What’s your word for the year?

Photo by Jade Tjia

I don’t usually set New Year’s resolutions, and this year is no different, but what I am doing for the first time in 2017 is choosing a 'word for the year'. (I'm not sure where the idea originated, but it's a practice that seems increasingly popular in recent years, based on what I've seen on the Internet and social media.)

A couple of years ago I distilled how I want to feel in my life into a handful of words. That clarity was powerful – much more than I expected – and has supported me in making big decisions, as well as choices in my daily life. So this year, I’m curious to see what will unfold by choosing a word of the year.

Below, I’ve shared my word for 2017 and why I chose it. If you’d like to join me (and I hope you will!), I’ve outlined how a word of the year could help you and suggested 3 different ways you can choose one. (There's also a free resource to help make the process easier for you!)


My Word for the Year

My word for 2017 is truth.

I’m expecting to encounter many new experiences and face new challenges this year. To grow and be stretched in different ways in this new chapter of my life and career.

When making decisions it could be all too easy for me to slip back into conformity or wanting to please, so I’ve chosen my word to remind myself to honour what feels right and true for me. My truth. 

I've chosen it not because I'm reaching for an objective, universal truth, but because I want to be in integrity and alignment with my personal truth. It's about listening to my intuition and giving myself permission to be who I am. Which in practice means: less head, more heart; less logic, more emotion. It means showing up whole-heartedly and finding the strength to stay soft. 

Honestly, sometimes even the thought of revealing my authentic self feels vulnerable and a little scary. But on the flipside, I'm hopeful that remembering and reconnecting with my truth will ultimately lead to more ease, more flow, more expansion, and more light.


How a Word of the Year can help you

There are a myriad of reasons to choose a word of the year. Here are three powerful possibilities:

  1. It can embody your overarching focus, intention, theme or direction for the year, around which you orient your goals and plans, explore and experiment, create change or cultivate growth
  2. You can use it as a motto, mantra or reminder in your everyday life to represent something that’s important to you this year. Your chosen word can inspire, embolden or empower you to act in alignment with an intention, or provide support, comfort and strength when you need it
  3. It can help you navigate in times of uncertainty, reminding you what matters most when you need to make a difficult decision


How to choose a Word of the Year

There’s no right or wrong way to do this. Here are three different techniques that can guide you toward your word for the year: 


Technique 1: Follow your intuition

Tune into your intuition and listen for what ‘feels right’ for you.

Is there a word or phrase that encapsulates your intention for 2017? 

What do you want more of this year?

What does your heart need right now? 


Technique 2: Use a structured reflection process

Step 1. Explore the year ahead

Visualise what the next 12 months might hold for you: 

  • What significant events or experiences do you expect to occur this year?
  • What hopes, dreams or goals do you have for the year?
  • Who do you want to become this year?
  • What challenges do you anticipate facing?
  • Is this a period of active growth for you (e.g. striving, driving, achieving), or a season for rest (e.g. surrendering, softening, consolidating?). It’s also ok if it's both! 


Step 2. Brainstorm potential words

Considering your responses from Step 1, use any or all of the following questions to help you brainstorm a list of potential words or phrases:

  • How would you describe the essence or focus of this year?
  • What do you want more of in your life this year? 
  • What do you need to be successful this year?
  • How do you want to feel this year?
  • What does your heart desire?
  • How do you want to show up this year? Who do you want to be? What qualities do you want to rely on or strengthen?

Your potential word might communicate a feeling or emotion (like joy, calm, courage, surrender, believe, or even a simple 'yes') or describe something especially important to you at this stage in your life (such as balance, simplicity, wellbeing, family, or adventure). 


Step 3. Choose your one word or phrase

Look at your responses from Step 2 and circle any words that stand out to you. Also look out for underlying themes or reoccurring ideas, which may surface other words that weren’t on your short list.

As you reflect on your responses, consider the purpose or rationale for choosing your word. How do you want to use your word this year? Do you want a word that will soothe or protect you – something that gently centres and settles you – or do you want a more active word, something that emboldens or energises you? 

You might prefer a broad or multi-layered word that has different meanings or is relevant to your life in multiple ways: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Or you might feel drawn to a word that has a more specific intent or meaning for you. There are no rules.

Which of your circled words do you want to be your word for the year? Check in with yourself: how does it make you feel when you think about your word?

(Don’t worry, you can always change your mind later in the year if you want to. Nothing is set in stone.)


Technique 3: Select from a list

I suggest looking inward rather than outward for your word, but I acknowledge that sometimes it can be helpful to have inspiration! Seeing and contemplating other alternatives can spark ideas or reaffirm your initial choice.

So, I've curated a list of 75 words you can consider. 

And if none of those words light you up, I’ve also compiled a longer list of more than 325 words for you as well.

Get access to both lists (free!) by signing up below.

(You'll also receive free updates with inspiration and ideas I think you'll love. You can unsubscribe anytime.)

(You'll also receive free updates with inspiration and ideas I think you'll love. You can unsubscribe anytime.)


Have you chosen a word for the year? I’d love to hear what word you chose and, if you're happy to share, why you chose it. Leave a note in the comments!


P.S. Not sure what to do with your word now that you've chosen it? Take a look at this post for 3 steps to get the most power and inspiration out of your word this year.