Word of the year: a simple yet effective way to focus your year

by | Jan 3, 2018 | Life, Mindset

Have you thought about how you’d like this year to be better or different to last year? How you would like to be better or different this year?

I love the potential of a new year.

To me, it feels like an adventure that is yet to unfold. Part planned and part unknown. I love the thought that I couldn’t yet imagine what could happen this year.

People who know me well would tell you that I’m a great lover of plans, goals and structure. But I’m also learning to love letting life unfold and not being in control all the time. To be honest, sometimes what transpires without my input is even better than what I could’ve planned.

I’ve personally never set new year’s resolutions. I’m not opposed to them, but I set numerous goals throughout the year as needed and just don’t feel compelled to have my goals identified at the beginning of the year.

It seems that they aren’t really that effective anyway, with the majority of people abandoning their resolutions by February.

I am, however, particularly taken with a concept that has been around for many years and continues to grow in popularity – choosing a word of the year.


Your word of the year

It’s so simple and effective.

Instead of setting a number of separate specific goals (resolutions), you just choose one word that represents how you’d like to be or how you’d like your life to be this year.

This word then guides your thinking, decisions and actions for the year, across all areas of your life.

A specific goal is laser focused on one thing (meaning you often need a few to cover different areas of your life), but a single word of the year is expansive and broad, yet still so relevant.

Did you see that, lovely mum? You only have to remember ONE word which can impact ALL areas of your life! (because I know your mind is already very full!)

It’s an inspirational word (to you), that pulls you towards your vision (instead of pushing you to do something).

Your word of the year is flexible. So when change comes, as it inevitably will, you word can still be relevant and guide you through those changes. Your word gives you space to grow and adapt and it can take on new meaning throughout the year.

A word of the year is not black or white. You don’t achieve it or fail. You can’t break your word like you can your resolution (tell that to your inner critic!), so you’re less likely to get discouraged and give up.

When you have a single word to focus on, you’re setting an intention to make that word happen. As you look for opportunities to make this word a reality each day, you reinforce it in your brain. Over time, you’ll find that it becomes a more natural (and enjoyable) way of thinking and being.

I’d call that misson accomplished.

Would you like to give this a try?


How to choose a word of the year

Use this process to find your word of the year:

1. Brainstorm 

Spend 10 mins brainstorming words that represent how you would like to be, or how you would like your life to be this year. How would you like to feel? What do you want more of in life? How would you like this year to be different to last year? If it helps, you can consider the different areas of your life; your health and wellbeing, career, hobbies, family, friends, marriage, etc.

2. Look for themes

When you look at everything you’ve written down, you’ll probably see some common themes or similar words. Group these together. Is there a word that can represent them all? Which ideas seem to be represented most often?

Create a shortlist of the words that stand out the most to you, or feel the most meaningful. If you need to take some time to reflect on these, you can pause here.


3. Make a decision

Which word is jumping out at you? What’s your gut telling you? What seems most meaningful?

Remember there isn’t a right answer here – it’s totally up to you. And if you discover down the track that the word isn’t resonating, then you can absolutely change it! Just don’t discard the whole concept altogether yet!

4. Write it down and make it visible

Display your word of the year somewhere that you’ll see it regularly. Put it in numerous places! Writing your word down will make you more likely to make it a reality. Write it regularly! And tell your friends and family, because sharing your word with others will also help it come to fruition.

If you prefer pictures you could also create a vision board or collage of pictures that illustrate the word.



Keep it simple

Before you get stuck in over thinking and listening to your inner critic, please remember:

  • Don’t worry about anyone else’s word! You can’t compare your word to anyone else’s because what’s relevant to you may not be relevant to anyone else. Your word doesn’t need to make sense, be important or seem logical to anyone but you!
  • Avoid overthinking! You can easily get trapped in analysis paralysis here. Keep perspective. It’s a word. Not a matter of life or death and it doesn’t mean you can’t focus on anything else. It’s a guide. Trust your intuition.
  • There. Is. No. Perfect. Word.
  • If you really can’t choose one, choose two. It doesn’t matter. It’s better to have 2 words than none at all, just because you found it too hard to decide!
  • You don’t need to have a word right this minute. You have all year to implement it. Give yourself time to choose a word that is meaningful to you.
  • Distinguish between discomfort with your word because it’s not the right one, and discomfort because it creates a healthy fear of the power of potential and change it holds.


If you’d like a list of 110 words that could inspire your word of the year, just click HERE!


Using your word daily

So, now that you have your word, how can you apply this to all areas of your life?

What can you start or stop doing now, that will help you live out your word?

The more you use your word, the more you will see opportunities to bring it to life and the more it will become part of who you are.


My word of the year

I’d love to share my word of the year with you. It’s connected.

This means I will be connected to my:

  • children – so they know that they are always wanted and loved and that I am here for them
  • husband – deepening our relationship and working as a team
  • extended family – to maintain our bonds despite distance and life changes
  • purpose – so I am living intentionally and courageously, growing, following my passion and making a difference
  • friends – because we are each others’ community and support
  • More to Mum community (that’s you!) – to understand your needs, offer my wholehearted help and see you achieve your goals!
  • self – living authentically, understanding my strengths, my needs, what brings me joy and how to look after my own wellbeing
  • dreams – keeping them in sight and progressing towards them.


What’s yours?



Action Plan

  1. Choose your word of the year
  2. Write it down, make it visible
  3. Share it!

I’d love to hear what your word is, so leave me a comment!





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