Choosing a Word of the Year

Instead of a New Years Resolution, I have come to love to Choose a Word of the Year instead. Come see how I go through the process of choosing a word of the year and how I apply it to all areas of my life. I’ve found this method to be so much more motivating and easier to stick to. 

Choosing a Word of the Year 2020

*The printables for this post were updated on September 11, 2020, and will work for any year moving forward. 

I’m late to the party, again! It’s two days until the new year arrives and I am just now thinking about my goals for next year. I’m typically on the ball with this kind of stuff but this year I’m overwhelmed with ALL THE THINGS. 

Because New Year’s Eve is so close, I thought it would be fun to actually sit down and complete the process of “Choosing a Word of the Year” as a family before the ball drops. That’s the extent of my New Year’s Ever plans thus far. Have you even made plans for New Year’s Eve yet?

I will definitely be taking the easy way out this year. I’m grateful for my blogging friends, Jaclyn and Keri, who put together some amazing activities that I can easily incorporate into my own festivities. With Jaclyn’s 25+ Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve Ideas to Do at Home and Keri’s New Year’s Eve Family Activities, I think I can quickly pull things together for an awesome evening!

I love Jaclyn’s cute countdown baskets.

New Year's Eve Countdown Baskets

And I’m also obsessed with Keri’s countdown bags.

New Year's Eve Countdown Bags

Choosing a word of the year is something that has been popular online for quite some time now. Don’t quote me on this, but I believe the first person to introduce this concept online was Ali Edwards at One Little World all the way back in 2006. She started a tradition every January of choosing one single word to focus and reflect on each day, all year long. She shared this concept, and more than 10 years later it’s blown up all over the internet.  

When I say blown up, that’s not an exaggeration. I found tons of resources on Pinterest that really helped me hone in on what I wanted my word to be for 2018. In particular, I found Mountain Modern Life’s article useful for actually deciding on my word and then used Sublime Reflection’s bullet journal idea to create my printable for taking my word to the next level.

If you get a chance, I highly recommend visiting their sites for more ideas. You won’t be disappointed.

How do I go about choosing my word of the year for 2020?

Choosing a Word of the Year 2020

I followed the process I read on Mountain Modern Life when trying to figure out my word.

Here are the steps to follow:

Step One: Start with reflecting on the previous year. On a sheet of paper, jot down the answers to the following questions. Write whatever comes to mind.

  • What can I use more of in my life?
  • What can I use less of in my life?
  • What characteristics or qualities would I like to have?
  • At the end of the day, I feel (fill in the blank).
  • How do I want to feel at the end of the day?

Step Two: Visualize

Visualize yourself in a happy, content state. What would it take to get you there? What would you need to do in order to feel content at the end of the day? Think about this and jot it down.

Step Three: Make A List of Words 

I found this to be really fun! I set a timer for 5 minutes and started jotting down all the words that came to mind when I thought about how I want to feel in the upcoming year. You can find a great list of words from Mountain Modern Life if you get stuck.

Step Four: Refine

Now is the time to look over your list and narrow it down to three words. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to narrow down my words but I really had a few that just “spoke” to me. Try not to pick a word because you think you should pick it. You’ll be less likely to stick with it for the long haul if you force yourself into it.

Step Five: Are you “interested” or “committed” to your word?

This was my “wow” moment when reading through Mountain Modern Life’s post. The difference between being interested in something and committed is bigger than you might think.

If you are interested in something you might not give it 100% and find yourself making excuses to not accomplish your goal. More than likely it’s something you are trying to force on yourself that’s really not resonating with you.

When you are committed to something you will give it all you’ve got and not stop until you’ve achieved your goal.

You want to make sure that the word you choose is one you are COMMITTED to! Once you know you’re committed to it, that’s your word of the year.

Now that you chose your word of the year, what happens next?

Choosing a word of the year for 2018Now is the time to really dissect the word and see how you can include it in all areas of your life. The perfect way to do this is with the printable below that I created. I made this printable based on the bullet journal idea I found from Sublime Reflection. Bullet journaling is extremely popular right now. I’d love to start doing it sometime. I’ll try it when I have some spare time…which might be in 2028.



Begin filling out the printable right in the center by filling in the blank, “How can I _____ in the new year?” How can I commit in the upcoming year? How can I have peace in the upcoming year? How can I be grateful in the upcoming year? (***Updated these printables to say “new year” instead of showing a specific year)

Choosing a Word of the Year 2020

Once you’ve added your word, start thinking about how you can introduce it into all areas of your life including relationships, family, friends, and even finances. This part really made me think hard and long and the more I thought about it the more I became COMMITTED to my goal.

I made two versions of the printable so that anyone can use it. One printable is a plain Jane sheet that anyone can use, even a boy! The second one is completely girlie. I decided to use the girlie one for my word of the year. I pulled out all my colored pens and went to town.

And here it is…My Masterpiece! All my goals for the year. Feeling a little vulnerable here, not going to lie. 

Choosing a Word of the Year 2020

As you can see, my word of the year is INTENTIONAL. I’m determined to be more intentional with everything I do. I want to spend time on what matters and less on what doesn’t. Are you getting excited about choosing a word of the year? It’s time to get started. When you’re done, comment with your word below.

Want to remember this? Post this blog “Choosing Your Word of the Year” to your favorite Pinterest board!

Choosing a Word of the Year 2020

Choosing a Word of the Year 2020

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    1. Wonderful choice! I know how hard it can be to take a step back and truly listen without wanting to intervene.

  1. Oh my gosh, Tiffany! This is an amazing blogpost! I’ve never heard about choosing a word for the New Year–but I love it!! As I was reading the process you recommend–there were dozens of words that came to mind (all self-improvement). And now I just have to “refine” as per your suggestion. This is excellent–and a different way to approach the New Year. Thanks so much! Amazing! I’m going to share this on my FB pages!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this, Sharlene. I love the concept of picking a Word of the Year and it’s so much fun. Keep me posted on the word you choose!

  2. I love this post, Tiffany! I’ve been deeply thinking about this since you posted something on Instagram and I think the word I need to focus on is “Happy.” Yes, it seems pretty simple, but lately, happiness has been eluding me. I’m disciplined and know how to work hard, but I need to start finding happiness in the journey of life–no matter how difficult it can be at times. Thank you again for the amazing updates, ideas and helps for 2020!

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