Using a single word for the year has become more mainstream in recent years as opposed to doing a traditional New Year’s Resolution. These powerful, personal word of the year ideas will inspire you to make 2022 a fantastic year!
2022 will be here before we know it! 2021 has gotten us back to the things we love and care about. It’s made us prioritize health and protecting each other. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s on the upswing.
But maybe you’re not on board with giving yourself a New Year’s Resolution this year… would you jump in on the trend to set a word for the year?
So far, the “Words of the Year” that I’ve seen the past few years range from amplify, ecstasy, joy, simplify, adventure, and limitless. These are some pretty powerful words! Let’s work through some word of the year ideas and how to choose one to have a fulfilling and happy new year in 2022!
What is a personal “Word of the Year”?
The idea behind having a word for your year is that it will replace a traditional New Year’s Resolution. This is one single word that you focus on throughout the year. It will permeate your entire life and affect everything you do, from how you react to others, to how you care for yourself, and how you prioritize your life.
Because your “word of the year” is an idea, concept, and driving factor, it is NOT a goal.
Your one little word will be a gentle reminder about your priorities and should help you refocus through the year.
As someone with an exhausting to-do list, it’s so nice to not to have yet another goal to check off!
History of Word of the Year
The German Word of the Year tradition started in 1971. But the American Dialect Society started one for the USA in 1990. Right now, there are many dictionary and linguist groups that assign a word for the year for the country.
It is definitely worth noting that these organizations assign a Word of the Year for the PAST year… not the coming year. Choosing a personal word AFTER the year has happened is much easier, but doesn’t serve the same purpose. But typically, when you choose a word for yourself, you’re going to choose one for the year ahead!
How to Choose a Personal Word for the Year
Choosing a word to represent the entire year can seem like a daunting task. These three steps will help you get on the right track to choosing a personal word.
- Jot down any words that you immediately think of.
- Go through my one word inspiration list at the end of this post
- Go with your initial “gut” reaction first.
The words that you choose should be powerful and positive!. They should reflect the path you want your life to be on. If you’re setting goals or resolutions for 2022, how can your word enhance your goals and give you flow and direction?
It’s okay if you think of a lot of words at first. This means that you’re passionate and have a lot of dreams and goals. But we will work on narrowing these down as we go.
2. Ask yourself questions
What is missing from your life?
Where is your life headed? Do you like that path or do you want to change it?
What, if any, lies do you tell yourself?
What are your goals for your personal life?
What are your goals for your professional life?
Do a little soul searching. Maybe do some free-writing. Dig deep. Add to or subtract from your list as necessary. I find that the most powerful words are the ones that are deeply meaningful and apply to many different parts of my life.
3. Narrow them down, one at a time.
Hopefully you have a list of 5 words or so. If you’re left with more than one, consider focusing on one word per quarter instead of for the whole year. This one little focus word should resonate with your being and feel right for you!
Remember!!: There are no wrong answers, because this speaks to your mindset. If you only earn $20,000 a year, don’t say that your word can’t be “rich”—of course it can! Choosing “rich” might help you think rich, stop unnecessary spending, save money, and/or start a side hustle that will ultimately help you get to financial freedom!
It’s about progress, not some unachievable destination.
How to Make Your Word Successful
So with all of this considered, how do you choose a word and set yourself up for the greatest amount of success?
1.) Make sure you see your word every day
You want to focus on this word, so put it where you can see it every day. Put it in your planner, on your bathroom mirror, on your car steering wheel. In your fridge, on your fridge, at your dining room table! Post it on your office computer or put it on a card to carry in your wallet!
Create a fancy graphic with Canva and then make it your phone lock screen! (Seriously, how often do we look at our phones during the day?!)
When you’re reminded of your word, you will be literally rewiring your brain to choose that word! To learn more about rewiring your brain, check out this article about Dr. Joe Dispenza.
2.) Put your word into affirmations
I love affirmations and one way to incorporate your word for the year is in an affirmation practice.
Affirmations are basically powerful sentences that you can repeat back to yourself during a meditation practice or remind yourself through the day. They are in first person, positive, present tense, and powerful!
Also, the concepts in this article about New Year’s Resolutions will apply to your word of the year as well.
Here are some affirmations I might use (with word variations or different parts of speech):
- I am innovative and creative! (Affirmations for Creativity)
- With each step I take toward my goal, I am liberated from my past and prior beliefs. (Affirmations for Success)
- I am free! (Affirmations for Letting Go)
- My life transcends anything I ever thought possible! (Affirmations for Spirituality)
- I live a life of luxury and enjoyment! (Affirmations for Joy and Pleasure)
My Personal Past 4 Years’ “Word of the Year”
This will be my first year officially giving myself a word for the coming year. Looking back, if I had to assign a word to each of the years for the past three years (in retrospect), they would be:
- 2017- Birth
- 2018- Transformation
- 2019- Discovery
- 2020- Transcend
I actually gave myself a word for the year 2019 at the beginning of the year. It was “Invest”. Yes, like money, but I wanted to also be conscious of where I was investing my time and my heart. “Invest” and “Discovery” are very different.
And it was even after 2 weeks into January that I knew “Invest” wasn’t going to work for me. I wanted to invest my time into my blog, into my teaching business, into my son (and pregnant at the time). But the pregnancy wore on me and forget investing… I was FLOATING. Just coasting by to avoid getting pulled under by the tide. Yes, at least I wasn’t drowning.
But in that tiring pregnancy phase, I discovered a lot about myself. I’ve done some serious soul searching this year. It wasn’t intentional. It came up completely organically as I went through my every day.
And that unintentional discovery was the best part of my 2019!
Remember that your one little word is just a guide! It’s okay if life takes you in a different direction during the course of the year!
Remain flexible and gently remind yourself about your personal word of the year when you get the chance. Self-reflection is a process and never a destination.
Much of my own inspiration comes from books, so I want to share a few that may also inspire you while you are choosing a word.
The book Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes is a powerful book for women who are breaking through their boundaries and social conditioning. If this book is for you, then choose the word “Wild.”
RELATED POST: Awakening the Wise, Wild Woman Within
This was a very powerful book for me, and helped me say yes to things that would drastically change my life. Choose the word “Yes”.
I have long looked up to Michelle Obama for her elegance, charm, perseverance, and family values. Her book Becoming might inspire you to “become” the woman you’ve always meant to be.
RELATED: Read posts about womanhood and feminism.
250 Personal Word of the Year Ideas
Here are 250 ideas on this word list (some of them are variations of the same word) for your contemplation:
(Keep in mind that not every word will resonate or work for every individual. For example, maybe you really want your word to be “selfish”. This could be great for those who struggle with boundaries and leak energy because of giving so much of themselves! Remember, it’s okay to fill your own cup first!)
This is not an exhaustive list. There are many more you can choose from. But whatever you choose, make your personal word POWERFUL!
If you’re doing a word of the year, drop a comment below and let me know what it is! And I wish you a happy new year!
One Word Examples
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*Updated August 2021