Why I Won't Pick A Word For The Year Anymore

January 03, 2020

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Word Of The Year 2020

2020.

It has a nice ring to it doesn't it? And it's so simple to say.

Twenty. Twenty.

I love it.

Now ordinarily, during the first week of a new year, instead of resolutions, I'd be trying to encapsulate my goals for the next twelve months with one single word.

At least that's what I've done since I began blogging back in 2013.

I'd never heard of this before. It was a revolutionary concept, excellent for blog content and it worked well for the first few years...or at least the idea of it did.

In reality, not only so much.

Like the year I picked WORK as my word, for example. After 18 years of being home with the kids, I was excited by the prospect of getting back to it.

There Is Joy In Work Henry Ford

I energized. I set schedules and booked meetings.

I made all sorts of plans to scale my tiny business up. I was committed and ready to go.

And then we brought my ailing mother home from the nursing home. Suddenly her well-being and need for 24 hour care was the priority and work had to be put on the back burner. It just didn't seem very important anymore.

Then there was the year before last, when I chose the word ME. It took a lot to say it out loud, but I was burnt, spent and exhausted. I was going to focus on self care.

This year I pick me. Here's why...

I was going to get into bed early and eat right and say no to things that were sapping my energy, join a gym, taking a cooking class and read.

My mother died exactly three days later.

Forget about self care. I spent the rest of the year just trying to breathe.

My other years were pretty similar. Suddenly, those one word intentions became no different than the useless resolution lists I used to make...and in light of this, last year, I didn't choose a word.

It wasn't a conscious rebellion.

I just sat down and really, really thought about what I wanted to accomplish, wanted to change, wanted to do better and turns out most of them were common sense.

They were tangible, specific and measurable behaviors and goals involving every aspect of my life.

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. Andy Warhol

How do you pick a single word for all that?

And frankly, I didn't see how writing one word down on a piece of paper was going to do anything meaningful to guide me toward my goals.

Instead, I listed five tried and true lifestyle behaviors that I wanted to do more - or less - of throughout the year.

Among them, number 5, was to leave more space in each day, to make room for fun. So I rejoined a friend's monthly planning calls. I'd always enjoyed them, but had recently let the busyness of life squeeze them out.

Once I re-upped, I realized how much I missed the monthly check ins.

One of the first things we do on each call is to set an intention for the upcoming month. Genius.

As a writer, I connect with words, which is why I was so taken with the word of the year practice. It was the time commitment that wasn't working.

Month by month, is the way it should be. I mean, a year is a long time. Things can change drastically over the course of 365 days.

Why should we tie ourselves down to one word we chose during the intoxicating hours right before the new year?

That's a lot of pressure. And what about the the guilt when and if we don't live up to the expectations we created early in those heady January days by printing that one word out?

Nope. Not me. Not anymore.

To begin, begin. William Wordsworth

From now on, I'm just going to stick with my monthly word. I'll reevaluate and check in with myself every 30 days. If that word...or better yet, words...are still working for me when the calendar turns over, great.

I'll hold on to them.

However, if not, no big deal. I can switch and choose a different string of letters that fit my circumstances and my mindset better.

Oh sure, I still have an idea of how I'd like the year to go and if I tried to wrap it up in a neat one word package it might be something like EASE or CALM, but I'm not married to those words.

Maybe they're just my words for January. By February I may need CLARITY and by March I may be craving JOY.

And with my new plan, that's fine.

Totally flexible.

Which actually sounds like a pretty good word for the new year.

Well, for now anyway.

And if I change my mind next month?

I'll just pick a new one.

How fabulous.

Do you pick a word for the year?













  1. Happy New Year Kim! My word for the year is connection; with myself, my husband and my creative side. It just seemed to be an all encompassing word to tick all the boxes.

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    1. Happy New Year!! I love that word...connection. And the way you are using it is wonderful.

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  2. Happy New Year! Yes, I picked two words this year. Creative and Focus.....

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    1. They sound perfect, Penny!! Happy New Year!

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  3. Happy New Year Kim. For some reason I've never picked a word for each year and I don't make any new years resolutions anymore. I just have some simple ideas for the year that I'd like to accomplish. I try to keep things simple and not put any pressure on myself. Wishing you all the best for 2020.

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    1. You are smart, Julie! I think words are basically resolutions and I agree, resolutions just don't really work for me either. Wishing you all the best in 2020 too!!

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  4. Kim, Happy New Year. I guess that says it all for me. I will just try to be happy in the coming year. If I can accomplish that then I'm doing well. There are alot of words that mean something to me, or should, but in the scheme of things they are just words and if they pop into my mind at any given time I will try them out until the next new one comes along. I guess what I should say is that I don't have a very long attention span, so whatever good word or feeling that comes along, I will try to take advantage of it..Happy Weekend..xxoJudy

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    1. Happy New Year!! Happy is a lovely thought and goal, Judy. And I think you have a fabulous plan...flexible, fun and ready for all that 2020 has to offer!! xoxo

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  5. Nope....if I could pick a word for the year it would be SLEEP or REST or QUIET or PEACE.

    Sigh.

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    1. Oh, those all sound dreamy, Debbie! I wish you lots of all of them in 2020!!

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  6. Hello Kim! Happy New Year! I really appreciated this post. I have NEVER chosen a word for the year. Like you, I love words, and they appeal to me, but the concept in reality did not. Just as you said, life can change so drastically in an instant that our best and well set plans can go amok quickly. Rather, somewhat like you mentioned, I focus on every day. One day at a time works best for me. I choose to look for joy each day, in every thing, and then to make the most of every second of time that has been given to me. We have no guarantees that tomorrow will be ours. I've learned, every time, that when I set a goal or a plan, the Lord many times has a completely different one, lol. I think if there ever was a word that would encompass my life, it would be joy. Because I seek to find it in each and every opportunity I can, and it doesn't depend on my circumstances, but rather on my perspective. Setting short-term goals are much easier to work through than year-long goals for sure. But it doesn't hurt to write down our dreams, our goals, and our plans, and then be prepared to see them rearranged, adjusted, repurposed, and customized in a way we'd never dream. That's the kind of life I live, walking with the Lord. :) It's an exciting one and never boring!

    I really enjoyed your post today, and will definitely continue to ponder your concept. Many blessings to you sweet friend, you are ALWAYS an inspiration :)

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    1. One day at a time is the best plan of all Marilyn, I totally agree. As you said in theory, choosing a word can offer focus, but in reality day by day is best. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. I always enjoy reading comments and getting your take. I find YOU to be an inspiration as well. Happy 2020 my friend!

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  7. Hi Kim,
    I do not pick words or do resolutions I just look forward to starting a new year and look forward to what will come in the year.
    Happy New Year.
    xoxo

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    1. Best plan of all...day by day by day. Happy 2020, Kris!! xoxo

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  8. Wow I really love the idea of choosing a word each month. I’ve never done the yearly word thing but thought I might this year. The problem? There are many things I want do and accomplish so there are many appropriate words, so I will use them all, maybe one a month. Thanks Kim, I always enjoy reading your blog.

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    1. Carol, thank you so much for the kind comment. You just made me smile!! And I'm excited for the monthly intentions, too...so many words!! ☺️

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  9. I used to try for that "word for the year" thing, but it never lasted for more than a couple of weeks...
    So now, like Kris of JCC ~ I just look forward to whatever happens!

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    1. It didn't really work for me either, Bobbie. I wanted it to work, but most years, by June it was hard to remember what I was supposed to be focused on...or life had me on another path. I like Kris' plan, too. Happy 2020!

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  10. In the past I've picked a verse for the year but this year I'm coasting (floating? dog-paddling? trying to keep my head above water?...maybe my word should be swimming? I don't know how to swim.)

    You get the picture.

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    1. Been there, Jenny. I totally get it. I wish you a 2020 that is easy enough for you to coast through without having to swim. Thinking of you.

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  11. Hey, Kim, Happy New Year! I'm so sorry about your mom.

    I am not a word chooser or a resolutions maker. I also hate planners and calendars, although I use both. Like you said, you never know what life may bring. So I like to keep things loose. You're wise to only do a monthly phrase or word. Much easier to stick with, I think. Take care!

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    1. Thanks so much, Kim. Happy 2020 to you! I do like the monthly phrase, too. It's just an intention, but it does give me some focus...that I'm only tied to for 30 days. 😉

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  12. Hi Kim,
    I do not pick words or do resolutions. Each day is a new day. And so much can happen in just one day, that sometimes I need to know that I can start fresh tomorrow if everything went wrong today.
    I enjoyed your post, you know how to put it in words, and I love that about your writing.

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    1. I like the idea of a daily fresh start, Carla! And thank you for your sweet words about my words. ❤️

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  13. You're such a good writer! I used to pick a word, but I got tired of doing that too. I told myself as the new year came round: Just be grateful. And that works for me.
    Brenda

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  14. I just reread your "Can You See Grief?" It was such a beautiful heartrending piece and I savored every single word.
    Brenda

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  15. Last year, I picked a word for the first time and by the time April rolled around, I forgot what it was...and I didn't even care anymore. LOL I am thinking about a word for this year but I don't even know if I'll go through with it. It seems kind of trendy and silly. I suppose if a specific word works for someone in whatever positive way though, then that's great.

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    1. To each his own is what I always say, Melanie. So I agree, if it works for someone else, fabulous. It just hasn't really worked for me. Happy 2020!

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  16. Nope- I don't pick words either. I think I did that one year and then promptly let it go. lol I am just a kind of 'roll with the punches' kind of person that realizes that our lives can change completely in the space of a day and all well-meant intentions no longer apply.
    Have a wonderful 2020! xo Diana

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    1. Best way to live, Diana...day by day. All the best in 2020 my friend! xoxo

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  17. I don't pick a word or really even make resolutions. I do try to be focused on accomplishing things on my ongoing list of "To Do". I absolutely do better with lists and checking things off! Happy 2020, Kim!!!

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    1. I love checklists, Sarah, I function best that way, too! Happy 2020 to you. Wishing you a year of wonderful!

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  18. Hahahahahahahahahaha... I get it!
    I choose a work one year and it seemed everyone else choose the same one!
    So I gave up (I'm not a writer and I have dyslexia, so words are hard for me).

    I do agree, be flexible. Hey, maybe FLEXIBLE should be my word...nah 🤣😜

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    1. I love FLEXIBLE, Christine!! Maybe we should all pick that word...kind of sums it all up nicely, doesn't it? 😉

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  19. I don't think I have ever picked a word for the year. Is it telling that I don't remember if I have done it. I think I thought about it once, maybe after having read one of your posts about your word. This year I am hoping to manage a calendar and a to do list. Happy New Year Kim!

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    1. I tried really hard, Lorri and I liked the idea of it, but I never had any follow through. One day at a time seems best and I love the idea of trying to focus one intentional feeling for the month. That seems a little more realistic. Good luck with your calendar and list…I totally get it! All the best in 2020!!

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  20. Kim,
    well, I guess you know how this post resonated with me!! LOL! I could have sworn that I commented here and told you that I was going to put a link to this post in my post about Not Choosing One Little Word for this year but I guess I never got around to it...I am so sorry but I swear I did...I guess it was a senior moment!! LOL!! Anyway, I loved this post and thanks so much for stopping by!! I hope you appreciated the Shout Out I gave you because I truly felt you deserved it!!
    Hugs,
    Deb

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    1. Debbie, I loved the shout out!! It was a fun surprise, thank you so much. And trust me, I constantly read blogs on my phone, waiting for kids in the car or on line and I think I commented...but didn't. Thanks again, friend, you really made my day!! Hugs!!

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  21. Happy New Year, Kim! I did pick a word of the year this year, but I don't every year. I chose FAITH this year. I need to focus on it...

    I love how your blog looks! It's really cool. I know I haven't been around much lately because I've had two young ladies (daughter and niece) living with us taking online courses.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today. I appreciate it!

    xo,
    RJ

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    1. I need to focus on that as well, great word!! And it sounds like you have a full house again! Enjoy them!!

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