A New Way to Start the Year

For the last eight or nine years our family has been doing something different at the start of a new year.  Instead of making traditional goals or resolutions, we each pick a word for the year and we really lean into it.  What I love about it is that it’s expansive and non-linear so there is no pressure, or deadlines, or feelings of failure.  Instead it becomes a lens that we begin to use to look at the world.  It allows us to (re)discover places in our lives where it already is, and it helps us create and choose new places to prioritize and emphasize it.

Since we each choose a word, we have built it into our daily habits and we help each other integrate it.  At dinner we will share our highs and lows of the day and we’ll also share how our word showed up for us.  This is fun because it helps us zoom in and see it in really small ways too.  (Otherwise I notice we tend to only look for big, concrete versions.)  For instance, this year my son chose the word “adventure.’  So for him it’s easy to see it when we go for a family hike, or he tries something new.  But it’s hard on a regular day where he just goes to school and comes home for family time.  He has to look harder and find moments that feel adventurous or create spaces to choose to let adventure in where it would normally feel routine or boring.

After practicing finding these moments every day all year long, by the end of the year you’ve always been successful at integrating this new aspect into your life.  It’s fun to look back and talk about all the ways in which this word has become a fixture in your life.  And what’s even better is that if you choose to do it year after year, these pieces stack together and create a really intentional, compounding effect on your life that makes it feel better and better.


If you want to try it out here is the process we use:

  • Spend some time thinking about what would feel really good or benefit you most in your life.
  • Make a list of some words and ideas.
  • Grab a thesaurus and/or dictionary and start to look at definitions and write out a few you love.
  • Narrow down what feels best and hit the ground running.


Some past words we have used and loved:

  • Joy
  • Thoughtful
  • Vibrant
  • Courage
  • Grateful
  • Ease


And don’t forget to make the process your own.  You could pick more than one word, or pick one to do as a group, or choose a quote or phrase.  The key is to make it your own and enjoy the process. 🙂


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