Since 2021, instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I have been choosing a word of the year as an alternative.  This practice is relatively common and one that I find quite effective.  Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, words of the year provide a framework for the actions you take during the year and can set you in the right direction by bringing more awareness to your intentions. Over the years, my words have included, bold, ease, expansion, and rich, and each year I have chosen these words, my life has changed dramatically.  

It’s not to say that when I chose these words, life opened up on a silver platter or that the process of living my words was easy.  Quite the contrary.  In 2021, when I chose bold as my word, it was life that challenged me to take bold risks, and when I chose ease in 2022, I faced many obstacles that demanded me to bring ease to situations to survive them.  Expansion was one of the most glorious yet painstaking years for my business where, yes, my business expanded but I was forced to grow and expand myself to meet how much changed.  

Words of the year are about personal growth that, in turn, change the world around you because when you change, the world has no choice but to change along with you.  This is quite different than New Year’s Resolutions.  Instead of asking what you want to achieve, words of the year ask you who you want to be.  These words ask you to step up to greet each day with intention when you embody your word.  For me, a word of the year is like a touchstone I can use to remind myself the energy I want to put forth, particularly when challenged.


It’s funny how a word of the year finds me.  Most years, the words come to me as they bubble to the surface.  I know it when I feel it because of how it resonates with me.  This year was a little different.  I was chatting with a friend who told me a word she was considering for herself and it resonated with me.  She was happy to give it away.  


The word, receive, resonated with me because I’m not a great receiver but I am a fantastic deflector and giver.  If a conversation goes on too long about me, I very quickly start to feel uncomfortable or that I am acting selfishly or pulling focus. It’s no accident that I wound up in a service-based business where my job is to literally be for the success of others.  Heck, I don’t even like Happy Birthday being sung to me.  My choice of receive as my word of the year isn‘t about getting things as much as it’s about allowing myself to accept them.  

I have learned the cost of being someone who deflects things.  Not uncommon, psychologists say that an inability to receive serves as a defense against intimacy (check), a fear of giving up control (check), a fear of being selfish (check), a fear of strings being attached (check, and for me that fear is judgment), not feeling worthy (check), and a fear of being nurtured (check).  The moment I knew I would marry my husband was on one of our earlier dates and I wound up not feeling well.  All Frank wanted to do was take care of me and as I resisted the help he said, “You are so afraid of someone loving you”  I saw what my behavior had been costing, how empty, distanced from things, and uncared for I felt, and at that moment while on line for Pepto Bismol at Rite Aid, I put my guard down and let him love and take care of me despite all my internal alarms going off.

I’ve also learned that an inability to receive, while it seems selfless and noble, can be selfish.  It rebuffs what others have to willingly give and share with me.  Not being able to receive chokes off the endless supply of what the world has to offer, diminishes the beauty that life has in store, and dampens my spirit from fully thriving and growing.  There isn’t anything admirable about keeping things that the world wants for you at a distance.  As I open myself up to receive more, I look forward to what life will bring and the challenges I will invariably face as a result of living my word.


Your word of the year may seem obvious but if you want to try this practice and find yourself having a hard time landing on it, here is a guide to help you navigate the process of choosing your word for 2024:

Reflect on Your Values and Goals:

Take some time to reflect on your core values and the goals you hope to achieve in the coming year. Consider both personal and professional aspects of your life. What areas do you want to focus on? Where do you hope to see growth?

Identify Themes and Patterns:

Look for recurring themes or patterns in your reflections. Are there certain ideas or concepts that stand out to you? Pay attention to words that resonate with your aspirations and capture the essence of the positive changes you want to make.

Choose a Positive and Empowering Word:

Opt for a word that has a positive connotation and empowers you. Your word should evoke a sense of inspiration and motivation. Whether it’s a verb, noun, or adjective, the word should encapsulate the spirit of what you aim to achieve.

Keep it Simple:

While it’s tempting to choose a complex or elaborate word, simplicity often carries more impact. A concise, easily remembered word can serve as a daily reminder and be woven seamlessly into various aspects of your life.

Visualize Your Word:

Envision how your chosen word will manifest in different areas of your life. Picture yourself embodying the qualities and characteristics associated with the word. Visualization can deepen your connection to the chosen concept.

Integrate Your Word Into Your Routine:

Find ways to integrate your word into your daily life. This could involve setting reminders, creating visual cues, or incorporating them into your journaling or mindfulness practices. The goal is to keep your word at the forefront of your consciousness.  When faced with a choice about how you will move ahead, handle a situation, meet a struggle, or open yourself to new possibilities, presence your word in the forefront of your mind as a reminder that this is how you have chosen to proceed.


Do you choose a word of the year? Have you done it in the past? I’d love to hear what your word is for 2024 and how this practice works for you.