As our industry’s main events – such as World Dairy Expo, NAILE, NDB/NMPF/UDIA joint annual meeting, the Dairy Girl Network Forward TogetHER and more fall conferences and events than I can type – come to a close, we gear up for year-end and the holiday season.

The holiday season is so impactful to us as farmers and business owners as we struggle to balance the day-to-day routine of milking our cows, caring for our calves and daily chores and business needs that keep the operation moving. However, we also have to juggle family commitments – like Thanksgiving in far-off places and how to balance four Christmases or more.

Or perhaps it means missing the family holidays to care for the chores that need to be completed daily. Along with the joy of Christmas comes the year-end, which requires us to have books up-to-date and details ironed out with our accountant and other business needs.

A few years ago, I heard about a new trend. People were selecting a word of the year. I can’t make the normal New Year’s resolutions because I usually forget too quickly and slip up. But choosing a word of the year is something I could do and sounded like something I would enjoy. I joined in on this, as it was a way for myself to stay accountable but also to focus on something for 12 months or longer.

I agonized over my word and didn’t finalize it until the middle of January, but I had put such thought into it that it worked out to help me. Compassion and strength were a few of my past words, and those all fit the year I was going through.


My word of the year for 2018 was “rest.” My husband laughed when I first told him. He said, “You do know we have two building projects, two children, a herd of cows, heifers and calves, a farm business – and you have another job or two, right?” I know I was slightly dreaming when I planned this.

But I had a good reason behind this word, and the time it finally hit home for me was impactful, too. I was sitting in church, and the preacher was talking about restful hearts and resting for your body and mind. I knew right then and there, rest needed to be my next word of the year.

I chose the word “rest” because I am by nature the type of person who needs the reminder that I can rest. That I need to rest. I imagine you are nodding your head in agreement with me right now. As dairymen and dairywomen, we each have this instilled within us. We had a busy year planned, and I needed to allow myself some grace to rest, to count my blessings in this time of rest and to place value on a restful heart while trying to do it all.

As year-end comes near, I realize I didn’t act on my word enough. I spent the majority of the year worried and overrun. I did not rest my body, mind or spirit. So now I am reflecting on where I went wrong. I chose a word I couldn’t commit to, and now I am trying to play catchup. I am also working on crafting my word for 2019 and how to choose a better word.

I found a few tips for how to craft your word of the year, and these might help more than just me.

Step 1
Reflect. This is one I am already doing, as I am reflecting on the year coming to a close and the year to come. I am asking myself what I could use in my life and what characteristics I would like to have.

Step 2
Imagine. Visualize what a perfect day would be like and how you would feel. What words come to mind as you think about this?

Step 3
List. Create a list of words that come to mind. Do not edit the list yet. Just list out words that come to mind. If you need help with this step, look up “Word of the Year ideas” and look through them.

Step 4
Refine. Review your list of words and select three that mean the most to you. Pick the three that stick out to you most and jump off the page. Or maybe you need to say each word out loud and see which three feel right in your gut.

Step 5
Commit. Now is the time to commit to just one word. Pick the word you are 100 percent committed to. You can take as long as you want in this step; take a few days or maybe a week and find out if you can commit to that one word. If you can’t, maybe that’s not the word; maybe one of the other two on your list is your word.

Step 6
Act. Write that word on your calendar, reflect on it, and incorporate it into your daily life.

These steps will help me choose a word I can commit to in 2019, and I look forward to discovering that word over the final weeks of 2018.

As I reflect on my word of 2018, I know rest was unachievable, so I need to recognize that. We also need to allow ourselves some grace while we approach the upcoming busy holiday season and allow time to truly count our blessings, to rest and to practice grace. Maybe grace will be my word for 2019.  end mark

Renée Norman-Kenny blogs at eat Farm Love and serves as the creative development lead for the Dairy Girl Network.

Renée Norman-Kenny