Choosing a word for the year

Disclaimer: I’m fully aware that I’m behind the times and now that we’re officially into February it is no longer really the “new year”, but I’m confident you’ll forgive me.

I didn’t set any resolutions this year. Other than flossing my teeth every day*, which only took me about three years to actually ingrain as a habit, I’ve never been able to make one stick. What I have done is set priorities. These are broader areas of my life that I’m choosing to keep at the forefront of my mind as I plan out my weeks and months.

*I originally left out the word “teeth” in the above paragraph, but on proofing this realized that since flossing became a dance move I suddenly have to qualify. If you’re curious, I can also floss in that sense (thanks to my niece for the lesson) but I certainly don’t do it on the daily. 😛 Okay, back to priorities …

If I’m presented with a request or an opportunity, or if I notice my schedule is starting to get a little too crazy, I can always come back to my priorities. As in, does this thing align with one of my priorities? Does it serve me in one of those areas, or does it draw my time and attention away from them?

It can be really helpful (especially for us people-pleasers …. ahem) to use this a framework for making decisions, big or small. For example, “Does this speaking engagement align with my vision of growing my business?” – heck yes! “Does staying up late watching Netflix align with me prioritizing my health?” Mmm – maybe, depending on the context, but probably not.

In my experience, two to three priorities is really the maximum that any one of us can realistically manage. More than that and you may as well not set them at all. Mine this year are my health, my relationships, and my coaching business.

The other thing I’m doing for 2020 is choosing a word for the year. I’ve never done this before but I really like the concept of it.

Similar to setting priorities, it means picking a word (or phrase) that will help guide how you live your life and how you show up in the coming year. Like your own personal compass for the next 365 days.

With both of these, I love that you can’t “fail” at them the same way you can a traditional resolution. It cuts out the all-or-none mentality. Because there’s no defined goal per se, you might veer off course but you can always come back, with renewed intention and commitment.

Finally, I find setting a word for the year inspirational! Doesn’t “STRONG” framed on your bedside table just seem a little more empowering than “I will lose 10 lbs by March break”?

Last year’s word – in retrospect

As I said, I’ve never officially picked a word for the year until now. But I have thought about it on more than one occasion, and I think if I HAD chosen a word for last year it would have been GRACE.

As in giving myself some. Letting go of some of my perfectionist tendencies. Being okay with being NOT okay sometimes. Letting myself off the hook now and then. Forgiving my less than stellar moments.

Not in the sense of giving myself an excuse to not work towards my goals (because trust me, I struggled with the idea of what’s grace versus what’s an excuse plenty of times). But more in the sense of accepting I’m only human. We all are. And we can’t be on 100% of the time. That’s a recipe for burnout.

Being fully transparent, there were a couple of times this past year where I felt sad, uninspired and unmotivated. And the only thing that ultimately got me out of the funk and back to my optimistic, driven self was giving myself some freaking GRACE! Only when I fully embraced it, felt the feels, and didn’t fight it, was I able to come out the other end of the tunnel.

It’s a lesson I will definitely carry forward into the new year.

My word for 2020 – TRUST

Speaking of the new year … I didn’t have to think too much about what I wanted my word for this year to be. It sort of just came to me.


I want to trust myself and my instincts. Trust the timing of everything in my life. Trust that a family will happen when it’s meant to happen. Trust that my coaching practice will evolve in a natural way and in alignment with my vision. Trust that I have all the abilities and resources I need to achieve my goals. Just trust.

For me right now, it just feels right.

Some other ideas I love

If you’re curious to try this practice on for yourself, here are some other potential ideas to get you brainstorming:

  • JOY
  • GROW

How about you?

It’s not too late.

What will your word for 2020 be?

Let me know in the comments below.



3 Replies to “Choosing a word for the year”

  1. Hmmm, I think “express freely” would be my phrase. So giving more freely, caring more openly, not worrying about what the right response is but feeling it within and expressing it freely. Glad you wrote this post!

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