Trying to figure out how to choose a word of the year? Start with these questions, and sign up below for your free Word of the Year Workbook!
One of my favorite practices approaching January is deciding on a word of the year to focus on. I would even call it a self-care exercise.
While it doesn’t replace specific goals, a word becomes a kind of mantra for me. I love the intention it sets and the positivity it generates to kick off the next 12 months. It helps me keep focus and remember what I’m working on.
How do you narrow down a word of the year? How do you summarize your hopes, goals, and plans in one word?
To make it work well, it can’t be a quick decision. It’s a process that involves personal reflection and planning for me.
I’ve put together a helpful workbook if you need more tips and ideas! Sign up below to get a copy straight to your inbox.
If you want to try it for this upcoming year and don’t know where to start, here are some basic questions and thoughts to help guide you (in no specific order – it might take all or one to come up with your word). I encourage you to write them out, if you can!
Take some time to reflect on the previous year.
It’s important to celebrate last year’s victories. Usually I brush right past them and head straight into goal setting for the new year. But only thinking about the things that didn’t happen led me to feel burned out – quickly. A balanced evaluation includes the positive as well as the things you wish had gone differently.
Maybe your word of the year will keep you moving forward in a direction you already started this year or before.
Of course, take the time to think about things you would like to improve in the upcoming year. Do this with plenty of grace – instead of focusing on what you didn’t do, appreciate the victories and hard work, or maybe the sacrifices you made in the moment.
Think about how you want to grow.
Where would you like to see yourself in the next 12 months? The next five years? Where do you want to be when you’re 80?
Maybe your word will have to do with how you want your character to grow.
My 2019 word of the year came out of a balance of self-reflection and forward thinking. I wanted to be more confident with others, to feel like I belonged in the room; and also to interact with God on a deeper level. As I considered these goals, it really came down to one word: speak.
Set some specific goals or resolutions.
You might have some ideas spring to mind right away. Or maybe it will take some thought and planning, after you’ve thought about how you want to grow (see above).
Consider upcoming events and maybe goals leading up to them. Or think about loftier ambitions, and break them down into the smaller steps to get there.
Listing specific goals and knowing what you’re working toward can help generate your word of the year.
Often resolutions include: financial goals, like paying off debt or spending less; volunteering more; finishing school or coursework; starting new routines to work toward better physical health; learning a new skill; checking items off your bucket list.
Take a look at inspiring words and quotes, and see what speaks to you.
I’m a big fan of pinning, and I chronicle a lot of encouraging quotes on my Pinterest board, ‘To Inspire’. It’s a fun place to find beautiful graphics with inspiring words, and I find it peaceful (though not all do). You might also think about finding Bible verses, looking at your favorite books, or listening to songs you love to find quotes that inspire.
And to help, I’m including a list of word of the year ideas to look over as you think about your word of the year! These are words I’ve seen and heard others use, or that I myself have used in the past.
Sometimes it just takes a look to find one that connects for you, and the goals will follow.
Whatever your word, seek what inspires you, what motivates, something that is easy to remember and means something for you. Decide whether you will tell someone or keep it to yourself. I so encourage you to, again, write it down.
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