Three years ago, when I was just two months into living in Rhode Island having recently moved from New York, I attended a Meet-Up. The group was pretty specific—“Girlfriends of RI (20s & 30s)”—and I felt pretty confident that after braving just one meeting, I would find two friends who would become my buddies for endless gym, coffee and wine dates. (Fun fact: I had great success and never did have to return.)
But I am not writing this blog to talk about how to speed date to find friends. Instead, I want to touch upon a concept that got teed up at this outing.
I was talking with my now friend, Teresa Coda, and going through the typical get-to-know-you conversation, when Teresa brought up her “word of the year.”
“What’s that?!,” I asked with excitement.
She explained that each year she picks a word of the year, a governing theme that she uses as her compass for the year ahead. For Teresa, her word often represents something she wants more of in the year to come. Sometimes it’s aspirational, other times it’s very attainable.
“My word for next year is Levity,” she said, going on to define what Levity meant to her and the role it would play in the year to come. I remember thinking how awesome the word “Levity” sounded. I pictured calm, peace and light-heartedness. It sounded incredibly aspirational and I never forgot the emotions and thoughts that the word activated inside of me.
In the months that followed that outing, I met a number of other amazing Rhode Islanders who, like Teresa, choose words of the year. I started to think it was a “Rhode Island” thing but a quick Google search reveals that many people forgo New Year’s Resolutions in favor of a word of the year.
Over the next two years, I would loosely think about my word of the year. Words like “Trailblaze,” “Passion,” and “Impact” would immediately come to mind. If I found myself chatting with those who had words of the year, I would pull out a “safe” word, like the ones previously mentioned, because they felt comfortable to me. But I never did anything with the words. I never jotted them down, defined them or committed to them. Instead, they sort of dangled out there in front of me.
This year is different.
I have been thinking about my word of the year for a few months now. I am even attending a Word of the Year party this Friday, hosted by the incredible Carole Ann Penney! This year, I feel ready to make a solid promise to myself, hold myself accountable and inch closer towards something that feels aspirational.
In preparation for Friday, I have been reflecting a lot on last year. On paper, 2018 was an amazing year. I formally launched my own business the Women in Leadership Nexus, watching as the Rhode Island chapter grew to more than 100 members in just 10 short months. I helped launch another exciting startup as VP of Marketing at Trilix, a custom software development company. I rounded out the year with so many newfound friendships that it’s hard to believe that three years ago I went to a Meet-Up to find friends! And I shared so many unbelievable moments with family and friends along the way.
But this year was also an eye-opener, with some profound—and tough—learning moments sprinkled in.
Some of the more personal lessons I took away—many of which may sound familiar to you—are that:
I put an insane amount of pressure on myself to be perfect and perform exceptionally well
I genuinely believe I can do it all and am having a hard time accepting that I can’t
I live about 10 steps ahead of myself, meaning I can miss the present
I struggle to find the time to celebrate the wins along the way
I don’t like doing “nothing” and so I keep busy
This past August, my body taught me these lessons in the most powerful way possible when it physically shut down (more on that here). Months and months spent trying to trailblaze, live out my passions and impact finally caught up with me. It has taken more than four months for my physical pain to begin to abate, and as the pain dissipates I am being extra cautious to not fall back into my old routine.
For the past couple of weeks, I have thought really hard about what I want more of this year. Sure I want to hit major career milestones, challenge myself in ways I never thought possible, and have impact on the companies and communities I serve. But that almost feels table stakes to me now. I know in my heart that those drivers will always be at the root of every decision I make. So, instead, I want to set the bar to attain something a little tougher.
This year, I want to choose an aspirational word—something at which I am going to have to work hard. There are a few words floating around like:
And… yes… Levity (thanks Teresa!)
In 12 months, when I look back on this year, I want to be able to call on specific moments in which I lived out the above. I want to recognize moments in which I actively chose to slow down. Times in which I said “no” more than I said “yes.” Moments that I found the quiet in a life that is typically quite noisy. That I relaxed my mind, body and spirit more times than I taxed it.
And, at the end of the day, that I had more of what I need, versus more of what I want.
Carrie Majewski is committed to affecting change. As Founder of the Women in Leadership Nexus, Carrie is fueled by a desire to create safe space for female luminaries to convene to redefine the notion of leadership. She has forged a career around strategic writing and storytelling, having led a digital marketing agency for almost three years and today working as VP of Marketing for Trilix. Carrie is a 2017 Rhode Island “40 Under 40” honoree and a 2016 Rhode Island Tech10 Winner. In her spare time you'll find her trying out a local hip-hop class, exploring parks with her rescue dog Tori, and sipping coffee with other powerhouse women.