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Choosing a “Word of the Year” can be an extremely stressful process if you aren’t really sure what you’re doing. Not because you will do it wrong, but because you think you will do it wrong. Most things that stress us out are directly related to our thoughts, more than the actual process/activity/thing. This is no different.
Just as it’s pretty impossible to meditate wrong, it’s pretty impossible to choose your word of the year wrong.
However, I totally understand that it can be stressful. It feels like whatever you pick, you are stuck with all year. And of course, your word of the year should be something that will help guide you from start to finish.
I feel that as a society we put a lot of emphasis on years. The new year is looked at as a fresh start. Every birthday we think about a year gone by, we are “one year older” and should be “one year wiser”. As kids, each new year brings an exciting new age. We want to feel older and older… until we want to feel younger and younger.
In reality, a year is just 365 days. Every day can start a new year, since it is 365 days from the last time it was that day.
I point this out to say, your word of the year doesn’t have to be set in stone. Relax.
The best way to go into choosing your word of the year, is to not be stressed by it. While you don’t want to go into the new year thinking that you will be changing your word every other day as it fits (because then, why even have one?) you can definitely take a breath knowing if you feel you have chosen wrong three months from now, you have the ability to go ahead and fix it.
Now that you are relaxed, we can get into the process a bit. First off, there is no right or wrong process either. My suggestions here and in my Word of the Year Planner (Click for access to the free printable version) are just that, suggestions. They are to help you weed through your thoughts and ideas and plans and goals for the year, to come up with a word that will help you see those things come to life.
What are you focusing on this year?
The only place to start is to know what you are planning to focus on this year. Are you focusing on building a business? Spending more time with family? Traveling and expanding your world view? Get really in tune with what you want to happen this next year. Even if what you want to happen is “just follow each day as it comes”, or “let the universe guide me”. If you don’t know your focus and goal, you won’t have any idea where to start when choosing your word.
What goals and plans do you have for each area of your life?
Do you have specific “at work” and “at home” goals and plans? What are they? Where do they overlap? Where do they differ? Do they compliment each other, or will they have to work around each other?
These are important questions to ask as you create your focus for the upcoming year. Sometimes our professional and personal goals are perfectly in alignment, and sometimes they aren’t. If they aren’t, your word could possibly be something that will help to align your goals, or you may decide to put more focus on one than the other. Either way, you need the answers to these questions.
What are some qualities you want to enhance or change about yourself?
Maybe you aren’t very organized but want to be. Or perhaps you want to be more free-spirited, or enhance your intuitiveness. Many of us already have a laundry-list of qualities we would like to change or enhance about ourselves, but aside from just what you want to change, think about what will help you with your goals and plans for the year.
After you decide what you are focusing on this year, make note of qualities that can help you with whatever it is you want to accomplish.
How did this past year go? What are some things you want to stop, start and continue?
Take stock of what has happened in this past year. Staying away from things you had no control over, (i.e. death in the family, the stock market, election results, etc.) how did the year make you feel? What things would you like to stop, start or continue? In other words, what will you want to change this year? What new things do you want to add to your life this coming year? What is going on that you want to continue through this year? The end of the year is not only a time to look ahead, but a great time to reflect back and allow your feelings on what has happened guide your plans in the next year.
What are some big long-term goals that you have?
Do you have some long-term goals that you want to accomplish? Anything from buying a house, moving to a new neighborhood or state, to reaching VP of your company? Think about some of the big, scary, long-term goals you have, then consider what some of the first steps towards achieving them may be. While thinking about those steps, also consider qualities and focuses that will help you achieve the steps which will help you to achieve your big goals.
What are some overlapping themes emerging?
As you are thinking about this past year, your goals for the upcoming year and your big goals for the future, you may start to notice emerging themes. Things that are the same, similar or complimentary to each other. These overlapping areas are great places to start exploring for your word.
After you explore all of your goals, plans, feelings and changes you want to make, take time off.
You have just spent an awful lot of time thinking of plans, goals, qualities to enhance or change, your feelings about the past year and what you want for this year. Take some time away from thinking about it for awhile. This gives you space to breathe on it.
Take a night to sleep on it, some time to meditate, or just go on with the rest of your day.
Often, if you let yourself move on to other things, your word will just come to you. You have given your subconscious enough information to go ahead and do the work for you. Similar to when you are trying to remember something you were going to say, or can’t think of a word, (or any of the other number of things we run into that we can’t remember) once you let it go and move on to something else, it will eventually come to you. Many times in the middle of the night.
If your word of the year doesn’t come to you in the middle of the night, that’s ok. Pick your goals and plans back up and choose your word yourself.
Your word may not just pop into your head in a whimsical epiphany. It doesn’t always, and that’s ok. It’s still good that you let it sit for awhile. Now that you have, revisit everything you went through. Start filtering different words and phrases through the lens of your plans and goals. As you are doing this, you will find some words will feel like a fit and some won’t. Pull out the ones that do, and pick one to be your word.
Again, there is no right or wrong here.
The way you pick your word, the word you choose… it’s all personal and there is no right or wrong. As long as it feels good to you, you have done everything right. If it doesn’t, go back through and find a different word. The only thing that is non-negotiable, is that the word must feel good to you. If it doesn’t, it’s because your intuition is telling you it’s the wrong word, and so you have to pick again.
In the end, your word should inspire or motivate you, and overall, it should feel right
Easily choose your word with the “Word of the Year Planner” get your FREE printable planner with OVER 150 word ideas here! Plus you will get access to all of the other great printables and freebies in the Mindset & Wellness Resource Room!
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