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Theme Word of the Year Ideas and How to Choose Yours

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I love the start of a new year – a clean slate, resetting the clock, and deciding what the new year will look like! It is a time to reflect, dream, and reset your ambitions for the coming year. One of the most powerful exercises to prepare for the new year is choosing a word of the year. This word is your theme and aligns with your values and goals. It will help you develop clarity and self-awareness around your priorities as you go through life’s seasons. Here you will find a list of theme word of the year ideas and a quick guide to walk you through the process of finding yours!

And so the adventure begins

Whether you live or die by a New Year’s Resolution, this exercise will have you replacing your old ideals and ready to conquer the new year with a single word – your theme.

What is a Theme Word?

A theme word helps you determine your priorities. It grounds you and leads you through the year – acting as your guidepost for your decisions, the people you surround yourself with, and the things you devote your time to. It is your truth and represents who you plan to be for the year.

word of the year ideas

Your Theme Word is More Powerful Than a Resolution

New Year’s Resolutions are the “norm.” They are meant to help us build momentum toward our goals, but what happens when we become averse to the resolution? What happens when the spark wears off, and all we are left with is the guilt of not being committed or motivated enough? 

say goodbye to new years resolutions and hello to your theme word

I finally stopped setting New Year’s Resolutions and have never looked back. My resolutions always backfired, and I became frustrated after just a few months. I spent so much time lamenting how pathetic I was for not staying committed through the year. I offered myself no grace when I fell off the wagon during those first winter months – the most miserable and cold time of the year –  when my motivation started waning.

That’s when I started adopting a theme word and fell in love with the process. My theme kept me focused on creating positive life changes that would carry me through the year. It became what every decision was based on, and if a commitment didn’t align with my theme, I bowed out. I never had a more authentic sense of self than when I adopted a theme word and trashed my resolutions.  

picking a theme word of the year will help you accomplish your goals

Most days, I classify myself as “organized chaos.” I always have a plan and a to-do list, and I consider myself to be highly productive. But I am also creative, love new ideas and adventures, and want to tackle everything simultaneously. My theme word gives me a roadmap that aligns my actions with my desired outcomes, giving me less room for distractions.

How to Choose Your Word for the Year

I utilize five steps to determine my theme word for the year. Grab a pen and a journal, and let’s make this year, YOUR year! Feel free to download the guide below for theme word of the year ideas and a step-by-step worksheet.

1. Reflection

The first step in choosing your theme word is to reflect on the past year. Here are some questions to guide your reflection.

How did this past year go? What went well? Are there areas of your life that need improvement? What could you use more or less of? Write down what brought you the most joy this past year. What would you like to change, or are you lacking in any area?

reflect on word of the year ideas

2. Goal Setting 

What are your goals for the upcoming year? Think about each pillar of your life – career/financial, health, family/relational, spiritual/values, and developmental/educational.

Have you mapped out a vision for this next year? What are you passionate about? Are there things you’d like to make more time for? What do you want the year to look like? Fast forward to the end of the year; where do you want to be?  

goal setting is an important step in the process

Narrow your goals down to one or two in each pillar, or make sure the number of goals you set for the year is realistic. Your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

3. Brainstorm and Brain Dump

Do you see any common themes when you review your final goals for the year? What feelings do your goals ignite?

brainstorm and brain dump your word of the year ideas

It is important not to overthink this step but instead work to fill up the page with words that come to your heart and mind when you review your list of goals. How do you want your year to feel? Which term describes the “you” that accomplishes your list? You should have several theme word of the year ideas listed before you begin the next step.

4. Choose 3 Word of the Year Ideas From Your List

When you stare at your list of words, which three words speak to you, tug at your heart, and set your soul on fire? Which words make you smile, palpitate your heart, or bring tears of joy to your eyes? Pick the top three that speak to you the most. 

word of the year ideas list

5. Narrow It Down. 

Out of your top three, which word wins? Your theme will align with your passion, joy, and truth. It will connect every goal and priority in your life and give you a heightened focus that aligns with your values and plans for the year.

narrow down your list to your top 3

Don’t let this process overwhelm you or feel it is too late. You can choose a theme word of the year idea to represent your year at any time, even if you are well into the year already. 

There you have it- run with it, own it, and conquer your year! Let every decision and action you take reflect your theme word. Let this year be full of self-awareness, authenticity, grace, and accomplishment.

Ta-da! You are finished! You have picked your word of the year and are ready to tackle the new year.

My Word Over the Years

My word for 2021 was GROWTH. I tackled my MBA in digital marketing that year and began immersing myself in the field of health and nutrition, understanding the complexity of food sensitivities, and having just embarked on the journey of how to heal my son’s health condition, I was a student in all areas of my life, all year.

2021, my word was growth

In 2022, My word was INTENTIONAL. I began meal planning, prepping, and making much of our food from scratch. To feel genuine fulfillment, I understood I needed to create something of my own and began developing a blog to share health and wellness solutions for busy moms and their families.

2022's word of the year is intentional

My theme word for 2023 is ABUNDANCE. It will be my guidepost when interacting with my family, finances, faith, and new opportunities. As I embark on the new year, I have adopted an abundant mindset and will continue pouring positive energy into my life through my deliberate actions and decisions. I will reach my goals through a theme of abundance and will hold this as my truth throughout the coming year.

How to Manifest Your Theme

You have identified your theme for the year! Here are a few ideas to help you manifest your theme word and make it part of your daily thought patterns and life.

  • Write your theme word down on a post-it and put it everywhere – on your computer screen, bathroom mirror, and inside your car.
  • Create a mantra that you can say and read daily.
  • Create a themed monthly reading list.
  • Pray over it.
  • Share it with your friends and family or post it on social media.
  • Journal about it daily.

Congratulations on choosing your theme word of the year! You are ready to accomplish your goals for this year. I can’t wait to hear what you chose as your word of the year! Let me know in the comments of this blog post, and as always, thank you for sharing and engaging!

Looking for other great ways to start your year? Make self-care a priority! Read A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation and give it a try today. My blog, 5 Ways a Lemon Water Detox Can Change Your Life, includes the benefits of lemon water and my 5×5 Detox Plan – do these five things for five days and naturally detox your body and transform your health.

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