In lieu of New Year’s resolutions, I always start day 1 of the Gregorian calendar with my word of the year, which I believe has a higher success rate than New Year’s resolutions.
You start your year with an intention, a specific word that defines your mindset and collective goals for the next 12 months. Use it as your mantra to help you improve your outlook in life. As opposed to just treating your hopes and dreams like a dart board, having a word of the year targets the way you approach things. It helps you become a better person and not just a collector of trophies.
Jot down your chosen word in your journal, decorate your planner with it, make it your desktop wallpaper, or simply write it on a post-it note to be displayed perennially in your workspace.
According to Christine Kane who helped spread this philosophy years ago, “Hold that word in your mind throughout the year, and let your word guide you to take action.” For example, instead of usual resolutions like “lose weight” or “get rich,” pick a word that gives you a gentler, more encompassing approach for the next 12 months.
Let’s try the word “courage.” Keep the word courage in mind whenever you find yourself problematic, stuck in a rut, or about to make a major decision, such as finally enrolling in a gym class, climbing your first mountain, or quitting your dead-end job to start your own entrepreneurial career. Use the word as your daily mantra, not just for career goals but also for self-improvement.
Unlike New Year’s resolutions that tend to fizzle down by March, your word of the year is your guiding light until December 31st. When I started subscribing to word of the year many years ago, I found that aside from nudging myself towards my goals, I had a better perspective in life.
But it’s not as easy as picking a cool word from the dictionary. It usually takes days to weeks of self-reflection before that eureka moment where a magical word pops out of your thought bubble, telling you, “That’s it! That’s the word.”
To help you find your word of the year, start by asking yourself the following questions:
1. What are my goals for my career, hobbies, and personal life? Write them down in phrases or sentences.
2. If I were to pick specific words to describe my common goals, what would these words be? Start with as many words as you like.
3. Which of these words give my gut an excited and determined feeling? Narrow them down to 5.
4. Which word makes the perfect mantra for the next 365 days of my life?
My friends have different approaches to helping them narrow down their choices, like journaling, getting advice from other writers, or filling up questionnaires.
After weeks of jotting down notes and self-reflection, my word finally came to me while taking a shower on New Year’s Day. As a follow up to my 2016 word, “thrive,” my 2017 word perfectly sums up what I’d like to do with my career, hobbies, personal life, and even my physical vanities. My word is:
I started with the following words: improve, maximize, refresh, expand, and transform. My main agenda is to transform what I already have and avoid complacency. As an artist, it’s time for me to improve on my entrepreneurial side. Unlike 2016 wherein I wanted my talents to thrive in a chaotic environment, this year I’d like to take my existing blessings—things that I already have and thrive in—and EVOLVE.
What about you? I’d love to know what your word is. Share it (and the story behind it) in the comments section below. If you’re blogging about it, please share a link to your blog post. I’m giving a prize to the best blog!
A few tips:
1. For first-timers: You can’t use two or more words! Focus and pick only one.
2. For those who’ve done this before: Don’t use last year’s word. Rethink your goals and plans if you are tempted to do this.
3. For everyone else: Don’t rush just because it’s already January 2017. Take your time to reflect and take notes. Your gut will tell you when it’s the right word.
4. When you’ve finally picked your word, it’s time to display it. Whether you’ll turn into a giant poster to be framed on your bedroom wall or something subtler like a bracelet or bumper sticker, choose whatever works for you.