How to Choose a Word of the Year

I like the idea of choosing a word of the year to focus on and guide you. In order to choose a word, I took some time to reflect on the main themes from the previous year. I wrote down five words (direct, self-worth, self-advocate, self-esteem, and introspective) then winnowed it down to the one I felt strongest about.

How to Choose a Word of the Year (And Why it's Important)

When I reflected on the year and my strengths and weaknesses I kept coming back to the idea of self-worth. Self-worth and self-esteem are often thought of as synonyms but they are a little bit different because self-worth is more intrinsic and self-esteem is more extrinsic. I read an article that said, “Self-worth should be less about measuring yourself based on external actions and more about valuing your inherent worth as a person. In other words, self-worth is about who you are, not about what you do.” It reminded me of something my dad said recently when we were walking home from dinner. He said, “I’m proud of you, not because of what you’ve accomplished (although you’ve accomplished a lot) but because of your values.” It’s not about feeling good because you published an article, got a promotion, or had a “win” at work — it’s about feeling worthy regardless of external factors.

My main word is self-worth. When I reflected on the past year (and few years) the common themes were: not standing up for myself, not advocating for myself, and not practicing direct communication enough. To put it bluntly, there were times personally and professionally where I would walk on eggshells, be a doormat, and be quiet instead of being forceful.

Then I came up with a few short action items:

1. Be direct. Figure out how you feel then express it clearly.
2. Be your own best advocate.
3. Say no when necessary.
4. Focus on self-care.

Here’s How to Choose Your Word of the Year:

1. Reflect on the main themes from the previous year: How did you feel? What did you learn? What were some strengths and weaknesses?
2. Write down four or five words that you want to work on throughout the year.
3. Choose one word from the list.
4. Find a few action items you can focus on.
5. Think about that word (and act on it!) throughout the year.

What is your word for the year? Happy 2017! 

37 Responses to How to Choose a Word of the Year

  1. Love this! I definitely need to think of a word for myself for 2017. Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for your site this year.

    http://www.livinginsteil.com

  2. Southern & Style says:

    Our New Year’s Day church service talked about having “one word” for 2017 and it really inspired me…I’ve been dwelling on it, but haven’t locked down one perfect word just yet, it’s right on the tip of my tongue though! Thanks for your tips 🙂

    xoxo, SS

    Southern And Style

  3. Kat says:

    I could not agree more with everything in this post. What you have explained sounds just like me. I’ve struggled a lot with self-worth, and I have missed out on a lot of opportunities because of it. I have such a hard time advocating for myself and putting myself out there. I will definitely be thinking of a word for my own 2017. Thank you so much for the inspiration! Wishing you all the best in the New Year! -Kat from Dear Life Love Kat

  4. Nicole Booz says:

    I had a word of the year last year, but I haven’t set one for this year yet. Have you ever read the Desire Map? It’s a similar concept!

  5. Michaela says:

    Such a fun take on resolutions. I like the simplicity of choosing one word.

  6. Rachel says:

    My word of the year is “purposeful” — when faced with any decision I am asking myself if that choice will propel me directly towards my goals. If not, I will put it aside with intent.

  7. Mckenna Bleu says:

    I want to do this for 2017! I need to pick a word!

  8. Anna says:

    Self-worth is a great word of the year! I definitely need to think of my own!
    -Anna | http://www.fivefootandfabulous.com

  9. Greta says:

    I do this every year and it’s such a fun way to think and start the year!

    Greta | http://www.gretahollar.com

  10. Maegan Clark says:

    Self-worth is a great work to pick! I don’t know what mine is yet but now I’ll be thinking about it!

  11. I absolutely loved this post! I typically do a word of the year along with my resolutions, but this year I am making my word my sole resolution in hopes of focusing on it more.

    I hope that the year is off to a great start for you 🙂

    XO, SS || Seersucker Sass

  12. I think my word is independence, I’d love to see more of that from myself and strength in it in 2017. Love this idea!

    -Meagan | Love by Meagan

  13. Ashley says:

    My word is intentional because I didn’t make a lot of daily intentional choices that left me feeling a little out of control. I’ve never done a word before but I really think that this will help me this year! Hoping that in December I can say that I lived intentionally this year!
    Hopefully your year is off to a great start!
    xx

  14. Grace says:

    Oh I love this!! Yes for the last couple of years I’ve been choosing a theme/word to carry me through the new year.

    My word for 2017 is NOW. It will be a year to committing to everything NOW and not putting things off.

    http://miss-graciela.blogspot.com/2016/12/ready-set-goal-ft-2017.html?m=1

  15. amy says:

    I’ve heard of others having a word of the year and never really thought much about it. I may look into in having one this year!! I’m determined to making 2017 a fantastic year!
    xoxo,
    Amy | Pastel N Pink

  16. Amanda says:

    I absolutely love this– so unique and different than the regular ol’ resolutions type posts. I have absolutely no idea what my word would be… I need to think about this one. Great post!

  17. Sydney says:

    I have heard of others doing this but I have never actually done this! I love the idea and so would my mom!

  18. This is a great word for 2017, and one that I need to think about more too. Thanks for sharing – I’m going to use your tips!

  19. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the tips! It’s almost a week into the new year and I haven’t been able to decide on a word that I want to represent this year. Definitely feeling this year will be unforgettable though.

    Jennifer Ashley
    http://www.prettylittledetails.ca

  20. Abi says:

    Hi elana,

    I recently joined the yes supply group and found a post with your interview you did with Reese. I then onto your site and stumbled on this post. You wouldn’t believe that it has no been more than 2 days since I wrote an instagram post on word of the year. I love the tips you have listed and look forward to reading more on this website.
    My instagram is@abiventour and I’m soon to launch my blog on introverts who want encouragement tips to finding there confidence.

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