Looking for inspiration for your Word of the Year or New Year’s Resolution? This post will uplift and inspire you to choose your own word this year and how to use your word to change your life!
New Year’s goals are my jam.
I’m a list-making, goal-setting, self-help book reading New Year’s Queen. I love the planners, the cute checklists, and the explosion of inspiration for improving all areas of my life.
But of all the goal-setting systems I’ve tried (and I’ve used a TON), choosing a Word of the Year has had the most impact on my life.
I first learned about selecting a Word of the Year from blogger Jami Balmet from Young Wife’s Guide. She has some gold on this topic! I’ve seen many of my favorite bloggers and influencers follow suit, so there’s definitely a great community out there if you want to do this.
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But wait, what is a Word of the Year? And how do I pick one?
Basically, you pick one word that is your focus for the year that helps direct your goals and your life. The word keeps your goals top of mind when you think about or see your word.
There are so many ways you can choose your word. Make a list of things you want to improve and look for common themes. Ask loved ones for ideas. Pray. Check out inspiration lists like in this post and pick the one that stands out to you. Pray again. Scour Pinterest.
Don’t spend forever picking out your word though. I promise what you pick will be great because it’s what you do with your word that matters!
*Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a downloadable Word of the Year list!
Awesome, I have my Word. Now what?
So here’s the secret sauce. Accomplishing goals is amazing, but what do we really care about when we make New Year’s goals?
We want to become someone. We want to become the whole, best version of ourselves.
When we apply our “word” to our goals and every day life, we can become the person we want to be.
Side note: James Clear and Wendy Watson Nelson articulate this process of “becoming” so well in their respective books, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones and What Would a Holy Woman Do? I highly recommend reading these fantastic books!
Can you show me a Word of the Year in action?
You bet! I’m going to share some nitty-gritty examples of how my “words” have changed my life. Feel free to skip ahead if you’re just here for the list, but if you want the personal details of how this works for me, here you go!
2017 Word of the Year: Shine
“Shine” was my first focus Word, and I had super high hopes for a glittering 2017.
But it ended up being my hardest year to date (even harder than 2020!), with my second miscarriage, this time with twins, worsening PMDD, a very wished-for move falling through, and a whole list of other trials.
2017 was a DARK year overall for me. Most of my checklist style goals fell flat. I remember thinking that maybe I cursed myself with my silly word.
It actually saved my year.
I prayed earnestly for eyes to see Light. And I did. I was able to better see the Shine of my love for my family and their love for me. I recognized the way service brought Shine into my life even when I was bitterly grieving. As I helped start this blog, I learned new ways to “let my light so shine” like in one of my favorite scriptures Matthew 5:16.
“Shine” helped me learn this important lesson from Mahatma Gandhi:
“In the midst of darkness, light persists.
Word of the Year 2018: Bloom
I loved this word! I’m a floral designer, and this word just gets me.
Apologies in advance for all the gardening analogies ahead, but that’s part of the fun of words!
I was ready to grow after my tough year, and 2017 provided good fertilizer. We bloomed into an amazing big fixer helper house with beautiful flowers and room for a garden that was much better than the houses that fell through before.
I weeded out a side gig that had brought joy but was taking too much energy to cultivate. We expanded our homeschool efforts.
The sweetest Bloom in 2018 was our sweet baby Lydia, who was born prematurely at 34 weeks but is now a blossoming, spunky toddler. Bloom was my mantra to get through the difficult pregnancy after loss, unplanned C-section, and NICU stay.
“How can I BLOOM by appreciating this day with this baby growing inside me even though I’m afraid of another loss?” “How can I BLOOM even though my birth experience was traumatic?” “How can I BLOOM during this NICU time when I’m so tired, stressed, and lonely?”
My word helped me brainstorm practical solutions to my problems, and I consider this year as one of the loveliest of my life.
Word of the Year 2019: Celestial
Isn’t that a pretty word! I used “Celestial” more traditionally for goal setting last year. I wrote this in my planner to guide my goals:
Celestial-I want to make our home like Heaven. Remember God more each day. Strive for more charity. Recognize Heavenly Father’s hand and mercy in my life. Look for beauty in the world, in those around me, and in myself.
Some of My Goals for this Word:
- Celestial Home: Declutter my whole house–(finished about 60%)
- Celestial Family: Strengthen our family’s connections by sending birthday cards to loved ones–(did this 100% for my side of the family!)
- Celestial Spirit: Study the New Testament with my family using Come Follow Me–(this one was a huge success! I loved this program and the Spirit it brought to my family. And it was easy to implement.)
- Develop a talent that brings me closer to God–(My husband and I performed in Savior of the World: His Birth and Resurrection. It was a blessing to sing and act again, especially in portraying such a holy story. Definitely a celestial experience.)
- Celestial Body: Regain my health–(no improvements in this area, though I diligently tried many avenues, tests, and new doctors. I’m not giving up though!)
Word of the Year 2020: Delight
True Story: I forgot my word of the year for three months during the Pandemic.
I had a surprise miracle pregnancy–super sick, had negative pregnancy tests, and got a positive result the weekend before our city went on lockdown–and didn’t even think about goals for awhile besides surviving as a mom of five while the world went insane.
But one day I felt a whisper when I was sitting feeling particularly sorry for myself. “Hey Maegan, remember that Word of the Year thing? What was your word?”
Lightbulb on the head cartoon moment! DELIGHT!
I sure have had a lot to delight in even in 2020. I hope you have too.
How to Keep Your Word of the Year Top of Mind
Your Word is more powerful when you think of it frequently! Some fun ways to remember your word:
- Display it! Print, hand-letter, hire out, make a printable of your word and place it where you’ll see it often! Put it on the fridge, on your mirror, in your planner, on a post-it by your desk, in a frame in your dining room, on your screensaver
- Make a music playlist inspired by your word
- Collect quotes that go with your word
- Have a weekly check-in about your word with your spouse, a sibling, a friend
- Join a Facebook group that focuses on Goals and Words of the Year
- Have a party with your family that celebrates your word
- Journal about your word daily or weekly. Even a sentence adds up.
- Make a vision board for the year that centers on your word.
- Find different definitions of your word or look up translations in other languages.
- Say or write affirmations that include your word
100 Meaningful Options for Your Word of the Year
Choosing a Word of the Year can change your life. I hope you’ll give it a try!
And to congratulate you for finishing this post, my word for 2021? Holy. More on that to come!