At the end of 2022, I had a lot of changes happening in my life all at the same time. After nearly a decade working for the Catholic Church in various roles, I started a new job in a secular work environment. I also moved into a new home, and relationships with some friends were shifting.
In the midst of so much change, coming up with a list of goals felt overwhelming. So instead of making resolutions for the New Year, I tried a new practice – choosing a “word of the year,” a single word that captures a theme, intention, or focus for the new year. I hoped a thoughtfully selected word would serve as a gentle reminder of my goals and aspirations and help me create positive change in my life. My word of the year would serve as a guide rather than a to-do list.
Work, home, and friends were areas where I felt most comfortable because I’d invested so much time into all of them. With all of these areas changing at once, I knew I needed to make adjustments. I wanted a word that would help me be nimble throughout these transitions in my life, so I chose the word “flow.”
“Flow” served as a gentle reminder that I needed to be more open to new things. My life had become routine and predictable, from my job to how I celebrated the holidays. And I was outgrowing some practices, and unfortunately, some friendships. And I was outgrowing some practices, and unfortunately, some friendships. Flow reminded me that I didn’t have to know how everything needed to change at one time. I could let things flow, and trust myself to make the right decisions. If you’re interested in choosing a word for the year, here’s how to start:
How to choose a word
The best way to choose your word of the year is to assess where you are in life and what you want to change.
Reflect on the past year. What were your accomplishments? What challenges did you face? What areas of your life need adjustments? What things could you have done differently throughout the year?
Use the answers to these questions to create intentions for the new year. Usually, these intentions will have a theme to help you find your word.
Need some help deciding on a word? Some popular options include abundance, balance, gratitude, mindfulness, peace, trust, and wonder. You can also browse through some lists of words on Pinterest to get ideas.
How to measure success
From my word “flow,” I learned that my life needed a better balance between flexibility and structure. I was too flexible in my relationships and I needed to set more boundaries. At the same time, I was too structured in how I set goals for myself and accomplished tasks. This was where I needed more flexibility.
My chosen word of the year also helped my faith life. Going from working for the Catholic Church to a job outside of that helped me create a personal faith routine because I could no longer rely on Mass and being surrounded by fellow Catholics at work. Now, I make more intentional time to pray and attend Mass.
When measuring success, consider how your word changed your mindset or influenced your decisions throughout the year. Did it move you closer to your goals? Did you learn something new about yourself? Did the word help you change your behaviors in positive ways? Your word was likely successful if you answered yes to one or more of these questions.
For 2024, my word is “start.” My goal is to avoid putting off things that I could start doing each day, even if I can’t get everything done at once. Just a few days in, I am already seeing results. I’ve cut down on some of my endless scrolling and am paying more attention to my schedule and how I’m meeting my daily task list.
May your word of the year inspire and guide your faith journey closer to Christ.