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Discover the power of a word!

What’s in a word?

Many people choose a “word” as a focus tool for the year. I have been doing this since probably 2005 when Kathy, the owner of the yoga studio where I practiced, passed around a basket with words.

I chose “openness.” At the time I asked if I could pick a different word. After all, the woman next to me chose love, which seemed like a much better word. I remember Kathy telling me that I was stuck with openness because the word had chosen me.

I went home, taped the word onto my computer, and let it be an anchor as I went through the year. Looking back, I know that this made a tremendous difference in my year.

What it did was allow me to focus on being a person who was more open to opportunities, more open to challenges, and more open to other people. It required me to “be” or work on “becoming” a certain person.

That is what I like about choosing a theme, whether that’s one word, two words or a short phrase. It is not about resolving to do something. It is about becoming – becoming the person you want to be.

You know those New Years resolutions you make every year? Lose weight, get organized, exercise more, the list goes on and on. The reason they don’t work is that you are still “being” the same person. You need to choose to “be” a different person. It’s the focus on being that makes a difference.

We have a few weeks left in this year, and before you know it you’ll be turning the calendar on a new year. I have been thinking about my word, or rather my intention for being, for the year. I looked back at the words from previous years — openness, abundance, challenge, joy, consciousness, impact, trust among others.

A couple of years ago, my theme was no fear. It was about leaning in and taking bigger risks. Like any word or theme, I did have to think about who I would be if I was “riskier.” And it required me to grow.

The following year I wanted to build on taking more risks. I picked the  word bold. It came to me while I was a docent at a home on a Christmas home tour. I commented often about the bold decorating choices the homeowner took. The next day when I went on the tour myself, I noticed again bold choices. They might not have seemed bold to others, but it got me thinking about decorating and more so about my life. I want to live bolder and be bolder.

Choosing your word

Have you picked a word or theme to guide you for the year? If you have not, give it a chance.

Here’s some ideas if you need help getting started.

Think about the quality or direction that you want your year to take. How would your year be different every day if you focused on this quality every day of the year? What would you and your life look like one year from now if you focused on this quality?

Think about what you might have resolved to do and ask yourself what quality is necessary for that. If you followed our four-part goal setting blog series, ask what quality is needed to accomplish those goals.

Try a search online for character qualities and go from there. Lots of people immediately come up with a word that resonates with them. Others need a bit more time. It’s about finding your word, not someone else’s. My best advice is think of a word, mull it over, and if it keeps showing up, that is the one.

Moving forward next year with your word

Once you come up with your word or intention, what do you do with it? Here are four tips:

Create habits or practices that will let you incorporate this word/theme into your life. This could be as simple as creating goal/affirmation cards around your theme and reading them every day. I write my word on a sticky note and attach it to my computer where I will see it every day. Since I work with artists, many of them create a small piece of art with the word.

Share it with someone else. This is especially helpful if the person will hold you accountable. Over the years I have shared mine with some of my mastermind partners or family members, and we talked about why we chose the words we did.

Look at where you’ve sabotaged yourself with respect to this word in the past. Why is now the right time for this word? We are all our own worst enemy, and it’s important to look at where we stop ourselves. When you understand this, it will help you watch for triggers that may stop you going forward.

Do something that lets you take action on your intention. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to know the “how.” You are letting the word guide who you become. When you are ready, the how will show up.

If you use affirmations, be sure to include your word in at least one of them. This will be more powerful for you and keep you focused.

As you review your progress on a regular basis, ask yourself if your word is still guiding you. If not, how can you get back on track? Or ask it it’s time to choose a new word. It’s possible that the word has served its purpose and you need a new one.

What is my word for next year? It’s flourish. I’ve thought about picking this word in years past and didn’t. It was still nagging at me. I decided this was the year. For me flourish means thriving. It means tending to my self-care, my relationships, my personal growth, my own art, and my business growth. It means putting myself first.

Your turn!

What word will you choose for next year? And, if you picked a word for last year, how did that make a difference in your life? Please share your word below to make that commitment and see what you can create in the New Year!

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14 Responses to “Discover the power of a word!”

  1. Paula Golden said:

    “No, thank you.” I am a person who believes in community and each of us doing our part to make the world a better place. From picking up trash along side of the road when going for a walk or to attending a community meeting, each event makes a difference. But it also takes time. While people have innumerable things in common, the most common is that each of us has 24 hours in a day. If I spend all of my time involved community events, not-for-profit organizations, etc., then there is not any time for personal relationships nor the development of self and art. For 2018, I have selected the words, “No, thank you,” as my inspiration to give myself at least 24 hours to think before making any commitment. To fully be a better artist, teacher and human being there must be time for my soul to rest and be inspired rather than moving non-stop. Yes, I will still be involved, but not with everything.

  2. Florine Johnson said:

    My word for 2018: CURRENCIES

    I chose this word as it has several meanings.
    1. A medium of exchange ($$) To keep in mind that my business needs sales generating currencies to stay in business and,

    2. The quality or state of being current in all things regarding my business.

  3. Morna said:

    Paula, I love this. It’s so easy to say yes, and often you are left out of the equation. 24 hours lets you figure out if it’s right for you.

  4. Morna said:

    Florine, great word. Love that it has two meanings for you, since both are significant for growing your business.

  5. Barb Linares said:

    Enthusiasm – Expressing joy in each task as I give it my best effort!

    This will help with motivation, negativity, self doubt, and worries out of my control – enthusiasm trumps them all!

  6. Susan Worsley said:


    Morna, I chose this word because it jumped off the page when I googled character qualitlies. I now am getting serious about MY business and MY life. It has such meaning for me. Responsibility to my business for growth and expansion. Responsibity to myself to make my life healthier in mind and body. Thank you for this word challenge!


  7. Morna said:

    Susan, This is perfect for you. Can’t wait to see how it affects you.

  8. Cathy Frick said:

    My word this year is “gratitude”. There are so many people griping and complaining about how unfair life is….including me! It has come to me that I need to change my mindset and be GRATEFUL for what I DO have in my life instead of what I don’t have. Instead of complaining of high taxes, I should be grateful that I have money to be taxed! Instead of complaining about what’s wrong, I should look for what is right. I think this will lead me to be more relaxed, less fretful and more creative. It is surely not easy to do. I am going to choose to be more grateful and less demanding.

  9. Gwen Fox said:

    My word is “Integrity”.

    To always follow through on what I say I will do.
    To have the integrity to be honest…not only with others but most importantly…with myself.
    To have the integrity to say no to those who think I would be great doing the job they have just turned down.
    To listen to others and have the integrity to hear fully without judgement.

    My moral compass will be guided by Integrity this year but my North Star will always be Kindness.

  10. Morna said:

    Gwen, this is such a powerful word. So much about being true to yourself. And, the North Star of Kindness – love that.

  11. Rhonda Pierce said:

    Flourish was my 2018 word. Last month I “found” my 2019 word, sassy. I hope sassy serves me as well as flourish did this year.

  12. Morna said:

    Oh, I can see this word on you, Rhonda! You are already sassy and I can see this stepped up some in the new year!

  13. Laura Estes said:

    For 2019 I have chosen “gather”. Why gather? 2018 I chose “focus”, and it was a good word for the year. So many emergencies, all legitimate, but time grabbers required me to focus on the “have to” part of the business, and we made it through and we made a profit.

    But now, by grace, life may be a little less demanding, and I need and want to gather my ideas into one place, sort the ideas into projects and gather the resources to bring them to fruition. I want to gather together with other quilters and artisans, to gather inspiration and encouragement.

    Gather seems to go with my “Where Heirlooms Grow” tag line. Applique is slow stitching and enjoyable to do gathered together with other stitchers.

    Gather is my word, my focus and goal for 2019.

  14. Morna said:

    Laura, great choice for you. Love the explanations of how it will fit in your life. It’s about coming back to yourself.

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