The thing that creates the right kind of freedom

I’m motivated by autonomy. I’m big on not being told what to do, having plenty of wiggle room to exercise my creativity and think outside the box. I like being the boss of me.

(We’re not always the best employees.)

There’s a good side to this. My drive for autonomy helps me focus my efforts—I’m fairly decent at knowing to what I should say yes or no, I’m willing to take necessary risks, and I’ve found myself braver about living unconventionally the older I get.

(We’re good at being self-employed.)

But there’s a flip side to every coin. Being in love with autonomy means it’s too easy to stay in my head, to focus only on my needs and what’s best for my family, even if it’s (accidentally) unloving towards others. It means regularly facing my humanity; daily reminders that I’m a mortal keep me from fully living unfenced.

I’m learning to love limits. This is more freeing than it sounds. See, I’ve realized that though I’ve got an inner autono-monster, I don’t always need to feed it. It can sometimes be harnessed for good, but there are ways where I still tend towards childishness, and autonomy only exacerbates it.

Here’s an example. For most of my adult life, I haven’t done so hot at the exercise thing. I was incredibly active throughout my childhood and teenage years as a dancer, but it fell by the wayside, and within a few years into parenthood a decade later, I was a full-on entrepreneur with barely enough time to walk to the park, let alone stand en pointe on a stage.

Until recently, I employed my superpower of autonomy to tell myself that nobody was the boss of me; that even though I knew it was good for my health, I could exercise when I had the time.

But here’s the thing: I feel a million times better when I do exercise. Even moving ten minutes a day completely changes how I feel about the rest of my waking hours. (Come to think of it, I sleep better, too.)

My body image is more what it should be, I concentrate better, and I’m in a better mood. My people like being around me more when I exercise. It’s a real thing.

This is one way I’m setting limits on myself.

Yes, I technically can spend my time how I choose—but that doesn’t mean I should. Just because no one’s telling me to exercise, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. By slipping on those workout pants and running shoes, I’m limiting my autonomy. I’m telling myself no. You’re doing what you don’t feel like doing right now.

And in a roundabout way, I’m telling myself yes here. I’m telling myself that even though I don’t feel like it, exercise makes me a better person, so I’m doing it. I’m limiting my freedom for the sake of the greater good: a better me.

Limits have served our family well, so I know they work. Sticking to a strict budget when we were getting out of debt meant we met our goal earlier than we expected, we’ve stayed debt-free for almost five years now, and we cultivated the habit of living way below our income.

I told myself no to sugary soda a few years ago, and I’ve never looked back, I feel so much better without them. Our kids aren’t allowed on screens until the afternoon, after they finish their school, because they’re just nuts otherwise. A healthy limit.

white picket fence

Limits give birth to freedom because they temper our spirits. By erecting a fence, I know where I can play in the yard, and where the danger is if I try to wander off.

Here’s how limits look for me right now:

• I turn off all screens by 9 p.m., because any later than that and I sleep horribly. I’ve learned this.

• I heavily limit my gluten and sugar, not because they’re not delicious, but because I’m bloated, I have a headache, and a bad case of brain fog afterwards. Not worth it. (Except when in Italy.) (And sometimes France.)

• I work and write early in the morning, because that’s when my writing is best. I take a mental break by the afternoon, because I’ve lost my work mojo by then and the family needs me.

• I exercise every other day, after getting a burst of writing done. Limiting myself to a skipped day means I’m more likely to actually do it; but by doing it at least several times per week, I’m telling my autono-monster it’s not the boss of me.

• We didn’t visit every country we wanted on our big trip, because when we did too much, we’d lose the cumulative effects of family bonding and personal enrichment from lower-stress travel.

• I don’t buy everything I love in stores, no matter how much I want something. Budget and physical space means the laws of physics dictate I can’t fit things into more than it allows. C’est la vie.

You know what happens when I live within these limitations? I’m a better person. I’m freer to be who I was meant to be, because I still have a wide, wide field where I can play. My self-imposed fence is for my protection, and by staying within its walls, I’m a better wife, mom, friend, business owner, and person.

Limits—I can think of them as a frustrating negativity, or a chance to be a better, whole-r version of my real self. It’s my choice.

Have a good day,
again and again.

If you feel in your bones the need to simplify so you can live the life you're meant to live...

↓ This is for you.

133 Comments

  1. Julie

    My word is practice. Studying the bible, running, yoga-I will only get better at these things if I practice. So that’s what I’m gonna do!

  2. Rachel

    My word is two words, it was last year, too. Fear not!

  3. kelly from snowy boston

    This is great. My word is EXPLORE because I place too many LIMITS on myself! 🙂 I enjoyed how you put your thoughts into action!!!

    • Tsh

      Well, look at that? Good on you, Kelly from snowy Boston. Go play in that snow. 😉

  4. Hilarie

    Yes, yes, yes – this post is all about me (also an INTJ)! I have gained way too much weight because “I’m in charge of me, and I’ll eat what I want to” and “no one can make me exercise when I don’t want to”, etc. I have taken control (started about 4 weeks ago) – that YES, I can eat whatever I want, but I can’t live outside the laws of physics and have there be no repercussions for my actions. So if I want to get in better shape, then I need to put rules on myself!

    I don’t have a word of the year yet – I’ve been thinking, but it’s not quite clear yet. So many good options, as I feel like we’ll be in some phase of transition over the next 6-7 months!

    • Tsh

      Crazy how we can’t control the laws of physics, eh? Sometimes we INTJs act like we’re immune to them. 😉

  5. Erin

    Oh, Tsh. I think you are my people.

    My word for the year 2015 is CULTIVATE. I want our family to grow UP (toward God), IN (as a family unit and personally), and OUT (toward others).

    Brava on another wonderful, helpful, encouraging post. You have quite a gift.

    • Tsh

      I like that, Erin! Cultivate away this year…

    • Mom_of_3_in_TN

      I love your explanation of CULTIVATE <3

  6. S.H.

    My word of the year is… REVEL. As in, celebration, or joy. I chose that word partly because it’s in my personal motto, and partly because I’ve been trying to live in the moment–to revel in the moment. (and also partly because it’s in the title of a book I really like!) Like many words, revel can be taken two different ways: one of course is an inappropriate partying. But the meaning of revel that I’m living into is simply, to have immense pleasure and delight, to choose to be blissfully satisfied.

    now for the adventure–we’ll see how I did at the end of the year!

    • Betsy

      Love the choice of the word revel!!!

  7. Jacqueline

    I have chosen living an open-handed ‘yes’ as my word for the year. This INFJ needs to relax the perfectionism and just say yes to God, to life, to people – whether the situation or relationship will turn out ‘perfectly’ or not.

    • Tsh

      I like that.

    • Naomi

      I’m an INFJ too, and my word is Open. 🙂

  8. Judy

    I have two words this year, sort of connected – Dreams and Adventure. It’s been a rough few years between job loss and health issues but in 2 months we will have paid off our debt. So now we can spend some time pursuing more dreams and having more adventures as a family. I can’t wait. Side note – I’m an ENTJ.

    • Lori

      Go Judy! I’m on a debt free journey and I can appreciate your excitement! We are on just about the same time table, too. Yeah!!!

    • Tsh

      Go Judy! That’s so, so exciting. You’ll be floored how much freer you’ll feel to take risks and pursue some wilder dreams once you’re debt-free. It really is pretty magical. Happy for you. 🙂

      (And you too, Lori! Good stuff.)

  9. Lori

    I’m not sure exactly where I fall on the personality scale, but I’m sure you and I share at least 3 if not 4 of those letters. You described me to a ‘T’ in your opener. My words for the year are “Challenge Yourself”. Specifically, the focus for myself is on moving, cooking and budgeting. So far, I’m off to a great start. I’ve been walking every day because I’m not sure I can let myself have days off anymore. I’ll do adjusting as I go if needed, but so far I’m liking it.

    • Tsh

      “…because I’m not sure I can let myself have days off anymore.”

      I know exactly what you mean, Lori. 🙂

  10. Nicole

    “thrive” is my word this year. 🙂 I love reading everyone’s words.

  11. joanna

    My word is less. Less stuff. Less obligation. More time for me. You have inspired me greatly this past year.thank you.

    • Susan

      Me too, Joanna. And of course less guilt for saying no! 🙂

  12. joanna

    Btw…love the song!!!!

    • Tsh

      Right?

  13. GinnyLou

    I’ve never wanted to do a word for the year once it became a kind of trendy thing to do. Maybe that’s the INTJ “culture (or anything else)-is-not-the-boss-of-me” attitude coming out?

    But, this year, I decided to do one because I wanted to. I’ve picked “Finish” as my word for the year. I tend to be distractible, and I want to start finishing things that I start: loads of laundry, books on my Kindle, food in the fridge, housework, cleaning out a closet, etc.

    Now the only trick is to get my kids to LET me finish something. I get the feeling their word must be “Interrupt”!

    • Lori

      HA! Now I think I really must be an INTJ. You girls are cracking me up.

      GinnyLou: “I’ve never wanted to do a word for the year once it became a kind of trendy thing to do. Maybe that’s the INTJ “culture (or anything else)-is-not-the-boss-of-me” attitude coming out?
      But, this year, I decided to do one because I wanted to”

      That is SO me! This year was my first with a word for the year, too, and it’s just because I decided I wanted one.

      • Tsh

        This is a TOTAL INTJ mindset: “Because it’s trendy/you-told-me-to, I’m not going to do it.”

        I’m that way about SO much stuff. Geez.

        • ginnylou

          Oh my word, I’m so glad to have a label on it!! I’ve just always thought I just really hated authorities over me. But then I noticed how mad I get when something I’ve been doing and enjoying a long time becomes “cool”. And then I just thought I was weird! And then I fight being prideful over being weird!
          I should have known there was something deeply amiss when the pre-made chicken coop I saw at Costco made me decide having chickens wasn’t for me…

          • Tsh

            Well, we are weird, in a way—INTJ is the rarest personality type for women (if you’ve ever felt like you identify more with men, that’s why…). And yes, I’m totally guilty of having the pride issue of not wanting to do something just because it’s cool. 🙂

  14. Katherine

    Such wisdom here – thank you!

    My word of the year is wholehearted, for a few reasons. It’s a darn good word and way to live, obviously. And then on a totally practical level, I realized a few days ago that I didn’t have the foggiest recollection of what my word of the year for 2014 was (apparently it was a OneWord73 or so, not a OneWord365). This year I’m reading Wholehearted Living, a devotional daybook by my wise and winsome friend Jennifer Grant. I can’t possibly forget my word when I’ll be looking at it every single day!

  15. Dona

    Thank you for your blog and for sharing and being so transparent!
    My word for the new year, 2015, is FORGIVE!
    Starting with myself….learn to forgive myself. And then work out from there.
    I have some people that I need to forgive and it is an everyday process that
    I am asking God to help me with.

  16. Kris

    “Order” is my word….My God is a god of “order!” He wants my life to ordered after Him…..So I have made trips to Goodwill the recycling center and want to continue to purge and order my time, “stuff” & finances …oh, along with the eating/exercise which comes as a result!! Want to bring order into my life!!

  17. Kelly Exeter

    Love it Tsh. Limits are great for creativity too aren’t they? And limits reduce choices so we no longer have to devote energy to make countless unnecessary decisions (thus freeing up for energy for our families and to be creative).
    x

    • Tsh

      Yes! Limits bring so much more energy to me. It’s why I prefer to shop at smaller grocery stores (Trader Joes, etc.), even if I have to pay a few more dollars, because I don’t feel utterly wiped out like I do when shopping at the huge superstores.

      • erika

        Decision fatigue is a very real thing and it is also why I keep my stores small and local… and I intentionally limit selection… so much more peaceful!

  18. Penny

    I have two words for this year. Balance and release. Balance because I tend to work until I am a limp,wet, stinky dishrag at the bottom of the sink and am of no use to myself or anyone else. Release because I have a hard time letting go of my perfectionist tendencies and being happy with “good enough”. A good friend of mine has a slightly different way of saying what you say in this post. She says that saying no to “this” gives the ability to say yes to “that”. So to your point, I am really going to try to fence myself in this year and be content within my self created boundaries!

    • Tsh

      Yep and amen. Saying ‘no’ to the good only means we can say ‘yes’ to the great.

  19. Carmella

    Good thoughts, Tsh! I’ve never selected a guiding word at the beginning of a new year, but one thing I find I’m being more and more intentional about is setting margins in my days for those things that speak life to my soul. The fresh start to the year is a good time for me to remember how important this is to my being.

  20. Traci

    I am an INFP, so although I’m not one HUNDRED percent with you here, this spoke to me so much!! I think “limits” is a wonderful choice for a word. Mine for this year is “surrender.” Meaningful in so many ways.

    Also, the song is perfect! Thank you for sharing all of this.

    • Tsh

      My husband is an INFP, so I get your quirky ways as well, Traci… 😉

  21. Thora

    My Word of the year is Peace. My husband is graduating with a Ph.d. this year, and as he is applying to jobs, our lives are really up in the air. A year from now I don’t know where we will be living, what his job will be (we hope it will be academic, but there is a supply and demand problem in the humanities in upper education, so things are very uncertain). I also want to come to peace with where I am at in my own personal life – I am the mom of five, but have always wanted to go back to school for a master’s degree, to get a job (as an extrovert – it is so hard being home so much!) And I have realized because of this that I have been overly dependent on him finding the ‘perfect’ job so that I could have the ‘perfect’ future for myself. This year I am focusing on finding peace for myself, in my stay at home mom job now – and maintaining the mental and spiritual peace I have been blessed with through this application journey and to keep it, to keep peace in our home and in our lives as so much changes this year.

    I am really excited to do a word for the year – I did it last year, and it was the best year for “resolutions” that I had ever had, because I could focus in on the one word (it was Joy) and not have a bunch of goals I forgot about. My new word Peace came to me repeatedly throughout the month of December – I kept thinking of the song Peace on Earth that is sung with Silent Night, and I knew it should be my focus this year.

  22. Alysa

    My word is Grace because I don’t give myself enough of it. This is the year I am determined to accept the gift I have already been given.

  23. erika

    I am also an INTJ! 🙂 my word of the year is: presence. Presence in the present. That’s it! being present is a lovely limitation in itself, isn’t it?! 🙂

    • Tsh

      Very true; I like that. I was just thinking that this morning, when I was limiting my usual work time and my son wanted me to watch him paint. My knee-jerk reaction was to let my mind wander and think about my work and to-do list, but instead, I chose to really focus on his painting. It helped me enormously. I actually enjoyed the interruption, and plus, it was only 5 minutes. 🙂

  24. Tessa

    I couldn’t choose a word for a while; this year holds lots of change, not to mention our first baby! I am wary that I need to be kind to myself in what I expect to live up to.

    I’ve settled on ‘perfect love’ – remembering it, receiving it, aiming to offer it – & employing it to show fear the door any time it tries to have a say 🙂

    • Tsh

      Best wishes in advance for your big year! Lots of changes for you indeed.

  25. Monique

    My word of this year is meditation. I will try to meditate in order to clear my head and to find focus in life. Tsh you have inspired me and I have been following you for awhile now. My husband and kids now follow the life of living simply.

    Monique from virginia

  26. Sarah

    My word is kindness. My biggest challenge is going to be kind to myself.

  27. Alisha

    So I have to ask ….How did you kick the soda habit? Did you have any special tricks or just cold turkey it?

    • Tsh

      Well, it’s been a long time since I drank soda (I think it tastes awful now). But I didn’t do it cold-turkey, no (I’m actually going to talk about this in a post later in the month). If memory serves (seriously, this was well over 10 years ago), I cut back to one every other day (I drank about one per day when I started), then eventually one per week, and then it just seemed like I lost the taste for it.

      Sugar is like that—when you stop having so much, you stop craving it. So when you do have some, if it’s done well it really satisfies the sweet tooth with just a little. If it’s saccharine-sweet, then it tastes over-the-top. So yeah, I just lost the taste for it. Haven’t looked back. 🙂

    • Diane

      I quit the soda habit too, and I feel much better for it. Plus, it’s much easier to control my weight. I decided I’d rather actually EAT than waste my calories on liquids. By the time I quit, I was down to having a few sodas a week, maybe 2-3, mostly if we ate out. First I cut back to 1 per week with our Friday night pizza. I decided to try having flavored water with my pizza, telling myself I could have a Coke instead any time I wanted. After a few weeks, I realized I just didn’t care about the Coke. I’ve been soda-free for about a year now and I really don’t miss it.I still tell myself I can have one if I want to, and I might have a root beer with a burger, once a month. Knowing I can have it if I want to allows me to choose NOT to have it almost every time.

  28. Lisa

    My word for this year is “new” – I’m finishing up a graduate program in May and will (I hope) be starting a full-time job soon thereafter, likely not in the area where I’ve lived for most of my life. I chose “new” because I hope the year will be full of new places, new experiences, new people, and in many ways, a new life.

    Also, thank you so much for the New Year’s Eve/Day reflection questions – thinking through them and actually writing down my responses was a wonderful way to close out the old year and begin the new!

    • Tsh

      So glad! I love doing them, too. 🙂

  29. Lisa Zahn

    Your word has given me courage to share the word that came to me. I haven’t done this for a few years (I used to do it before it became a “thing” then lost interest when everyone started doing it–INFP here!). But when reading your post the other day and asking myself what my word might be for 2015, the first word that came to me was WORK. And that doesn’t seem so peaceful, or inspiring, or all the fluffy stuff yearly words seem to be sometimes, but it IS fitting for my resolve in the new year. I have just taken off with freelance writing, editing, and proofreading and it feels so good to finally make some money doing work I love. It’s going to help us meet some more inspiring goals in 2015 and beyond, so WORK it is this year.

    • Tsh

      I actually love work! Good word, Lisa.

  30. Val

    I’ve got two words: Joy and Bravery. Finding joy in the little moments and not letting small successes go unnoticed. Bravery for starting my own business. I love the idea of setting our own boundaries because it opens us up to more possibilities!

  31. Susan

    My word for this year is accomplish. Not to accomplish grand things but the simple every day things.

  32. Caroline Starr Rose

    Limitations actually work really, really well with my writing. When I first started researching for May B., Jamie Martin and I were in an antique store together. She handed me an old school primer she thought might help with my research. I took it home and decided it would somehow play a role in the book. That limitation alone shaped much of the story.

    I’m an INFJ, so I can relate on some levels. And I’m much happier and nicer to be around when I exercise. Also less jangly (my word for feeling physically keyed up).

    • Tsh

      Ooooh…. I love this, Caroline. Hadn’t thought of limitations as a form of writerly creativity, but I totally see what you mean. It’s like writing prompts; I guess that’s why they work well when you need them.

      And jangly is a great word for that I-haven’t-exercised feeling. 🙂

  33. Tammie Howard

    Loved this post. I work from home as well and have to set limits on myself. I’m not good at saying no, but I am trying to get better at this. My word for the year is “Prune.” I want to prune what is not working in my life, so I can make room for new growth which is really what pruning is all about. I want to prune my words ( I can overwhelm my family sometimes with my words…I want what I say to count, instead of being met by eyerolls!). I want to prune my “worry.” God doesn’t intend for us to worry so I am striving to turn my worry over to him. And lastly, I want to prune my stuff!

    • Tsh

      I’d say prune is pretty similar to limits, so I’m right there with you, Tammie!

  34. Susan

    My word this year is Surrender. I am surrendering all my life, to include finances, food, work, and play.

    • Lisa Zahn

      I love that word! I think it’s what my word could have been last year, and surrendering lead to some pretty amazing changes.

  35. Erica

    I’m an EFFJ but I lean VERY slightly toward E, almost an I. I also experience this tendency to hate anything trendy or what someone tells me to do. For example, while I think scarves look nice on other people, I won’t wear them because they are trendy and what everyone else is doing. I also have the same feeling about high boots. Funny, I wonder if I lean closer to a T than an F. I always felt this way growing up. Hated it when my parents told me what I “had” to do – or if all my friends were doing something, I wanted to do the opposite… Now, I understand that this is an actual personality inclination. Very interesting! I never thought about it the way you’ve described it in this post. I love what you wrote. Enjoyed this article very much.

    • Erica

      I just realized that I wrote EFFJ and meant to write ENFJ. HA!

    • Lisa Zahn

      It’s funny because just this fall I started to feel VERY tired of seeing everyone wearing tall boots, whereas last year I was delighted to see people in something other than sneakers. I get sick of trends REAL fast. I’m an INFP so I think it must be in a lot of our natures to do so. Now I’m longing for the 90s fashions, when it was all relaxed jeans and white Tretorns. Ha!

  36. Joyce G

    My word for 2015 is HAPPY – need to start LIVING again, after divorce and being a caregiver to my mom who passes away. I am planning on moving to start a fresh life somewhere other than my hometown. Can’t wait !!!!

    • Tsh

      Here’s to a happier year for you, Joyce!

  37. Sue

    Another INTJ here! I have been doing the “word of the year” thing for several years now and find it to be a useful lens to make decisions, set goals, etc. My word for 2015 is CONNECT. I want to be more emotionally connected to my family members, develop and deepen friendships, and expand my professional network. Your description of INTJs as craving autonomy is spot-on. I very much value alone time and self-reliance, but as I grow older I recognize the importance of personal relationships, which is an area I feel like I have neglected in recent years.

    • Tsh

      Connect is a great word for an INTJ, Sue! Love it.

  38. Barb from CNY

    My word this year is cherish. I want to cherish the days and live more intentionally, not just sleepwalk through life or wish away this time looking forward to the next week, event, season. I love reading everyone’s word, and I live your idea of changing the way we see limits!

  39. (Lost with) Kristin

    Thank you, Tsh. This truly touched me and was a beautiful start for 2015. I found you through JJ Heller’s site as she posted loving your blog and that you shared her song (which I love, btw). My word for 2015 is MOVE… as in move towards goals, move on from past hurts, worries and misconceptions, move forward, get movin’, move hills and mountains, regroup and move on, be moved to tears, move ahead, be on the move, and make moves. With positivity. love and encouragement, we can do it! Wishing you all beautiful moments, memories and realizations from your Limits. May it bless in you infinitely! With love from CT. *Not all who wander are lost.*

    • Tsh

      Oh fun; I didn’t know JJ mentioned me! I’m a massive fan of hers so now I feel all giddy. 🙂

      Move is a really brave word, Kristin. Good on you.

  40. Lindsay

    Love your blog! You and your family are so inspiring to me. My word this year is contentment and I find it closely ties with setting boundaries or limits. Thanks for sharing!!

  41. Carol

    My OLW is “do”. Don’t just pin items to pinterest, DO some of them. Don’t just read blogs, DO my own life. I want to do a word study in the Bible of the word “do”. One verse that comes immediately to mind is “be you Doers of the Word and not hearers only”.

    My husband picked a word this year: positive. I’m excited for what is happening in 2015.

    LOVE the song. Thanks for sharing

    • Tsh

      That’ll preach, Carol! Love the idea of actually doing stuff I’ve pinned instead of, well, pinning them. 🙂

  42. Trish

    (I am an INFJ, but I’m also a One.) Our family has had some rough years, but things are settling now. I need to stop feeling melancholy so my first ever word of the year is “tend.” My life has good bones, I just need to tend it more and get moving on being a healthy One.

    • Tsh

      One, as in Enneagram? Sounds like you need a good year of soul-care, eh, Trish? Here’s to a good one for you.

  43. Pam

    My word this year is TRUST. Trust God, trust that good will happen, trust myself, and trust the journey. I’m a worrier and am tired of spinning my wheels and time on stuff that never happens. It’s time to live life as it happens through trusting and find the joy that’s been missing.

  44. Robin Dance

    I’ve FINALLY gotten around to writing my One Word: http://robindance.me/2015/01/resolutionary-a-word-a-motto-reaching-for-stars.html

    It’s about much more than One Word, kinda like you’ve done here.

    Limits is such a good concept, Tsh; it suits you and I can imagine you thriving under that boundary :). Love how you live and lead by example…you’re an inspiration to me in big and little ways, but really much more than that. xo

    • Tsh

      Your word suits you, Miz Dance! I love what you wrote. You’re such a good friend. Thanks for your encouragement. 🙂

  45. MiChal

    My INFP self has been fretting over not having a word. Nothing came to mind when I read your post yesterday. Nothing (again) today…until I was skimming through the comments, feeling those less-than/too much emotions that oh so often taunt me. It was then that I got my word! ENOUGH. I *am* enough. I’ve *had* enough (food, drink). I *have* enough.

    • Tsh

      Enough is an excellent word!

  46. Jess

    My word is recover. I want to recover from my eating disorder. It’s preventing me from living life to the fullest. Pray for me?

    • Tsh

      Will do, Jess.

      Do you read Emily Wierenga‘s blog? She has experience with eating disorders. You might find encouragement from her words. XO

    • Lisa Zahn

      Another great resource for help with this is Rachel Cole. She’s an amazing life coach and teacher that has overcome an eating disorder. http://www.rachelwcole.com

  47. Phyllis

    My word is UNCAGED~ freedom from the inside out! We are debt free and changing career paths after 30+ years in full time ministry ! We are excited and leaning on His grace and provision for a new adventure. For me, it will mean so much more freedom to use my voice and gifts He has given me. I have written more on this but have not released it to be read by others yet~ part of what will come in 2015! Thanks for all your words and honesty and sharing your life.

    • Tsh

      Sounds like an exciting year for you, Phyllis!

  48. Rebecca

    Love this post! Looking forward to a simple year at AOS. My word is salt. Kind of hard to explain, but works for me.

    • Tsh

      I like mysterious words, Rebecca. I’m intrigued. 😉

  49. Veggie Mams

    This INTJ has found out the hard way that the autono-monster also means I don’t get things done, almost as much as it helps me kick ass and get things done – I’m excellent at autonomously cutting myself too much slack and telling myself I don’t have to do things. Even things I need and want to do! I am autonomously lazy, haha.

    I think my word for the year is balance. Just a reminder to have a balance of things on my plate, a balance of exercise and rest, a balance of work and play. Lots of times I veer off too much in the wrong direction and autono-me tells me it’s fine!

    (Ps I totally agree with your state of the blog address too, when I read it the other day, I realized I’d come to many of the same conclusions over the last year.)

    • Tsh

      Yes, Stacey! My autono-monster needs a good ass-kicking every now and then, too… Totally get the lazy bit and telling ourselves it’s okay. We INTJs are pieces of work, aren’t we?

      (I’m wearing the necklace you gave me right now, BTW.) 😉

      • Veggie mama (spelled it right this time!)

        Aye, that we are! I kept telling myself it’s ok because hey, I am in the thick of sleepless-night-parenting-littles. But at some point there’s a line between that and actual laziness and I think I was on the wrong side of it, just a little bit. Character Flaw Number One, been with me since birth! But if you own it, then it’s more easily managed, right? RIGHT?!!

        I’m so glad you like it, I hope it is the right length. And that Sydney is treating y’all well <3

  50. Naomi

    Interestingly, my word is Open, as a result of a little too-much self-protection and limits.

  51. Emily

    I love your list of limits. It really opens life up to beautiful things. I think I need to remind myself of this. Thanks for writing this post!

  52. Dana at Happy Little Lovelies

    Oh, this is fun. I’m always borderline ENFP/INFP, though I feel very “I” most of the time. And honestly, I’m not as familiar with what all that means as I’d like to be, but every bit of your opener was met with a hearty “here here!” from me. I *despise* being managed, told what to do, having anything impose upon my agenda and perceived freedom. Super flattering! 🙂 Even the sweet commenter who’s word of the year is “order” rubbed all over my freedom-loving ways…though I could clearly use her help!

    So with our fourth (surprise) baby due in May and a probable house sell and buy this year, my word is GENTLE. I tend to push hard and have high expectations of myself and others. I need a break from me this year. So while I have some lofty goals, my hope is that grace will be the anchor and the rudder. Life is going to be quite the ride without me helping. 😉

    • Tsh

      Sounds like gentle is just the right word for you this year, Dana! Best wishes on your upcoming big year. XO

  53. Donna@MoreThanHungry

    My word for the year is LISTEN. I felt tuned in to God more than ever last year. I was really listening for what seemed like the first time. I want and need more of that. I need to listen better in other realms too – with my husband, my body, at work and more.

  54. Leah Chambers

    love it. I recently completed Abbey of the Arts’ Give Me a Word retreat in order to find mine!

    My phrase is Quiet Depth. After all the flurry of doing and being and trying to become, it’s time to rest. Time to ponder, time to wonder, time to let things marinate and unfold under the surface….I’m giving myself the gift of grace and time, instead of expecting to be all those things already. Cheers to 2015!

    http://abbeyofthearts.com/blog/2014/12/09/give-me-a-word-2015/

    • Tsh

      Ooh, I love that, Leah. Love the idea of giving yourself grace and time to not already be who you want to be.

  55. Sarah W. in OR

    I love when you share about your INTJ-ness as I am an INTJ. It was through you that I started to think of my personality in a positive way rather than something I needed to try to change. I will always be grateful to you (and I think Myquillin too) for blogging and podcasting about it.

    I do not have a word of the year, but my husband and I have been talking a lot lately about the creativity that comes from constraint. We’re in the homestretch of renovating a “small” house after making the move to downsize 18 months ago. It’s very exciting to see everything come together beautifully for our family of four within the limits of 1000 square feet. Your word of the year is (yet another) inspiration to me, to consider applying limits to myself as we did on our choice of house.

    Thanks, Tsh! Always.

    • Tsh

      Your house sounds amazing, Sarah! And yes, yes, yes to creativity coming from restraint. Amen.

  56. Natalie

    Love this post! My word for the year is peace. I want more peace in my relationships, my home, and my walk. 2014 was a hard year for me on many levels, and I know that just because my word is peace doesn’t mean 2015 will be an easy year; however, I’ve learned how to find peace in the midst of storms by trusting more in the Lord, by saying no when I need to and not feeling guilty, and by finding time to rest. I learned recently, via your blog, that I am a HSP, and as I type this am wearing earplugs 🙂 Now that I know this, I can better control the lack of peace I feel.

    • Tsh

      So glad that was helpful, Natalie! I know it was eye-opening for me.

  57. Theresa

    I so relate. I spent many years saying “no” to things or not trying things just because I didn’t want anyone to be the boss of me. Guess who missed out on a lot by that? Like duh, that’s why so many people were doing such & such it is really fun! I’m in recovery of it now 🙂 My word of the year is intentional. I want to be more intentional in my walk with God, in my physical activities, in my relationships, with my kids just about everything. It is really easy for me to go on auto-pilot so I think it’s going to be a bit tricky to apply it to my days but well worth the challenge.

  58. Emily at Random Recycling

    I thought about my word last month and decided on Focus. I want to be present with my family, share useful content on my blog and only keep the things that bring me joy in our home. To do that, I need to focus on the task at hand so I can deal with things once and move on to better things.

    P.S. I just love the new(ish) tone on the blog. World travels clearly agree with you.

  59. Stacie

    That is so interesting! I didn’t know that about INTJs! I am an INFJ…and a bit of an idealist. My word for 2015 is POUR. Because of my idealism, I tend to have a “critical” eye, so I want to become more encouraging to my girls and husband. I once heard a pastor say that encouraging someone is like pouring courage into them. I love that visual, so that’s where my word came from!

  60. Krista

    My word for the year is content.

    🙂

  61. Fonkalei

    My words are FAITH & SIMPLE. Have faith and belief in everything we do and to do it simply. This year I’m intent on living more simply

  62. Jessica

    Your word is discipline. Self-discipline.

  63. Kathy Ericksen

    Really enjoyed this and always love reading about the balance you have. Also my word this year is enough. I find many times I feel I’m not enough. Reminded of the word from Brene Brown, “I’m imperfect and I’m enough.” Also find myself camping in that God is enough and without doing anything God accepts me as enough. Thanks for sharing!

  64. Jami

    My word this year is opportunity. I have had a phrase that guided me over the last two years, step out of your comfort zone. The first year I didn’t do so well, so I tried again. Stepping out of my comfort zone last year allowed me to lose 23 pounds, feel amazing, and start my own business. Which leads to my choice of opportunity, this year is full of them. I have the opportunity to build my business, build my marriage, build my family. Now as an ENFP I just have to not get distracted looking at all of the ‘birdies’. LOL

  65. Rachel

    My word is thrive. I was pretty stagnant the last five months of 2014 and I want to turn that around.

  66. Taria

    Very interesting and thought-provoking post Tsh. My word for this year is Margin. Going back to work last year drastically reduced my margin! Also, as my girls get older (they are 13, 11, and 8) their activities have ramped up and taken more time out of our schedule. Margin is actually tied very closely to your word, Limits. I just backed out of a workout class commitment that I had made because I knew it would be too much for us. Instead, I just need to be more disciplined in doing more frequent moderate exercise that’s easily accessible, such as running or walking. I also decreased my job from full-time to 80% this year and am contemplating whether to even return in the fall. I need margin in my life so that the important things can still be appreciated (like visiting my grandparents, connecting with the girls, eating healthy, keeping our home orderly and peaceful etc.). Best Wishes to you in this new year!

  67. Pauline

    Being an ISTJ, I always see difficulties, practicalities and limits, so I chose BIG PICTURE as my word for 2015.

  68. Jlynn

    My word is EMBRACE. Embracing the good stuff is easy, embracing the challenging or bad is not so easy. This year i just want to embrace all that comes my way and remember that every bit of it will make me a better person in the end.

  69. Christina

    I love the New Year with new beginnings and lists of goals & resolutions! I also love the idea of a word of the year, though I’ve never done it. So this year I’m declaring a word of the year and it is TIME! Time for God, time for my kids & husband, time for other people, and time for me. I want to make time for all of the best God has for me this year and really fill my time with His agenda, not mine. I’m excited!

  70. Alison Treat

    I’m an ISFJ and in a lot of ways I don’t focus on myself enough. I take care of everyone else and my mind gets cluttered so when I do have a few moments, I can’t figure out what to focus on. My word for 2015 just came to me this afternoon. The word is Clean. It just seems to sum up what I’m striving for this year–in my mind, my life, and my home. I want to eat clean, keep the house clean & organized, have a clean and clear mind so I can focus on the goals in my life. Clean says it all!

  71. Betsy

    My word of the year is Radiate. To radiate love, peace, and joy to my family and those I love.

  72. Linda Sand

    I recently tried to explain to a therapist that setting goals makes me rebellious. She said, “Even goals you set yourself?!” I think, for me, goals always feel like something I should have; and I’m not happy with shoulds. Those goals you made me set are not the boss of me!

  73. Eithne on the Moon

    One of the first things I learned at university (design) is that having limits means you’ll be able to be more creative. Because when you have complete freedom you try to use the way you’re more comfortable, and you’ll do projects which are more or less the same and not fulfilling. While having limits forces you to find new ways and be able to express more.
    Looks like it’s a nice life lesson too!

    As I wrote in my post today, my word for this year is vibrant. Let’s hope it works!

    Eithne on the Moon: lifestyle, books and travels!

  74. Keilah

    thank you, Tsh, for leading us in New Year reflection, and to so many for sharing. I get chills at how lives & hearts are intersecting here as we individually, yet collectively, face 2015.

    Faithfulness. I need to be faithful where I am, even (especially) to the things I don’t like. This year could open a new chapter for my family, or not, and my responsibility is to be faithful no matter what. It helps keep me humble, and also not get ahead of myself (not that I ever do that…)

  75. Shannon @ GrowingSlower

    I love when you share what’s going on in your mind and life as a fellow female INTJ writer. It has been such an encouragement to me as I figure out how to navigate life with grace as one of the more “prickly” personality types 🙂 I haven’t done so hot at the exercise thing either because I always have some other project going on that gets all my time and attention, but now in my 30s I think it’s catching up with me!

  76. Christa

    My word for this year is LOVE. I’m working on both giving and receiving love. It may be the high of the new year, but I’m already feeling the love in 2015.

  77. Dorothea

    My word for 2015 is “PERSPECTIVE.” As in, keeping all the daily stresses, the car repairs (both cars with major repairs and it’s only January 8th!), and all the difficulties in perspective of the big picture of life and especially-eternal life. It is helping me stay calm, stay focused on God and his big plan for me and not get bogged down in the little details that could ruin my peace if I let them take over.

  78. Donna

    Great post, Tsh! I love your one word for the year! I posted a list of 15 simple intentions to guide my everyday this year
    on the blog. This week, I really feel like God is saying that I need to quit worrying, especially when it comes to finances. All week he has been bringing up the need to fear less and trust Him more. Every scripture I’ve been lead to read each morning has been about being faithful, not being afraid and trusting him to provide.

    P.S. I am loving your picks for the 2015 Reading Challenge on Pinterest.

  79. Helena

    I had never thought of exercise as setting a limit to yourself, but boy does it make sense. I am good at setting limits, routines and the rest for my children, maybe this year will be the one where I will finally set more limits for myself.

    I think I will have to put this on the top of my daily to do list for sure. Thanks Tsh!

  80. Juanita

    Cultivate….relationships, service, self and family health focusing on quality versus quantity.

  81. Leanne

    My word this year is Reach. Stretching, trying new things. Connecting with others.

  82. Meg

    Oh wow, you hit the nail on the head with this one! I’m surprised it didn’t start out with “Dear Meg….”!! :). Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m going to print out and re-read often!

  83. Connie

    Autonomous is a better word than what I refer to myself as: rebellious. I wasn’t like that as a kid but somewhere in my mid-20’s I developed this idea that I wanted to do things my way. I now understand that it really isn’t rebellion, it’s a desire for autonomy. The idea of setting limits for myself creates all kinds of stress. However reading this gave me a better sense of how important (and freeing) limits can be. Thanks Tsh!

  84. Tiare

    I also believe that one’s strength is also their weakness. (We’re closely related – I’m an INTP.) This can mean that the answer to something can be found in its opposite, such as limits being the answer to freedom.

    One of my strengths is being able to see the bigger picture. But the problem with seeing the bigger picture is that it can be overwhelming and distracting from what’s important now. So perhaps my word of the year should be FOCUS. I need to figure out what’s most important to focus on and how to keep my focus sharp instead of letting it widen too much.

    Thanks for the post. It’s great food for thought.

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