No New Year Goal, Just A Word

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As December is ending, a lot of us are looking forward to setting goals for ourselves and families as we enter the new year. This is a tradition that I always remember having and that I continued with my own family into adulthood. Some are very good at setting goals and sticking to them, but I am not one of those people. I set goals with such good intentions, just to lose interest come mid-February. As I have started my own family it has been the same. We make a big deal out of making goals and do a good job for a month or two, and then completely forget about them until the end of December.

So, how do we change this cycle? 

Choosing A Word of the Year

For the past three years instead of setting goals I know I will not stick to, I have been choosing a word of the year. My words end up being my focus, my intention, or my direction for the new year. There are so many fantastic words to choose from, that sometimes you don’t know even where to start. Choosing a word for your year is not a quick thing to do, it takes time and a lot of thought and effort to make the decision. When choosing a word for the year, I have several steps in doing so.

  • The first thing is to really think about the past year. What did you learn about yourself? What went well and won’t didn’t for you, your family, and your job? How did you feel physically and mentally during the past year? Think about what you missed throughout the year and start making a list of those words.
  • Next start thinking about the upcoming year. What do you want to change in your life? What do you want for your family or your job? Think about where you want to be and how you want to feel at the end of the upcoming year. Add words that you think of to your ongoing list.
  • Lastly, go through your words and circle the words that are either the most important to you or words that can be linked together. From there you can pick your word that you would like to focus on for the year. If just picking one word seems like not enough, you could change your word every few months.

Implementing Your Word

You’ve picked a word, but you can’t just leave it at that. You need to know how to use your word throughout the new year.

  • My favorite thing to do with my word of the year is to make a vision board. In 2022 my word of the year was Family. I decided that I needed to put my little family first during the year. On my vision board I added a picture of my family, printed out my word, added quotes about families, and added pictures of things we could do together has a family. My vision board stays in a place that I will see it many times during the day. It’s a reminder of my word and that I want to put my family first.
  • Write your word in other places where you will see it. Put it on your bathroom mirror or your desk at work. Make a collage of pictures and your word and make it your background on your desktop.
  • Another way to implement your word is in everyday decisions that you make. This past year, 2023, I chose two words. I chose the word hope for myself and healing for my family. Our adopted daughter suffers from complex trauma, so this year we have focused a lot of our time and attention on her healing. When events and activities come up, we make sure to really think if the event will add to her healing or hinder her healing. If it hinders her healing, we say “no” to the event.

Word of the Year in Action

As I have been thinking about my word for this upcoming year, I have reflected on 2023. It’s been a hard year for me emotionally as well as physically. As I move forward, I realize I need to learn to take care of myself more, so I’m able to take care of my family. After thinking on this, I’ve decided my word for 2024 will be something to do with happiness or joy, because I feel like joy is something that has been lacking in my life this past year. I will make my vision board to reflect my word as well as place my word and quotes in places that I will see them frequently. As I make decisions throughout the year, I will make sure that my decisions bring myself and my family joy. I also know that I need to do more things just for myself that bring me joy, like painting, reading, and family time.

A word of the year will keep you focused on your goals and help direct you throughout your year.  If you find yourself at a loss of where to even start with words, there are many list you can find on Pinterest or the internet.

Have you tried out the word of the year idea? What are your ideas on implementing your word in your daily life?

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Carissa South
Carissa is a loving wife, mother, and educator holding a masters of reading from the University of Central Oklahoma. She loves helping around their farm by taking care of the goats, chickens, and dogs. Her newly-adopted daughter brings lots of new challenges to her life as she is learning to balance work, family, and parenting.



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