Choose a Word for the New Year Instead of Making Resolutions

Choosing a word for the New Year instead of making a list of New Year’s resolutions is absolutely more rewarding and realistic. Let’s be honest. When is the last time you actually ticked off all of your New Year’s resolutions? Obviously, it’s a personality thing, but if the list is intimidating you and makes you feel like crap, picking one word is your answer. It’s flexible, freeing, and a great path to self-awareness.


Tips for choosing your word for the New Year

I’ve been living by the word rule for five years now, and it is revolutionary in how I approach my life, wellness, and self-improvement.

Here are my top five tips in picking your word for the New Year:

  1. Do an uninhibited brainstorming session. Set a timer for 60 seconds and in a stream-of-conscious mindset, write all the words that come to your mind. Let go of the perfectionism and and allow the unedited words flow through your pen to paper. (If you’re looking for a great planner and journal for the new year, I use and highly recommend this one.)
  2. Give yourself time to allow your word to appear to you. Honestly, this is how my word presents itself now. I take time to draw inward and simmer in my thoughts of what my word needs to be, starting around late November. By mid-December I have a general idea of my top two to three words, and I refine it by late December. Keep a separate list of words that resonate and call to you. These are also a great reference for coming years.
  3. Swap ideas with friends and family. If you’re unsure of where to even start, I gain inspiration from those I love. It’s a treat learning about their word and goals for the year, and a great heartfelt conversation to have with anyone!
  4. Think of two to three attributes you would like to cultivate or explore. These can be mission statements or ideas. From there, you can combine or sift through these thoughts and form them into one word that describes your need and desire for the year.
  5. Make a list of goals you want to achieve in the next 12 months. But, Abbey, you told me lists are stupid and unrealistic, and that’s why we are picking a word! Okay, I don’t actually think lists are lame. I’m a list lover and a HUGE believer in writing out goals, because I believe that is the only way they come to fruition. However, I don’t believe in impossible and lengthy lists of resolutions. To me, resolutions feel forced and confining. But making goals in components of short term goals (next three to six months) and long term goals (next six to twelve months) will help you fine-tune the overall theme for your year.
Choosing a Word for the New Year | New Years Idea | Word for the New Year | New Years Resolutions | Word for the Year || The Butter Half #newyears #thebutterhalf

I’ve picked my word, now what?

This is the fun part! Now is the time for digging deep and making lists if that is a soothing balm to your Type A-loving soul. But really, here is a set of ideas about how to use and develop your word for the New Year:

  • Break down how your word will fit into the following categories:
    • Personal (wellness and self-care goals)
    • Relationships (family and friends)
    • Professional life (job or career goals)
    • Spiritual life (religious or belief system goals)
    • Experiences and hobbies (how to manifest your word in a cool way)
  • Write out the main points that resonate with you, and put them in a visible place where you will see them every day. I put mine on the mirror in my bathroom. Remember, these are not lists to be checked off, but more encouraging reminders on how I want to shape a more meaningful life.
  • Have fun with your word! Think about how you can incorporate it into your daily life. Put it into your meditation practice. The options are endless.

My word for the New Year

As I mentioned, this is my sixth year picking a word. I especially love the New Year holiday. My birthday is in January (team Aquarius, woot!), so it is a time of new beginnings both personally and organizationally. 

Here’s a recap of my words in past years (and hey, maybe some of these will help you):

2014 – Intention
2015 – Focus
2016 – Self-love
2017 – Discipline
2018 – Advocate

What I realized in reviewing these words is the common theme of always looking to improve my shortcomings. Somehow I always felt like I wasn’t measuring or showing up for myself. And there was an ebb and flow of drawing inward, then needing to refine those learnings.

Do I feel like I’ve mastered these characteristics? Perhaps not fully. But I am much more self-aware, and I believe the entire purpose of our existence is a continual learning of self and its mastery. 

In noticing this habit, I chose a word that is outside of myself, and requires more action.

My word for 2019 is…


Honestly, I was toggling between “open” and “curious” but I feel they both represent similar ideas. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw “nature” into it. I guess that means I’ll be spending A LOT of time learning, cultivating, and pondering the expanse of life while outside in my garden, hiking in the forest, and continuing my love and and learning about plants and herbalism.

Choosing a Word for the New Year | New Years Idea | Word for the New Year | New Years Resolutions | Word for the Year || The Butter Half #newyears #thebutterhalf

What does the word “open” mean to me, anyhow? This is a year in which I want to be open to the possibilities of the world. Being open to presence and embracing the opposite of how I normally operate.

What is your word for the New Year?

Now, I turn over the opportunity to you to select a word for 2019. What are you needing? To turn inward? Outward? Adventure? Whatever it is, I hope it’s a fantastic year for you!

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