A few years ago I was listening to the podcast Happier and I discovered the concept of “Word of the year” and I have been doing it ever since. Having a word of the year has been really helpful in setting my goals and resolutions. It also helps me make decisions throughout the year.
It’s something I look forward to as the new year approaches, definitely one of my favorite traditions!
What is a Word of the Year?
You choose one word that will be the “North Star” for the upcoming year. It can guide your New Year’s resolutions and help you put more thought into what you want to focus on throughout the year.
The word of the year is also known as One Word or One Little Word.
How do you choose your 2022 word?
Maybe you already have one word you immediately thought of as soon as you read the introduction.
And if not? It’s the most common reaction, so don’t worry! Here are the steps I follow:
- Start by looking back at the year that is ending and examine what was missing or what you want more of
- Think of what you would like to focus on in the upcoming year, how would you want your days to be like? Relaxed and slow, buzzing of activities and/or friends, focused on a big project?
- If you are stuck, simply scan through the list of 100 word ideas below and select the 10 or 20 words that are related to the questions above. Then remove synonyms and continue to reduce the list based on what resonates the most until you find the final one
How to use your word for goals and resolutions
- Think of all the possible meanings and interpretations. For example, “Light” can refer to daylight and sunshine and will prompt you to get outside more; it can be connected to feeling “light” and it might lead you to delete Twitter and pick up a new hobby instead of doom-scrolling; or you might want to “find the light” on gloomy days and start a gratitude list or a journal. Come up with as many interpretations as you can, see what comes up and which ones you want to set as resolution/intentions for the new year
- Write down the meanings and interpretations that you want to work on and include in the next year and journal about it, remembering to include practical activities
- Remember your word, think about it often. A simple way to not forget it in two months is to find an image that is related and use that as your phone’s background picture. I’ve heard some people buy a t-shirt with their word printed on it for example. You can even get a custom charm for this specific purpose!
- Think about it when making decisions Choosing a word for the year can be useful also when you have to make a decision. It might sound a bit extreme, but thinking of your word can offer a different perspective or remind you of what you set out looking for.
For instance, you can ask yourself “Which one of the options would bring more __________?”
Following the example of “Light”, I would probably say yes to a picnic in the park even if I am tired, or it could be a gentle nudge towards speaking up immediately rather than keeping a grudge or overthinking what a friend said.
Help – I can’t pick a single word/I want to change my word of the year
The idea is for this to be a helpful reminder of the main theme you would like to focus on for the upcoming months, but nothing is set in stone!
You can (of course) adapt it or adopt a new word altogether whenever.
Some folks prefer to have multiple words, maybe one per quarter or one per month, to focus on a new area each season!
105 Word of the Year ideas
I’d love to know your word for the year, please share it in the comments below!
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Hey Laura, this sounds like a great idea… for someone who can stick to a new habit they chose! But I’d like to try, it’s definitely a tool to assess the ending year (or month, or project, to be fair) and set an intention for the next endeavour. Do you have any advice for anyone who has a hard time splitting the concept of this “guiding word” from their goals and expectations? I rationally know they’re two very different things, but fear and ambition are truly blinding me and it isn’t that easy to let that guiding word emerge…
Thanks for sharing anyway!
Hey Irene, thanks for your comment! In my experience, the word of the day doesn’t have to be linked to one specific goal or activity only, it could be a reminder of a perspective you’d like to keep in mind.
Sometimes the word I choose can have opposite meanings: at the start of the year I write them all down and add activities/intentions for each. Then throughout the year I pick the one that “sounds better” depending on the situation. For example, “energy” could be used to work on a bunch of projects and pour your energy into different things, but it could also encourage you to rest to have preserve your energy. Or “reach” can be linked to reach out or reach inwards, which, in a way, can be seen as opposites.
Another way to get inspiration for the word is to think of what you want less of and go for the opposite.
Hope it helped! You can also always change it or have one word for each quarter, of course 🙂