Word of the Year Instead of Resolutions

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Do you make New Year’s resolutions? If you do, do you keep them?

The typical resolutions are things like eat healthy, lose weight, exercise more, and spend less money. They’re easy to make and hard to keep!

What about picking a word of the year?

I’ve done that for several years, but I often forget what the word is by March! Why do people pick a word of the year? According to Elisabeth McKnight, picking a word of the year is an alternative to New Year’s resolutions, and we can use that word to set goals or intentions.

What’s the difference in a resolution or a word of the year?

Honestly, my resolutions for past years went by the wayside much faster than my word of the year. And I think I’ve figured out why.

A resolution is a decision to do (or not do) something. We decide to lose weight, eat healthy, spend less, etc. These often aren’t things we’ve been doing – they’re things we strive to do. We are reaching for what we think will make us happier and healthier. Resolutions are not a bad thing!

But how much thought is put into a resolution? And how much effort is there? Is a real plan made to achieve that resolution throughout the year?

A word of the year is different. This word provides a central theme for our year and from that theme can come other objectives.

Let’s be specific

I teach Fundamentals of Communication for our local community college, and one of the best visual aids I use is a concept map. That’s where you write your topic in the center and have main points off of it. Some people call it a spider map.

Using a concept map helps my students decide on main points. If the topic is food allergies, then in the three circles attached to that, the student puts the three sub-points off of those.

Stick with me here. What about using our word of the year in a concept map?

Last year, my word of the year was contentment (I had to think about that for awhile before I remembered it!). Using the concept or spider map idea, I would put concept in the middle and then goals or intentions connected to it.

How to pick a word of the year

There’s no magic formula to picking your word of the year. What comes to mind when you think of 2022? What are you looking for? What do you desire in the new year?

As a person of faith, I pray about my word of the year and wait for what I think should be my focus. Often, a word isn’t “easy.” But challenging ourselves in the new year can be really good.

In Elisabeth McKnight’s article, she has one hundred words listed to get your ideas going. I also found these tips on Mountain Modern Life:

  • Reflect on what you want more or less of in your life
  • Visualize the perfect day for yourself
  • Make a list of possible words
  • Highlight three of the words
  • Then ask – are you interested or committed?

If you’re committed to the word, it can change your whole year. I have never really committed to my word. I think about it, but it’s more of a passing thing, not an intentional act.

I think being intentional is key, and this year will be different!

This year and 2020 have been rough for everyone with COVID. Personally, our family has had a number of heavy losses. So, I am going into 2022 with a different mindset than I’ve ever had.

I plan to pick a word and use the concept map idea to really think about what I want more of (and less of) in 2022. I realize I cannot control outside circumstances, so I will look at internal things more. I want to have several main points and even some sub-points.

What are you doing in 2022 – New Year’s resolutions or a word of the year? I can’t wait to hear, and I’d love to know your word and your reasons for picking it.

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Jennifer Dodrill
Jen Dodrill is a Navy brat from a long line of Navy brats. Born in Virginia, she moved to the Florida panhandle in 6th grade. After vowing to never date a Navy guy, she moved to Nashville, TN where she met and fell in love with Eddie who was - you guessed it - in the delayed-entry-program for the Navy. They met in June, married the following February, and over 35 years later are still sweethearts. They moved back to West Tennessee in 2008 after his retirement. Jen stayed home to raise their 5 kids, and she homeschooled the youngest three. The “baby” graduated in 2020, but Jen refuses to bow to empty-nest syndrome! She teaches Oral Communication as an adjunct instructor for Dyersburg State Community College and blogs at Jen Dodrill History at Home. Jen also writes curriculum under History at Home at TeachersPayTeachers and Boom Learning! When she’s not working, she’s spending time with her kids and adorable granddaughters. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and her favorite place – Pinterest! You can also visit her site "History at Home" at www.jendodrillhistoryathome.com