How to Choose a Word of the Year

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The New Year is here! While this can be an exciting time, it can also be a very depressing time filled with pressure to do more & be more. Everyone is all about setting goals & making all the things happen this year. If you’re someone who is overwhelmed by this, I can totally relate. Maybe like me you feel the pressure to make this your best year ever. And while that sounds amazing, how do you really make that happen? It could also be that you’ve heard all the buzz about choosing a word for the year. This is something that I have been doing for a while, but it can also be filled with a pressure all its own. A word or a phrase to focus on for the year can give you a filter to use when choosing what to say yes or no to. Your focus word or phrase can help you know where you should be focusing your time and attention. Likewise, where you shouldn’t. Choosing a word of the year is powerful. But if you’re wondering just how to choose a word for the year, I’m here to help. And you can do this anytime of the year – not just in January!

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If you’ve never chosen a word for the year, it is a super empowering thing. And, I highly recommend it. But, I wanted to offer a few cautions first.

Here’s what you need to know so you can choose your word of the year

how to choose a word of the year

Take your time choosing your word of the year

Even if you don’t have a word until February, the right word will be worth the wait. Choosing the right word beats choosing a word by a certain day hands down.

Usually I toss around a handful of words before I come up with the right one. This is largely because choosing a word of the year takes me a month or more.

Don’t throw any word out

Don’t reject any word right away. Some years the best word for me has been the word that felt the most wrong initially. In time, words have a way of growing on me. There was one year when I even used the same word twice. I felt as though I had just started coming into the word in October and simply needed more time with it.

choose a word of the year

You make the rules

Like I just mentioned above, you make choosing your word of the year fit you and your situation. It’s probably against “the rules” to use the same word twice, but it’s totally up to you!

Don’t pressure yourself

If there isn’t a word that feels right, just don’t choose one. It’s kind of like fitting a square peg into a round hole. It just doesn’t look pretty. Having no word is better than having the wrong word.

Maybe in a month or so, you can follow the process again and find the perfect word of the year.

Maybe your word of the year should be a phrase of the year

I think more times than not, I have a phrase of the year. Some of mine have been “Find the Joy in the Journey,” “Breathe it in,” and, “Make it Happen.”

Sometimes a phrase might suit you better than a single word. So, play around with some phrases, too.

how to choose a word of the year

Sit with it

Once you think you have it right, picture it as your word for the year. How would you apply it? What does it mean to you?

Spend some time thinking about how your word or phrase would apply to different parts of your life. So, how would your word apply to your home life? How would your word apply to your work life?

Your word or phrase should be something that is used universally in all aspects of your life.

Ask for advice about the word of the year you’re thinking about choosing

I love this one. I would bounce your word off someone you trust, but instead of asking what they think of this word for you, try this. Ask them what (put the word in the blank) means to them? What comes to mind when they hear that word? Then, see if the things they say are what you want to focus on. And, ask a few people who know you well if they associate this word with you at all.

Look up your word of the year in a thesaurus

Does this still seem like the right word? Maybe something similar will work even better! This happens to me at times.

Choosing a word of the year is the highlight of my year. And if you’ve never tried it, choosing a word o phrase of the year could be a powerful thing in your life, too. But if you’ve never done it before, it can feel a bit overwhelming.

The key to choosing the right word of the year is making sure that it’s bringing positive things into your life rather than negative feelings.

Following these steps so you’ll know how to choose a word of the year will help you through the process.

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