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The One-Word Challenge for 2023

Work Out Your Brain with The Focus-Word Challenge
It is the time of the year when many people set goals, intentions and aspirations for the New Year. Last year, we explored ways to make your brain fitness goals! (Revisit the blog here.) This year, let’s focus on one word. Yes, one simple word. That’s it.

History of Words
Words are our basic unit of language in both the written and spoken form. On average, we speak about 7,000 words (or more) every day! And it is estimated that we speak over 860.3 million words in our lifetime (calculated in 1984 by a British writer, Gyles Brandreth and still widely utilized today). Let’s put this number in perspective. The average person speaks about 14.5x the length of the entire 20-volume Oxford Dictionary to reach 860.3 million words (or more). That is a lot of words! 

The Impact of Words
We can make our words count. Our words are powerful. Our words can evoke emotions. Our words and choice of words can influence our health- physical, mental, emotional, social, and more. Ultimately, our words go beyond us and leave an imprint on the world. Our words matter.

We can utilize one simple word to help guide our actions, goals, aspirations and more. By prioritizing just one simple focus word for the year ahead, we can intentionally focus our decision-making, choices and more. Let’s find our focus word for 2023.

Finding Your Word
While reading this, a word may rapidly pop into your mind as your focus word for the upcoming year. On the other hand, you may be sitting there, wondering how to find a word that will resonate with you now and serve as a guide in the year ahead. 

  1. Reflect. You may need to spend some time reflecting on your vision for the New Year and your current goals. This may take a few days of brief reflection. (There are some books, programs and resources to help identify your word of the year, should this be something you would want to explore more in-depth.)
  2. Write it down. To get started, it may be easier to identify one word as your guidepost for the entire year. Some may opt to have a single word guide various aspects of their well-being such as “abundance” for financial health or “growth” for their intellectual/cognitive health. You may utilize a focus word that can support your personal growth and wellness path. Make a list and write down the words that come to you.
  3. Review. Review your list and intentionally select your word that will serve as your theme for the year. The word may also be what you want to invite into your life in the year ahead.

It is important to not overthink using one focus word for the year. Perhaps there is a short saying that keeps coming to mind. Follow the above steps to focus on one word rather than the saying. An example of this might be, “Keep on moving on” as the phrase that keeps resurfacing and your focus word might be “energy” or “grounded” as you brainstorm what the saying means to you. Aim to keep it simple; just one word. (Check out this list for some inspiration.)

We all know that life can get busy. There is power in simplicity that can help us re-direct our focus and energy to achieve our goals. Take time to find your one word for 2023 and see how this exercise may help support your optimal brain health and wellness.

Focus Word Experience
I have utilized the one-word challenge over the past few years to intentionally guide my time and energy for work, projects, volunteer activities, opportunities and more that would arise throughout the year. Personally, I have found it easier to anchor one word as my main area of focus rather than going back to my list of goals (which also boasts many health benefits, too). Plus, I can easily remember my focus word during times of stress to help keep me grounded and support my decision-making. 

In 2019, my word was “grace” and my word for 2022 was “flourish.”  I’ve set my focus word for 2023 as “stability.” I have found that when I take short periods of time to reflect on life and where I would like to see things going that some words keep rising to the top of my mind and written list.

Focus Word = Clear Goal
It is much easier to remember one word, especially one word that we personally select and provide meaning to for the New Year. We can revisit this focus word exercise on an annual basis. Share your focus word in the comments section below. It is always wonderful to learn how others are being intentional with their time, talent and energy for a happier, healthier life. 

In brain health & wellness,

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