POWER: My word for 2020

Thanks to 4dHumanBeing.com for the image


This year the word I chose came to me slowly, bouncing around the periphery of my life. When I first thought to choose it, I was concerned people would misunderstand. Then I realized that was exactly the clue I needed to know it was the right word for me at this time.

The word I choose is POWER.

So often, POWER is viewed as a negative, especially when we believe others have it and we don’t. There’s a kind of victimhood thinking involved, it seems to me, when we see power only as something someone else holds over us.

The POWER that I’m thinking of is personal power and is, in effect, another way of thinking about self-care. The POWER that I’m thinking of means that I’m able (and eager) to take care of myself.

Sounds easy enough; it’s not!

In adopting POWER as my 2020 word, I’m embracing the “courage to change the things we can” part of the Serenity Prayer, which comes AFTER that part about accepting the things we cannot change. The distinction is critical.


With thanks to notaminutetowaste.com

Personal power means I own what is mine to own: my reactions, my emotions, my expectations, and my choices.

Personal power means I stop blaming someone else for any distress I may feel. My distress — whether it’s anger, fear, or sadness — is mine.

Having personal power means I needn’t feel guilty if someone doesn’t agree with my choice. Feeling guilty is my choice too. If I do, I’ll own it; it’s mine. No one “made me” feel that way.

Owning my power means I know what my choices are and I make them without guilt. Though I may offer an apology.

Owning my power comes with knowing I have a right to my feelings, no matter what they are, and no matter the other person’s reaction. I am not responsible for other people’s reactions to me or expectations of me. If I feel angry, it’s mine; I can own it. If I feel threatened or afraid, it’s also mine. When I blame someone else for it, I give away my power to do something about that feeling.

Owning my power means I trust myself to make the right choice for me, to listen to my instincts, to stand firm in my beliefs, and to change my mind when appropriate.

Owning my power means I acknowledge that others may have things to teach me, they may appear more confident or assertive than I do. Owning my power helps me see that the personal power others possess, does not diminish my power. Quite the opposite actually. I believe the more each of us can own our power, the better off we all will be.

When I had my short-lived consulting business, my tag line was, “Social change through personal empowerment.”  I still believe that’s how we do it, by allowing each individual person to find their power, to feel the power they already possess, to see the impact they are able to make in the world around them, to know they can make a difference.

Power is NOT a pie, despite what the politicians may think.

Owning my power means I take responsibility for clearly communicating my wants and needs.

I’m all about connection, community, cooperation. And personal power in no way excludes the need to have others in our life. We are social animals, after all. We need people. What we don’t need is guessing who they are or what they want.

My best role models have been strong, powerful women. Women who spoke their minds clearly and directly; who liked who they were and presented their most authentic self; and who admitted when they didn’t know something. I hope I can become that same type of role model.

Do I hear rumblings: What about tact? What about diplomacy? What about getting along? What about being polite?

What about it? These are not mutually exclusive. Tact is important; polite conversation has its important place and time; diplomacy has kept us out of war on more than one occasion. Motives matter. Too often I have refrained from saying something because I fear the other person’s reaction. It’s the walking on egg shells phenomenon we hear so much about.

No more.

The other person’s reaction belongs to them; I do not control it; I do not control them. And I won’t pretend I do by manipulating my words. Owning my power means I remember the difference.

Owning my power means I recognize that others cannot read my mind, no matter how cleverly I might hint or how smoothly I might model the behavior I desire. And owning my power means I can recognize when the other person is doing just that.

Owning my power means I can be assertive when necessary.

I can choose how I want to spend my time and with whom. I can decide what and when I want to eat, how I will dress, what I will read, and when I will engage with someone else. I do so without guilt. And I offer others the same opportunity.

These days, when so much around me seems out of my control, I will remember what I do have power over: my attitudes, my behaviors, and my choices.

And I’ll remember that when we come together, we can accomplish even more.  What’s that old saying? If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. 



How about you? How are you owning your power these days? 


[box] LEAPFROG, my tiny handbook for handling those tricky conversations we all face, is now available in digital and paperback format.

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15 Responses

  1. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    Your readers understand you’re not necessarily being ballsy with this choice – not too much!

    My focus words in past years have been “power” words as you know from reading my blog. Words like “intention” and “publish” underscored my goal of memoir publishing. This year it’s “beauty” because I need a word (perhaps with less horsepower) that grabs me in a different way.

    Yes, owning my power means I can be assertive when necessary. Book promotion requires it!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Ballsy, huh? Interesting word choice, Marian. I do think women have a rather love-hate relationship with the idea of power, in its straight, no euphemisms brand. So, I tried to break it down, to be as clear as I could be with what I meant. We’ll see. Certainly my comments have fallen off. Interesting. (Woody says everyone’s caught up watching the Impeachment proceedings. I rather doubt that. 🙂 I thank you for your steadfast support. As always.
      Janet Givens recently posted…POWER: My word for 2020My Profile

  2. Ally Bean
    | Reply

    “Motives matter.” You can say that again and again and again. I like your word of the year and how you’ve defined it. That, to me, seems to be the crux of really using your word consistently. I know you’ll do great applying it to your daily life.
    Ally Bean recently posted…The Downside To Being Tidy: An Honest MistakeMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      It’s a feeling we have, in the moment, I think, Ally. That “I can do this” idea, or the “I’ll be OK no matter what happens,” gives us the ability to move into new challenges and new ideas. Surviving failure helps too, I think. I especially liked my word of a few years ago: ENOUGH. That made for a very relaxing year. 🙂 We’ll see how this one plays out.
      Janet Givens recently posted…POWER: My word for 2020My Profile

  3. Kathleen Pooler
    | Reply

    Love your word, Janet and your spin on what the word, Power, means to you. I agree it boils down to self-care. We should all adopt power as a positive force. Like you say, it means we have to take responsibility for ourselves. Amen!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Kathy, and thanks for sharing your thoughts on power, Especially now during your blogging break. Would that we all embrace the power we already have. What a world that would be.
      Janet Givens recently posted…POWER: My word for 2020My Profile

  4. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    Janet — I love the focus word — POWER — that you’ve chosen for this year. And I thoroughly enjoyed reading the well thought out and clearly articulated way you shared it with your readers.

  5. Darlene Foster
    | Reply

    I love your word. We need Power, it is what fuels us. When we lose power, we become unhappy, depressed and often ill. There is nothing worse than feeling powerless. Yes, it is all about self-care.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks Darlene. Yes indeed. I love how you gave us the alternative; easy to see the power in power when we consider the emptiness of powerlessness. We all have the power to care about ourselves.
      Janet Givens recently posted…POWER: My word for 2020My Profile

  6. Bette Stevens
    | Reply

    Yes! Power in the positive… A great theme to think on as we start each day!… Happy 2020, Janet!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      “Power in the Positive!”
      I love it. I see a line of bumper stickers. Thanks for adding your voice here Bette.

  7. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    I’m currently listening to the impeachment proceedings as I reply here. I’m sad and I’m scared. But I’m not blaming what’s going on on the TV. There’ll be no “They make me so angry!”

    Instead, I’ll own my sadness and my fear and take steps to minimize them. When we blame, we give away our power to do something about the distress.

    I wish I had included that in my recent book. Oh well.
    Janet Givens recently posted…POWER: My word for 2020My Profile

  8. Tim Fearnside
    | Reply

    Good stuff, Janet, and something of a blueprint, I think, on how we should all try to live our lives — with courage, authenticity, and ownership. I’ve never attempted coming up with a focus word before, but I very much like the concept, and will be giving it some thought in the coming days. Best to you, T

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I’ll be eager to hear what word you choose, Tim. Or what word chooses you, as that’s how it feels to me. Thank you for adding your voice here.
      Janet Givens recently posted…POWER: My word for 2020My Profile

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