One Word 2022: Flow

Source: One Word 365

For a number of years now, I have preferred the concept of choosing a single word by which to live at the beginning of a new year, rather than making resolutions.

This was inspired by the website One Word 365, which I wasn’t sure was still active. It apparently still is, but I’d still do this even if it wasn’t.

I’ve found more success with this concept than not, and it has provided a good anchor for me throughout the year.

In 2021, my chosen word was Practice. Via my post from last year:

I’m big on the concept of learning by doing. As an Enneagram 5 I certainly do more than my fair share of thinking, but I also know the value of practicing in order to gain experience and knowledge. It’s the only way I can actually get better at things like writing and music and karate and running and prayer.

You can only improve if you actually practice.

So this year, I want to work on such improvement in hands-on ways, both the continued development of personal hobbies and passions, but also in the larger needs of the world around me for justice, peace, and advocacy. 

This was a very good year as far as my commitment to my word was concerned. Early on in the year, I used Austin Kleon’s monthly “Practice and Suck Less” challenges. They helped get me in the right frame of mind to stick with whatever I wanted to make a point to practice every day. But this eventually gave way to my constructing my own practice sheets, with particular tasks to check off rather than a resolve to just practice something every day.

So after such a successful word-related year, it’s time to face a new year with a new word.
As with most years, I started to get an inkling of what my next word should be a few months ago. It’s actually a word that I heard quite often last year in a variety of ways and relative to more than one part of my life. 

My word for 2022 is Flow.

The purposes and causes for this year’s word are numerous.

First, as with Practice, this word was inspired by my involvement in karate. I’m told all the time about the importance of flow in my movements, not forcing anything to happen or performing movements that are jerky or unconnected, but instead allowing one to naturally follow from what came before. So when I talk about Flow, I’m talking about following one movement with another without forcing or overthinking it.

Second, a few months ago Austin Kleon wrote a blog post memorializing the work of psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who actually wrote a book about the concept of Flow as a happy medium space where your skill level and the challenge of a moment are in harmony, and you are at your most capable and natural state to act:

Csikszentmihalyi’s TED talk is excellent, and his book is on my reading list.

Finally, a photographer caught Michigan players JJ McCarthy and Brad Robbins meditating before the Big Ten Title game in early December:

And as both an anxious person and a spiritual person, I saw that and thought I could use more of this in my own life to help achieve greater flow.

So my hope for Flow this year is multiple, and fairly ambitious: seek more natural movement in response to needs and tasks, achieving a state of balance between skill and the challenge at hand, and taming my anxiety with greater intention.

It sounds kind of heavy, I know. This feels less typical for my One Word practice. But I’m excited to see where Flow leads.