How to Choose a Word of the Year

How to Choose a Word of the Year

While most people are busy making their New Year’s Resolutions this week, I’ve been joining the millions of creative and innovative thinkers who choose a Word of the Year instead. This different approach to New Year’s resolutions is something I discovered from my mentor, Christine Kane, who launched a Resolution Revolution with her Word of the Year Discovery Tool in 2009. The idea is simple – choose one word to fully embrace in 2012. A word that will guide you, transform you, inspire you and challenge you for the coming year. The Word of the Year may sound easy – as if you can cross this project off your list by just choosing the first word that comes to mind and then forgetting why you chose it by Valentine’s Day. But when you truly give your word choice your full attention, the process can be much more powerful than creating traditional New Year’s Resolutions. Your word can become part of your daily life all year long. Like a gentle reminder to inspire you in the choices you make throughout the year.

Three Tips to Help You Decide on Your Word of the Year

If you’re feeling anxious about selecting just the right word to shepherd you through the new year, I want to share a few tips to make this process fun and rewarding!

1. Let your word pick you. Just like the wands in Ollivander’s Wand Shop choose their owners in the Harry Potter series, your Word of the Year will choose you. All you need to do is set the intention to discover your word, and be open to the magic. Chances are your word will sound very strange to you at first. You might even be tempted to break out the thesaurus and find a similar word that “sounds better” for some reason. But once it appears in your conscious mind, you won’t be able to shake it. You’ll find yourself asking WHY it’s showing up for you and what it could possibly mean. Give this word the attention it deserves and explore what it is trying to teach you.

2. This is not your mother’s word! Don’t let others influence your Word of the Year. It’s easy to ask your family, your Facebook friends or the women in your Bunko group to share their word and then pick one that sounds good. But your word has to be uniquely yours. It has to resonate with you in a way that no one else can fully understand – even if they choose the same exact word. It has to contain a very personal meaning. (And to be honest, you may not discover its true meaning until you’ve lived with it for several months.) So if there is a word that is surfacing for you, honor it – no matter what anyone else thinks!

3. It’s not about what you “should do,” it’s about how you “want to be.” Too often we look at the New Year as a clean slate – a time to correct all the things that we’re doing wrong in our lives. So we set resolutions that we hope will force us to do the “right things” – like eat healthy, lose weight, save money, read the Bible, donate to charity, spend more time with our families, etc. While these are all noble intentions, they are often unrealistic and they don’t address the source of the “problem,” which is not really a problem at all, it’s more of an opportunity for growth. When you choose a word that is designed to help you become the person God created you to be, then you don’t have to be concerned with all the “score keeping” that is associated with resolutions. You simply have to decide each day to invite this word into your life in whatever way God intends for you. You decide each day to live your word. You decide each day to be the kind of person you want to become.

Word of the Year 2012

I experienced a significant shift this year in choosing my Word of the Year. For the past two years, my word represented something I was seeking in my life. In 2010, my word was BALANCE, which served as a daily reminder to be fully present at work and at home and to create a life that is in alignment with my values. In 2011, my word was SUPPORT, which stretched me to let go of my control freak tendencies and invite the assistance of others into my life in many ways. As 2012 approaches, with its prediction of doomsday and its promise of spiritual renewal, my word has shifted from a “seeking” word to a “calling” word. My word is not something I am searching for, but something I am feeling called to become. My Word of the Year for 2012 is LIGHT. This is one of those words I rejected at first. I would have preferred “shine” or “radiant” or “illuminate.” But LIGHT kept showing up for me and I knew I had to own it. I am being called to step into my own light in 2012…to follow the light inside of me…to become the light for others…and to surround myself with wise and gracious beings who can shed their light on me. If you’re thinking that sounds poetic and idealistic I challenge you to go deeper in your understanding of the power of a word. By living each day with the word LIGHT in mind, I will have a practical (and quite literal) guide for making choices that will help me achieve my goals all year – in personal, professional and spiritual matters. Light will bring me clarity and guidance, courage and confidence. It will help me fulfill God’s plan and serve as a compass for my spiritual journey. It will challenge me and comfort me. Inspire me and transform me. It will take up residence in my mind, body and soul until I am shining my light each and every day. What about you? What is your word?  

UPDATE 1/1/14: If you want a more spiritual focus for your Word of the Year, try choosing a scripture Verse of the Year to guide you through the next  year.   Goals Guide 1

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26 thoughts on “How to Choose a Word of the Year

  1. I hate to bombard comment sections with links to products, but after emailing Theresa she said to feel free to share this one. The Rusted Chain has created a Word of the Year Necklace to serve as a simple little reminder of the word you have chosen this year. Here’s the necklace in case you’re interested, There is also a bracelet that can have the word stamped onto it as well, As for me, I’m still waiting for the right word to come to me for 2012!

  2. I have been praying about my word for this year. I didn’t want it to be a word I gave myself or thought up on my own. I don’t think it was coincidence that I stumbled upon this article! I need to let my word for 2012 choose me…and when it finds me, I will let you know what it is! Thanks for posting this!!

  3. What a fabulous way to start the New Year. I like the idea of choosing a word,. I didn’t know how to explain it, so I called it a theme for the year. But when people think of a theme, they think of words, not a word and yet I was using a single word. In the past the word or themes of the years have been, kind, honest, strength, truth, etc. This year my word has become encourage. Usually the word/theme begins in late November or early December.

    BTW, I still do the resolutions too. They give me goals for the year ahead.

    Thank you for sharing your insight.

    Lily-Thinking Thoughts

    PS I will be following your blog!

  4. This is such a great idea! I have had this going through my mind ever since I read this post. I had different words floating through my head like Patience, Kindness, Self-Control, but then this morning I realized that my word for the year will be Calm. If I approach life with this word always in my mind then that will lead me to my other words. If I am calm then that will lead to patience, kindness, self-control and other good things! I am going to put this word up in my office area as a reminder. Happy New Year!

    • This is a great word for moms, Christy! I am feeling calm just thinking about all the beautiful things that this will create for you:-)

  5. I found your blog by ‘chance’ and I am truly grateful that I did! I have never chosen a word for a new year before, but it came to my mind a couple of weeks ago that I should and the word “HOPE” popped into my head! It is not a word that I would have chosen, but I believe that God chose it for me! So I am embracing HOPE for 2012 (for those who hope in the Lord, shall not be disappointed). Happy 2012 to you!

    • Thanks, Joanne! HOPE is a beautiful word – one that I wish were possible to give to others but it truly needs to come from God, so kudos to you for embracing HOPE!

  6. My word is LIGHT too!!!!!!! I am very new to the idea of a word for the year and I was reading your tips. I had been bouncing around the word light for a while and I felt like light was calling my name when I was reading your tips. And then I saw your word was light also and that cemented it in my mind. I have a different aspect on it but it’s interesting to see how you are using it and gave me a whole new meaning to the word, so thank you!

    • How exciting, Laura! You’ll have to keep me posted as to how the word is creating change in your life!! Wishing you much love and light in 2012!

  7. Found this post recently and it inspired me to come up with my own word for the coming year! 2014 will be a year of “foundations” for me! And…I’m really excited to be sharing this with the readers over at Mom’s Morning Coffee!! Posting in a few days and I can’t WAIT (for the first time in a long time!) for the New Year to begin!!! Thank you so much…

  8. Googled Word of the Year and came up with this article…so helpful! For 2014 I’ve chosen “brave”, and I can’t imagine a better word for me. It’s more like my life word than just a year word, but it seems like a good start.

  9. I Googled word of the year and ended up here. I am so happy I did!!!!! It seems like such a positive site with helpful thing to keep your mind renewed and spirit refreshed. My word for this year is” PROPEROUS”, and I am not only applying it to wealth but also to relationships, education, mothering and everything in my life.
    1. Having success; flourishing: a prosperous new business.
    2. Well-to-do; well-off: a prosperous family.
    3. Propitious; favorable: a prosperous moment to make a decision.
    I’m so excited!!!

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