Do You Have a Word to Define Your Year?

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Interested in setting annual goals? Every December, Michael Hyatt opens up his popular course, Best Year Ever. I highly recommend it. Watch three FREE videos from him about goal-setting here.

A new year means a new word to define it.

Never heard of this concept?

Here’s the deal:

Last year I read somewhere (I think it was the awesome Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home) that choosing one word as a goalpost for the year ahead was a great way to catalyze the way you want your year to be. In honor of that idea, I came up with my word last year: REST.

I didn’t do perfectly, but I did do well. (Some medical problems in my pregnancy helped to force me to do this as well.) What was also interesting to me throughout the year was the number of people who had read about my word of the year and commented on it when they saw me — or, even better, mentioned it when they were asking me to do something! A number of times I received a note or call along the lines of, “I know you said your word of the year was REST, but I was wondering if you could…”

This alone let me know that something about this concept of publicly setting out my word for the year ahead was working. Not just for me, but for others around me to know what my priorities were.

This year, with great deliberation, I’ve got a new word in play.

Ready for it?


Now, there are a few reasons for this word choice. Firstly, I’ll be going through some big changes in 2014. Best of all is that after a long medical journal, my husband and I are delighted to be finally welcome a sweet babe this Spring. For me, 2014 is a year I’ve waited a long time for, and I couldn’t be more excited. With babies come changes, though, and thinking about the ways that our lives will change with a little one is probably a good enough reason to choose RENEW as my word of the year.

But that’s not all. I’m also choosing RENEW because I feel that, although I wasn’t perfect in my attempts to REST in 2013, I did do a pretty good job, dramatically reducing my travel schedule, working hard to say NO a heck of a lot more, and generally trying to find more balance in life. With RENEW, I’ll be focusing a lot more on that balance. I’ll be working on how I can — in both my professional and personal lives — more carefully choose what projects I’ll take on in order to ensure that I maintain a home and work life that is regularly highlighted by a state of low blood pressure.

Importantly, my word of the year – RENEW – works well with my new book, Greater Expectations, which brings together many of these concepts I’ll be working hard to bring to fruition in my own life in 2014. 

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 2.26.14 PMIs your word of the year also something along the lines of RENEW? Or BALANCE? Or REST? If so, Greater Expectations: Succeed (and Stay Sane), in an On-Demand, All-Access, Always-On Age, might be right up your alley. It’s a tactical tome sharing both information, statistics and stories about what digital overwhelm means in our modern life, and a primer for getting you to keep said overwhelm at bay. 

Check it out here. 



Okay — pretty please — tell me. What’s your word of the year?


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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46 thoughts on “Do You Have a Word to Define Your Year?

  1. As I started reading you email, I thought I could adopt your word of the year RENEW. But the more I read, the more I figured that this year I need more of a BALANCE between my professional and social lives.

    To my surprise, BALANCE actually appears at the end of your email affirming my decision as the word of the year for me.

  2. Jessica,Congratulations. That’s great! 2013’s word was brave. I bravely quit, actually I retired, from a job that I was starting to hate. Now I do useful things like helping people. I love it. Money is not the top priority. People are much more important and gratifying. 2014’s word is GIVE. Give time, money, knowledge and Love, above all.

  3. GRATEFULNESS; for the first time in a long time not only do I feel content, but my heart is bursting with gratefulness. Gratefulness about having a great job, great family, great home, and great health. I’m allowing myself to steep in gratefulness and not allow discontentment to rob any of it from me.

  4. REDEEM represents turning the gift of opportunity into its present value. In 2014 this is my focus on being more attentive to the face-to-face encounters in my day and putting all media devices on hold. I will be especially intentional in my time with family and friends through planning specific times and creating margin for more daily opportunities.

  5. RELAX and FOCUS – My husband always tells me I need to calm down…not exactly sure where I find the time to do that in my over-stimulated, too much to do world. So…I’m going to try two tactics in the form of words for the year. 1) RELAX – take the time to sit, think, be present, settle down and not always be on the run. And maybe, just maybe, do a few things to facilitate that like working out or getting a massage. 2) FOCUS – I think it would help me a lot in my quest to relax if I would just devote my attention to a particular task or activity before moving on to the next one. Easier said than done in my busy house and job, but a girl can at least TRY! If these become “mantra” words for the year, perhaps I can make some serious progress!

  6. TRAILBLAZE: I recently lost my job due to restructuring and was provided a decent severance. Amazingly, I wasn’t as upset about it as I thought I would be after 28 years there. I felt ready for a change. However, I am spending my now-free time with an ailing family member–talk about great timing: these few months are incredibly important to me.

    What she is going through and how she is handling it is teaching me I need to make some changes in my own life. So I am examining what I really want to be “when I grow up” and how I should get there. It comes back to Gretchen Rubin’s mantra of happiness. What will make me happy and more “me”? I’ll have to blaze some new trails.

    Although 2014 will be a year of loss, I’m hoping I will find the strength and grace to face a different future.

  7. FUNCTIONAL – Timing is perfect, I was just having this conversation a few weeks ago. My word is functional. I took my daughters sledding a few weeks ago and was running up and down the hill with them. I had previously talked with my daughter that I was working toward being “functionally fit” and I really could not describe what I meant. That sledding trip was the perfect explanation, I was able to run around and sled with them versus watching a few years earlier. I am planning on using that same word and concept throughout this year. Working to make our house functional, always being able to find what we are looking for when we need it. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just functional for a start…

  8. My word for 2014 is PERSIST. This will be the year I will overcome all the obstacles to professional licensure and get a decent-paying job in my field. This will also be the year my husband and I significantly reduce our debt. And I will return to reading more than 100 books this year, which I missed tremendously while pursuing my M.S.W. degree, getting married and relocating to another state, dealing with a crushing workload in a temporary job, and trying to remain optimistic while entering my 9th month of unemployment since the temp job ended.

  9. Hi
    My word for 2014 is
    I want to create lots of opportunities not just at work but also to have Fun, to Relax and to do Something Different. I want to be more creative in how I approach life in general so every month I intend to push myself to do something different – This month I learnt how to make a Scottish delicacy – Cloutie Dumpling. Next month I’m starting a Pilates class. Wish me luck.

  10. Self-actualization! For almost my entire life I have done what I thought everyone else was expecting from me and I havn’t stopped and listened to my inner voice. Now I am 28 and suddenly everything just seems to fall into place. I have a fantastic boy friend, a supporting family and after having been “lost” for a couple of years job speaking, I am now starting my own business focusing on Content – planning and producing – and I have already got two big customers signed before even getting started! Besides content is just beginning to become known here in Denmark, so I’m also quite a large step ahead in my field and that’s very comforting to know when making such a huge step in my life. My life simply is wonderful and full of opportunities 🙂

  11. My one word for 2013 was PURGE, and did I ever purge when Zondervan just moved its offices to a new building that we had been in for 22 years! I’ve been purging at home also with the help of a professional organizer.

    This year my one word is LISTEN. Primarily I want to be silent and listen to what God is trying to tell me, but I will also be listening more carefully to those around me. I learned the practice of choosing a word from our book My One Word: Change Your Life with Just One Word. It’s a wonderful book that teaches you how to lose your long list of resolutions—all your sweeping promises to change—and do something about just one thing this year instead of nothing about everything, how to choose just one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you, and focus on it for an entire year. It’s a great discipline. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about my one word.

    • My word is EXCEL, I’ve started an MSc and doing a tonne of reading I throughly enjoyed. This year I want to step into a new career and start my own business! Hence Excel is the word for me this year.

  12. My word for 2014 is change! Underpinning that are two sub themes: being more adventurous, and increasing my self-awareness.

  13. Peace.

    2013 was the worst year of my life, filled with stress and worry. This year, I am letting go, accepting more, and allowing peace into my life.

  14. Focus. I chose my word of the year to be focus because I realize that’s what’s missing in my busy life. A person can’t be all things to all people, so focusing on priorities is the best way to reach a goal.

  15. Confidence

    Sometimes one has to re-establish the confidence in which others perceive you. In a world of challenges, one has to understand that not everyone reacts to adversity as we would do ourselves.

    So I chose confidence, because I will make it my mission to get others to understand that you can still have confidence and accomplish anything you want for your life. The fact that you are sure about yourself doesn’t mean that others have confidence in you. That has to be sold, earned, worked at, demonstrated, etc.

    People can’t thrive without confidence. God Bless!

  16. Resilient is my word for 2014. I love this one word idea! Thanks for sharing!
    I just had one of the worst years of my life personally and professionally. Sometimes you never know the curve balls that get thrown your way and the impact to one’s core. I’ve always been positive and I’m optimistic here looking forward to the opportunities ahead as I know that I have so much to offer.

    I’ll be turning fifty years old this spring so being in job transition is a tad scary. I will say though that I’ve been connecting with my soul and doing volunteer work. Doing things that I’ve never had the time to do as well as spending time with my daughter who is growing before my eyes 11 years turning 16 years old.

    Grateful for the blessing in my life.

  17. CORE
    As in I will focus on my core (physically) as well as the core things/ideas/work that needs to be accomplished to keep me solidly going forward….

  18. – Commit –
    No more part-time, half-hearted approach to anything. I’m a true believer in leading from the front, and by example. My overt commitment to important tasks will hopefully stir those around me into similar action. I will focus on being a fully committed Catholic, husband, father, son and sibling.

  19. I haven’t got 2014’s word yet, but 2013 was Critical Thinking and 2012 was Grace. Both worked a treat. It’s amazing how seeting your word at the start of the year is still relevant to you throughout the year. It’s great to have it at the forefront of your mind in times of stress.

    Given I’m 4 weeks away from giving birth, my word will probably be along the lines of ‘Enjoy’!

  20. I am a big fan of the Happiness Project and was excited to see her newsletter earlier this year regarding this topic. I am so glad you wrote about it because I think it is a worthwhile activity.

    This year I picked the work “productive”.

    I am not just talking about work, but all aspects of my life. For example, when I get upset about something, I stop and think “Will being angry, saying hurtful things, or starting an argument be productive?” The answer is no. It just waste time and energy I should be conserving for things that matter.

    The same with people in my life. I have some friends and family that simply suck the energy out of me. Being around their negativity can ruin my day. Is my relationship with these people productive? Is it helping me live a more fulfilled life? Again the answer is no. This might seem selfish, but I have decided to use my resources (time, energy, etc.) on things that matter and are important to me. In order to do that, I must use those resources wisely

    I do think about this word in a work sense as well. I am a Ph.D. student that is close to graduation. I want to manage my time wisely in order to finish my degree. Productivity is very important. I also hope to land a job once I graduate.

    So…being productive in all aspects of my life will hopefully guide me through what could be a hectic year for me.

  21. my word of the year: “Wealthy.”

    Financially independent.

    It may sound trite but my pal who is making big shekels again via Facebook Spiritual Healing (he’s an author , too which has given him a huge library of photos and commentary from the premier Minds of our knowledge like Buddha , Einstein. Tesla, et al. ). anyway , Ed sees me on the road to poverty teaching English to thai kids only once a week at 400 baht ($13USD) . So , He advises I teach modules online via Skype and Facebook (and the blog you encouraged me to start with BlueHost — its paid up for the year { now THAT was a shock to my bank a few months back} , so. . . . I ought get utilizing it! ) at maybe $249 or $349 / module of ten day lessons. I say, “ok: cool: one hour three times a week” . Ed says : ” No. 25 minutes /lesson. The target market are Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, maybe Russians with wealth. The rich have no time to spare. . . , so 25 minutes is perfect. Yes.

    So soon I’ll be moving to A. Pai and renting a one bedroom ‘Modern Seclusion’ [its blurb in the real estate manager’s wordpress pages] place owned by a dental hygienist-type. New, and , well it suits me to a “P.” . . . Quite nearly Dream Digs in my Mind.

    Love and Gratitude, Mama!

  22. This year I picked three words- Courage, connection and growth

    I chose courage because I realised that last year was more painful than it should have been because I too often didn’t find the courage to get out of bad situations (like staying way too long in a very unhealthy work environment) or to put myself out there to embrace new things (like asking someone out).

    I chose connection for both professional and personal reasons. I realised after leaving my last job that for all sorts of reasons I was short on professional connections and that knowing more people would be very helpful in getting my career unstuck. On a personal front, last year quite a few friends moved across the country for work or entered more demanding personal situations. Of course I still keep in touch with them and value their friendship but it left me feeling a bit disconnected which is something I need to address this year.

    I chose growth because I know I’ve still got a lot to learn and grow in, not just professionally, but when it comes to spirituality, relationships, my volunteer work and life in general. Time to stop coasting on a lot of things.