Why I don't like the idea of picking a word of the year.

I realized I rather dislike the concept of picking a word of the year to guide myself through the coming 12 months. Why? My off-the-cuff reaction is that it is often trite, meaningless, and just overly fluffy . . . like I’m envisioning standing in front of a mirror with the chosen word scrawled in thick black Sharpie on a fuchsia post-it as a way to magically manifest goodness in my life on a daily basis.

Do you all remember Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live with his Daily Affirmations??

But when I think about the WHY of my reaction more, I realized I’m reacting to the magical thinking that often accompanies this—that if we simply pick this word, we’ll see results, when in reality an action plan is needed.

I’m not writing this to offend anyone who very intentionally picks a word of the year and finds that it works well to focus on a particular goal. In fact, those are the very people who are doing it RIGHT! They’re planning the steps needed to make the word they’ve picked possible. For instance, I spoke with one author who has chosen COLLABORATION for her word of the year and is actively reaching out to create collaborative opportunities. Now, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

But often, I see overly instagrammable folks write about harmony, love, gratefulness, growth, balance, and so on with no real reflection on what this "word" means in their life and no real plan on how to achieve more of “it.” That’s a problem. Their perfectly curated posts include a cohesive pastel color scheme, gorgeous filters, and perhaps a candle flickering nearby as they gracefully unfold themself from child’s pose and with a reverential countenance, breathily say, “This will be the year of <<FILL IN THE BLANK.>>”

I know you know what I mean. You’ve seen it!

There are websites devoted to choosing a word of the year . . . yes, it’s true! One website had a list of 100 words to choose from and most of these could be turned into actionable items . . . although I question the inclusion of BREATHE on this list. (Yes, please continue to breathe throughout all of 2024—I’d like to keep you all alive!)

But setting aside all my snarkiness, there’s nothing wrong with finding ways to encourage ourselves in a different direction—and if a word of the year helps that AND we’ve created actionable steps to manifest more of ‘whatever’ we need in the coming year—EXCELLENT!! (And as a writer, of course, I believe in the power of words . . . I’m reminded of the amazing scene with Viola Davis from The Help where she repeats affirmations to the little girl in her charge.)

Now, if I WERE to choose a word of the year, what might it be???  


And what does that mean for me? It means creating more, traveling more, publishing more—not accepting no—finding a way around—and doing it with as much flair and/or grace as I can manage. AND do I have a plan to achieve these things? You betcha!

I would love to know if you’ve chosen a word of the year and what you've done so far to achieve it! Comment below!!


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