How-to Find Your Word-of-the-Year

Thanks to a wonderful Find-Your-Word-of-the-Year 5-day process from I was able to do some fun self-discovery work as I identified my word-of-the-year. I went into the process thinking I had a word in mind but through the insightful questioning and inspirational Facebook links, I ended up in a different place.

I thought I would share some of the elements I found most powerful in this great HOW-TO:

On Day 1 Susannah challenged me to answer “What do you need more of in the coming year?” and “Want do you need less of in the coming year?”  I was pleased that I immediately did not go to stuff! What actually came to mind on “more of” was Self-acceptance. On the “less of”… there were so many things I am not going to start writing them down here, but many had to do with lack of self-acceptance.

Day 2 she encouraged taking a broader view of the year with “what is happening in the coming year – what are your big plans, big hopes, big needs, big wants?”   I supplemented this day’s on-line exercise with relooking at my 2017 review on Values-versus-Activities (where am I spending my time and energy versus what are my values?) and my 2018 planning.   I had a hard time looking beyond the next three months of Kick Cancer. Perhaps I need to just give myself the time to focus there and revisit the whole visioning thing later? Who says you can only do a yearly vision on January 1st?  But I continued.

Day 3: Susannah had me starting to focus on specific words. She encourages to have a list of 10-20 words and even provides a starter list. I so love lists! She talks about feeling words and action words; word progression from previous years; and layering word meanings. The on-line workshop links to a Facebook group so you can read other people’s word-pick journey and final pick why’s. I found it inspirational (there is so much creativity out there!) and it added some possible words to my own list – flourish, cultivate, becoming, soar.

Day 4 is the beginning of narrowing down. Susannah again gives tools to help you select – visual boards to complete, a coin flip exercise. I liked her discussion of forward-moving action words (power, fly, ignite) versus more passive, let-it-go words (peace, calm, ease) and the difference between inward words (nourish, glow, inspired) and outward words (expand, adventure, stretch). There was additional thinking about layering words as well or having one for work and one for home. Basically, there is not any rule for choosing, just different approaches to help you find the word(s) that is (are) right for you.

On day 4, since I am a visual person, I supplemented the activity with creating my own vision board of “what do I want to do/be in 2018?”.   The last 2 years, this helped me find my word of the year – the successful 2016 JOY and not so successful 2017 LIVE. I’ve blogged about this activity before (vision board blog).

Day 5 was mostly about activating your word. I recalled the wonderful mug I bought for my 2016 word JOY that said “Find Joy in Each Day”.   I still drink coffee with that mug every morning, and it still makes me smile. I didn’t do as well activating my 2017 word. Perhaps after the detour I received last January I should have rethought my word of the year.   With that detour, I wasn’t ready to LIVE (chosen word), I needed to DISCOVER a new path forward or NAVIGATE the uncertainty ahead. So as I look forward: How will I manifest my chosen word this year? A new coffee mug? LOL.

I really enjoyed Susannah’s process as it provided tools for how-to!  And the Facebook group was both inspirational and supportive.   If you enjoy having a Word of the Year, and you’re stuck with discovering what it is, check her workbook out. It’s free!

BTW – my word of the year is:

SOAR : Savoring, Optimistic, Activating, Resilient


Do you have a word of the year?  If you’re struggling, check out Susannah’s approach.


Picture Credit: Soar –

21 thoughts on “How-to Find Your Word-of-the-Year

  1. Thank you for writing about this process of how to find a word, Pat. I read about Karen Hume’s word of the year, and thought it was a wonderful idea — so much of life’s intention encapsulated in a single word. I have never had a word of the year, and wasn’t quite sure about how to choose one.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jude, In years past I just “picked one”. Which is a fine way of doing it as well. I’ve seen folks use visioning boards to help find their word as well. This process was a bit more self-discovery and I found it quite helpful. But the word(s) still need to “feel right” to you and that, unfortunately is not a check-list process!


  2. I love you word Pat. I have a feeling you will soar in 2018. I was very interested in your process. I’m going to save this as a reference for next year. This year, my word came to me as I was meditating: flow. As in learning to loosen my grip and become more accepting of whatever life brings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just saw your quotes on flow. Lovely. I think a few other folks in the FB group in the process choose the same word… If I see a good quote from there, I’ll send it over. I found that aspect (the FB group) really inspiring and would do it again next year for that aspect!


  3. So happy to see you at the Salon and thank you for sharing this exercise in how to choose your word. Your word is fabulous especially because of the acronym. I like the word “thrive” because it means to me not to be satisfied with just surviving.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought the topic “fit” with the creative bent of the Salon.

      One of the things I loved of the process and connecting to the FB group was to see what words others picked for themselves and why. A couple of friends are now going through the process and one is exploring words like relax, breathe, calm while the other is thinking her word might be dance! Its wonderful how everyone can find what is right for them. Thrive is a wonderful word…. so positive and nurturing.

      Thanks for the link to the Salon. I actually started following one other person after reading a few of her posts! I’ll be back.


  4. Janis is one smart cookie. Looks like SOAR truly is the perfect word for you — and you are already soaring. I like the sound of this word and believe that it is a brilliant focus word.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m becoming more comfortable with it and using it. I even created some visuals with it…. now I need to figure out how to use pdf’s on WordPress… or convert a pdf to something I can use.

      BTW – have you noticed I finally learned how to link things – I kept your tutorial for months. Thank you! And see, Activating has worked a bit.


  5. Hi Pat, What a powerful word for you. For me, the word ENJOY kept popping up in my head even when I didn’t set out to look for a particular word. I’ve never had a word of the year. When I thought about what makes me feel good or I enjoy doing, I came up with fitness, entertainment, arts, social, and travels (or FEASTs). I just accepted the word and the acronym as they came to me intuitively.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OK, another chill up my spine for FEASTs…. what a wonderful support word for Enjoy! And fitting with how I use my word…. What will you ENJOY today?

      I like how you said, “I just accepted the word”. I think I did that when my word was Joy (2016) and that really helped me “find joy in each day”. I’m becoming more comfortable with SOAR every day… so maybe I should just accept it now!


  6. I’ve been reflecting on 2017 and thinking about my word for 2018. In fact, I had a conversation with a sisterfriend about this very subject this morning. My word for 2017 was LISTEN. It gave me pause on many occasions. It prompted me to listen more to others and sometimes to just listen to the silence. I’ve been bantering various words around and haven’t found the one that resonates with me yet. I will apply these tools. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really liked the tools and the FB group which inspired me to move beyond my first “safe” word. Good luck finding the word that fits where you are right now. I love how you used your 2017 word. I am hoping my 2018 word similarly causes me to Soar more.


  7. What a great word for you, and the sub-words (savoring, optimistic, activating, resilient) are perfect too. I couldn’t help noticing that in your Quick About Me, you started with words with the same first letters: Aspiring writer, Researcher, Synthesizer. Add Organizer (or some other O word) and you’ve got SOAR all over again.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. OMG – a shiver just ran up my spine when you pointed that out. And yes, you know I am an organizer too! WOW. This feels so right for me this year. Thanks Janis so much for pointing that out; it reinforces a word that I was a bit afraid of choosing.

      Liked by 1 person

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