amount of trust!

And HERE it comes, strutting into the list like it OWNS THE PLACE. That’s right sisters (and brothers), this word was a big one on the list. Jodie D explains her choice: “I have spent the majority of the past decade feeling unsure of myself and my place in this world, and it has cast a shadow of doubt and hesitation over my life. This year I'd like to be braver, try new things, meet new people, believe in myself and trust my gut. I want to have the confidence to be myself and live my life to the fullest.” We love that sentiment, and for a similar thing in fewer words, Kim H told us: “I have lacked it in the past and gotten nowhere. Time for a change.” A similar word that Alice W offered was ‘hustle’ – and we think that oozes attitude. “I've been working very hard on reducing the unnecessary flotsam stealing my time, and in turn spending that time on rest and recharging. Now that I've established my expectations regardt the two, I'm ready to hustle harder for the things I want to achieve,” said Alice. Go girl!

“366 days of opportunity and inspiration. What a year it's going to be!” announced Wendy D – and we couldn’t agree more. After all, if ever there were a year to choose ‘leap’ as your word it would have to be THIS one, or else wait until 2024. Sheri Ann O agreed whole-heartedly, telling us that “I'm going to take that leap of faith into a writing career this year. Also into facing my fears to improve my personal life. I'm going to give myself permission to run, leap and fly!” We’ll be waving from the ground Sheri Ann!

And the final word as we enter this new decade? Well it turns out that Katy Perry was seven years too early. Keely F certainly thinks so, sharing with us that “'Roar' is my one word theme for the opening year of this century's ‘Roaring Twenties’ because the world might be a better place if we were all a little braver and a little more open.” Great words Keely – so on that note, if you’ve read this list all the way to the end (congrats, by the way), don’t be afraid to speak out and share your voice in 2020. We are writers, hear us ROAR!

Thanks again to ALL who took the time to send us their words. 

Whatever words define your 2020, we hope it’s a successful one for you!

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