How to Pick and Use a Word of the Year

The word of the year trend has increased in popularity recently. I started participating in the trend in 2022, not as much by choice, but by a nudge from the Universe. The word "trust" pushed its way into my brain when I asked myself, "What word would I even choose? This seems stupid."

My word for 2023 is "kindness" for pretty much the same reason. There was no question this time. Kindness is what I feel I need most, especially from myself. I suspect as I fill my own need for kindness, I'll be able to increase in kindness towards others. 

Here's why the word of the year works:

It gives a clear, simple focus for the long term. No being overwhelmed  and pulled in a million different directions. Just one word. For me, "trust" became a mantra when I was feeling stressed or confused. I grew to let go of my worries about uncertainty as time went on. 

How do you pick a word of the year?

Let the word pick you. If it's not happening, don't start a word of the year on New Year's Day. That's right - you can start a word of the year anytime. 

How do you let the word pick you? Let your mind wander when you're doing simple tasks or chores. Keep a journal. Meditate on the question. Allow the word to find you by making yourself available to hear it.

Want something a little less woowoo? Make a list of words that are important to you. It can be an action word or a feeling or a noun. Then go through the list on a different day, circling the ones that speak to you the most. Eventually narrow it down to one word.

You have all the answers already within yourself. The word of the year shouldn't be something you have to do. It shouldn't add stress or create more work to do. If you decide to choose one, you don't even have to share it with anyone. A word of the year is personal and meaningful to you. No one else needs to understand.


Dr. Nancy Williams is a freelance music educator and leadership coach based out of Rapid City, SD. She specializes in helping creatives overcome imposter syndrome and build empowerment and joy into their lives and careers. Download the free guide "3 Ways to Beat Imposter Syndrome" and receive weekly emails of inspiration.

Leave a comment