Personal catchwords set theme for 2019

Choosing personal catchwords seems to have taken over from making lists of resolutions, at least among the people I know.

These words, also described as ‘my word for the year’, are quiet reminders about who we want to be and how we want to change during the coming twelve months. They set the theme for our thoughts and behaviour.

If you haven’t already chosen one, it is not too late!

How personal catchwords help

Resolutions focus on breaking bad habits by developing new ones. Personal catchwords do more: help create whole new directions for our lives. They don’t demand we stick to them at the risk of failure the way resolutions do. While resolutions can be broken, an overall theme leads to growth.

Personal catchwords, like lists of fun things to do in 2019, have crept onto people’s lips and into their blogs.

Words people choose

There’s an almost infinite choice. It’s important that yours is personal and meaningful.

Some people choose words like kindness, charity and peacefulness. Others decide on concepts like balance, bravery and benefience. Productivity, creativity and change have their place. Someone on Facebook named her word of the year, ‘gumption’. There’s a mix of nouns and verbs – it doesn’t seem to matter.

My own word for this year, chosen on my birthday in November, is ‘serenity’.

How to choose a personal catchword

Step  1. Think about the person you’d like to be at the end of the year. Obviously, healthy. Perhaps wealthy. Go beyond those ideas.

Step 2.  Create a picture of how that person would appear to others. What would your partner and your children see if you became that person? What would you mother-in-law and the woman behind the counter at the supermarket see? How would you behave? How would they describe you?

Step 3. Choose one word to describe you in those situations. You might think you need ten words to describe yourself. Resist! Choose one word.

Step 4. Write your catchword down and put it in some places where you’re sure to see it often, like on your mobile or computer screen, your mirror.

Step 5. Tell some trusted people about your word. Blog about it. Put a post about it on Facebook.

Of course, I’d love it if you put it in a comment at the end of this blog to be seen by other people as an inspiration.


Since our peaceful, joyful, family Christmas day, I’ve spent some uncomfortable hours with the dull ache of disappointment and embarrassment, wondering how to make amends to my sister and brother-in-law for forgetting their invitation for my husband and me to share a special meal with them and our brother on the Friday between Christmas and New Year.

I’d looked forward for weeks to spending time with my siblings, but without checking my diary I’d invited another person to our house that evening. There’s no excuse. Not only did I hurt  people I love, but John and I also missed one of the highlights of our festive Christmas season.

When my sister rang to ask where we were, I confessed that I’d forgotten. As if that wasn’t bad enough, when I eventually looked in my diary I saw  that it was the birthday of one of my granddaughters. I’d bought and wrapped her present before Christmas, but I’d forgotten the day completely.

On one level, not checking my diary was a simple mistake, but not to use it or the calendar by the phone for a week? There’s something about this forgetful behaviour that disturbs me. My decision to make some changes takes effect from today.

It’s mere coincidence that it is almost the end of the year. New Year’s resolutions have never been part of my life. In the past couple of decades, each year on my birthday I have reviewed the previous year. A long time ago, a friend gave me an illustrated notebook with beautiful paper, and I’ve used that to record any past achievements and write to plans for the next twelve months.

A shelf full of old journals

A shelf full of old journals

One year, I worked through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. I began to write three pages in longhand every single morning, followed by a long walk.  That process changed my life as I allowed myself to become more creative across all dimensions.

The next year, I read Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. In 365 little essays, one for each day of the year, Breathnach writes about ‘six practical, creative, and spiritual principles – gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty and joy’. It took some work to transpose meditations about seasons and celebrations applicable in the northern hemisphere to Australia, but the effort was worth every moment.

Much loved books

Much loved books

But over the past few years, some of the foundation elements that made up my well-ordered life have slipped. This is partly the result a dramatic change in life-style brought about by remarrying when I was almost seventy, after living alone for almost thirty-five years; and partly because I’ve become less physically robust as I’ve aged.

Since I sent the completed manuscript of a book to an agent three months ago, my life has been in the limbo of ongoing waiting for her verdict on my work. A writer of any age who isn’t writing can be very grumpy indeed, as well as disorganised and forgetful.

Diary 2014

Diary 2014

Calendar 2014

Calendar 2014

A three-pages-every-morning journal

A three-pages-every-morning journal


Now it is time to change, to return to the simple principles and practices that I love and that help to keep my life ordered, abundant and creative. I am a writer and I write! And I promise to use my diary regularly.

A desk waiting for a writer

A desk waiting for a writer

There’s a happy ending to the story of the meal with my siblings. Yesterday, our brother invited us to his place for dinner tonight. And my sister sent me a reminder message on Facebook, complete with exclamation marks. I’m loved and forgiven.