How do you choose the perfect Word of the Year? Or, more importantly, what even is a Word of the Year? In this edition of the Little Dance blog, we're going to get into the nitty-gritty of the latest word of the Year trend, how it works, and why we love it!
With a new year comes a new chapter. Many people see the beginning of a new year as a chance to reset and start fresh. There are a few reasons for this. We usually have a few weeks of holiday time to recharge and step back from work, school, and other duties as one year closes and another rolls in. This is the perfect time for reflecting on the year that has passed, and what we’d like to do differently for the next one.
We tend to choose the beginning of a year to kick off our new routines and move towards new goals because a full year is a great measure of time. Anything seems possible with a full 12 months up your sleeve – but this is precisely the reason why so many New Years’ Resolutions end up distant memories by the time February rolls around.
Yep, February! Studies published on websites like Inc. and Forbes claim that most people kick their resolution to the curb by the second week of February. If you’re currently teetering on the edge of the danger zone (or have already jumped off), have no fear! Little Dance is here to help you realign with your goals for the year through an effective and positive Word of the Year method.
What is a Word of the Year?
A Word of the Year is your choice of word that you apply to your life for the full 12 months. You choose your word based on an assessment of your goals and aspirations, and then you make a daily or weekly action to implement that word into your lifestyle.
How is a Word of the Year different to a New Years’ Resolution?
It's no secret that New Years' Resolutions have a history of just never working out for some people. If you’re one of those people, don’t feel discouraged – you’re actually in the majority.
The main problems with New Years' Resolutions are that 1. they're too big, and 2. they’re too vague. To work towards a goal, you need micro-goals that send the 'achievement' signal to your brain. That signal inspires it to keep going.
For example, if you set a resolution of 'read 25 books' but don't have any idea which books you want to read, where you're going to get them from, or how you're going to schedule your reading time, you won’t even know how to start. If you don’t set little achievements along the way, by your 12th book you’ll feel like you’ve done SO much yet you’re SO far from the finish line, and a sense of defeat will kick in. This causes you to scrap the goal altogether.
In contrast, a Word of the Year is a concept based around building habits and taking action. Given that there’s no specific end goal for a word of the year, you can achieve little ‘reward moments’ for your brain daily. Just take some time to do one thing that relates to your word.
A Word of the Year also empowers you to improve multiple skills and areas at a time. For example, if you choose ‘positivity’ as your Word of the Year, you’ll improve your mindset, your relationships, and potentially even unlearn some undesirable behaviours as time goes by.
Choosing your Word of the Year!
If you’ve tried to choose a word of the year but you end up feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Picking a Word of the Year can be daunting, especially considering how many words are in the English language!
The Little Dance team have worked together to develop some tips for picking your Word of the Year and sticking to it.
Consider how your word can apply to multiple areas
Just like we mentioned with our ‘positivity’ example, having a Word of the Year can help you improve more than one area of your life at a time.
When we decide on a New Years’ Resolution, sometimes we find ourselves choosing between a few ideas. You might notice that your potential resolutions all have something in common.
For example, let’s say your goals include learning a new skill, getting better grades, and completing a business plan. What has been preventing you from achieving these things in the past? You might narrow it down to, say, a lack of focus.
Now instead of three individual goals, you can apply the word ‘focus’ to your year and set aside some time every day to focus on the tasks you want to complete. Over time, your ability to focus will improve because of the work you’ve put into it.
It takes around 65-70 days for a task to become a habit. So, with this one simple word, you could be developing healthy habits in just a few months – and you get rewarded along the way. Every time you take some time out of your day to apply your word, your brain will register that as a task done, and subsequently an achievement. That makes a goal so much easier to stick to.
Choosing a word of the year is just like choosing a personal development path for the year. Once you improve on the area you’ve been lacking, you’ll notice multiple goals become more attainable.
Decide what makes you happy, and set a Word of the Year that helps you maintain that happiness.
Success is different for everybody. For some people, academic qualifications or getting ahead in business is a big deal. If these things align with your goals for the New Year, you could choose a word like discipline. Set one hour aside a day to practice discipline in an area that moves youcloser to your goals.
You can also apply discipline to health goals, as discipline with your diet, exercise routine, and giving up bad habits (like too much sugar or not enough water) all require a certain level of discipline. Now when you decide to use your lunch break for exercise, you'll hit your goal of practising discipline! Once again, you've set off those achievement receptors immediately instead of having to wait months for a noticeable physical result.
Maybe having a vast network of family and friends is your idea of success.If that sounds more like your type of goal, you could choose a word like kindness. Do one kind thing a day that makes a difference to someone important in your life, or even for a total stranger. You can apply this to yourself if one of your goals is to improve your self-esteem. Try being a little kinder to yourself.
Five Tips for Sticking to your Word of the Year
While the team at Little Dance are obviously advocates for Word of the Year being a superior solution to the New Years’ Resolution, it’s still very easy to slip back into bad habits and give up on trying to make these positive changes.
Hey, if change were easy, we’d all be doing itconstantly! So, if you’re looking for some ideas to help you stick to your Word of the Year, we’ve got five fun ideas that will help keep you on the path to success.
Since we love the word of the Year concept so much at Little Dance, we've developed some beautiful home décor signs that can be customised with your word, and then proudly displayed in your home. If you put your sign on your bedside table, or on the wall at your coffee station, you'll have a lovely reminder each morning to apply some positive habits to your day.
We have two sizes, and two colour options to choose from in our custom-made, personalised Word of the Year Display Signs range.
Having an accountability partner is an age-old method for helping you stick to your goals and do the things you've said you would do.
Pick a close friend or a few friends for a group chat. Send each other messages each night, detailing how you've worked towards your goals. Hearing how other people are making progress and overcoming obstacles is very inspiring. It reminds you that you're just as capable.
An accountability partner also serves as an extra ‘purpose’ when it comes to achieving your goals. It wouldn’t be very fair if your partner was out there doing all of this hard work and you were slacking off, would it? If you’re someone who gives up on yourself easily, but will do anything to help a friend, then this method might be the best for you.
Talk About It
Talking about your goals is a great way to keep yourself accountable, much like the above accountability partner tip. However, talking about your goals also keeps you excited for them!
Regularly verbalising what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there keeps it at the forefront of your mind, and it holds you to a slightly higher standard when everyone knows that you’re working towards it.
If you're into manifestation and universal vibrations, talking about your goals can help send the message that you're ready to receive the motivation and energy needed to get you where you want to go.
If you have a terrible week and veered off track with your word, don't beat yourself up about it. Putting too much pressure on a goal, or associating it with failure and punishment, is the quickest way to deter yourself from having a go.
The beautiful thing about a Word of the Year as opposed to a New Years' Resolution is that you can achieve it in even the smallest ways. If you choose positivity for your Word of the Year, merely thinking a positive thought means you're using your word. How great is that?!
Of course, a Word of the Year doesn't always consist of little thoughts and actions. You can have substantial goals, and you absolutely should set yourself some big challenges with your word – but it's nice to have a little fall back that makes us feel better about ourselves at the end of a rough day.
Tracking your progress is a proven method for success when it comes to achieving goals. Having a daily journal entry about your Word of the Year is a great idea for ensuring you stick to it. Your daily word of the Year journal can be as simple as jotting down a sentence about how you implemented the word in your day. You could switch it to a weekly journal if you're not doing the daily implementation.
This regular reflection helps you to see your progress and achievements. It also helps you to outline the areas in life that are improving and positive new habits that you've picked up thanks to the use of your new word.
50 Fun Word of the Year ideas!
If you're still unsure how to choose a Word of the Year, we've listed 50 of our favourites below. You can pick from the list if one catches your attention. If you find a few that resonate with you and have difficulty deciding, you could write them down and draw one out of a hat. You could even swap your Word of the Year to a Word of the Quarter!