Ep. 16: My Word of the Year for 2019 (and the words that have supported me these past three years)

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I wasn’t always into the Word of the Year trend. In fact, at first, I found it kind of cheesy. It wasn’t until late 2015 that I realized it was kind of genius. Now, having chosen words for the past three years and heading into my fourth, I look forward to the ritual each year, but I also recognize that it’s just one piece of the equation that is preparing for and walking through my year with intention.

In my final episode of 2018, I take the mic solo to reveal my Word of the Year for 2019. Before I talk about why I chose that word and what I hope it will mean for me in the coming year, I also share what I chose the past three years and how those intentions have shaped me and showed up through my work and in my personal beliefs.

What will your Word of 2019 be?

Learn more about my goal-setting experience, Chart Your Year, and how it will help you reflect, envision, and plan your best year yet here.

Resources Mentioned:


Full Transcript:

I wasn’t always a fan of the Word of Year trend. In fact, I found it kind of cheesy. That was before I ever considered myself even somewhat “woo woo” and long before my coaching journey ever came to be.

Some time in late 2015, however, I realized that the Word of the Year concept was actually kind of genius.

Before I started choosing a Word of the Year, I was pretty much fed up with New Year’s Resolutions. They felt arbitrary and basically set you up for failure, because more often than not, they were fear-based, whether that was because you felt like you were lacking or because society made you feel like you were. And, without the necessary supports in place, or the inner work that it might take to be successful in these big goals, falling off the bandwagon was and is inevitable.

A Word of the Year felt like a refreshing alternative. Finally, something more meaningful that didn’t focus so much on productivity and output and “fixing” yourself, but instead gave one clear focus that could be applied to any and all situations.

Now, having chosen a Word of the Year for the past three years and heading into my fourth, I find myself seeing the value in it and look forward to the experience each year. I also believe it’s just one part of the equation of preparing for and moving through the year.

What I actually quite enjoy about the Word of the Year trend is both what it reveals looking back over the years and the connection opportunity it brings with others.

I love hearing how others have settled on their intentional word, or how the word found them and what it means to them. It’s fascinating to hear how that intention shows up through various reminders over the course of the year.

So I thought it would be really interesting and fun to walk through the words I’ve chosen these past few years and why and then reveal what I’ve landed on for 2019. I’d love for this to be a two-way street, though, so please share your Words of the Year with me, either in the Permission to Pivot Facebook community or on Instagram, over email, or, gasp, in person!

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Before I dive in, now seems like the perfect opportunity to tell you about the brand new offering I launched last week! It’s called Chart Your Year, and it’s a goal-setting experience that’s equal parts action, intention, and accountability. The full experience includes a 22-page workbook that helps you reflect on 2018, decide what stays and what goes with you in this next chapter, envision what could be possible in 2019, and map out your own roadmap with meaningful goals and action steps. It also includes a 90-minute coaching session with me, where we’ll build upon this prep work to ensure that you’re making goals that really matter to you and to consider how to navigate potential obstacles that might come up and try to derail you along the way. After the coaching session, I’ll send you a personalized PDF of everything we talked about and more so you can walk into 2019 feeling clear and confident in the path that lies ahead of you. There’s also a do-it-yourself version of Chart Your Year that you can do on your own! So no matter the budget or need, you’ll have the support you need to make 2019 your best year yet.

Chart Your Year will be available through mid January, but the holiday break is the perfect time to dig in and give yourself the gift of self-care and clarity, so snag your workbook and schedule your session now!

You can learn more and get started at ampersand.co/chart-your-year or by visiting the link in the show notes.

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Okay, back to Word of the Year.

In late 2015, I was on a creative hiatus. I had been laid off from my job over the summer and had all of these grand plans for what would eventually become the first iteration of Ampersand, but once I got my next job, I got completely derailed. Sure, the new job had a lot of commitments and required a lot of energy and creativity, but that wasn’t the only thing that contributed to this hiatus.

A huge part of it was overconsumption and feeling jaded from the creative entrepreneur niche. I no longer wanted to write anything at all because there was all of this pressure to make it VALUABLE.  To do all of the things that I’ve been taught that work. That bring in readers and boost your engagement and lower your bounce rate and make your post pin-worthy.

In the three years I had been blogging, so much had changed. It was becoming so saturated that in order to stand out so many of us felt like we had to add all of the bells and whistles--the free content upgrades, the opt-ins, the worksheets, the videos, the Periscopes, the webinars, the workshops, the actionable steps--and NONE of these are at all BAD. In fact, they’re amazing and wonderful and helpful. And I even use some of them now to this day! BUT. I remember feeling so strongly that it didn’t have to be the only way or a requirement anymore in order to be successful.

I didn’t want to subscribe to the hustle mentality. I had seen evidence of what glorifying busy looked like. I had felt the effects of caring too much about strategy and followers and I didn’t want it anymore. I was tired of brand new entrepreneurs touting their six figure formulas for success and people falling for it, thinking THIS IS IT and then getting really discouraged when it didn’t work immediately for them and not knowing there were other ways.

So in this state of mind, as we approached 2016, I found freedom in choosing one word, one intention, rather than a list of resolutions that made you feel like you had to do more, be more.

The word I landed on, or rather, the word that found me, surprisingly wasn’t actually a word at all. It sounds like it should be, but it’s not.

The word that came to me was “uncondition.” For me, this meant to let go of what is supposed to be, what is supposed to happen, what we’re supposed to do and feel and think and act. To abandon, to let go of, to shake free from, to disregard, to CHOOSE OTHERWISE.

Looking back, the context was really interesting because at the time, I saw uncondition mostly through the lens of blogging and creativity, but now I see it as an incredible foundation for what was to come!

I had to start the process of questioning, of letting go of shoulds, of rejecting what was just unconsciously accepted, and understand that I could choose differently. I didn’t have to subscribe by default. I didn’t know then what I know now, but I just want to give the 2016 version of me a massive hug and tell her “Just you wait, you brilliant thing, you!”

And this process of unconditioning is still very much a thing I’m wrestling with. All of my limiting beliefs, all of my inherited programming. It’s still very much like a shedding of the skin and at times, it can be really unsettling.

I believe we’re going through unconditioning as a society, too. And rapidly. Suddenly we’re awake to things that have been going on for ages and need a massive overhaul, like how we treat one another, especially those different from us, how we govern our countries, how we dress, how we eat, how we work and play, how we take care of ourselves, even how we practice our faith and teach our youth. And once you’ve seen, you can no longer unsee. And that can feel really hard.

I should note that not all conditioning is bad. Humans crave repetition when we want to accomplish things and it’s no surprise that dedicated training can lead to great success. But it’s when our conditioning limits us that we must be willing to explore other ways of doing and being.

Amazingly, THAT is the work I now do. I may be a life and career coach, but the work I do comes with a surprise: an increased consciousness, where your eyes are opened in a new way, a can’t-unsee-that kind of way.

My clients and I work through and re-evaluate their beliefs and programming around what’s true about them, what’s possible, what success looks like, all aspects of money, and what they’re willing to do to get what they want.

And a core part of that work is unconditioning. It’s amazing that early 2016 me had no idea that by the end of 2016, I’d have my own coach and by 2017, I’d be enrolled in a coach certification program, and by 2018, I’d be certified, and by 2019, I’d be a full-time coach, unconditioning all the while.

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After 2016’s word “uncondition,” it was time for 2017’s word, which ended up shaping into the phrase “show up.”

Much like 2016, my word came to me, echoing in my head over and over until I paid attention.

I wrote in my journal that 2017 was going to be a year of action, of doing, of being. Of restoration, decisions, and making things happen. I knew that this would be a year of setting things in motion for an entirely new future and I was right. I kept envisioning a future in which I was working for myself and feeling really rooted in my relationships, both with myself and with others, and I knew that in order to get there, I had to show up and do. the. work.

Over the course of 2017, I launched #theampersandproject, an audio challenge that allowed me to test if podcasting would be a good fit and to build up some of my creative discipline and confidence.

I enrolled in iPEC, the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, which would keep me very busy for the rest of the year.

And I healed from a very challenging breakup, one that would still take a very long time to recover from.

There were a lot of moments in 2017 where I felt incredibly impatient. I knew so many of the changes I was making would take TIME and all I wanted was to be on the other side of them.

But amid those moments of impatience were also moments of deep clarity and the contentment of being in the right place at the right time--knowing that you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing in this moment, in this season of life. I trusted that I was showing up in the ways I was called to and that they would not only lead me to where I was headed, but they would bring a lot of value in the present.

Looking back, I recognize that showing up doesn’t always mean pushing forward and getting a lot done. While that was definitely part of what I was called to do in that season with my coaching program, it also meant showing up for myself, by investing in supports and resources, being very kind and compassionate with myself, especially around my grief, and getting to know myself super well and expressing that.

And I think I’m continually being reminded to show up, in my business, in my relationships, in my self-care, in my personal growth.

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By the end of 2017, I was a certified professional life and career coach and really proud of how I had showed up in that year and excited for what was ahead for me. But I was also tired, anxious, restless, and afraid. I was afraid of rejection, of putting myself out there in my writing and in a podcast, of letting go of my former relationship, of failing in my new coaching business.

In considering words for 2018, fearless came up quite a bit. But it felt too...strong. It felt like pressure. I wanted something that would capture the essence of fearless, of continuing on in spite of the fear, of playing big rather than small, but with more grace and compassion and allowing rather than forcing.

As someone dabbling in new woo woo practices like tarot, I had ordered my first oracle deck, the Sacred Creators Oracle Deck and as I poured over the beautiful cards and their messages, one stuck out to me. It said Find Your Sacred Flow. And in the guide book, it defined sacred flow as tuning into your own rhythm and listening to the needs of your inner creator.

Chris-Anne, the creator of the deck, writes, “When flow leads the rhythm of your life, it will feel easy. It will feel inspired. It will feel alive. It will be expansive. And it will include hard work and action.”


Yep. That was it. That felt really good. Sacred flow became my word of the year for 2018. I liked how it honored the feminine energy in me, something that I had and have been really interested in learning more about--something that has become a pretty pivotal part of the work I do and the beliefs I hold. The idea that I could follow my energy, I could lean into what felt really good, and trust that it was the right thing for me to work on, to focus on. And yes, it will, at times, still be a lot of work, but it will feel really good.

And it turns out that I would really need that reminder because as I transitioned into going full-time in my business in the summer of this year, there were a lot of moments when I had no idea what to do with my time and energy. What should I start with first? What should I prioritize? By leaning into sacred flow, I could listen to myself and discern what I really needed most in that moment and do that.

A lot of the time, it meant not doing anything. Or prioritizing something unexpected. Even when I was still working at my job, it meant giving myself permission to leave early when my brain was fried and no longer useful. It meant going for a walk. It meant doing things my own way, from a place of alignment and inspiration.

I still have a lot of room to grow in this area, especially in a society that measures worth in productivity and output, but giving myself permission to do life and run a business in my own way, in a way that honors my values, has been really supportive and true to me and something I want to continually lean into.

In fact, it’s become a part of the work that I do now. My clients and I work to help them embrace how they’re naturally wired and set up systems that mean they’re naturally encouraged instead of discouraged.

If you want to learn more about feminine energy (which isn’t based on gender, by the way), I highly recommend you listen to the Clarity on Fire podcast episode called “How to Work like a Woman.” I’m looking forward to exploring more of this in the coming year!

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And finally we’ve arrived to 2019. It’s hard to believe! Just like years past, I have had a word jump out to me and continually play in my mind, so that’s how I know it’s mine.

In episode 14 with Michelle Anthony LaCroix, we were talking about how powerful it is to see someone’s work in progress over time and I mentioned the feeling I get when I look back at my blog and creative work. Even if some things are cringe-worthy, I’m often amazed by the sheer audacity I had to do some of the things I did! The risks that I’ve taken without having it all figured out. The ways I used my voice and organized collaborations and wrote and designed and experimented, even without having a plan or a huge following or even a business at the time. There’s both an innocence and a daring to it. A naivete and an inner knowing.

In that episode, Michelle followed up by pointing out that audacity is how you make progress. The adding up of your audacious moments is what helps you build your confidence and grow. And even when you fail in those moments of audacity, you never go back to the starting line. You’re always further ahead than where you were before you took the risk.

Over the past few weeks, that word, “audacity” has stuck with me. I like the spirit behind it. It’s a little bit rebellious, a little bit out of my comfort zone. It’s less focused on the outcome and more about the spirit of trying something, even before you know if you’re going to be great at it, even before you’re “supposed to,” even before you can see where it will lead, if anywhere.

In a Facebook live in the Permission to Pivot Facebook group following that episode, Michelle and I talked a bit more about this and Michelle said something really striking.

She said, “One of the best complements to audacity is trust. When you can trust yourself and your merits and trust in the situation, that’s what allows us to be braver and do those big things. We’re not worried about all of the ways it can go wrong.”

I love that. And I want that trust to be at the forefront of my 2019.

I want to focus less on the ways I might fail and focus more on the possibilities that could unfold. I want to trust more in myself and in the support of the universe and act on that trust.

In many ways, I’ve already been audacious these past several years. But I think it’s time to take it up a notch and have FUN with it. To step out into bigger things or newer things.

To be an audacious woman in 2019, man, that sounds super empowering.

I’m not entirely sure in what ways this will show up in the coming year, but I’m excited to find out.

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So that’s where we are. Audacity.

And now I want to know: What’s your Word of the Year? What words have led you here, to this moment?

Just as a head’s up: This is the last episode of 2018. I’m going to take some time off from the podcast over the holidays and into January to get recalibrated, so that everything is a bit more aligned across the board. I’m not sure when I’ll be back with a new episode, but if you want to make sure you’re in the loop, head over to ampersand.co and get on my email list or join us in the Permission to Pivot Facebook community so you’ll be the first to know.

And if you’re looking for some support to come up with both your Word of the Year AND your plan for what you want 2019 to look like, be sure to check out Chart Your Year, the deep dive planning session and personalized roadmap for your best year yet. Visit ampersand.co/chart-your-year or click the link in the shownotes to get your workbook and get started today!

That’s all for 2018! Thanks so much for being here, for listening and showing your support. I’ll see you in 2019 and I’ll be bringing my audacity. What will you be bringing into 2019?



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About the Host

Marissa Burdett is a professional life and career coach for bloggers and creatives at Ampersand Coaching. Through personalized coaching, sincere podcast conversations, and thoughtful resources, she equips and empowers wide-eyed, open-hearted trailblazers (like you!) to embody who you really are at your core and to pursue a career and life that fully expresses your values.

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