Why a “Word of the Year” May Be Your Best New Year Resolution

This is Part 3 of the series: Solutions for Making and Accomplishing New Year Goals 

What is the “Word of the Year” trend?

A Word of the Year is like having a one-word mission statement or year-long theme. Choosing a word of the year is helpful, inspiring, and useful, regardless of what season of life you are in today. A word of the year can provide meaningful direction and a sharper focus on your desired personal changes and growth. It is a word with a commitment – and you can translate it in all that you do throughout the coming year. 

Choosing a word of the year may be your best solution for creating a positive and successful new year resolution. Are you someone who dislikes to-do lists and complicated steps? Do you want a goal that is concise, encouraging, and more attainable? Do you desire a better tool to help your personal development in 2022?

Then try out a Word of the Year.

How to choose a word of the year

First, it is necessary to take some time to reflect on the past year. And if you are religious, pray about what God wants to do for you and through you.

Ask yourself these questions, and journal your answers:

  • What (or who) created unexpected changes (positive or negative) in my life last year?
  • What were some of my struggles? How did I respond?
  • What needs do I have right now?
  • Where are my areas that need improvement?  
  • What would help me flourish?

After reflection, do you see a theme? Can you already formulate a word that may encompass your answers?

Read slowly through the list. Circle approximately five words that seem to fit your answers to the five questions. Do you now see words that coincide? Did you circle similar words? Are they nouns or verbs? These are clues. 

Now, from your circled words, narrow it down and pick the best word that represents how you want to live through 2022. 

What word did you select?

Study your word

Once you have chosen your word, learn everything about it! Write out the definition from the dictionary, purchase a book on the subject or find an online community (or create one!) with the same goal. You may want to dedicate a new journal or notebook to record all your notes, prayers, and progress over the year regarding your word.  

Plan the year

Even if you don’t like making detailed goals or writing out lists, the word you select now will also be unsuccessful unless you create a plan for living it out. Here are two simple steps to implement:

1. Write a mission statement

Begin by writing your Word of the Year in a mission-type statement. What do you hope to achieve? Do you need to focus on one area, such as a particular relationship or skill? Or will your word be used to help you make decisions in day-to-day living?

Your statement can be short or detailed. For instance, if your word is generosity, your statement might be something like this:

“2022 will be a year of generosity. I want this to mean that it
 will be less about me and more about others. It means a
 commitment to: Giving regularly to my favorite charity;
volunteering more time to help others; and looking out for
my neighbors and offering friendship.”

This is a very general example to give a template for how you could write your own. Keep your mission statement where it is visible or save it on the note app on your phone.

Choose a tool.

Create a tool that fits your personality, lifestyle, and available time. Here are some suggestions (just pick one; you don’t have to do them all!)

  • Journal periodically about how you are fulfilling your word of the year
  • Purchase a devotional or write out Scriptures to memorize;
  • Compile a reading list;
  • Put together a song playlist on Spotify.

Also, consider activities that coincide with your goal: attend a conference, join a Bible study, create a small accountability group, or simply schedule personal time to focus and refuel.

2. Post your word

The “hard” word is complete! Now make that word visible! Post it on your mirror, make a computer desktop screensaver, or order a piece of jewelry (such as a bracelet or necklace) with your word. You could also take a picture of something with that word, frame it, and display it.

Track your progress

Finally, be sure to set reminders to return periodically to your word of the year and once again reflect. Are you on track? What improvements have you made? How have you lived out your word? What have you discovered about yourself? What needs to change? Be sure to journal your discoveries.

I trust that this “Word of the Year” (or “One Word”) exercise will be motivational as you plan 2022. May it also be a tool you can implement to improve – or even transform — yourself, your relationships, your career, or even your relationship to God.

Do you use the “word of the year” exercise as you plan your new year? Share in the comments if you have, and what word was your theme!

4 responses to “Why a “Word of the Year” May Be Your Best New Year Resolution”

  1. If I had to pick just one word, it would be “trust.” But actually, my word of the year is a message that accompanied a vision. It's “trust Me,” and it's what I heard in my head as I saw my hands enfolded, being led into the new year.

  2. I like how in-depth you've gone beyond merely choosing a word! My word is “quality.” For too long I've tried ALL the things. Now I will do ONE thing with high quality and then change/add/etc.

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