Why "Journey" Should Be Your Word of the Year

As we flip our calendars into the first half of 2020, let's take a moment to revisit those dreaded New Year's Resolutions. How are yours going? Mine, frankly, are not going well. My 48-hour juice cleanse lasted approximately six hours, and my resolution to become a runner ended abruptly because, honestly, it's too cold outside. But, hey, such is life. We lead busy lives and new habits are hard to form. According to U.S. News & World Report, about 80% of New Year's Resolutioners will lose their resolve by mid-February.

I came to terms with this fact about five years ago, and it was then that I decided to take a different approach to the freshness of a new year. On January 1, I choose a word. Not just any word, but one that has significant meaning in my life and that I will (attempt to) keep in the back of my mind throughout the year.

I learned that, unlike a daunting resolution, simple words are easier to digest and abide by. In 2017, my word was "balance", 2018 was "surrender", and 2019 was "risk" (my favorite year yet).

With "risk" in the back of my mind, I left my job in marketing and started working for Backroads, where I learned new skills, met incredible people, and traveled to places I'd never been. I led trips and fell in love with the seemingly endless summer days of Sweden and Denmark, and the salty air of the stunning Dalmatian Coast. I jumped off rocks into the Adriatic Sea, I ate snails in Spain and whale in Norway, I was honest about my feelings, I asked strangers for help, I booked impromptu flights. In choosing the path-most-risky, my view of the world expanded immensely, and I'll be forever grateful to that word - "risk".

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Which brings me to right now, looking out across the bulk of 2020 ahead of me. If you're struggling with your resolution, or just looking for a new challenge, I encourage you to choose a word. Why not? What are you looking receive this year? What words or phrases have been sticking to the back of your mind? While I can't choose your word for you, I can recommend one: "journey." They say that life is a journey, not a destination, and maybe 2020 is your time take that first step. January 1 not only ushered in a new year, but a new decade (!), and I can't think of a better time to choose "journey."

The best part about this word game (I call it a game because I don't know what else to call it. Challenge, maybe?) is that you don't have to take everything so literally. I didn't willingly put myself in harm's way while taking risks in 2019. My 2018 was not spent surrendering to every conflict, and my physical balance certainly did not improve in 2017. But those words helped me in important moments - when choosing one path over the other, or making a decision that scared me.

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 As a trip leader, I'm in the "Journey Business." I could write about the importance of physical journeys and travel experiences all day. That said, "journey" is rapidly becoming one of my favorite words for a different reason - for how expansive it is, and how significant it can be.

When I think about the word "journey", I think about all the ways that it can be interpreted and, therefore, meaningful. Whether it's a journey you've yet to begin, or one that you've been meaning to complete - prioritize it. It could be a mental journey (like finally making an appointment with a therapist), or physical (like booking that Euro-trip you've been talking about for years). Your journey could be long (trekking through Peru), or short (taking the stairs instead of the escalator). It could be spiritual, emotional; one of bringing forth, or one of letting go. As 2019 taught me, there is a whole lot to discover out there - people to meet, places to see, things to learn, cultures to experience. With mid-February right around the corner, a time of year when 80% of our resolutions dissolve, I challenge you to reflect on your year so far. January may be gone (along with your resolution), but it's not too late to choose a direction. Maybe it's time to choose a journey.

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