I’m not a fan of resolutions, but every year for over a decade, I try to pick a word of the year — what a friend of mine calls her Big Word — to help guide me for the following 12 months. Resolutions leave me cold (since I always feel somewhat defeated if I’m unable to keep them); however, a Big Word acts more as a guiding principle for my year. If somehow I veer off course, my Big Word helps remind me to stay the course. If I have to make a decision — career, life, whatever — I test the options against my Big Word. My word changes from year to year (as another friend, Ali Edwards, often says about her “one little word,” “sometimes your word chooses you” ), and I’ve always found that by the end of the year, I’ve achieved things in areas I’d never even considered at the beginning of the year, because I kept my Big Word in mind.
This year, my Big Word is AMPLIFY.
I first begin thinking about this word a few months ago, when considering my friend Asha’s suggestion that our personal narratives could help change the world. Something in me stirred, and given the state of politics and social issues both here in the United States and internationally, I was intrigued by the idea that our personal stories — stories which help connect us to each other, and illustrate our common humanity — could be the source of great change. It’s not like I didn’t know this before (after all, my This Was a Good Week posts are designed to show some of the amazing good that is happening around the world, by people of all backgrounds and cultures), but … well, I wasn’t as aware of it as I used to be. I started thinking that I needed to find more ways to amplify the voices of people who are doing whatever they can to make their lives matter to their own communities …
… which made me think about my own work. The truth is that last year I was so consumed with rebuilding our home after being displaced, I hadn’t much time or inclination to be creative. Picking up my camera felt like a chore. I didn’t even consider any photography projects. Even getting out and doing portraits of interesting people — something I loved to do in the past — didn’t cross my mind.
But now that we’re settled in our home, I’m starting to feel a spark of interest in doing all those things. So AMPLIFY is also going to apply to my own work — I’d like this to be the year that I double down on my own creative work. Relaunch The Make Light Show. Create more online courses. More photography projects. Maybe even a meetup or two. More speaking, more coaching … more. More of helping folks identify their individual lights, and infusing the work and lives with purpose … and enabling them to create their own light, as a result.
About 7 years ago, I did a TEDx talk where I encouraged folks to look for the light. In recent years, I’ve tried to inspire people to do more than just look for the light: I believe we each should actually make light, and find ways to be a part of what’s good in the world. This year, I want to take it a step further, and amplify light: make sure that people see and experience our own light, yes; but also do what we can to help ensure that people see the light of others, as well.
As I sit here on January 2nd, I don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like. But I’m committed to figuring that out. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
Soundtrack: Ray of light by Madonna