2020 Word of the Year: MOMENTUM

Flashback to 364 days and some odd hours ago – January 1, 2019. I established my word of the year as PURSUIT.

If you’re not familiar, a word of the year sums up the primary principle or philosophy that will guide how you choose to live – directing hundreds of thousands of choices day-in and day-out – for the next 365 days and beyond. Rather than spurring a list of insurmountable outcome-based goals longer than a CVS receipt, a word of the year consolidates your desired achievements into an actionable value or belief.

2019 was about pursuing each and every one of my goals – big or small, mental or physical – with bravery, with gut, and with heart. It was a year of beginning, of risk, and of chance.

As I sit here, 364 days and some odd hours later, it’s with swelling pride that I can write – I’m not starting 2020 from a stagnant place. From a seed. From a spark. I’m already moving, growing, and burning.

And so I hereby declare my word of 2020 to be… MOMENTUM.

Momentum (n) The force + energy gained by a moving body; From Latin momentum, “movement, moving power”; Figurative use, “force gained by movement, impelling force”

Much like pursuit, MOMENTUM is not about a product, but a process. This year, however, it’s about capitalizing on an existing catalyst.

Don’t get it twisted. MOMENTUM is not about a cyclical “on to the next one” mentality. It’s about a deep-rooted sense of security and stability in my systems, skills, behaviors that serves as a platform for possibility. It’s about identifying and leveraging areas of potential. It’s about awareness, acknowledgment, and adaptation.

Nor is MOMENTUM about coasting on cruise control. It’s not about reacting or succumbing to circumstance. Rather than auto-pilot, it’s about autonomy.

The idea of MOMENTUM in the sense of a rolling stone isn’t quite right for me. As that type of MOMENTUM restricts motion along a single line, implying a linear, passive trajectory with little control over speed, coordination, or accuracy. In the end, the stone is still the stone. It hasn’t changed, it’s merely in a different place. And it got there by the path of least resistance.

No, that’s most certainly not for me.

I imagine something fluid, yet precise. Swimming upstream in open water. A paintbrush gliding over a blank canvas. Oil cutting through vinegar. The stride after summiting the hill that peaks halfway through your 5k route. This kind of MOMENTUM requires a combination of knowledge, persistence, discipline, and mastery. This kind of momentum is active and productive. This kind of momentum is messy and unexpected.

As far as we know, MOMENTUM is a conserved quantity. In physics, conservation of momentum states that the total amount of momentum of all the things in the universe will never change unless, of course, acted on by a force outside the system.

And so MOMENTUM can not exist without impetus (n), the force or energy with which a body moves; the force that makes something happen.

MOMENTUM can not be realized without motivation, stimulus, incentive, and encouragement.

And thus, MOMENTUM is a measure of kinetic energy – or, how much work is needed to move an object. According to Crossfit – oh, and ya know, physics again – work is defined as the energy transfer that occurs when an object is moved over a distance by an external force.

In that, MOMENTUM is methodical. It dictates just what has to be done, just how hard you have to hustle, to not only maintain motion, but gain force.

The law of MOMENTUM states than an object in motion will stay in motion, until it meets a resisting force.

The very nature of MOMENTUM predicts obstacles, friction, setbacks, and roadblocks. From the very beginning, MOMENTUM anticipates the possibility of failure. It’s not to say MOMENTUM is finite, but rather that MOMENTUM allows for redirect and asks for perseverance.

And finally, MOMENTUM is relative. It’s frame-dependent. Meaning that my MOMENTUM is all my own. By any direction, any speed, any means – how I perceive MOMENTUM is all about my perspective.

There will be moments of discomfort and challenge, of that I am certain. But even more so, I am certain that my MOMENTUM will be a force to be reckoned with.

Tell me, what’s your word of 2020?

If you’re feeling stuck or perpetually pondering, allow these prompts to guide you:

  1. Spend some time imagining what you want your life to look like. What kind of person do you really want to be or become? Time is going to pass, no matter what. Who will you be when it does? How do you describe yourself? What do you believe and value? How do you speak, think, and socialize? Describe the mental vision you imagine.
  2. Write down the characteristics of that person you want to become. Describe them. Get to know them, from the inside out. What’s her heart like? What character traits does he have? What drives her? What are his best qualities? What disappoints her? What brings him joy?
  3. Make a list of words that sum up that description or that conjure up an image of that vision you started with. It can include nouns (such as peace or joy), adjectives (like thoughtful or brave), verbs (like create or pause) or even prepositions (like with or in).
  4. Then whittle your list down to the one word that resonate most with you. Take some time to look up your short list in a dictionary or thesaurus. Browse quotes. Educate yourself on their etymology. Spend some time digging into what each word means – to the world, and to you. And then decide on the one that feels right, free of judgement.
  5. Apply action to your words. Establishing your word is one thing, but outlining how you will apply it and act on it is the step that breeds behavior and ultimately, results. And then, get to it.

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