Lanny’s One Little Word for 2020

One of my great mentors once taught me that a significant difference exists between trying to fix something perceived as “wrong” in life versus living into a possibility. These are two separate ways of being in the world.

In contemplating a choice for my one little word this year – 2020 – I have spent a lot of time thinking about this important distinction.  The first way of being- attempting to right or fix a “wrong” – typically results in the constitution of thoughts that look, sound, and feel like strategies, defenses, or plots.  And although strategies, defenses, and plots can all produce desirable results – absolutely! – they are also ways of being that tend to lack such qualities as freedom, joy, and affinity for life.

So as I have considered a word to, in the words of Ali Edwards, focus on, live with, write about, craft with, and reflect upon for the new year and dawning decade, I have thought a great deal more about a word that could function more as a “North Star”, and less as a “how-to” guide.  For I wholeheartedly believe when we devote ourselves to living into the possibility a word can offer, we are more free; we are free to pursue life in ways that can truly light us up.  This is distinct from working to right something we have deemed to be “wrong” in our lives or “fixing” something (although there is definite value in this).

With this thinking in mind, I have chosen BALANCE to be my one little word for 2020.

As I have alluded to earlier here, I have selected this word not because of what is wrong, but rather because of what this word offers in terms of possibility.

What comes to mind when thinking about BALANCE?  A few contexts jump to my mind, and I will share a few of them here:

  • Balance, as on a bike:  Although decades now separate me from the experience of attaining balance atop a bicycle for the first time, I shall never forget it. It wasn’t easy.  It required hard work, perseverance, and focus…as well as support from others.  And it required a belief that I could do it.  But once I attained it, my gosh!  The thrill and the freedom I suddenly felt… so great! In choosing BALANCE this year, I plan to focus on and remember the sheer joy that can become possible when hard work and focus are combined to reach a goal.
  • Balance, as in a diet: It is common wisdom that in order to function effectively, our bodies need a well-balanced diet.  Working to get back to this principle in the coming year I know holds great possibility for increasing my energy levels, performance, and overall physical and mental health.
  • Balance, as in work life and home life: As a literacy specialist, I love the work I do with teachers and kids.  I also love my beautiful family.  In choosing BALANCE as my one little word this year, I am really taking a stand for a robust and heartening life in both of these areas.

It is hard for me to believe we are entering a new decade. I am sure many of us are feeling similarly.  I mean… 2020, really?!  It boggles the mind.  But I feel confident that BALANCE will be a supportive word this year, especially as I work to remain steadfast in my beliefs around ways to make a difference in the world.

To all of you who have taken some of your valuable time to read this post, allow me to express my gratitude to you.  May this year be one that holds great wonder, love, and possibility for you.  Happy New Year!


Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

10 thoughts on “Lanny’s One Little Word for 2020”

  1. Balance is a perfect word for the new year, and I think I may use it as my one little word to keep myself sane! I appreciate how you point out balance in all facets of life as it is a major indicator of how we live. Cheers/Salute!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful word. However I especially appreciate the distinction you have made while selecting this word. That it will serve as support to you in this oncoming year as a beacon to the possibility, rather than a fix for a problem or a label for an unascertainable goal.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I think about “balance” I also think about “juggle.” It’s a struggle so often to juggle life’s demands and find balance. I also think about balance in terms of writing and reading, the way both matter so much but it’s often hard to find balance between the two.

    However, I also think there’s a shadowy undercurrent to the way balance functions in some sectors, particularly the news media. I’m thinking specifically of the Chuck Todd epiphany last week when he finally realized in his efforts to offer balance in reporting he’s actually been complicit in advancing conspiracy theories.


  4. I chose balance before-hoping to keep it as a reminder of what I wanted to avoid-as you mention “wrong” in your post-I like the idea of focus on the word as an opportunity to see where it can guide more as you said-the North Star. My word for this year is breathe-I like your approach to the OLW, you’ve changed my thinking…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “I wholeheartedly believe when we devote ourselves to living into the possibility a word can offer, we are more free; we are free to pursue life in ways that can truly light us up.”

    I agree. Completely. Happy New Year, Lanny!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great choice—I can definitely relate. Your examples of balance—like riding a bike—evoke a joyfulness and energy of discovery. Sometimes when people write about balance, it seems to be about slowing down. . . but your piece reads much differently. There is an alertness, an intentionality that feels more like appreciation and a desire to value all the wonderful-ness across the layers of your life. Inspirational!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Balance is a beautiful word. As I read this I was reminded how easy balance can feel once you find it. Much like riding a bike, as you said. Once you get it, you can get back on anytime. It is finding this sweet spot that can be challenging. I wish you the best in finding and securing balance in your days across the year, knowing that occasionally you may fall, but getting back on is possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As always Lanny, I love reading your writing. There is so much rhythm and voice in it– a beautiful balance. You know what one of my hope is for you if not in 2020 then in the decade, for sure! Work on making some cairns as well. They’re a wonderful challenge to do with daughters.

    Liked by 1 person

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