How to Choose Your One Little Word

traveler's notebook
One Little Word

Do you have a word of the year? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please go read the original post behind “One Little Word,” created by Ali Edwards here. The idea is to choose a word that represents a theme, a state of mind, or an ideal that you want to strive for during the year. I had a word of the year in 2016 but did not in 2017. I wish that I would have chosen one last year, especially as it was a challenging time for me. This year, I’m going to surround myself with my one little word, because it will help keep me focused as I work towards my goals.

Why One Little Word

I personally love the idea of having one little word for the year because sometimes goal-setting can be intimidating. I’m very good at dreaming up big ideas, but sometimes, the process for getting started on chasing my dreams feels too overwhelming. Having one little word as a guiding post for setting the tone for my year gives me a starting point to build on.

My One Little Word

The first time I journaled about deciding on a word of the year, I chose “Content,” the word I used in 2016. I had picked it because it had worked well for me for at least the first half of 2016, and it seemed like a wonderful ideal to strive for again. At first, I was happy with my choice, especially since it fits in with the idea of seeking peace with one’s present situation. However, after sleeping on it, the less I felt the pull of the word.

The trouble is, I’m not content. I think it’s a great sentiment, but my goals and mood are not aligned with the word. It’s no secret that I’m no longer content with the status quo- both personally and on a global scale, but I do need a more positive spin for my personal life than “Change.” No, I need to overcome obstacles, both real and imagined, that are holding me back, which is why my word of the year is “Rise.” If 2017 has taught me anything, it’s that I will have plenty of setbacks. I want to rise above those setbacks and pursue my goals anyway.

Rise
One Little Word page in my traveler’s notebook

How I’m Going to “Rise:”

  • I’m going to break my big, scary goals into smaller, actionable pieces.
  • I’m going to push my boundaries while being mindful of when I need to take time to recharge and practice self-care. No one can go full-throttle all the time without rest.
  • I’m will keep a record of my victories, big and small.

How to Choose Your Own Word

If you’re having trouble deciding on one little word for the year my process for how I choose mine is simple. In a journal, notebook, or even a scrap piece of paper, write down the best and worst parts of last year for you. Next, free-write about the kind of year you want to have, the kind of person you’d like to become, or any traits that you’d like to adopt. After looking over your list, start writing down words that fit in with any recurring themes you noticed.

If nothing stands out to you right away, don’t stress out about finding the perfect word now. Sleep on it. Let your subconscious think about it as you go about your daily routine. You could try journaling or morning pages to see if any themes come up in your writing.

How to Use Your Own Little Word

Now that you have your own word for the year, there are several ways that you can use it to stay inspired. Many people include a page about their word in their planner or journal. You could easily make a dashboard page for your planner to keep you inspired whenever you look at the page.

Other ideas:

  • Write your one little word on several Post-It notes or journal cards. Place it around your home where you’ll have reminders of it (bathroom mirror, dresser, fridge, etc.)
  • Be on the lookout for journals, notebooks, shirts, or even jewelry that has your one little word on it. Find ways to keep the one little word physically with you.
  • If you’re feeling creative, you can make a scrapbook page or art journal about your word.
  • Feeling shy about your artistic skills? You could make a Pinterest board or a collage about your one little word. Fill it with quotes that evoke the feeling of your chosen word.

Staying Inspired

I know how hard it is to stick with resolutions. How many people make big goals in January, only to abandon them by mid-February? If you don’t want your one little word to fall by the wayside, here are a few ideas for staying inspired throughout the year:

  • Keep a gratitude log. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It could be a spare notebook, or if you keep a planner, write down one thing you’re grateful for, no matter how small. If it’s an especially bad day, your one small thing could be as simple as your morning coffee. Over time, you can look back to see how all those little things add up.
  • Set reminders in your phone’s calendar or write down in your planner once a month to revisit your one little word. Ask yourself if your life is reflecting your word. If not, what do you need to do to get back on track? If the word no longer fits, you could always choose a different one!

One Final Note

If it’s no longer the beginning of the year when you’re reading this, it’s still not too late to choose your own one little word. It’s never too late to make a new start.

Do you have one little word for the year? How do you use it? I’d love to hear about it! Please share in the comments.

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traveler's notebook
One Little Word