What is a Word of the Year you may ask...
A Word of the Year, or WOTY, is a focus or grounding word that actually began back in 1971 in Germany and soon made its way to the art world. It is a single word that encapsulates what you need more of in the coming year, day, week, etc., and is meant to replace the hard-to-obtain New Year's Resolutions tradition. You can choose a focus word at any time/event in your life, but today, let's choose one for the 2023 year.
A WOTY is something you may want to focus on or improve on. It can be a theme or an overarching concept for your year ahead and the perfect way to set an intention/s for the new year in an obtainable way. For me, it is my inspiration or guiding light for the year.
It can take time to find your word, and you should sit with it for a few days to make sure it feels good. Your intuition will let you know if you have the right word.
How to Choose a WOTY (there is more than one way!)
1. Reflective Writing:
Start by writing quickly on a page. This is called "stream of consciousness" writing. You can set a timer of no more than 5 minutes. Write fast not worrying about spelling, penmanship, mistakes, or even if you are using full sentences. Use a pen so you can't erase and keep the flow going. Answer the following questions as you write:
What happened last year?
What brought you happiness?
What brought you sadness?
What did you learn?
Where did you go?
...follow your heart in your writing.
Next, go thru what you just wrote, and again, very quickly, circle the words that stand out or catch your eye the most.
You can then go back and cover up all the writing that is not circled. If you want to remember what you wrote, you can take a picture. Use paint, crayons, or felt pens (whatever you have) to cover up what is not circled so you can see a little clearer what words you circled.
From here, you can choose the word you wrote the most or the one that stands out the most.
Still can't decide? Put all your words in a hat and let fate choose for you!
2. Setting Goals:
Write out 4-5 goals (keep it short so this list is obtainable). Remember: some goals can also take several years to achieve, so it is totally ok to "reach for the stars" or set high goals. Just know that the reason to list big goals is to keep working and focusing on them.
I am setting two lists of goals for 2023; one for my art biz and one for my personal life.
Look for a pattern among these goals...
What words did you use again and again?
What word/s represent the goals you are setting?
How will you reach these goals?
Is it an action word? A feeling/mood word?
Still not sure?....try the following exercise to see if it bring more clarity...
3. Look for Inspiration in Magazines:
This method of looking for inspiration can assist you in choosing your word along with inspiring you creatively. Spend some time going thru a bunch of magazines, brochures, newspapers, pamphlets, or even junk mail and began tearing out images, words, or phrases that catch your eye and jump out at you (for whatever reason).
This should give you a big pile.
Then, to give yourself another chance to look at everything you have collected, cut all the images, phrases, and words into smaller pieces and discarded the parts you are not going to use.
From here, you should be able to look back at all the things you tore/cut out and see a pattern. Begin by putting all like things in a pile.
Can you see the themes or words the following piles of related things have?
Is there a word or concept that you cut out over and over? Bingo! You have your word.
Have words, phrases, or images in your mind that you want to include but can't find them? Google them or visit Pinterest and print out what you are missing.
Do you have a magazine or book that you don't want to cut up? Make a photocopy!
It is good to take time during the collection phase. Let your collection sit with you for a few days to feel what concept, idea, or word feels best/good to you. The goal is to figure out what word addresses your goals, what word will keep you on track to meet these goals, and/or what word you need more of.
4. Choose From a Word List:
For those of you new to this WOTY concept or who are still deciding on your Word of the Year, here are a few words for inspiration...
Adapt/Adaptable Adventure Align/alignment Awaken
Balance Beauty Believe Blessed Breath/Breathe Calm
Challenge Change Consistent/Consistency
Community Creative/Create Curious/Curiosity Discipline
Discover/Discovery Dream Embrace Energize Empower Enthusiasm
Experiences Faith Family
Fresh Focus Fun Generosity
Growth Guide Happy/Happiness
Home Imagine/Imagination Joy/joyful/joyous
Journey Kind/kindness Laughter/Humor
Love Magic/Magical/Mystic Manifest
Quality Slow Space
Spirit/Spiritual/Spirituality Strength Thrive
Thoughtfulness Tranquil Trust Vision Wealth Wellness
Here is another fun way to find your word...
It can take time to find your word, and you should sit with it for a few days or a week to make sure it feels good. I generally spend all of January on my Word of the Year and on my New Year Vision Board (more on this in the near future!). Your intuition will let you know if you have the right word.
Choosing a WOTY is also a great way to start your year off in a creative state. All of these exercises boost your creativity and doing this will help you to be a better problem solver, calms your mind as if you are meditating, makes room for better focus, teaches patience, perseverance increases your sense of pride, and develops your fine motor skills.
But, if deciding becomes anxiety-filled, I recommend putting all the words that you are drawn to in a bowl, close your eyes, and choose. Now you have let fate choose!
For inspiration: My Words from Past Years
2019 Word of the Year
In 2019, my word was CREATE. I wanted to create more, paint more, be in the studio more....and I did!
2020 Word of the Year
In 2020, my word was HOME. This was the year we traded our Costa Rican home for a new home in Northern California. This is the year we moved back to our roots and I felt I needed to focus here....focus on our new home. We moved out of one home and into another and since we had had the vast majority of our belongings locked away in a storage unit for 8 years, it was literally time to unpack our life and our new home.
2021 Word of the Year
In 2021, my word was NEW/NUEVO, It was the first year of everything NEW and I wanted to embrace it, to revel in it, and to not forget what was not new. Even though closing the studio in 2021 was sad, we did it with celebration. We donated all our art supplies and studio belongings to our kids' schools, we had final classes, and we celebrated what a joyful place Sage Brush was to all of us. We set ourselves on a NEW path and did it with full hearts.
2022 Word of the Year
In 2022, my word was JOY. I could feel my life evolving as the return to our roots took hold and our life in Costa Rica became a distant memory (but the best memory ever!). I was leaning gently into our new life, still holding on to bits and pieces of our old life, and trying hard to blend them all into a joyous way of being. Joy was at the forefront of everything I did in 2022.
In fact, I loved this journal exercise so much that I did it twice! Once with white and teal paint and once with black paint. The second time I did all the variations of the word JOY....enjoy, joyful, joyous, enjoyable, etc. There are so many! (more on this method of creating a WOTY journal page in a future blog!)
2023 Word of the Year
After much thought, my word for 2023 will be Manifest. After working on my online business for the past couple of years and learning (and still learning) the ropes of the online art world, I am manifesting to spend 2023 focusing on bringing this to fruition. I know that I have to let go of perfectionism and endless learning. I just need to take a giant leap of faith and just do it!
However you choose, don't worry, your Word of the Year will find you.
In my next blog post, I will show you a few ways to create something with your WOTY (like the above collage) and how to display your WOTY to inspire you all year long.
Happy WOTY hunting!