What’s Your Word of the Year?
Every December, I take some time out for one of my favourite activities — selecting my word of the year. I like to identify a word (or phrase) which sets out my intention for the following year. As part of this process, I look back at my successes and I look ahead toward my goals. This exercise helps me to centre myself. It brings focus to the many aspects of my career and my life.
By selecting and sticking to one word or phrase, I can create significant and lasting change within and around me. During the peak of the pandemic, I chose the phrase “purposeful kindness” and stuck with it for two years in a row. During this time, I was blessed with the opportunity to work alongside some outstanding career professionals as we developed a new Work-Life Coaching Course and Work-Life Certification Program that is focused on compassion and trauma-informed care. We implemented various programs to support our members with purposeful kindness. I gained so very much through each of these experiences, coming out of it with a new passion for applying purposeful kindness in every aspect of my work and life. I believe that it made me a better person. Purposeful kindness is contagious, and my chosen phrase has stuck with many members of CPC. In fact, it’s become a part of our organizational culture.
For me, it’s easier to focus on my one word or phrase than trying to remember a long list of resolutions. My word for 2023 is PATIENCE. I want to slow down, pay attention, listen more, speak less, give people time, be humble, show respect, be kind, and let others shine. The word “patience” is easy to remember and it represents all these goals.
In previous years, my words were “nurture,” “empathy,” “gratitude,” and “inspire.” I’ve kept them in mind when coaching, training, innovating, eating, exercising, resting, meditating, praying, and more. I have found that by keeping focused on my word in every way, I’m able to learn and grow into the person I want to be.
The year is ending, and it’s time for a fresh new start. Here’s how you can determine your own word of the year.
Looking Back – Performing Your Year-End Review
Let’s start by looking back at your year. Your year-end review will allow you to reflect on your success. Centre yourself and your reflections on your positive accomplishments, fondest memories, and favourable outcomes. This is an opportunity to celebrate yourself for everything you have done and express gratitude for all that you have received. Here are the kinds of questions to ask yourself:
- What was the best thing that happened to me?
- What went well for me this year?
- What new thing did I try?
- What did I create, build, or develop?
- What objective or goal did I achieve?
- What accomplishment am I most proud of?
- What is my happiest memory?
- What compliment did I receive and remember?
- When did I have the most fun?
If you are having trouble remembering your successes, refer to your social media posts and photos. If you prefer, you can use these questions as a fun exercise with your family over a holiday dinner. Make a bulleted list of your own responses, so that you can refer to them often – they’ll make you feel good!
Looking Ahead – Determining Your Intention
Now, it’s time to look forward and determine your intention for next year. Answering these questions will help you get in the mindset to determine your word of the year. This word will serve as a mini action plan that will help you accomplish these goals. Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself:
- What do I want to learn next year?
- What new things do I want to try?
- What do I want to accomplish next year?
- What would I like to create, build, or develop?
- What am I happiest doing?
- How do I want to spend my time?
- What do I want to do more of?
- Who do I want to become next year?
Don’t be shy when answering these questions. Allow yourself to dream big because this will help you find meaning and purpose in the upcoming year. When you are clear about your intentions, you’ll be able to align your actions with them.
Selecting a Word – Creating Your Focus
Review your reflections and intentions and use them as inspiration for your word or phrase. Pick a word that resonates with you. Your word will be your theme for the year.
Here are some links that might help you select a word or phrase:
- 166 One-Word Affirmations to Instantly Kick-Start Your Motivation
- 50+ Motivational and Inspirational Words and Quotes That Can Change Your Life
- 30 Power Words to Activate Intention Setting
Once you’ve determined your word, make sure that it is right for you:
- Why is this a great word for you this year?
- Does it feel appropriate based on your reflection?
- Is it consistent with your intention?
You’ll incorporate your word into many aspects of your daily life, so it needs to feel genuine and authentic to you. Consider how you want to behave in the future. This way, your word will align with who you want to become moving forward.
Implementing Your Word – Keeping Yourself on Task
The key to your success is keeping on task with your selected word or phrase. Use your word or phrase in as many ways as possible so that it becomes part of who you are. Pay attention to it every single day. It will provide you with inspiration, motivation, and accountability. When you are consciously and routinely thinking about your word or phrase, it can be habit-forming. You’ll start to notice small positive changes that will transform you over time.
Here are ways that you can use your word or phrase it moving forward:
- Incorporate it in your “introduction script” or “elevator speech.”
- Integrate it into your blog posts (in titles and content).
- Place it right in the centre of your vision board.
- Create a list of goals or objectives around your word.
- Write your word on a “post-it note” and paste that on your computer.
- When you are faced with a dilemma, refer to your word for guidance.
What’s your word of the year?
I want to hear from you. What’s your word or phrase for the year ahead?
Sharon Graham is founder and interim executive director of Career Professionals of Canada. Committed to setting the standard for excellence in the career development profession, Sharon has authored top selling paperback publications and textbooks, and has established a range of certification, professional development, community development, mentoring, and award programs. As chair of the board of CPC, she provides foresight and leadership within the sector and ensures that the mandate of this national organization is upheld with integrity.