Choose Your Word Of The Year
In January 2021, this post was turned into a podcast. Listen to me share the story of how choosing an annual word of the year since 2013 has profoundly changed my life. (And how to use the Sway Test to tap into your intuition if you’re not sure which word to choose.) Listen to episode 14 of the Project Me Podcast.
If you could choose one word to sum up an intention you have for the year ahead, what would it be?
Maybe it’s a word that describes how you want to feel? Or something you wish to accomplish? Perhaps it’s a value you want to hold true to?
I’ve been choosing an annual Word of the Year since 2013 and I believe it helps plant a seed of intention that goes on to make a positive difference to my life.
I turn my word of the year into a graphic and use it as the lock screen image on my phone – which means I see it many times a day.
I’ve been adding my Word of the Year to this blog post every year and have updated it again for 2020, along with the images:
In 2013 I decided my word needed to be Simplify.
I recognised that I was over-complicating my life too often. I wanted to learn to how to KISS – ‘Keep It Simple Sista!’
By reminding myself over and over to keep things simple, I actually began to. That year I proved to myself that dropping perfection and taking the easy option was good for my state of mind. After a while, I felt noticeably liberated and free and this has continued to stick with me, several years later.
In 2014 I chose the word Connected.
I felt too connected to my iPhone and social media and wanted to disconnect from technology more and re-connect with whomever I’m with – including myself!
This ended up being the year I ignited my simple morning practice of waking up 20 minutes before the kids and spending time connecting to myself and the Universe by meditating and journal writing. I now wake up 30 minutes before the kids, which would have been unthinkable a couple of years ago when I was still telling the, ‘I’m not a morning person’ story.
My word of the year for 2015 was Balance.
My choice kind of surprised me at first. I mean, I’m the Queen of Balance and the whole premise of Project Me is based on the Project Me Life Wheel® and keeping a happy balance!
But I’d become aware that I was getting a tad work obsessed. The ‘Work’ petal on my Life Wheel was beginning to tip me in one direction and even though that wasn’t causing me any major problems yet, I knew all too well that the potential was there.
So with Balance as my new guiding word of the year, I began to pay more attention to this. It made me realise how often I was working through lunch and also listening to online business-related podcasts even at the gym or during my downtime.
It inspired me to start a new lunch break ritual of eating away from my desk – screen free. I deliberately made a practice out of reconnecting with my kids over a snack after school. And stopping what I was doing to physically connect with my husband for a kiss or a hug a lot more often. It was a great word to choose and set me up with some healthy, long-lasting habits.
In 2016 my word was Flow.
It came to me during my morning meditation. I knew I wanted to push less and flow more, to feel guided by my intuition and by the Universe. Be less in my head and more in my heart – feeling what I could be doing rather than over thinking things.
It also meant letting things go and being more easy-going.
Go with the flow! Everything I want lives downstream, not upstream. Once I’m clear about what I want, I just need to let go, allow and flow towards what I desire. Doesn’t that sound nice?
Vinyasa Flow is also one of my very favourite types of yoga. I love how free-flowing and natural the movements are.
This picture beautifully captures my visual interpretation of how I want my life to flow downstream.
My word of the year for 2017 started off as Intuition but that soon morphed into more of a theme when I made this into my phone screen image:
Throughout 2017 I discovered more about energy and how to raise my vibrational frequency to connect to the Universe and Source Energy. I began to tune into my emotions more than ever and use them as an indicator of whether or not I was in vibrational alignment. My previous word of Flow became easier for me once I understood that all I need to do is be aware of how I’m feeling. And if I’m not feeling good, I’m not in flow and so the best thing I can do in that moment is stop pushing and striving and do anything that makes me feel good.
My word of the year for 2018 was Open.
Open-minded, open-hearted, open to new possibilities and opportunities. Open to learning, open to experiencing. Opening my heart-chakra to give and receive love without fear of hurt or vulnerability . Opening my throat chakra and letting my authentic voice be heard. A wide open sense of eager anticipation for what’s to come. I’m so in love with my life that all I can be right now is open to receiving even more. I’ve experienced how living in vibrational connection to the Universe makes me feel guided and switched on and ALIVE and I entered 2018 with so much OPENNESS which lasted the whole year long and brought me wonderful opportunities and experiences. I loved having this as my phone lock screen all year:
My word of the year for 2019 was Vitality.
I chose this word because I’m prone to being a real winter hermit and often spend full days working in ‘my box’. (What I call my small home office.) 2019 was the year I instigated a healthy new #FlowFriday routine of going to the gym, then not heading straight back to the box! I hung out at an amazing private members’ club, wrote in my journal, read, socialised, ate yummy food and went with the flow. I proved to myself that I can get my work done in less time and reward myself with a wonderful #FlowFriday at the end of the work week. I shall continue this into 2020!
My word of the year for 2020 was
In 2019 I kept repeatedly seeing the number 34. I mean constantly! So I finally looked it up and it symbolises unfulfilled creativity that is wanting to come out. That really touched something deep within me. I realise that I was in the habit of consuming more content than I was creating. I had so many creative ideas waiting for the ‘right’ time. So in 2020 I answered that creative calling. I created my High Vibe Journey programme and started my podcast! This gorgeous goddess was my muse, a full embodiment of unleashed creativity! She became my new lock-screen image:
My word for 2021 … listen to episode 14 of the Project Me Podcast to find out.
And now it’s already 2023 and I’m finally updating this post!
I was finding it challenging to find one word to encapsulate what I wish to embody in the year 2023. Then I came across an image that said it all. This became my locks screen. It represents strength, inner power, bravery, fearlessness, courageous spirit, sovereignty, grace, beauty, presence, love, protection, loyalty, leadership, community.
Third-eye open, sixth sense activated, perceptive, intuitive, focused. The winged bird is the symbol of spirit and freedom. Angel-like wings spread open, ready to fly to obtain a higher perspective. A rainbow halo provides a protective bubble of powerful, divine energy.
Now what about you? Have a think about a word that describes how you want to feel or be this year. Ask yourself why you’re drawn to that word.
Once you’ve got your word, think what you can be doing more of (or less of) to live in alignment with your Word of the Year. Use the app WordSwag or Canva to create a beautiful graphic out of your Word of the Year, like the ones I’ve done above. Save it as your phone lock screen where you will see it many times a day.
I’d love to hear your Word of the Year and why you chose it in the comments below. (As this is a post I keep adding onto, maybe you’ll find your previous word in the comments if you left one!)
Have you got the FREE & FABULOUS Project Me Life Wheel® yet? It’ll quickly show you where you’re currently out of balance so you know what needs your focus FIRST.
Enter your first name and email address below:
You will also receive the Project Me newsletter to keep you motivated and inspired in all areas of your life.
I won't bombard you or share your details with anyone - promise.
You never cease to inspire me Kelly! i always love your ideas. I started a vision board with my kids after reading about yours, I made a toolbox of calm, I use the apps you’ve recommended, I’ve read some of the books and listened to the podcasts on your love page and I use your worksheets. Keep them coming!
My word of the year needs to be Action. I want to implement more and do the things I say I’m going to do instead of just thinking about them! I’m going to get the word app you mention and make mine now. Thank you so much again for all that you do to keep me inspired.
Oh wow! You have no idea how wonderful it is to read this Tina, thank you! Given how many of my ideas you’ve already actioned, I’d say that you’re going to be on fire with your Word of the Year! Look out!! 🙂
My word is “opportunity” – I need to take back the power in my life and stop doing things because “I have to”; my overwhelming sense of responsibility holds me back from doing the things that can make me happier and more fulfilled. So I need to maximise those opportunities!
Nicole, this is a wonderful example of how self-awareness shines a light on our lives and shows us what we can be doing to feel more happy and fulfilled.
Doing things just because you feel you ‘have to’ or you ‘should’ takes up valuable time and energy on things that aren’t serving you.
I love your WOTY and I hope you’ll report back next year on what OPPORTUNITIES you’ve grabbed since you wrote this!
Hi Kelly, I think my word for 2016 is going to be “Mindfulness” – recently the simple act of colouring in both by myself, with my kids and even my husband has allowed me to take a step back and be mindful of my surroundings and all that I have to be grateful for in life etc etc. Bye for now , Fiona 🙂
Fiona, I spotted your WOTY for last year in the Facebook link I included above: BRAVE! (and I created a courageous lion image for you.) How did that word shape your year?
I love your new word too: Mindfulness. 🙂
I’ve heard about the raging popularity of these colouring in books and hadn’t associated it with Mindfulness yet – but YES! I can see how that would work and I feel inspired to do this myself! xx
My word of the year is Expansive. This feels so right in every area of my life 🙂 The two tributaries are Trust and Receive, so I have a little word pyramid this year!
Ooooh – I love your three-word pyramid Catarina! That’s a wonderful combo – thanks so much for sharing 🙂 xx
I’m new to all of this…. but I had three words I have tossed around this morning. “Calm, Mindful, and Purposeful”…. maybe I need a pyramid as well.
Tracy, imagine you wake up every morning and you see your Word of the Day and it serves as a daily reminder of who you want to be / how you want to feel.
Which of those three words speaks to you the most? Ask yourself WHY you want to feel ______ for each of them. See if one of them becomes the clear, outright winner.
The other words will still have meaning and you can write them somewhere too, but having one theme word for the year can be very powerful. I’d love to hear which one you choose!
Accomplished. I want to go to bed at night feeling like I accomplished the tasks of the day. And I want to wake up every morning KNOWING I CAN accomplish what needs to be done. Thanks for the response that helped me work through my morning confusion. I don’t have an apple product, but was wondering what picture was associated with my word?
LOVE your WOTY Tracy: ACCOMPLISHED!
That has so much positive power attached to it!!
Email me email@example.com and I’ll make you a graphic to go with it 🙂
My word of the year is *GRATITUDE*
I’ve always been one to find the positive in any situation (definitely a glass-is-half-full sort of gal!) but I noticed I started getting a bad case of comparison-itis.
Our house isn’t big enough…
Our cars are old…
We rarely go on vacation…
It always seemed like those around us had it ALL (or so it seemed!)
So, I started turning inward and and REALLY started appreciating how blessed we are.
We have a beautiful home that gives us safety and protection from the elements…thank you
Our cars get us reliably to and from work…thank you
We got to go to Mexico this year for our anniversary…thank you
We’re only three weeks into January and I feel so much better already!
Love your word of “flow!”
Ahhh Mariah! So beautifully explained! YES to feeling these surges of gratitude for what we DO have, rather than focusing on what we don’t.
Have you read “The Magic” by Rhonda Byrne? It’s a 28 days of gratitude book with a short written exercise to do each morning. It will absolutely solidify your amazing word of the year! 🙂
I love the word of the year (I remember last year my word was focus). The word that sprang to mind for this year is Harmony. My intent for the year is to be more positivite by focusing on gratitude and I think harmony encapsulates this along with being more at peace with myself, creating a more calm and ordered environment at home, enjoying and valuing relationships etc.
Harmony is such a beautiful word Jan! I love your added explanation for why you chose it and I agree that Harmony encapsulates all of that so wonderfully. Here’s to a harmonious year ahead! x
I’ll be stealing one of yours, Kelly, but having had a pretty unsettled January after a lot of change, I think my word of the year will have to be ‘balance’. I need to remember to look after my needs as well as everyone else’s AND not feel guilty about it!
I’m so happy for you to pimp my word Beth! Sorry you;ve had an unsettled start. YES to looking after yourself GUILT FREE. xx
[…] 1. I began attending a weekly Kundalini yoga class with Gabrielle Thill. I’ve done many types of yoga before, but Kundalini is so deeply spiritual and I float out of each class feeling light, free and in the flow. (Flow is my word of the year!) […]
Things have been a bit grey lately. I need to pick up, dust down, move on. And always find the shiny silver lining.
I’m going to start by remembering to start each encounter with a smile!
I love your word: SHINE! And a very lovely intention to start each encounter with a smile. I’m going to borrow that one 🙂
I am torn between Flow, Action or Inspire but this word just made me smile & say Yes!! I may borrow it. I will let you know. ( One of my favorite quotes is “Do what makes your soul SHINE.”)
Shine on you crazy diamond ????!! (My favourite Pink Floyd track…) Have a shiny new year Trina! X
[…] January I choose a Word of the Year. (You can read about that process here and see what my previous words have been and how they’ve helped my personal […]
Yeah – go girl!! ????????
Oooh – I’d love to hear more on this RoseViolet! X
I think I will chose the word “Achieve” for this year – I don’t know if that puts extra pressure on me or not but I’m currently studying and I would like to achieve good results. I would also like to achieve more balance in my life and achieve spending more time with my husband. There are also some financial goals I would like to achieve. See how we go….
What about Achievement?
When I say the word Achieve to myself it makes me feel a lack of what I want : what I don’t have YET . Like something I have to push and strive for.
Whereas achievement feels more present tense. Like I already have it.
I’m certain you already have many achievements under your belt and so you can be encompassing all of those alongside future achievements in the same word. What do you think?
A sense of Achievement is a wonderful feeling and I wish you all the best with all of those wonderful goals. Be sure to enjoy the process and journey too! Love that your commenting here every year and keeping this record of your words. xx
That sounds much better Kelly – I struggled a bit to think of one word for myself for this year as I’ve got so much inside my head at present – I have an English assignment due on Monday which is consuming every moment. I’m going to be cheeky and add another word for this year which came to me today and that is BREATHE – think i’ll need to remind myself to do this a bit this year and I think only if I do that will my ACHIEVEMENT be possible. Cheers, Fiona ????
My word for 2018 is THRIVE. The past couple of years especially I feel like I’ve been surviving, allowing others/other things to shape my days/weeks. In 2018 I will take charge of my life, I will create the changes to allow me to thrive on an emotional and physical level. I have a new job too, which will allow me to feel both achievement and to grow.
May you THRIVE in all areas of your life this year Cathryn! xx
I really enjoyed reading this post. It really puts things into perspective. I’ve decided this even before coming across the article, but I want 2018 to be the year I gain as much knowledge as I can; knowledge that will help me move forward and toward the right career path. My word of the 2018 year is “Learning”
My word for 2018 is kindness to myself and others. I especially need to work on being kind in how I speak to myself. Also I want to schedule little bits of me time in my day week. Little acts of kindness not only makes others feel valued and seen, but help me feel connected and valuable too.
With clarity and focus as near second choices, I’ve chosen the word ‘Hone’. Aiming to trim the fat, clear the clutter and refine; everything. My husband likes this word, too, and has joined me in claiming it for our shared endeavors. Thanks for the sustained inspiration to engage in this exercise!
Lovely Meg! It’s wonderful to have this support from your husband for your intention too. ❤️
[…] Project Me […]
I can’t believe I’ve not commented on this post before. Am a big fan of WOTY and this year I’m going for JOY! More joyful creating, connecting and just being. Let’s see where it leads me. Happy 2019 Kelly! xxx
JOY was one of my shortlisted words for 2019 and one I also plan to fully embrace, so I am giving a huge YES YES YES to your WOTY! (And I’m also surprised this is your first entry on this post as I know you’ve been following it from the start!) Have a joy-filled year head Louisa! xx
✨VITALITY ✨!! That’s my word too!!! It came about after meeting up with our beautiful mutual friend Suzie S recently, who is an absolute embodiment of vitality! I am so excited about the challenges this word is going to present for me and the incredible rewards it will bring. Good luck with your journey Kelly. I’ll be thinking of you as I ride along beside you. Thank you for sharing your very enlivening positive energy and wisdom. 🙏🏼
We are Word of the Year twins this year Emma! Love it! Here’s to an abundance of VITALITY for us both!
Thanks for your very lovely words. xx
My 2019 word is ABUNDANCE! I would like to release some stress and expectations I have around money and measuring success, growth, profits, benefits. I am working towards setting clear goals, seeing deeper, feeling deeper, going deeper.
I LOVE the word Abundance Nina and I can feel the energy in your words. Be sure to check in monthly and ask yourself, how am I doing with my word of the year so you can acknowledge as well as get back on track if needed. xx
I love all of your words, Kelly! I picked FOCUS for 2019 and wrote about it here: http://sunshine-parenting.com/2019/01/08/my-one-word-for-2019-focus/
I not only love your word of the year Audrey, but I also loved reading your post about what you chose it and how you will embody it. Here’s to finding your FOCUS in 2019! 🙂 x
Happy new year, Kelly!!! I’m going with your 2013 ‘simplify’. It’s been my vague intention for a couple of years but I haven’t managed it as fully as I want/need so this year I’m making it my prime focus. I need to re-jiggle my time and focus to concentrate on the basics of self-care and family above all else. I also need to say no to any new commitments unless they are part of this focus. I had a huuuuuge dining room and kitchen declutter over the festive period so I’m on my way… 🙂 x
I can’t seem to get down to one word. I need a phrase to express the opposite of perfect. So I’m going with “joyfully good enough.” I need the joyfully to remind me, as a recovering perfectionist, that I’m not just settling for good enough
Hello again, dear Kelly! I love this post and have been choosing my own word of the year for a similar time to you now, although it didn’t always stick at the forefront of my mind for the whole year. Last year’s word – joy – really did stick with me all year and I feel I will keep intending JOY as a lifelong thing now (which was what happened when I went with ”simplify” some years ago too). For 2020, I’m going for Source, as I want to remember to tap into Source energy regularly throughput the days, to give me strength when I need it and to help me shine my light brightly this year and reach my full potential. Looking forward to witnessing your unleashed creativity this year and to seeing what 2020 has in store for both of us! I love the New Year!! xxxx
I almost chose Flow, but then Energy popped into my head and with it a sort of buzzy pulsing vibration throughout my entire body. It’s the feeling I sometimes get towards the end of a particularly inspiring meditation and it’s so amazing that I want to intentionally create it more often. I’m also aware that we all have a finite amount of energy to expend each day and that I can choose to use it wisely or waste it on worry or doubt.
I hadn’t commented on this thread earlier because I was trying to decide on my word. On Monday I start a new career having finished my Masters in primary teaching last November. I am going to be teaching year 4. I am excited but feeling quite overwhelmed at present as you can imagine. I have spent today laminating and cutting and haven’t even started planning yet… This is going to be a big year for me and my family as we adjust to a family with two working parents again. Many words are footing around in my head but the one that really resonates with me and I know will be important is “mindful”. I really want to be more mindful in my life and I also want my new students to develop mindfulness too. Best of wishes to you Kelly for a fantastic creative 2020. Cheers Fiona 🙂