Learn how to choose a word of the year that brings you back to how you want to be and reminds you what is most important for you this year. 

Word of the Year

Why is choosing a “word of the year” a good idea? 

A “word of the year” is a touchstone word that brings you back to how you want to be in this world and what is most important for you right now. 

Imagine a word that inspires you to stretch and grow more fully into yourself.

It’s a word that you can go to for guidance – like a mantra – when making decisions about what to do and what not to do. 

Remember this word to reminds you of who you want to become in the coming year.

Ready to find your word?

Try the following reflection exercises I designed for my Vision Retreats on your own or with a few good friends. I recommend going in the following order, but you can also select one approach and just use that. If you want to go deep and walk away with a word to inspire you all year long, give yourself a full hour of self-care that will pay off for months to come. 

Block off time on your calendar and gather the materials below. On the day of your appointment with yourself, I recommend making yourself a cup of your favorite warm drink, closing the door (and maybe posting a sign to let your family know you are in a meeting), and sitting and breathing calmly before you begin. 

What you’ll need:

  • 2-4 sheets of paper
  • A print out of the Clarity Creator (click to download)
  • pen or pencil
  • Optional: colored pencils, highlighter or markers, Sharpie permanent ink markers, a smooth rock (for writing your word)

Summary of the steps outlined below:

1: Make a Be-Do-Have Roadmap (10-20 mins)
2: Use my Clarity Creator to sort through a few Word of the Year ideas (30 mins)
3: Get creative! Try on your word and look at it often! (time depends on which ideas you choose…)

Step 1: Make a Be-Do-Have Map 

This is a great way to brainstorm and tap into how you want to be and what you want in your life in the coming year. 

  1. Take a sheet of paper and either fold it into three sections or draw some shapes onto it.
  2. Label one section “BE,” one section “DO,” and one section “HAVE.”
  3. Sit quietly for a few minutes or meditate by just breathing and experiencing your body sitting there. 
  4. Now it’s time to dream and let your mind free to wander. Write down everything you can think of under each heading. You may already BE, DO, or HAVE some of the things you write down. Other ideas may seem hard to imagine coming into your life. They are all ok! Write down what you want to be-do-have in your life in the coming year without censoring anything! You can make your list as long as you’d like. 
  5. Sit back and make some observations about what flowed out of you.
    • Do you have more things written down in one category than another?
    • What themes do you see?
    • Would embracing things in one category also help your goals from another category?
    • Did any of those words you wrote down jump out at you as a possible word for your year? If so, circle them! 
  6. Optional: Organize your brainstorm into a fun image. Below are two examples of “visual Be-Do-Have maps” from people in my workshops. Allow yourself to be creative and have fun with your word ideas.

Be Do Have Map

Step 2: Clarify what really is your Word of the Year

Now that you’ve made your Be-Do-Have lists and gotten in touch with what you want to bring into your life, it’s time to select that powerful word that is going to guide and remind you of who you are and who you want to become.

What is your word of the year?

Great words people in my workshops have chosen over the past few years:

Word of the year

I’ve created a downloadable “Word of the Year Clarity Creator” that will help you look at 3 possible “Words of the Year” and think through the ways you might embody each word. It’s a chart that allows you to compare the effects of living each of those words so that you can start envisioning what results each word might bring into your life. I find this practice super helpful in sorting out which word excites and empowers me the most. 

sample word of the year clarity creator

How you’ll feel when you land on your true “word of the year”

One year I was considering the words “Create,” “Commitment,” and “Align.” As I filled out the Clarity Creator I had created, I felt and saw that I was much more excited by the word “Create.” For me, “Create” would inspire me to create new habits that enliven me, new blogs and workshops that serve my readers, art that makes me happy, new recipes to feed my family, and experiences that stretch and delight me. I felt an inner sense of lift and excitement with that word. The other words felt more like “shoulds.” However, I saw that embodying the word “Create” would help me with my other words, too. With CREATE as my touchstone word, I would stick to my commitments and align with my inner purpose on many levels. 

Several women who used my Clarity Creator at my Vision Retreat discovered that their word of the year was actually a different energizing word altogether that would help them bring to life the words they put in their chart. For one woman, her energizing word turned out to be “PAUSE.” For another, her word was “HEALTH.” Sometimes a word of the year acts more like a “vehicle” that helps you get where you want to go. The Clarity Creator helps you clarify what word will really work for you. You can add that word to a Vision Board, along with other supporting words that come to you as you work through the Clarity Creator. Stay tuned for my “How to Make a Vision Board” post in February!

vision board

The Clarity Creator will help you consider what habits your word can inspire and envision what you might attract to your life with each word. I also include a section where you can identify what mindsets might get in the way of your living your word, since we all live with inner critics that sometimes sabotage our progress. Once you know what to look out for, you’ll come up with images your word inspires in you. 

Step 3: “Try on” your word and look at it often…

Once you have chosen your word, try your “Word of the Year” on! Talk about it, use it, and see how it feels. If it’s not right, try on another one. Sometimes we need a new word each season. Play with it and see how it works for you! You can add your word to a Vision Board where you put images that symbolize the things you want to be, do and have in your life. 

vision board

Keep your word where you can see it:

  • Use colorful permanent markers to write your word on a rock that sits in your windowsill – a literal and symbolic touchstone!
  • Write it on a piece of paper, decorate it and post it.
  • Put this word on your Vision Board. Contact me at amy@amybehrens.com or schedule a Complimentary Clarity Call if you are interested in participating in a Vision Board workshop. 
  • Set a reminder on your phone with this word daily.
  • Put a Post-It with this word on your computer or mirror.
  • Make a bookmark with this word.
  • Be creative and see how your word guides you this year!

Want to experience how your word of the year can guide you towards new responses? 

Try this meditation

This guided meditation will help you get in touch with the feelings of a challenging situation, identify your needs, widen your lens, and imagine responding in a new way. This is especially helpful when you are feeling frustrated with a certain interaction, pattern or situation and in need of a new way forward.

I’d love to hear how your word is working for you! Email me to share: amy@amybehrens.com

Who I serve:
I coach parents from coast to coast in the US and internationally.  Thanks to Zoom, I am currently coaching parents from Boston to Seattle, Connecticut to California, as well as New York, Ohio, and Colorado. I’ve worked with parents in Bermuda, Japan, Portugal, and Canada as well. I’m grateful for these global and domestic connections!