Heralding your Word
An act of manifesting
Come hither. Yes, closer, by the fire.
Let me share with you how you might craft your very own living ‘/word’ page.
It’s part of the annual ‘Ritual of Becoming’—a powerful spell you can cast for yourself at any time. This ritual guides a deep enquiry into self-knowledge so as to help you find and choose one Word to serve as a fuzzy contextual beacon to guide you in your quest ahead.
Why do you need a Word?
You don’t, hoho. But if you seek new motivation, meaning and enchantment in your life—if you seek meaningful progress and the realisation of relevance—you may want to find one. Even if you are the super sceptical sort too clever for conventional self development. Perhaps, especially so.
After nearly a decades worth of research and refinement, I have meticulously distilled this Ritual of Becoming into an online programme for you, which you can learn more about at www.chooseoneword.com.1
The purpose of your ‘/word’ page
In a nutshell: cultivated dissonance.
The Ritual of Becoming is an act of manifesting2—of ‘telling the truth in advance’, so that you might live into it, make believe, and become it.
Thus, after deep work in Reflecting, Introspecting and Projecting (RIP)3 upon ‘who you are’ and ‘who you might be’—and after finding the most exquisite and apt Word to serve you in the next chapter of your unfurling story—you then must pave the way for Actualisation. This is the phase in which you begin to adopt and an integrate new Principles, Patterns and Projects in actuality.
Your ‘/word page’ helps you do this. It’s a living space for you to enshrine the insights from your Quest to find a Word for the year.
You can see my own version of this at drjasonfox.com/word.
Craft a ‘/word’ page in 7 steps
You can make your /word page however you want—but here’s a here’s a useful sequence as a starting point.
1. Start with Your Word
“This is The Year of ______ for me,” you say.
Your Word is a semiotic evocation that represents a bundle of meanings and potentialities. It’s something that hints at your intentionality and directionality. This can be incredibly powerful—particularly via The Ritual of Becoming—but few others will fully grasp its significance to you. Your /word page will help though. If folks know and remember your Word—if it is distinct enough—they may just serve as allies in the adventures ahead. (As you may, for them).
2. Share The Backstory
We all live within our own version of narrative fallacy (to varying degrees). These are the fabricated fictions we (or rather: our ‘Narrating Self’) create for ourselves, so that our self-concept remains somewhat coherent.4 These backstories are often based loosely upon warped interpretations of ‘fact’ (memory).
The Ritual of Becoming helps to lessen our attachment to the stories we live within—loosening our grip on fixed notions of identity so as to resist ossification and encourage a more fluid sense of ‘self’. And yet still: there are patterns to be found amidst the stories we tell of ourselves.
And so the Backstory section of your /word page gives you an opportunity to give friends a sense as to where your Word has come from. It wasn’t merely plucked at random from the aether—it chosen after much contemplation, consideration and care. Here we flaunt our fallacies in a sincere-but-ironic way, knowing that we are not living out a pre-determined story but rather: an unfurling one.
By identifying the areas within which we seek to develop—and by considering the wider infinite game within which we are all veiled players—our Backstory hints as to the sense of purpose/relevance/meaning we seek to cultivate and lean into.
3. List 3 Principles
Within the programme I encourage fellow Questers to identify three Principles to adopt for a year.5 These Principles serve as reference points in your year. If your Word serves as a kind of ‘North Star’, your Principles are like the constellations clustered around it.
Your Principles are what you turn to when at a loss as to what to decide or do. Life dishes up plenty of perplexity, ambiguity, paradox and doubt in any given year. Having done the deep work to know enough of thyself (and your tendencies), your Principles serve to help you cultivate the kind of selfness you’d more rather grow into. (At least, of course, until we need to reorientate to relevance again—hence why this Ritual of Becoming is best considered an annual affair).
Your meta-mantra is usually: “What would ___ do?” or equivalent. In my Year of Pirate I would often ask myself: “is this what a Pirate would do?” In my friend’s Year of Style, she would ask herself: “Is this True to The Year of Style?”
But your Principles provide a bit more edge to guide you. For example, in my year of Gentleman (think: aristocratic gentleman-explorer) I had principles like “Quality in All Things” and “To Be a Paragon of Aplomb”. Your Principles ought be simple statements that evoke a certain quality of guidance, which in turn might influence the kinds of decisions you make in the year ahead.
4. Hint Towards New Patterns of Behaviour
Whilst we might have a wonderful story of ‘Who We Are’ in our own minds, other folk will have their own story of us—for we are but characters who appear in the lives of others. This story might be very different to the one we tell of (and to) ourselves.
‘Who’ we are—in the minds of others—is informed largely by how we show up, and what we say and do. By considering the Patterns of Behaviour you seek to embody—and then declaring them within your enshrined /word page—you create a frustratingly powerful sense of dissonance in your own life.
Cognitive dissonance is where what we think and say does not align to the actions and behaviours we exhibit. It’s uncomfortable and difficult to sustain‚—and thus it naturally becomes something we seek to resolve. There are two main ways of doing this—changing our narrative, or changing our behaviours. By declaring your patterns in an enshrined /word page, you make it a little harder to change the intentionality of your narrative. Ergo, we focus on changing our behaviours. Or rather: our habits. The patterns of behaviour we exhibit.
For we are what we do.
At the start, this will be awkward—embracing new behaviours will feel as though you are pretending. And that’s exactly what you are doing—pre-tending. Acting out the activities before they become the behaviours you tend to do (and are known to do).
5. Preview Potential Projects
Our lives are made up of projects. They are the legacy you leave in your wake as you pass through time.
If life is an infinite game, played for the purpose of continuing the play (where only that which can change can continue)—then projects are the finite games nested within it. They’re the things you actually ship, make and do. Or not.
Projects can include grand endeavours like writing a book, starting a business or hosting a reunion—and they can also include little things like hosting movie nights or dinners, taking a cooking class or enrolling in a new course.6
I try not to ‘plan’ too far ahead with projects, as the gods do so enjoy mocking such hubris. But each month, or each quarter, you may find projects you wish to do and complete. Things that might be quite fulfilling and meaningful.
In this way, your /word page is something you can loop back to seasonally. Every three months, return to see what lessons you have learned—and how you have grown and developed as a person. (And of course, all the while, any friend who knows you well can hold you true to your Word—especially by referencing your /word page.)
6. Tell Us How We Can Help
This is a note for those reading your /word page on the kinds of support and encouragement you might need in the unfurling chapters of your year ahead. If you know your own self-sabotaging tendencies—if you have enough of a sense of how you typically manage to get in your own way—and if you have gone deep into unearthing the hidden commitments and conflicting values that hold you in place… then it may be you can provide those who care with some apt suggestions as to how they can best support you in your Quest.
I’d suggest keeping your expectations pretty low for this—everyone has their own struggles, too. And we’re all doing the best we can with the resources we’ve got. But still: it is a gift to know how to help those we care for. So: let us know.
If we all get a little better at being a little more curious, kind and supportive of those around us, it may just be that we all move closer to some kind of betterness, together.
7. Spread the Word
Heralding your Word is a step toward manifesting who you might become. And, by doing so, you become a beacon for others who might like to do the same.
Remember: the Ritual of Becoming can be done at any point in the year. Birthdays, solstices, equinoxes, public holidays, lunar new years, turnings of seasons—whatever serves you. Because my birthday is at the end of December, it tends to work well for me to do this close to the turning of the Gregorian calendar. Trite, I know. But hey: don’t ever feel like you have missed the boat—you can do this at any point in the year. This is your Word, your Ritual of Becoming.
For what it’s worth, here is my own /word page. And here’s a couple of examples from some friends—The Year of the Diver, and The Year of the Hearth. If you’re keen to learn more, sign up (for free) to ‘The Character Handbook’ over at word.substack.com 🧡
Rational friends: don’t be dissuaded by my employment of magical realism. I have not descended into irrationality—merely sidestepped into para-rationality. Join in the programme and you’ll see. Sound reasonableness cloaked in glamour, ‘pon my Word. ↩
Yes, this is like an elegy for your past self—so that parts of you might die and rest in peace, so that new elements of ‘selfness’ might emerge. ↩
So that we, in effect, can make ‘sense’ of our reality. ↩
I suggest three Principles—not one, two or four—because three is a ‘Magic Number’ (as explained in the programme). Having five can also work—but this adds to the cognitive burden and can make things unwieldy. Three is ideal. ↩
I ought make clear: you’re under no obligation to set Massive Goals for yourself. You have nothing to ‘prove’. Constructive discontent can be useful—but try to resist the grand allures of hyper-capitalism, and instead orientate yourself to that which you consider to be most ‘relevant and meaningful’ within your locus of influence. In other words: strive not for the fickle fruits of fortune and success, but rather seek for a sense of contribution and fulfilment. ↩