Choosing a ‘Word of the Year'

The ‘Word of the Year’ concept has probably been widely adopted by people for some time but, for me, it’s my first time setting a word with which to conduct my year overall. I heard about it on YouTube just before the turn of 2019 and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Interestingly, it looks like Instagram hasn’t either. Amongst all the chat about it, it seemed to me like such a great idea that I wanted to share why I think it could be beneficial for us to abandon long lists of resolutions and instead concentrate on just one word to define our goals and achievements over the next 365 days.

What is it all about?

The idea of picking a Word of the Year is to give yourself one, holistic objective that you can truly appreciate and work towards. We’ve all written New Years’ resolutions with the intention of striking each one through come next December 31st, but how many of them do we actually accomplish? Could it be easier to simply condense it all down into one defining word?

Like effective goal-setting, our chosen word needs to be one we can internalise and make part of our person in order for us to see it through. Health coach and wellness influencer Elizabeth Rider nails the definition, when she describes your Word of the Year as an annual “intention”, or “theme”. The premise of your Word sets the tone and ambition for the year; it’s a simple outlook that should drive you in the desired direction, a continual guideline to get the most out of the next twelve months.

How to set your Word of the Year

Your word needs to comfortably reflect all the things you really want to get out of the year. My word came to me pretty quickly when I gave the concept some thought but, if you’re in a muddle, choosing your word can start with resolutions to narrow it down. Round up all of your ideals and jot down a word that represents each one. If you have multiple candidates at the end, try to identify one of those words that can fit into every resolution and see where that takes you. As long as you feel strongly about the one you’ve chosen, you’ve got yourself a Word of the Year.


Why it’s important

So what is the point? If this all sounds too flowery for your taste, I get it. Goal-setting, resolution-making and word-picking is not for everyone. In fact, last year I felt so de-motivated that I don’t think I would have been capable of deciding upon a single word for 2018. If you can’t see it working for you, you needn’t bother adopting it. But, if you are up for trying the idea, here’s how it could help you.

Your Word:

  • Provides you with a rough sense of direction whilst retaining focus. We don’t always know what to expect further down the line, but at least we’ve got a general guide that keeps us on a relative path.

  • Can hold many meanings. If your Word of the Year is ‘happy’, this could take on a whole range of forms; happy in your career, happy at home, or happy with yourself for achieving something you worked hard for.

  • Encourages you to recognise that there’s something missing. We can’t move forward if we don’t know what we want, can we? If you can feel that wistful pang, that disheartened heaviness or intense challenge looming over you when you think about what it is you really want, you are admitting that you’ve got a blank space in the equation. By deciding what you need to achieve you are holding yourself personally responsible for making sure you get it.

What’s your Word of the Year?

My word of the year for 2019 is: thrive. I want to see real change and progress this year, no matter how small. While I see progress in every year, I’ve got some more specific ideas in mind for 2019. What started as ‘prosper’ and ‘flourish’ conglomerated to make ‘thrive’, and it’s what I’m happy with on the basis that I’d like to try reaching higher and wider this time around. As it’s my first time with a Word of the Year, I’m interested to see whether my perspective of progression will change.

If you’ve been picking a Word of the Year for years, I’d love to know if it has helped your overall positivity, work ethic and wellbeing. And, if you have already chosen your word for 2019, what is it?

Useful Resources

Wherever possible I try to share resources at the end of blog posts that required some more reading. Listed below are a couple of helpful links for you to follow if you would like to find out more:

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