Reflection on Word of the Year

Choosing a Word-of-the-Year is another tool to help focus on a vision or goal you want to achieve in your Retirement Transition. I’ve had more success than failure in my choices through the past few years with my word. I’m looking back and reflecting on what worked in order to help me in my selection for my 2020 word.  (Here’s a link to a blog I wrote about choosing a WOTY.)


WOTY 2016 – JOY

I really enjoyed having this word of the year (no pun intended). It was my second year of retirement and I really wanted to become a more positive person. That was a key part of my early retirement vision!   A couple of things that really worked for this word:

  • I purchased a coffee mug that has the quote “Find Joy in Each Day”.  To this day I still use that mug for my morning coffee!  And it still reminds me to slow down, live in the moment, and see the positive elements in my life.
  • I created a list of Jolts of Joy – little things that simply make me smile.   I picked a few and added them into my everyday life – like fine tip blue pens and a lovely morning journal. I also use that list regularly to recognize those small moments of joy in my day or to add something to my day when I need a jolt of happiness.   Since then I’ve created Jolts of Joy A to Z lists and Seasonal Jolts of Joy lists. They help with focusing on the many positives in my life.

I feel like that WOTY was a key element in my retirement transitioning from a negative cynic to more positive person. Having things in plain sight (coffee mug) that reinforced my word and additional tools that supported the WOTY really helped.


WOTY 2018 – SOAR

SOAR was an acronym for Savoring – Optimism – Activating – Resilient.   This was a more complicated WOTY – but it really did capture where I was on my retirement transition journey.  

You can see the continuation of the positivity desire of my retirement vision with the word Optimism. I was also recognizing the challenge of both Doing – my natural tendency – and Being – my desire to appreciate quiet times. Hence, you see the Activating (DO) and Savoring (BE) word duality in the acronym. Learning to live this duality continues as I recently blogged about both Seasonal Action Plans and Being Un-busy! And then, the word Resilient – because 2018 was my fight-cancer year.

Finding quotes and items that utilized the WOTY again helped to keep my focus.

  • I created a number of visuals with SOAR quotes like “Do more of what makes your heart sing, your eyes sparkle, and your spirit soar.” I used these visuals in blog posts and on my laptop.
  • One of my inspiration journals that year had the quote “Your wings already exist, you just need to fly” on the cover.
  • I used that word often – here’s a link to a blog that year reflecting its use!

What I liked about this WOTY was it once again reflected exactly where I wanted to grow for the year.   It also helped me refine my retirement lifestyle vision statement, which has evolved from a series of “I AM” statements to now just 4 key words: “Active. Connected. Creative. Contemplative.” Contemplation brings in learning to “Be” and my personal exploration area – a transition from my earlier growth area of positivity.



I’ve always had paths as an inspirational life metaphor. The Robert Frost poem about two paths diverging is the inspiration for my blog’s key visual. My husband has given me many items with “It’s the journey, not the destination” quote to help me (the Type A destination-girl that I am) slow down and enjoy the moments. I guess it was only a matter of time before Journey became a WOTY for me.  

It was actually this full quote that made the WOTY feel right for me at this time in my retirement transition:

Create the Vision. Plan the Path. Live the Journey.

This phrase captures where I need to be – living life. It’s no longer about visioning and planning on paper, but getting out there and living.

Of course, this year has had its significant change in planning… with a 10-year vision shifting to a 2-year vision! But keeping the focus on Living the Life I’ve envisioned has been helpful.

What I didn’t like about this WOTY was it did not connect to my vision statement as closely as I would like, so I often felt like I had 2 focus areas – Live the Journey and my vision statement of “Active. Connected. Creative. Contemplative.”


WOTY 2020 – ???

As I look towards 2020 and think about my WOTY, I’ve got a few things tumbling around in my brain:

  • It’s the start of a new decade! (Thanks to Michele for pointing that out – link here.)
  • It’s the start of my 60’s. A significant milestone.
  • It’s a year of great upheaval, as we start a new lifestyle for us. My tendency to worry about future steps 5-6 when we are not even through step 1 will be hard to quell.  Can my WOTY help me focus on the moment?
  • I want to continue to grow as an individual and release my tendency to Compare & Despair, my need for external validation, and my tendency to be judgmental. I want to shift away from old, self-limiting beliefs. I want to feel I am enough. I want to feel I am worthy. 
  • I want my WOTY to support my life vision statement – Active. Connected. Creative. Contemplative.
  • I want the WOTY I choose to have some great associated quotes and maybe find something I can use to keep it front and center like a new coffee mug or journal.

There are a few possible WOTY words in that jumble of thoughts right now. Any word ideas you might have for me?

Do you use a WOTY? Have I inspired you to try one?


33 thoughts on “Reflection on Word of the Year

    1. Marty, nice – “the right energy moving in a lucid way”. I like bringing in the energy aspect… I’ve been starting to read up more on Chakras and where my energy is possibly blocked. I’m not sure about the word lucid… it feels foreign to me… but energy flow is a really intriguing thought. Thanks for that.


    1. Bethany, CREATE is on my possibilities list… as are about 8 other words. It’s one of my key vision words and something I struggle with. I like how you’ve articulated create as being about “building something amazing”! That might help me with the term.


  1. Hi Pat I had two WOTY for 2019 ‘Commit and Evolve’. I’m not sure how my progress is going as I’ve been struggling lately. However, I like your WOTY for 2019 – Journey because that is what life is isn’t it? Sometimes it is any easy flight and other times bumpy. I’ve not thought about WOTY 2020 yet and I only just realised it is a new decade! Thanks for sharing your reflections at #MLSTL and have a beautiful weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sue – The new decade thought made me stop and think too! A few folks have mentioned keeping their WOTY for 2 years as it made sense for them to continue to focus there. If you still want Commit and Evolve because you want more progress, keep them! I’m looking for something because while JOURNEY fits what life is, I’m feeling a need to have a different word going forward. Thanks for continuing to do the #MLSTL… I look forward to it each week!


  2. This is the first time I have heard the acronym, “WOTY.” I have had a word of the year the past few years. This year I changed it halfway through the year. I found one more applicable to my year. I extra like your word/acronym SOAR on many levels.

    When I saw your word, JOURNEY, I immediately thought about your heading photo. A great post, Pat! You remind me I should give more thought to a new WOTY. Or I may just keep my six month one…….TRUST.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Erica, If a new word become more applicable… there’s no rules that say you can’t change it! And if it’s still working for you… keep it. Two other folks have commented that they kept a WOTY for 2 years because it was still working for them. I had not considered that… but I like the thought!
      I loved the complexity (depth?) of SOAR. I’ve been playing to see if I can create another acronym that makes sense – in both the individual word and then all the elements of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved reading about your WOTY for past few years. I have chosen one for past few years. I’m thinking about one at the moment. Lots churning around in my brain bit so far I haven’t landed on the perfect word for 2020 #MLST Sharing

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  4. I’ve been doing the WOTY for quite a few years. My first word was Disengage and that was when I had adult children living at home! That was a hard word that I lived with for a couple of years!
    Once I pick my word I have a wonderful friend who always makes me a beautiful birthday card (Jan so that helps) with that word. It lives above my kitchen sink all year so that I see it lots.
    This year was CHANGE so that I’d remember to breath and let it all unfold. I’ve been thinking about a WOTY for next year but haven’t settled on it yet. Like your previous reader I do a wrap up but mine is usually around New Year’s.
    Good luck with finding the word that speaks to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bernie, Another friend commented she kept her WOTY for 2 years… I had not considered that. Not this year, but the year I had JOY … I should have kept that for another year! CHANGE… let it all unfold. Hmm, another to add to my word possibilities list!


  5. I love WOTY Pat and have had one for every year I’ve blogged. I’ve written my wrap up post for my word “More” that I’ll publish in a couple of weeks (I’m soooo organized!) I like how having a word makes us think and also how the reason for the choice can morph as the year unfolds (this has happened to me a few times). I’ve also been pondering my 2020 WOTY and after selecting and rejecting several, I’ve decided on two words – and I’m hoping they’ll inspire me into the future. I’m also hoping to have a few guest bloggers writing about them too – hope you’ll jump onboard when I put it out there in January. xx
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leanne, I’ll watch for your January request, but yeah… I’m sure I’ll be interested in doing it. Of course, I still have to figure out what my 2020 WOTY is… I have over 8 on the possibilities list. Nothing is speaking to me yet. Your idea of talking about you are wrapping up “More” gave me an inspiration for a blog post also. So thanks for that. And I’m intrigued with your words… looking forward to the reveal! Have a great weekend.


  6. I wasn’t sure a WOTY was for me but as I’ve read your blog as well as the comments, I’m starting to consider it. I’m just not sure I can find the right word. Guess I still have time to think about it. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is definitely time to think about it. The post I linked talks about an approach to doing it that I’ve used in the past. Or you can just think about where you want to “go” next year. There’s so many words to choose… you just need to find one that connects to where you are and where you are going.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Pat! My WOTY for 2019 is aligned and I write it out every day in my journal and I do believe that I have made significant progress by keeping it close in my mind throughout the year. And isn’t that what we all hope for. While it doesn’t replace all those other plans and intentions that pop up–it serves as a great overall reminder of what I want to BE in the year (not what I want to do.) I’m sure you’ll come up with one that will fit you well for 2020. It will be an interesting year for us all! ~Kathy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kathy, That is the second time the word aligned has come up in 2 days…. maybe it’s one I should consider for 2020. I do know that in the past, when I hit upon the right word, things felt aligned to me! Maybe that’s the message? LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the WOTY! You told me about it in 2018 and I picked DANCE for 2018. Determination and Attitude for the New chapters that are Christ Driven to bring Exhilariation. I didn’t change it for 2019 because I loved it so much. But maybe it’s time to develop a new one! I’m going to need to wrk on that.

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  9. FLOW was the WOTY in 2019. I needed to surrender to life’s circumstances. “When we can trust that there is a natural flow of energy in the universe, we can surrender in trust to step into the river and flow with the current” (from Galen Pearl’s No Way Cafe blog) sums it up for me. It’s taken most of 2019 to settle into the new flow. That word has presented itself numerous times in the past month. I want to live life with purpose and choosing a WOTY helps me to focus. January is often a month of reflection and anticipation. I’ll be using your 2018 blog as a guide to choosing my 2020 WOTY. Thanks, Pat.

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  10. I’ve used a WOTY in the past but this year chose not to. Nothing felt right. To be honest, I’m not even sure if I could capture this year in one word…maybe Whirlwind?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jo, Hmm. The one year I didn’t review was when the word I picked didn’t feel right when I picked it and then it never worked all year. But the bigger question is – did you like the Whirlwind year or not! Perhaps a calmer word for next year?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah it’s been chaotic to say the least – not bad, just chaotic. I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll pick a word for next year. I suspect it will depend on whether anythig resonates with me. Connection is one that keeps coming up, but then so does clarity.

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