Intentional. It might look like just a word, but for me, it’s so much more.
In 2018, I was introduced to the concept of having a Word of the Year and while I don’t recall what I chose as my 2018 word, I do remember the one I chose in 2019: Intentional. But more on this later…
Choosing a Word of the Year
If you’ve been on social media in the past few weeks, you probably saw friends and family reflecting on their 2020 “Words of the Year”. And you likely also saw posts about people choosing their new “Word of the Year” for 2021.
While the concept of a Word of the Year has been around for a while and some may think it’s passé, I still firmly believe in the power of words as a way to center yourself on your goals for the year. And to use them as a source of inspiration when potential challenges and opportunities come up during the year.
Want to know why I find it so powerful? And how you can choose your word? Let’s get started exploring how and why you should choose a Word of the Year for 2021!
Why Choose a Word of the Year?
Let’s start with what it’s not. A Word of the Year is not a New Year’s Resolution. Thank goodness. New Year’s Resolutions often lose steam by late January or February.
What a Word of the Year is, is a reminder. It’s a prompt to keep with you throughout the entire year and reflect on as you face the trials and joys that each year brings.
It might be a word that provides encouragement, is humbling, centering, or simply a cue of how you want to respond to certain situations as they arise during the year.
Choosing your Word of the Year shouldn’t be stressful like New Year’s Resolutions can be, but getting started may not be as simple as opening the dictionary and picking the first word you read. The word you choose should be a source of positive influence and even a positive change for your life.
How to Choose a Word of the Year
There are a few different ways to choose your Word of the Year -- some more random, and some more intentional.
Let’s start with random.
You could, in fact, open the dictionary (if you still have one that’s in book form) to a random page and read the words on the page. If one resonates with you, select it as your word for 2021. Or you could embrace a more random selection of your Word of the Year and use a generator like this one created by Jennifer Fulwiler.
All of these are definitely good ways to get started, but I find it’s better to choose your word with a bit more intention as it’s going to be what you use to refocus when you need extra motivation.
These are the 3 ways I recommend:
- Write down all the highlights (and low-lights) of the prior year.Not only is this a good practice to do every year, just as a reflection, but it’s also a great tool to gear up for the next year. Based on what you wrote, is there a particular virtue you’d like to emphasize in your life this year? What would you like to do differently this year compared to last year? Or maybe there’s a theme you want to focus on this year?
For example, when I was choosing my word for 2020, I looked at what happened during 2019 and found it to be a lot of good but big and heavy changes. I knew I wanted 2020 to be lighter but I wasn’t sure about that word. Luckily, I received my new planner around this time and the scripture theme was “light”. And when I read the various scriptures related to “light”, it felt like that was the word I needed to choose. And thank goodness I did, because 2020 brought a lot of challenges to be “light”er.
- Select a passage of Scripture.Maybe it’s your favorite verse or it’s one you heard in mass last week. Or select your favorite poem or song. Read it and see what words stand out to you. Either you will find your word within the content or it may just help you get inspiration to continue your search!
- Write down 3 words that describe you.Or better yet, ask those who are closest to you to describe you in 3 words. The words they give you may be exactly what you were looking for or at least inspire you to brainstorm some more.
I also recommend to not dwell and let the search go on too long. You will know when the word is right (or good enough for now). And if you feel you’re struggling, let it go or take a moment to pray or meditate. When you’re ready, like a butterfly, it will come to you. And know, whatever you choose to be your word, it can be changed if it doesn’t feel right.
Word of the Year at Knots of Grace
As I mentioned earlier, my 2019 word of the year was “intentional”. It was such a powerful word for me. It helped me redirect where I was focusing my personal and professional time and really helped guide the direction for Knots of Grace and my HR career.
It was so effective that I’ve decided to reuse it as my 2021 personal Word of the Year. “Intentional” will serve as my reminder to do all things with intention and careful purpose, whether that is spending time with a friend or family member or making a decision for my business.
One area I definitely want to be more intentional is related to my prayer life. And one way that helps me is hanging a door rosary in a highly visible place to remind me to pray.
Knots of Grace also has a Word of the Year: “kindness”. In our November blog I started talking about being more intentional with acts of kindness and found that it’s something I want to continue. So last month, I selected Kindness as my word and announced it during one of my Feature Friday live videos on Facebook.
“Kindness” will guide Knots of Grace as a general theme for our products, content, and mission in 2021. Plus I think we can all agree that the world needs a little more kindness, so keeping “kindness” top of mind will help Knots of Grace make a little step towards sharing and spreading kindness to everyone we serve.
Word of the Year Candles
If you’ve already selected your Word of the Year, congratulations! I find that just like using a door rosary to help with prayer, having your Word of the Year displayed in a prominent place is an excellent way to keep it top of mind and close all year long!
While you could always write your word on a sticky note and place it on your mirror or notebook, we’ve created a new product for our new Kindred K Etsy Shop that takes your sticky note one step further! It’s a Word of the Year Candle to add light and warmth to your home. The candles are custom designed with your unique Word of the Year printed on the side.
And though it's not yet released, you can pre-order them using the link below and emailing us that you're interested!
Have you chosen a Word of the Year? Share it in the comments and let us know why or how you chose it!
I can’t wait to see what you’ve selected!