Choosing a “Word of the Year” to Encompass the New Year


word of the year: letter beads sprawl out over a pink background. The words "Happy New Year" are spelled out in the middle.Intimidated by the thought of having to come up with a New Year’s resolution? Do you not even set any goals anymore because you know you won’t be able to accomplish them? Have a trail of tears of past resolutions?

If any of this sounds familiar to you, consider making it easy and choosing just one simple word for the new year!

I was introduced to this concept by one of my favorite podcasts, “This is Joy & Claire.” It is a health and wellness lifestyle podcast from two middle-aged women (one of whom is a mom) who were brought together through CrossFit. They recently published a podcast about planning for the upcoming year, and it got me thinking about how I like to approach each new year.

Typically, people like to set big goals in the new year related to health and wellness, fitness, body image, or finances. These are often very visual goals that you can “see” if you accomplish or not. There are lots of great resources out there for setting goals, but what if that just seems overwhelming to you? Should you just skip planning for the new year altogether?

I remember when I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with my daughter on New Year’s Day (she was born January 5th), I was so optimistic for literally a fresh start and a new life in the new year. But then I was quickly brought back down to reality (48 hours after she was born) with endless dirty diapers and nighttime feeds. In that moment of the new year, I could barely even remember my name let alone a specific New Year’s resolution I would have set. In those early days postpartum, my daily goal was very primal and was just to keep myself and my baby alive.

Thinking Outside the Box for Your Word of the Year

It took some weeks for me to realize what my word was that year, but it ended up being “life”: the life of my new baby, developing my life as a mother, and nurturing the growth of my young toddler’s life. That year was a big year for me in the grand scheme of my life as I learned to accept help (essential for me in that moment to improve my life), sustained life for my two young children, and started to have a clearer picture of what direction I wanted my own life to head.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking of the very cliché words for your word of the year:




These words may actually be the best fit for you, so don’t worry about the cliché because the only person it really matters to is YOU.

One year, my word was “open.” I wanted to open my heart and mind to new experiences, new people, new doors to open. I knew what I was doing wasn’t working. I didn’t know exactly what my future would look like, so I wanted to remind myself to be open to new things and hoped that my path would become clear through that action.

Another year my word was “growth.” I specifically remember being in our annual planning meeting for the gym I coached at and planning to grow as a person and in my coaching — something that pushed me outside of my comfort zone entirely. I wanted to also grow other people by coaching them in and out of the gym. Additionally, I was turning 30 that year and wanted to grow into my third decade of life.

The Benefits of Choosing One Word

Choosing a word for the year helps lower the pressure associated with planning and setting goals. One word can encompass many actions, emotions, feelings, or plans.

Take some time and think about where you are in life, where you’d like to be, or what you’d like to accomplish in the next 365 days. What is one word that connects all of those pieces to where you are right now in life?

It will come to you. Once it does, ruminate on it for a while. Say it out loud. Tell someone else the word. Write it out and look at it. Write out anything you think or feel when you see the word.

The good thing about one word versus one specific goal or resolution is that it can be changed and adapted throughout the year. One word doesn’t back you into a corner to check a box or not. One word can take on whatever meaning you want for it.

What’s your word of the year going to be? Share in the comments below!

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Tina Plemmons
Residency training brought Tina to Charleston and after securing her full-time dream job as a clinical pharmacist, she couldn’t leave. Tina was born and raised in Punxsutawney, PA and attended the University of Pittsburgh before coming to the Lowcountry in 2014. She also holds several fitness and coaching certificates: Crossfit Level 1, USA Weightlifting Level 1 and Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism, that she used to coach Crossfit locally. She and her husband Andrew call West Ashley home, along with their two bulldogs, Bosworth and Jackson, and their two young children, Reid and Charlotte. Motherhood has reignited her passion for writing in her "free time" - fueled by lots and lots of coffee.