Resolutions not working for you? Ditch that system and try this instead! 5 Steps to Choosing your Word of the Year |

5 Steps to help you choose your Word of the Year

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This post was originally posted in January 2017, but updated in January 2018 and republished in 2020.

Ready to make changes in 2021? I don’t know about you but I love the idea of choosing a Word of the Year vs. New Year’s Resolution because it helps bring focus and clarity to what we want to create in our lives.

Struggling to pick a word? No worries, it’s not too late and I’m here to help you along the way!

Besides, this isn’t about crossing another goal off your list, it’s about creating a mantra to help guide your daily actions and become a better version of yourself.

5 Steps to help you choose your Word of the Year (WOTY) | #woty #wordoftheyear #2021

5 Steps to help you choose your Word of the Year (WOTY)

Here are a few easy steps to help guide you in choosing your 2021 word of the year.

Step 1: Reflect

The first thing I want you to do is to reflect on this past year and ask yourself these questions. Jot down whatever pops into your head without self-editing.

What could I use more of in my life?

What could I use less of in my life?

What characteristics would I like to have?

By the end of the day, I feel (fill in the blank).

How do I want to feel?

Once you review your responses you’ll have a better sense of the direction you’d like to go, or what you feel may be lacking in your life.

Step 2: Visualize

Visualize what the perfect day would feel like, the emphasis here is “Feel”. Think about how you want your morning routine to feel, how you want to feel at work or throughout the day, and how you want to feel right before you go to bed.

I also recommend meditating or sitting in silence for a couple of minutes and asking yourself “What word do I want to focus on in 2021?”. This is simple but effective.

I think this exercise works best when you’re in a relaxed state. If you’re having trouble maybe try it before you go to sleep or first thing in the morning. You could also turn on an aromatherapy diffuser, light a candle, or put some calming music on in the background. You’d be amazed how being still can help your intuition shine through, and bring your word to the forefront.

Step 3: Create a List

Spend 10 minutes creating a list of the words that come to mind, no self-editing! Need some help? Here are some examples:

Word of the Year Ideas

Step 4: Review & Refine

Review your list and narrow down your favorites. I’d circle or highlight 3 words.

Chances are you’ll see a theme going on between the words you wrote down. Do any of the words jump out at you, make you feel excited, nervous, scared, uncomfortable, or at ease? Sometimes the words that scare us most can mean we’re on the right track because change isn’t always easy. At the same time, I think finding your word can also bring peace and empowerment.

Think about the words, try them on, and see what feels right. No need to over-analyze this process, trust your gut instead. Gently review your list and let the words pick you.

Step 5: Ask Yourself this VERY important question

Now that you narrowed down your list to three words, there’s just one more question to ask:

Are you interested, or are you committed? 

I heard this question in a video I watched where John Assaraf talked about one of his mentors, who at the time was asking him questions to determine whether or not he would take a chance and hire him.

So tell me, are you interested in your word, or are you committed?

If you’re merely “interested” then chances are you’ll make excuses as to why you’re not putting forth the effort to actually make changes. But if you’re “Committed” to your word, you’ll do whatever it takes to implement that word and bring more of it into your life.

If necessary, allow yourself a day or two, even a week to really think about this.

What’s your 20201 Word of the Year?

Which word can you say you’re 100% committed to? Choose that one!

…. Or choose 3, like me, haha. Well, this is something I recently started doing.

I’ve found that choosing 3 helps me focus on 3 areas I want to improve upon or learn more about. The words guide me throughout the year and even if I forgot about them from time to time, subconsciously I feel like I discover resources or tools to bring them into my life more than the year before. I also use the 3 words as a mantra during part of my daily meditation.

Don’t forget to jot down your WOTY in your calendar, planner, or journal. You can write it on a post-it note and stick it on your bathroom mirror, computer, or anywhere else you’ll see it regularly. 

I write down each word I choose in a journal (and my phone notes) and include a few sentences underneath each word about how I want to incorporate them into my life.

I hope this post helped you choose your word of the year! Let me know what word you chose in the comments below!

You can also watch the video below where Eric walks through the steps for choosing your word:

My 2021 WOTY and why

5 Ways to Create More Peace in Your Life

5 Steps to help you achieve your goals

Obstacles are Detours in the Right Direction

The Mug that Taught me a Lesson & My 2017 Word of the Year

2016 Word of the Year

5 Steps to help you choose your Word of the Year


  • Candy Thomas

    I chose hope. I had chosen it by the time I got to # 4 and it never changed through the last two steps. I’m committed. Thank you for what you do.

    January 7, 2017
    • Teri Duffield

      My word is reset, but I had already chosen it.

      January 20, 2017
  • Nancy B

    Mine is ACTIVE! I’m already good with with everything else ? But for many reasons I’ve become a 5 toed sloth. That’s got to change.
    Thank you for the encouragement.

    January 7, 2017
  • Just what I needed! Thanks for the push to finally sit down to think about what I really want from the year ahead!

    January 8, 2017
  • Susan Renaud

    My word of the year is FOCUS. This will help me to complete important tasks and be responsible.

    January 11, 2017
  • I chose Committed. Or maybe I should change to Commitment so I don’t sound like I’m signing myself into an ensain asylum! lol or maybe determined? What do you think?

    January 14, 2017
  • Colleen Hansen

    Last year our word was adventure it was the first ful year of retirement for me . We traveled in our rv at least one trip a month. This year I was thinking active as well but hubby doesn’t want to commit yet lol.

    January 1, 2018
      • Colleen hansen

        We hope to do Texas this year. Visit the presidential libraries, Waco of coarse and there is a lot of western history there..last year we went to Utah and also Yellowstone and the grand Tetons. That was an amazing trip

        January 12, 2018
      • Colleen Hansen

        Best trip was Yellowstone and the grand Tetons . Should be on everyone’s bucket list… The Tetons were the best we hiked, saw lots of wildlife and white water rafter on the snake river . It was a blast. .

        January 14, 2018
  • Lorie Mackie

    My word for 2018 is Action

    January 2, 2018
  • I am leaning toward PEACE. Going through divorce and though I felt peace when I made my decision to file, it has been a bumpy road getting it done. I am hoping early this year it will be over and I can finally have real PEACE. I am committed to that so I guess that ought to be my word!

    January 2, 2018
  • Dad

    I had a word but now plan to use your process and see where it leads. Good question, ‘interested’ or ‘committed’. Happy New Year sweetheart!

    January 3, 2018
  • I love this idea! Last year, didn’t think it through. Felt we needed a change so my word was ‘transition’, and in retrospect, perhaps that should have been a word of a month. After all that change and instability, my word this year is “Peace”. 😊

    January 3, 2018
  • Lori Vieth

    My word is CULTIVATE…cultivate joy, gratitude, peace, joy, relationships, encouragement, prayer, peace and self-care!!!!

    January 6, 2018
  • Donna Edwards

    Thank you so much for this article! I had chosen the word WONDER, but these steps helped me to actually commit to it,

    January 6, 2018
  • Paul

    Howdy folks,
    I found your blog when I was preparing to paint the inside of my trailer, and have been a regular visitor ever since. I have chosen the word “Expression” for 2018. I often find myself not saying enough, and shying away from uncertain interaction. Rather than suffering my introversion silently I am hoping to express myself, to work through my fears and emotions with conversation, and to share myself more fully with my friends and loved ones through expression in all manner of ways.

    January 15, 2018
  • Debbie

    Mindful. In an 18 month time period I lost my husband, my mother, and my son. But God is good and life is to be treasured. Blessings abound. I just have to be mindful of these things.

    January 24, 2018
    • Jen Lehner

      Hi Debbie, I’m so sorry for these profound losses. Your outlook is awe inspiring. I’m sure this time of year is especially tough for you. Sending you a hug.

      December 3, 2019
  • Handyman Chattanooga

    Very inspiring post. i learned a lot of things in life. Just be yourself.
    Handyman Chattanooga

    November 22, 2018
  • Jamie

    I chose the word ‘confidence’. After doing the exercises, I realized that everything goes back to that for me. Thanks for this!

    December 26, 2018
  • Deb

    my word is present. when I am at home, I want my heart and mind with my family, home needs, spiritual growth (bible study,Prayer, etc.). I want my time of worship to be uninhibited and uninterrupted. Then, when I am at work I want to be productive and bring healing where possible, comfort when it is not. I always seem to worry about work stuff at home, then home stuff at work. I believe this stemmed from longing to be a stay at home mom, but a debilitating illness placed my husband on disability and I was unable to be at home with my children. this brought about such guilt at times. chaos followed. this year I want to be different. present at the place I am at, being my best there, and peace from knowing I gave my all wherever I have been.

    December 29, 2018
  • Kristin

    I’m choosing healthy. I have known for a while I need to have a more healthy balance between work AND home life, more time to myself taking care of me, and more time with God. I’m choosing healthy because I want to make conscious choices this year to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthier than last year.

    January 2, 2019
  • Linda Schmal

    My word is nonnegotiable. I need to make time for myself so that I REJUVENATE and not use up all my mental and PHYSICAL energy. No interruptions. I am in real estate which can consume you if you let it.

    January 2, 2019
  • Linda Schmal

    I changed my mind. Intentional is a good word. Nonnegotiable could create a negative feeling sometime.

    January 2, 2019
  • June


    January 6, 2019
  • heather

    Loved this process! I chose “Nurture” for 2019. Nurture my body, my health, my relationships, my healing, my growth, my mind. I’m so excited for 2019!!

    January 7, 2019
  • Carla Gardiner

    I loved everything about this post and the accompanying video (especially that you left in the bloopers, LOVE it). Funny thing…I had chosen my word of the year prior to reading this…BUT, I thought it beneficial to watch, read and go through each step, to validate I’m on the right track. OMG…thank you, my word is spot on FOCUS and through these steps so much more came to light that I pulled out my journal to note my EXACT thoughts about how I want to FEEL and how I’ll be able to focus on achieving that. THANK YOU seems so little…yet, thank you from my heart.

    December 26, 2019

    Wow a great way to start . I still have three words ugh .. mine are Truth ,confidence and Empowered . Hopefully I will come to one of these my the end of the day . Thank you for the interoperation blessing

    January 3, 2021


    January 3, 2021
  • Kristine

    Most people will think my word totally misses the point of your post and the point of choosing an inspirational thought to guide me. But they’d be wrong.

    My word is DOORMAT. Sounds pretty negative, right? Actually, like most things in life, there are both positives and negatives associated with concepts. DOORMAT is no different.

    We may tend to think of being a doormat as someone who allows himself to be taken advantage of; used; abused; exploited. But doormats are also “welcome mats” that symbolize a place of friendship and hospitality.

    Thinking about my life this year brought to mind a pattern of my behaviors that have spanned decades. What I love about myself and what I despise, but never seem to change. The one word that seemed to fit was DOORMAT. I’m a doormat, in all senses of the word.

    People come to me for help or friendship. I’m always a willing participant in any plan, fundraiser, committee, novel idea, or learning need. I never say “no.”
    And that has become a problem.

    I’m uncomfortable setting boundaries or limits, and I’d rather seethe inside about a situation than confront someone and hurt them or, worse, possibly ruin a friendship. I hate that the same people have no problem telling ME “no,” or cancel plans with me at the last minute, because I’ve always accepted that from them in the past. I’ve allowed their exploitation and bad manners. I’ve taught them that it’s okay to treat me this way. It’s my fault.

    I chose to become a doormat–I welcome, and I get stepped on.

    This year, I want to take my doormatness and embrace it, but with a focus. I will still invite, welcome, and engage with others in whatever they might need. But I will also tell them what I need (e.g., respect for my time, credit when deserved re: published projects, freedom to say “no,” boundaries and limits on personal behaviors). This will be very difficult for me.

    The word DOORMAT is my 2021 mantra. It will remind me to keep the positive part of my personality alive and work on the negative part. I’m forever a work-in-progress, even at 66 years of age. 😊

    January 3, 2021
  • Tiff

    The word I have chosen for 2021 is intentional but there are several other Words I chose to work on through the year 2021 for myself

    January 3, 2021
  • Sheri Miter

    My word for 2021 is Intentional! I want to live, work, and be more intentional this year with my actions, thoughts, and behavior. Great article! Sharing some of your thoughts in my podcast today!

    January 4, 2021
  • Hailey

    my word for 2021 is Intentional! Get Good Grades at school

    January 5, 2021
  • Yvonne Chase

    I never pick a word for the year. I usually let it drop in my spirit, however, while reading this post, “Calm” came to mind, and then I did step two, taking a few minutes to sit calmly and “Peace” came to mind. That deeply resonates with me. I’ll sleep on it a bit to be sure. Thanks for the helpful tips.

    January 7, 2021
  • Bob

    My word is Trust. It covers so many other words that I thought of – including ”voice”. I want to trust my SELF, and my space, and those around me.

    January 24, 2021

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