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How to Choose One Word To Define & Guide Your Year Ahead

Let's Talk Jan 4, 2017

How To Choose One Word To Define & Guide Your Year Ahead
Hello 2017

It’s that time again! Time to make a plan for the new year.

Last year I deviated (or, at least, added to) my usual process of resolution setting – writing out goals under a list of basic topics – and decided to choose a single word to focus and guide my year.  After much brainstorming I came up with the word ‘Balance’. Balance is something I was definitely looking for across all areas of my life at the beginning of 2016 – balance in my friends and family relationships, balance in work and life, balance in my health and balance in my use of social media and phone use.

Why You Should Choose A Word (or Mantra) To Define Your Year

I wanted to test this approach in 2016 before I talked about it in detail here. Needless to say, the fact that I’m writing this means that it did, indeed, work for me. Here’s a few reasons I think it was useful:

  • By having one word to guide my year, I found it easier to create goals and resolutions that aligned my whole approach for the year.
  • Having a single word to guide the year also helped me to adjust my goals and resolutions as the year wore on – things can happen and change and having a single word can give you the flexibility you need.
  • Rigid goals can be disheartening in the event you fall off the wagon or things change and you can’t meet there, so I found that having a single word to guide my overall approach was a good check in – yes I may have adjusted what I thought I wanted six months ago, but it’s still in line with my word so that makes it ok.
  • On a practical note, I found it easier to remember a single word than a whole list of goals and resolutions, making it more simple to stay on track in a general way. Perfect if you have a bit of a goldfish brain like me!

Looking back the word Balance really did define my 2016 – one where we met some really huge goals for this site and in my personal life, but were able to enjoy key moment and not feel (too) stressed.

Sooooooo… Long story short, I wanted to share with you how to choose your own word that can help you define and guide your year to come. Essentially it’s a mantra (something I used to think of as wayyyy too new age, until it worked for me), something that you can use to check yourself every now and again and ensure you’re on track.

Lets do this

How to choose your guiding word

You may find the word that you want to define your year comes to you straight away. But if not, the printable below shows the process for deciding what the word should be. You can download the pdf here. There are three main steps, first, brainstorming words that define your approach or goals in areas of your life, second, putting those words (and any others) under key areas like family, health, travel etc, and third, looking over those words and trying to understand where there is overlap in your intentions. Your chosen word doesn’t have to relate to all of your resolutions but the more overarching it is in relation to what you want to achieve the more useful it will be.

Some example words?

Improve – Begin – Challenge – Wellness – Balance – Courage – Creativity – Evolve – Change – Heal – Release – Grow – Begin – Finish – Health

My Guiding Word (And Why)

This year, it took me 30 seconds to come up with the word ‘Health’. It’s pretty basic in terms of a word but I’m hoping that is why it will be effective in guiding my decisions and actions. I felt that overall the word health was an important goal that related to many different areas of my life. A few key resolutions and facets to this word include:


My Personal Wellbeing

Over the last few years wellness has become a major part of my everyday life, whether that be getting up early in the morning, exercising everyday or being more careful about nutrition. This has made me feel so much better everyday but I  think there’s still plenty of room for improvement. This year I have decided to really take that up a notch – introducing 3 yoga classes weekly and a commitment to a health and wellness retreat early in the year to kickstart that. Meditation is something I really want to do more of and that is right up there!

The Health of my Business

I’ve started to think about my business as a living thing, with various organs that help it function. In order to ensure the health of a business, there’s a need to ensure all organs are functioning well – the creative side, the logistical side and the admin side. With expansion happening, more products coming and projects growing, this means giving the different organs the power they need. Fundamentally that means we need to hire more team members – particularly on the logistical/admin side!

A Healthy approach to Work Life Balance

Anyone who runs their own business (bloggers, creative, freelancer etc) will know that a healthy work life balance is key to productivity and creativity. That doesn’t mean slacking off and doing whatever you want, but getting into a sustainable routine that allows you to work really hard and then have the downtime you need. In many ways I have done thing over the last few years but I think word does creep in to every moment of my life. That’s something I’m going to work on this year.

A Healthy View of Self

My 8pm – 8am phone ban is one of the best things that I have done, really, ever. It has helped make space for creativity and ideas and focus more on what I am doing, rather than perpetually looking outwards. Inspiration is fantastic but not if it comes at the cost of developing your own personal style and unique qualities. This year will be all about growing and evolving my own interest and creativity and not comparing what I am doing to others. More on this soon!

Health of Others

Health of friends and family is something we often take for granted but as you get older things start to change and the people that used to look after need a little more care and attention from you, so this year I’ve resolved to be more mindful of that, and commit to seeing and being present with family on a regular basis.

In some ways I think that the word I’ve chosen is similar to last year’s focus on Balance, but perhaps the next stage of that. I look forward to seeing how this new mantra plays out this year, and reporting back on everything that happens!

I’d love to hear if you have any key words that could help to guide your year, and any key resolutions relating to that word. There’s no wrong answer for this one. 🙂 Hoping you all have a loving, adventurous and successful 2017!

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