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 2023 a fantastic year!
2023 will be here before we know it! 2021 was on the upswing, 2022 has been full of *almost back to normals.*
If you want to continue to embrace simplicity (or are simply DONE with New Year’s Resolutions), would you jump in on the trend to set a word for the year?
The pandemic gave us a lot of reason to pull back and rest, but I’ve seen a lot more “resolutions” this holiday season.
Still, the “Words of the Year” that I’ve seen the past few years range from amplify, ecstasy, joy, simplify, adventure, abundance, 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 2023!
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!
(Also, consider setting a New Year’s Aspiration rather than a resolution!
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.
For 2022, here are a few of the dictionaries that have assigned a word of the year:
- Merriam-Webster- gaslighting
- Cambridge- homer
- Macquarie- teal
- Collins- permacrisis
- Oxford- goblin mode
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!
You can also try choosing a word of the month, if you need to narrow down to a shorter time period.
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 2023, 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.
READ MORE: Your New Year’s Resolution to Live Life to the Fullest!
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”
Looking back, if I had to assign a word to each of the years for the past few years (in retrospect), they would be:
- 2017- Birth
- 2018- Transformation
- 2019- Discovery
- 2020- Transcend
Here are my chosen personal words for the last couple years:
- 2021- Bloom
- 2022- Without
This year is definitely my year to INVEST! My word of the year for 2023 is ABUNDANCE!
Related: Execute Your New Year’s Resolution Plan Like a Boss Lady
Be Careful What You Wish For…
Our words are prayers and wishes to the universe, and boy, does the universe listen!
Last year, I chose the word “Without.” I wanted myself to focus on letting go of things I didn’t need, to get away from energy vampires and to focus on simplifying.
But the universe took the word “Without” quite literally!
Our dryer broke in January, and we went without a dryer for a little while. The our washer broke and we went without a washer until we broke down and bought new ones.
We almost had to go without a fridge, because it broke too.
Then my husband’s car broke and we went without a second car…
Our AC broke and we went without air conditioning over the summer.
Our water heater broke and we went 2 months without hot water.
Our furnace broke in November, and thankfully, we only had to go 2 days of 20 degree temps at night before we got our new furnace (and we also installed new AC).
The universe gave me plenty of opportunities to live without different things. I think it was ultimately what I needed, because my gratitude has sky-rocketed over the past year!
But it was a difficult year. So this year, my word, my WISH/PRAYER/PLEA to the universe is for Abundance.
It’s hackneyed, sure. But it’s what I really want.
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.
RELATED POST: 140 Words to Describe A Powerful Woman
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
A book I read recently was Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes. Shonda shares how she went from turning away from experiences in life to saying yes to the best that life has to offer.
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.
RELATED POST: The Top 10 Books the Changed My Life (As a Woman)
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!
RELATED: Your Life Is What You Make of It: 10 Ways to Make It AMAZING!
One Word Examples
New Year Resolution Planner Free Printable
Thinking about doing a New Year’s Resolution?! Head on over to the Resource Library to download the New Year’s Resolution Planner: no subscription needed!
Thursday 12th of January 2023
This is a wonderful list! THANK YOU! I've chosen to do a word every quarter :) Now, I made a copy of list in a word document for future and it came out as 4 rows with 61 lines, the last line had 3 words - and maybe I can't count - there were 247 words ...
Saturday 14th of January 2023
Hi Dawn, that makes total sense...looking forward to seeing what the three words will be! I have three if you need any help :) IN and it's opposite OUT, MOVE!
Thursday 12th of January 2023
Ha, thank you Kathleen! I think there were a few that I took off or condensed with the intention of replacing them and then never did! I'll try to do that now! ;)
Monday 9th of January 2023
What a fantastic idea this is! My 2023 word of the year is “humanitarianism” as this year I plan to offer more of my time by doing charitable work in hopes to alleviate people’s suffering.
Tuesday 10th of January 2023
I really love this, Davina! I think the only thing we can truly do in this world is lessen others' suffering a little at a time. *Hugs!*
Sunday 1st of January 2023
Happy New Year! Thanks for the word ideas. My words are believe, faith, acceptance, abundance, forgive, align and empower, healing(spiritually and physically). I will eventually narrow these down as time goes.
Sunday 1st of January 2023
Happy New Year! I hope the universe brings you all of these things!
Sunday 1st of January 2023
My word for 2023 is Create “I am able to create the kind of life that feeds my soul.”
Sunday 1st of January 2023
I LOVE it! Happy New Year!
Sunday 5th of January 2020
I have done this for the past five years but usually figure out my one word for the next year by New Years Eve. This year I’m really struggling to come up with one. Independence is the closest I can come up with but I’m looking for a stronger word than this...rebuilding during a divorce and never want to be this lost again financially. Any one have a stronger word for me?
Wednesday 28th of December 2022
@Shannon, I have been in your shoes! I am so much better on the other side-even went back to college and graduated! You can do this! How about perseverance, discipline, transformation, strength or success? We are stronger than we think! Best of luck!