How to Choose a Guiding Word of The Year - compassmylife.com

A New Year was approaching and I kept seeing people ask what word of the year everyone was choosing. It was everywhere. On social media, in newsletters, blog posts… just everywhere.  I have to admit, I just kept scrolling. I hadn’t heard a word yet that I felt was right.

I was waiting. Hoping that I would hear a word and it would just feel right. You know, that “YES! This is it!” feeling? That’s honestly how I’ve been choosing a guiding word in past years.

Then I got to thinking, maybe intentionally setting a word is a lot better than letting one come to you. It should still feel right, no doubt, but just maybe, being intentional about it will yield far greater results than if I let it happen.

Now, let me back up for a moment for those of you just coming into this whole “choosing a guiding word of the year” thing.

choosing a guiding word of the year

What is it? It’s pretty simple actually. Many people choose to intentionally select a word that will be their life theme in the New Year. It essentially encompasses or guides how they approach the upcoming year. It also often challenges people to strive towards personal growth as well.

For instance, someone might choose the word positivity. At that point, they would choose to be more positive, to look at things with more positivity, to change their attitude or mindset towards one of positivity.

The chosen word is the essence of things they are striving for in their life for the upcoming year. It also usually inspires a push towards personal growth that will improve one’s life.

Guiding Words I’ve Chosen in the Past

My word in 2018 was “growth” and let me just say, the amount of personal growth I experienced that year was enough to leave me breathless. I grew in ways I never thought possible, in areas I didn’t know I needed, and in situations I never imagined.

And while some of it’s been a challenge, I wouldn’t undo anything. It’s been absolutely life-changing.

In 2019, my word for my personal life was “change”. I needed some changes in my life so it’s what I was striving towards, and it’s what I was preparing for. Not only were there lot of changes I wanted to make but we also had a lot of changes coming up that I wanted to be prepared for.

In 2020, I decided to choose a guiding word that also signified the kind of person I would need to be or become to step into the next level of things I wanted for my life. Again, I also knew many challenges would be arising… but I had no idea what 2020 held when I chose the word “Rise”.

I even created myself a motto around it all about rising above the struggle and to the occasion… It was exactly what I needed but also… Let’s just leave 2020 at that.

Going into 2021, I chose the word “worthy”. We encountered so many new things that I had to believe I was worthy of to take the leap and step into.

For 2022, I’m pretty sure I’m going to choose the word “elevate”. For me, this is a simplification of a lot of things in life. It’s saying that I have enough and that I am enough but that I’m going to take the foundations of what we have so far and just simply level them up – elevate. I’m not pushing for “more” on my plate in this year. Not like I have in the past. We laid a lot of foundations in 2021 and I just want to sit in that and build upon it.

It’s okay to try a few on to see if it’s truly what you want before committing to it.

So what’s your word of the year? If you haven’t chosen one yet, then you’ve definitely come to the right place! Keep reading for tips to finding your word plus I’ve got a list of 150 word of the year ideas for you below!

How to Choose a Guiding Word of the Year

Before we get into the list of words I’ve put together for you, I wanted to give you three quick tips on choosing a guiding word of the year for yourself.

1) CHOOSE ONE THAT CHALLENGES YOU BUT DOESN’T DRIVE YOU NUTS

What I mean is, the word entices personal growth in an area that you really want to work on, but it doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out.

You’ve got a whole year ahead of you to work on becoming better in this area. Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t feel the need to choose a word in your biggest problem area that forces a massive amount of change quickly unless you’re prepared to take on that emotional rollercoaster.

Just a 1% change a day will create a 37x difference in a year. So, it’s okay to be intentional about your growth and give yourself grace to navigate what life throws at you.

2) CHOOSE A GUIDING WORD OF THE YEAR THAT FEELS RIGHT

Don’t choose the word because everyone else is or it impresses other people. Stay true to yourself and choose a word that empowers you.

Don’t be ashamed to pick one that fits your personality, situation, or life even if you think it’s a word that no one else will understand or like. For instance, my word “change” seemed like an odd one, but it felt right for me that year.

I would even go as far to say, it’s the guiding word that I need in my life that year.

3) CHOOSE A WORD OF THE YEAR THAT GIVES YOU CLARITY

Whatever word you choose, make sure it gives you clarity on what you want in the New Year. Try using the word in full sentences that describe what transformation you see taking place.

I do this to create a motto for the year based on my word.

If you know what direction you’re going with your word and have clarity on what that word means to you, it flows better in your life. Everyone interprets words differently plus so making sure you have clarity on yours will make it easier  to follow through.

I would also encourage you to write down your word, what it means to you, and why it’s important and then put it in a place you’ll see often.

Alright, now on to the list.

4) 150 WORD OF THE YEAR IDEAS

  1. Patience
  2. Accomplished
  3. Empowered
  4. Intentional
  5. Grace
  6. Wisdom
  7. Confidence
  8. Self-Love
  9. Loving
  10. Unapologetic
  11. Perseverance
  12. Kindness
  13. Steadfast
  14. Growth
  15. Happiness
  16. Fun
  17. Healing
  18. Change
  19. Challenging
  20. Investment
  21. Rooted
  22. Momentum
  23. Grateful
  24. Worthy
  25. Present
  26. Alignment
  27. Simplify
  28. Minimize
  29. Bold
  30. Truth
  31. Aware
  32. Results
  33. Progress
  34. Adventure
  35. Rejuvenate
  36. Consistent
  37. Focused
  38. Thriving
  39. Nothing
  40. Everything
  41. Beautiful
  42. Careless
  43. Comfortable
  44. Inspire
  45. Improve
  46. Effort
  47. Exceptional
  48. Wholeness
  49. Peace
  50. Celebrate
  51. Appreciate
  52. Healthy
  53. Powerful
  54. Mindful
  55. Explore
  56. Open
  57. Integrity
  58. Plan
  59. Action
  60. Doer
  61. See
  62. Be
  63. Imagine
  64. Balance
  65. Rest
  66. Boundaries
  67. Standards
  68. Better
  69. Stronger
  70. Friend
  71. Family
  72. Myself
  73. Hope
  74. Compassion
  75. Bloom
  76. Connect
  77. Enough
  78. Brave
  79. Control
  80. Reckless
  81. Life
  82. Order
  83. Motivation
  84. Inclusive
  85. Courage
  86. Identity
  87. Free
  88. Vision
  89. Embrace
  90. Need
  91. Believe
  92. Strength
  93. Determined
  94. Start
  95. Stop
  96. No
  97. Possible
  98. Dream
  99. Security
  100. Purpose
  101. Goals
  102. Travel
  103. Create
  104. Build
  105. Learn
  106. Bigger
  107. Smaller
  108. Fulfilled
  109. Stability
  110. Extraordinary
  111. Winning
  112. Abundance
  113. Now
  114. Soar
  115. Renew
  116. Win
  117. Excellent
  118. Enjoy
  119. Drive
  120. Fly
  121. Navigate
  122. Clarity
  123. Limitless
  124. Authentic
  125. Independent
  126. Launch
  127. Success
  128. Lesson
  129. Amazing
  130. Brilliant
  131. Rise
  132. Ours
  133. Moving
  134. Chase
  135. Exciting
  136. Time
  137. Automate
  138. Mapping
  139. Still
  140. Alive
  141. Slow
  142. Express
  143. Fast
  144. Impact
  145. Increase
  146. Expand
  147. Turn
  148. Overcomer
  149. Fearless
  150. Confident

Last Thoughts

This is quite the list and I hope that it sparked a your next guiding word of the year.

I often come back to this post myself as I prepare for a new year, my goals and resolutions, or just simply when I need to find a word for a journey or season. I invite you to do the same.

If, even after reading this list you still haven’t found the right word of the year for yourself, don’t worry. It’s perfectly fine to take your time in choosing, trying on, or flowing with a word. Some years my words come to me almost immediately and other years, I ponder on it for days or weeks.

Did you choose a word or have a question about choosing your word this year? Drop it in the comment box below and I’ll personally respond.

Have your word of the year and are ready for building goals around it?

Check out this next blog post on How I Create a New Year Plan!

Author of this post:

Allison Sue

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclaimer for more info.

comments +

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclaimer for more info.

  1. Excellent post! I just picked my word for the year and I am so excited to apply it to my life everyday and I think that you are so right that when picking a word it should be done with intent! I mean letting the word come to you is great but intention is how your going to get it to stick for the whole year!

    • Allison Sue says:

      Thank you, Teya!

      Yes! It’s so great when you can find that sweet spot between choosing and feeling right. I’m so excited for you that you have your word for the year!

  2. Tracy says:

    This was a confirmation of my choice! I personally chose “Vision” originally because of the year “2020” lol, but then doubted myself. After reading your post I realized that I struggle with knowing what I want from different aspects of my life and I can’t grow if I don’t know which way I want to grow. I want to have vision how my home feels and what my day to day life we’ll be like. I’m also a very visual person and it’s how I learn best!! Thank you for your support!!!

    • Allison Sue says:

      Hi Tracy!

      I love that – “vision” for 2020 sounds like it’s the perfect fit for you!

      So glad you found your word for the coming year 🙂

  3. Sharon Jones says:

    Peace

  4. Leslie says:

    Less!
    Weigh less, spend less, commit to less

  5. Amber says:

    My words are change & courage! I’m expecting a lot of changes and I need courage to change many things. Love this post!

    • Allison Sue says:

      I love those, Amber! I’ve claimed those words in the past and feel they hold a lot of power. So glad the post helped you 🙂

  6. Violeta Z. says:

    For me it was the word“graditute &improve“. I think That i should be more thankful for what i have and what the Universe has in Plan for me. I also wanna improve my Skills and Other things like self-love or discipline for example,But i also wanna improve the things that i am good at and Not only my Bad Habits. You know i mean to improve the things im already Good at instead to look at what i cant do.I want to be a better Version of myself:)

    • Allison Sue says:

      Hi Violeta,

      That sounds like growth to me! 🙂 Love that you’re aware of and intentional about the things you are already skilled at and things you aren’t. Becoming the best version of yourself is a wonderful thing to step into!

  7. Carrie says:

    I’ve decided on “intentional” for 2021. I spent 2020 all over the place mentally, emotionally, and also in terms of tasks. I need to work towards everything I do (or don’t do) to have purpose and focus. I need to have a single word that will prompt me to p!ss or get off the pot in terms of one thing at a time and doing it to the best of my ability.

    • Allison Sue says:

      Hi Carrie! Love the idea of being intentional about living intentionally (kinda ironic, it works that way 😂). Keep me updated as you kick butt this year 👏🏼

  8. Cherri says:

    I have been picking a Word of the Year for many years now. In the past they have just ‘come’ to me but the past two years, it has been a struggle for me. I would pick a word and it didn’t seem ‘just right’ but nothing every completely fit. I would stick with a word that was ‘almost right’. This year I was more intentional about my word. I actually took a list of possible ‘words for the year’ and highlighted all the ones that spoke to me. What I noticed was that most of them meant about the same thing. I saw a likeness, or a thread so to speak. The word I ended up going with this year is CULTIVATE. My husband and I are raising three of our grandchildren (they’ve been with us for the past 2 years – was supposed to be temporary) and I need my focus to be on cultivating a ‘new normal’. A life that suits my and my husband while also creating a safe, secure and happy future for these three littles. We will be adopting them in a few months so this situation is turning into a much more permanent one. My mindset is shifting from temporary to permanent and ‘cultivate’ seemed like a very good word to focus on this year. I appreciate your post and all that you shared.

    What word did you end up going with?

    • Allison Sue says:

      Thank you for sharing this, Cherri! Cultivate is so good. What a big step to raise your grandkids. I know the strength and courage that requires and the fact that you are rising to the occasion is so incredible. I look forward to hearing how this word serves you in this year!

      I chose the word “worthy” for this year. There is a lot of many incredible things that are happening for us this year and in order to accept them, I need to step into feeling like I deserve to have that goodness in my life. Thank you for reading and asking ☺️

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I'm Allison Sue

The founder of Compass My Life, a nerd when it comes to books, and a lover of all things journals. When I'm not online with you, you'll find me hanging with family, traveling somewhere, or watching Chinese shows on Netflix with my husband. Empowering others with tools to navigate to their most confident life is always on my mind. 

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