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This post was originally written in January 2017 and republished in 2022.

Ready to make changes in 2023?

A few years ago we ditched the idea of New Year’s Resolutions, and began choosing one word to focus on that year instead. This method is called The Word of the Year. Have you heard of it? I first read about the concept from a blog post I read at the end of 2013. Sadly, I can’t remember which blog but I remember she wrote the post based on a book she had read, One Word that will change your life.

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 intention, focus, and clarity to what we want to create in our lives.

Struggling to pick a word? No worries, I’m here to help you along the way! I’ve come up with a process to help me choose my word each year and today I’m sharing those steps with you. You can also watch the video below:

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

This isn’t about crossing another goal off your list. It’s about creating a word or mantra to help guide your daily actions and grow mentally, physically, or spiritually (maybe even all of the above!). It’s about giving your soul what it needs. Here are a few easy steps to help guide you in choosing your 2023 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 2023?”. 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, smudge the space first, 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 to get you started, but your word can be anything you want it to be:

2023 WOTY 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 2023 Word of the Year?

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

…. Or choose 3, like I did back in 2021, haha. (Though I went back to one word in 2022 and plan to do so again this year.)

Choose the word you want to improve upon or learn more about. The word will guide you throughout the year and even if you forget about it from time to time, subconsciously you’ll discover resources or tools to bring it into your life more than the year before. I also use the word as a mantra or affirmation during part of my daily meditation.

Don’t forget to jot down your WOTY in your calendar, planner, or journal. I write my word of the year in my journal (and my phone notes) and include a few sentences underneath it about how I can cultivate it into my life.

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.

Update: You can read about my 2023 Word of the Year here.

If you’re curious, here are the words I’ve chosen in previous years:

2022: Passion

2021: Breathe, Vitality, Confidence

2020:  Wabi-sabi, Slow, Action

2019: Self-love

2018: Peace

2017: Calm

2016: Bold

2015: Balance

2014: Organize

I hope this post helped you choose your 2023 word of the year!

5 Steps to help you choose your Word of the Year5 Steps to help you choose your Word of the Year5 Steps to help you choose your Word of the Year5 Steps to help you choose your Word of the Year

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69 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. This was Eric’s word last year and my mother-in-law just picked it for this year too. It’s funny because we were literally talking about it when I saw your comment come through which was so funny. Yes, focusing is soooo darn hard with all the distractions in our life, and then before you know it we spent all our time on mundane tasks or putting out fires, and feel like we didn’t get anything done. Yes, focus is a great word and something I need to work on more this year too, mainly on focusing on the big picture and then how to take the steps to get there 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  3. 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.

    1. Sounds like you you definitely implemented the word last year, that’s for sure! And it sounds like the reason your hubby may not be ready to commit to your new word, haha. Do you have any favorite places that you traveled to?

      1. 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

      2. 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. .

  4. 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!

    1. Yesssssss, peace is my word too and I’ll be sharing a post soon on how I plan to add more of it into my life this year. Sounds like you’ve been through a lot but that you have a beautiful journey ahead!

  5. 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!

  6. 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”. 😊

    1. I love it too, and it’s something that has worked really well for me. I chose the word Peace this year too so cheers to bringing more of that into our lives. I know it’s similar to my word last year “Calm” but ultimately decided I’m enjoying the journey of bringing more inner peace into my life, and want to continue with it in 2018 🙂

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

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

  9. 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.

    1. Hey Paul, sounds like you picked a gem of a word to help push you this year and I love it! I can definitely be an introvert at times (though you may not know if since we share so much on this blog), and I get all caught up in worrying about what other people think. Definitely time to move away from fear and be open to all that’s around us 🙂

  10. 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.

    1. 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.

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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

  16. I’VE NEVER ACTUALLY SELECTED A WORD FOR THE YEAR… I WANT TO GET BACK TO JOURNALING AND THOUGHT IT MIGHT HELP ME NOT TO MENTION BENEFIT MY DAILY MINDSET. I WILL PROBABLY END UP WHERE I STARTED WITH “DISCIPLINE” HOWEVER I WANTED TO TAKE YOUR STEPS AND SEE IF THAT IS REALLY THE RIGHT WORD FOR ME THIS YEAR. THANKS FOR THE HELP…

  17. 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!!

  18. 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.

    1. That’s so awesome! It’s funny but I often refer back to my post or our video to help me decide, haha. I love your word and actually did a focus meditation this morning. It’s definitely something I could use more of too!

      This year I actually chose 3 words to help guide me, which I’ll be writing about soon.

      Happy New Year!
      Katie

  19. 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

  20. 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. 😊

  21. 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

  22. 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!

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. My word is BELIEVE.I chose this word because a lot of us had to believe in ourselves to be positive and happy during this pandemic. I always try to believe in myself when things get tough. Believing in myself makes me have courage and be comfortable with myself

  26. 2021 I chose THRIVE before I saw the 5 steps or the list. I am retiring from teaching high school English after 35 years. I am looking forward to my second act. 😉

  27. GRACE with EXCELLENCE. If I can extend grace with excellence in all situations and with everyone, then my other words will also be fulfilled: nourish, love, hope, joy, connection.

  28. I am debating a few words, but now being asked “are you interested or committed to that word… ouch. I don’t know 🤣

  29. My word for 2022 is SLOW
    My scripture verse is Proverbs 8:34-36
    My quote is “Once she stopped rushing through life, she was amazed how much more life she had time for” – Unknown
    I have been choosing a word each year for about 5 or 6 years and it really helps you stay focused. I will get posters made, photographs printed, mouse pads made…anything to make it visible in several places.

    I type up something like this to post in my office:

    2022 WORD FOR THE YEAR: SLOW
    Proverbs 8:34-35 TPT
    34 If you wait (stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or until something else happens) at wisdom’s doorway,
    longing (a yearning desire) to hear a word (a command, password, or signal) for every (without exception) day,
    joy (a feeling of great pleasure and happiness) will break forth within you as you listen (give one’s attention to a sound) for what I’ll say.
    35 For the fountain (a source of a desirable quality) of life (vitality, vigor, or energy) pours (flow rapidly in a steady stream) into you every time that you find me, and this is the secret(not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others) of growing (becoming greater over a period of time; increasing) in the delight (take great pleasure in)
    and the favor (overgenerous preferential treatment) of the Lord.

    DEFINITION OF SLOW: moving or operating, or designed to do so, only at a low speed; not quick or fast; moving or operating, or designed to do so, only at a low speed; not quick or fast; live or work less actively or intensely.
    Definition of slowly: in a slow manner : not quickly, fast, early, rashly, or readily

  30. This is a great approach to begin the year. It requires students to begin to look at themselves and where they are as a person going forward into life and what skills they will have to bring ; starting within themselves, exploring their feelings, putting thought into writing, thinking of their selves within their situation and context of their education. Great start.

    James P. Phd

  31. I chose THRIVE as my 2023 WOTY. No matter what force comes in my way I’ll constantly work on bettering myself and thriving thru anything instead of focusing on letting any stupid setbacks happen.!.!

  32. I chose freedom because i want to live in freedom this year i dont want to hide and i dont want to be hurt by people this year so i chose freedom. I have the freedom to choose my life and my choices. I want to live life the best.

  33. My word for 2023 is Growth and self-Love. Growth in finances, spiritually, mental and physical growth. By loving my self, putting me first and valuing who I am I can grow and every aspect of my life.

  34. My word of the year is health I picked the word health because I am looking to strengthen my body. I want to eat healthier and start going to a gym. I think, by going to the gym and exercising on the machines. I will make my body stronger. I have a bad knee and it is difficult for me to participate in running activities. I know, I will feel good about myself by being healthier and stronger.