Why 'Unsubscribe' is My 2019 Word of the Year

I love the idea of picking just one word to define your intention for the year.

For me, this year, that word is ‘unsubscribe.’

Strange pick for someone who is distributing this blog post via a subscription-based newsletter, right?

Well, for one thing, if you’re not getting valuable insight from these emails, I would totally recommend you unsubscribe. I would not be offended! I want your mental energy to be taken up by things that enrich you, not things that feel irrelevant to you. In fact, in the last 8 weeks, I’ve unsubscribed from 72 mailing lists (yes, I kept count, and Cyber Monday is a great day to figure out how many mailing lists you’re on…).

Back to my point. Unsubscribing in the 2019 sense of the word is certainly important. It helps you manage your inbox, it help you keep the information you receive relevant to you. But let’s think about the figurative sense of the word.

Merriam-Webster defines the word subscribe in the following way:

1: to write (one's name) underneath : sign

2a: to sign (something, such as a document) with one's own hand in token of consent or obligation

b: to attest by signing

c: to pledge (a gift or contribution) by writing one's name with the amount

3: to assent to support

I am most interested in #3 - to assent to, or to support.

Ask yourself:

What concepts, narratives, or cultural norms do you inadvertently support, simply through your failure to outwardly reject them?

Office gossip? Unhealthy organizational politics? Diet culture? The illusion of crafting the perfect life on social media?

What would it mean to clearly and outwardly unsubscribe from more than just newsletter mailing lists you don’t read anymore? What if you rejected the ideas and narratives and norms that don’t serve you or those around you? How much would your life improve? My guess is that it would improve quite significantly, and that you would experience a sense of agency, a clearer commitment to yourself, and even some confidence to boot.

Try out this concept of observing what you inadvertently subscribe to, and consciously unsubscribing for a week. See what happens! Better yet, shoot me an email and tell me what happens.