Happy New Year! 

Do you make resolutions for the new year? Do you have a word for 2024? I’m not one of those people. In recent years, I’ve adopted the practice of selecting a personal “word of the year” for myself, a theme word that best describes where I am or where I want and need to be.

During the holidays, I like to reflect on the previous year, both its trials and tribulations, and the small victories. With all of the learning and observations from that year, I prefer to choose one word to represent my aspirations for the coming year. Because one simple word can help you focus your intentions more easily, it can also serve as your mantra when you get off track or lose focus.

Here’s a look back at some of my theme words over the past 10 years:

2014 – flourish
2015 – focus, be, leisure
2016 – nurture
2017 – manifest
2018 – clarify, courage, celebration
2019 – pivot
2020 – open
2021 – grounding
2022 –  grounding* though I didn’t write a new word, the word ‘grounding’ trickled into 2022
2023 –
cultivate

How to choose a theme word of the year?

I find it always a challenge to come up with one word that best sums up what you aspire to be, do, and accomplish. What is one word that you can use to describe the general theme of feeling you hope to have for 2024? If you reflect long enough, I’m sure you can find one… or even three, as I did in 2018.

Take some time to think about your personal and professional goals for the upcoming year. Reflect on the emotions and feelings you want to cultivate in the coming year. Do you find a recurring theme or pattern that stands out?
 
Where do you see yourself in the future? Do you want to focus on joy, resilience, growth, or gratitude? Choose a word that encapsulates the emotional tone you aim for. Picture yourself achieving your goals and embodying the qualities associated with your theme word. Sitting or lying down and doing some deep breathing and visualizing where you see yourself can also help allow the word to pop into your mind’s eye.
 
What you want to achieve? What are some experiences you hope to have? Habits you want to form and/or break? What principles are most important to you? Your theme word should align with these values and reflect the kind of person you want to be. At the same time, allow yourself the flexibility to adapt your theme word as the year unfolds. Nothing is permanent and things are always changing. Your priorities or circumstances may shift, so be open to adjusting your focus.
 

Once you’ve chosen your theme word, create a visual reminder such as a vision board or a desktop wallpaper on your computer, with the word prominently displayed. Or you can simply add a reminder on your phone every morning with your word and an additional inspirational/motivational message if it fits. These little reminders can help reinforce your commitment to your theme word of the year, and keep your focus on track.

What is my word for 2024? 

My theme word for 2023 was “cultivate”. But I didn’t have the opportunity to cultivate – my professional life anyway – in 2023. My life was put on a huge pause because of personal reasons… my father’s health issues suddenly became worse literally overnight, and his health deteriorated within weeks. Within a few months, my father was gone.

The grief process is ongoing and I’m sure will never have an end date. I’m still learning to cope with the huge loss. I’m still learning to get used to the ‘new normal’, whatever that is as it varies from day to day. The mind also plays tricks on us in some ways with timelines and memories, and shifting from sadness to hopefulness.

So I don’t have a new word for 2024 and I don’t think I will other than the word “healing” is all I can manage right now. I’m trying to focus on the good memories rather than be consumed by the grief. I’m trying to find a little bit of joy every day where I can and practice gratitude as often as I can. 

What is your word for 2024?

Word for 2023

Author

Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of amotherworld.com, a leading lifestyle blog for women.

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