I love the start of a new year. I like calendars and goal-setting and retrospectives, and I love the notion of a fresh start, but I do not like new years resolutions – they feel rigid and artificial. A few years ago I started hearing about “word of the year” as an alternative to resolutions, and it really spoke to me.
The idea is that late in the year, you start thinking back to how your year went, and you look ahead to what you want to focus on for the next year. You narrow it down to a word that resonates with your intended path and this becomes your word of the year. It’s kind of like a personal mission statement for the year.
Instead of saying, “I want to work out every day.”, or “I want to drink a gallon of water each day.”, maybe your word is wellness or health. Instead of saying, “I will read from my bible daily.”, or “I will tithe at my place of worship every week.”, maybe your word is faith. If you struggled in the prior year, maybe your word could be persevere or grow. In my case, I want the word to click with me at work, at home, and for me as a person.
I find that choosing a word rather than a set of new years resolutions shifts my thinking to more than that singular habit – it touches so many parts of my life for that year.
I narrow it down to a handful of words toward the end of the year (which I keep track of in my phone so I don’t forget!), and I think about it on and off for several days – for me, it’s like trying something on to make sure it will fit. After all, I wear this word on my heart, soul, and mind for a whole year! I even look up the definition to make sure I completely understand it. If I have an idea of what I want, but I can’t identify the right word, I look up synonyms in a thesaurus for the feeling or idea to find the right word.
Once I finalize my word, I put it in places where I can see it. I put a post-in at my workspace with the word on it. In 2021, I even had it put on a bracelet that I wore every day. I share it on social media as well, for my own accountability.
I think about my word a lot during the year. In an opportunity for growth, I think about it. In a moment of success (small or large), I think about it. I want that word to be a thread woven into the fabric of that year – I want to look back at the end of the year and know that this word changed my year (and myself) for the better.
My word for 2021 was discipline. I had a decent 2020, but with our crazy world, I got a little too lax in some of my routines. I checked in with myself often – “Am I living my word? How am I showing discipline today?” My word allows me to be flexible – if I am having an off day, I acknowledge that it’s just one day and that I can start over tomorrow. Being able to show myself some grace is important to my self-improvement journey – we aren’t perfect!
For 2022, I landed on a word full of possibilities. It’s about investing my time into myself, into others… it’s about seeing a need and working to fill it. It’s a reminder that we reap what we sow.
My word for 2022 is cultivate.
I can’t wait to see where this word will take me.
If you do a word of the year instead of new years resolutions, please feel free to share it here – say it loud and proud! You’ve got this!
You might also enjoy reading: Embrace the chaos in 2022.