Maybe you have seen them, the advertisements that come through your feed around the first of the year asking you to purchase a bracelet with your word of the year imprinted? Or perhaps, you have seen people discuss their “word of the year” on Facebook or LinkedIn. Have you ever wondered what having a word of the year really means?
A few years ago, I was intrigued by this and started to do a little research. What I learned from productivity and life coaches, was that many people will choose a word for the year that represents an intention they want to create or a theme they want to have as the context for the upcoming year. I immediately loved this idea and began to ponder what word I would choose.
My first word was Compassion. Something I felt was missing in so many different ways in our world. The next year, I chose the word service. I wanted to bring forth how I could be of service to others, as well as myself. I wrote down on an index card this question, “How could I be of service right now in this situation?” I referenced that card daily and throughout the year something transformed. I realized being of service didn’t mean serving in the way many people think, but rather in a way that allowed for myself and others to step into their power.
This year, my word was a little more challenging to define. I wrote down several choices, waiting for something to feel right, but the only word that kept coming to the surface was the word Pause. I knew I needed to pause more. I am pretty intense, especially when it is around something I am passionate about. I had an underlying feeling of being frantic. I am sure it appeared that way to others. I knew slowing things down and pausing would give me clarity. So, I made the decision that the word pause was the right choice for me. I have started to pause before taking action. Pause before responding. Pause before deciding. By pausing, I know I am giving myself the room to be with the unknown. To ponder how the words or actions I use would align with my intentions. We are not all that far into the year, but already I am noticing that the pausing is creating much-needed space for me. I feel less frantic, more settled.
Little did I know that in a few short weeks, this word would be something the entire world would be doing. We all began to pause. Not by choice for some, but by necessity. We had to pause to avoid the spread of this global pandemic, COVID-19.
Let’s take a look at what pausing gives us. It gives us time to process. Time to reflect before jumping to a conclusion. Time to be with what is. To recognize what is important. It gives us space to be intentional about how we are going to respond to an outside stimulus. It gives us time to consider what we have been doing up to this point. And, it can give us grace. Grace for ourselves to stop, even if for a few weeks.
But what I didn’t expect was how this word would feed into the way we think about money. Because of the shutdown, and businesses having to pause, we all started to feel the impacts. Many no longer had the luxury of having a steady paycheck coming in. And for others, even though they may have still been able to work, the normal things we spent money on started to decline. We were not going out, attending events, or even buying gas for our cars. And because money was starting to be used and not replaced, the way we were choosing to spend money gave us, well, pause.
If nothing else, this pause is making us aware of just how many of us are living on the edge. No emergency fund, no backup plan, no resources to draw from when money is needed.
My hope is that we can all use this pause to think about our financial habits. What do we need to change? Can we use this pause as a way to start shifting our thinking? To start to plan for the unexpected? To prepare for the planned? To take advantage of those aha moments? To make sure we are taking care of obligations, threats, and opportunities by having resources set aside?
As we get back to normal, we have an opportunity to take this pause and to really change how we are living. Perhaps the word pause was given to all of us, not just me, so we could create a pause in all our lives. To spend more time with family and friends. To be more grateful for what we do have. To think about how we care for others. To give us space to make some different decisions going forward. To give us a pause on how we are thinking about our money.
Let’s consider the changes we need to make, the plans we need to create, and the future we are defining. Let’s make sure we take the word pause and use it for good.