How to Pick A Word of the Year

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whether or not you are super into making ‘new year’s resolutions’ or setting goals, the start of a new year is an excellent time to get a fresh start and set some solid intentions.

before we get into the particulars of goal setting…please know that this whole ‘goal setting’ doesn’t come naturally to me and i resisted for many years, much like i still resist eating an variety of vegetables. as you may know, i’m married to a motivational speaker (really a “motivational live-r” in general) and BIG dreams and goals are second nature to him.

after i stopped resisting setting goals (and i even eat asparagus now) and wrote down a few, i was pleasantly surprised how they didn’t suck as much as thought it would. i even started accomplishing them.

this was the first year i set a ‘word of the year’ and it’s been BOLD! the point of picking a single word is so you have some simple yet profound to set some of your goals around as well as reminding yourself to be stretched. i chose bold in 2014 because it was my first full year of being a full-time entrepreneur, i had speaking opportunities in far away places that terrified me, traveled a ton (did you know i’ve struggled with anxiety) and was nervous to try new things.

having the word ‘bold’ as my word of the year helped me find the strength to say yes to things.

let’s get down to business (like in mulan) on how to find your word of the year:

1) do the big things you want to accomplish next year have a common theme?

for example, this year my husband set a lot of goals around increasing his speaking skills so his word was “speak.” he wanted to increase how often he spoke, the size of his audience, his fee and to really solidify what he speaks about so this was an appropriate word for him.

2) what is a word that will motivate and inspire you? there will be cold and rainy days (both outside and inside your own head) when it’s hard to convince yourself to keep up with your goals and change/enhance your life.

for example, when i was offered the opportunity to give a 45 minute workshop in china, my initial (and common reaction to most things) is to say ‘nope! no thank you. that’s terrifying and i’ve never spoken to an audience in asia, let alone about relationships and the mere thought of doing so is making me want to pass out.”

instead, i reminded myself that my word this year is BOLD and it would be a bold action for me to say “yes, i’m still scared but yes i’m being bold and i will do it.” and i did (and i didn’t even pass out).

3) choose a word that feels right for you, not what you think others want you to pick. this is about your life, your dreams and your goals so take time to think about what word can help encourage you the most.

this is the process i went through to find my word of the year and it is:


i decided on this word because although this year i was bold in many areas (like also speaking in toronto, sticking up my beliefs, growing this blog and sometimes even making phone calls because i truly hate them), i really struggled with confidence.


because i have zero background in business, i often feel inadequate running businesses with my husband. since my background is in social work, that is really the only field that i feel somewhat capable in and since i’m going about using my skills in a nontraditional path, i find myself feeling a lack of confidence in belief i’m capable of more.

this is why i chose “capable” as my word of the year. it’s a reminder to myself that i am capable of being successful in an unconventional way. i am capable of learning new skills and coming up with ideas. i am capable of making money on my own (as opposed as through a traditional 9-5 job) and i capable in my abilities exactly as i am. i’m also realizing that nobody really knows what they are doing so i’m at least as capable as others around me!

here are some ideas to help get your juices flowing in picking your own word:

  • healthy: maybe you want to eat healthier and lose weight or gain muscle so your word may be “healthy.” this serves as a reminder to get up and walk, order salad instead of fries or do 2 more reps.
  • grow: perhaps you are feeling stagnant in where you’re at in life and want to grow and evolve. this will help you take on new opportunities to expand your mind or maybe even your business or career.
  • love: who doesn’t want to feel more love in their life? this could be a great word if you are wanting to experience more love within your marriage, other relationships and most importantly…yourself.
  • family: maybe your career has taken hold and you want to get back to putting your family first. this is a powerful word to serve as a reminder to get home in time for dinner, stop checking your emails and engage with your family.
  • observe: with the digital age exploding, our minds are in a constant state of distraction. this word can help bring forward being present and taking time to observe the world around you.
  • action: sometimes life gets overwhelming and we are afraid to take action (totally guilty of this) so this word serves to remind you to take action instead of being a bystander to your own life.

other ones: strong/adventure/happiness/increase/fun/business/curiosity/art/expand/music/etc.

i’d love to hear what your word of the year is and please feel free to pass this article along to a friend a family member so you can both hold each other accountable for your word of the year!

1) have you picked a ‘word of the year’ before?
2) pick one and share with me why!
3) did you grow up setting goals or is something newer to you?

ps. stay tuned for an exciting announcement tomorrow specifically for strong woman looking to use their voice to make a different! this is me definitely utilizing my new word of “capable!”


  1. Kristi

    December 29, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    This is a great idea.

    I’m going to chew on this and try to come up with a good word for 2015.

    • chelsea

      December 30, 2014 at 7:31 am

      it’s been really powerful this year, kristi! excited to hear what your word is going to be! hope you had grand holidays!

  2. Beki

    December 29, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Great word! You ARE capable and it’s totally the truth that other people don’t exactly know what they’re doing either. And obviously, mega bonus points for using Mulan. I haven’t chosen a “word of the year” but I’ll be thinking about it. I’m excited to have some 2015 goals – i feel like it gives me some added purpose, I just have difficulty coming up with them, and maybe picking a word of the year will help!!

    • chelsea

      December 30, 2014 at 7:34 am

      thanks beki for your encouragement-much appreciated and SO glad you noticed the ‘mulan’ call it because it was directed at you! glad you’re thinking about a word of the year and i know what you mean that sometimes it can be hard to come up with goals so hopefully this helps and another article will come out tomorrow!

  3. Paul E. White, DTM

    December 29, 2014 at 1:41 pm


    great timing. i am Toastmaster of the Day in my homeclub on Saturday. the theme is Resolutions.

    i have asked everyone that i have to introduce to give me their ‘one word of the year’ – and i thought that was my invention. i plan to introduce each person using ‘their word’ and why they chose it.

    now, as for my word, no one said it has to be English. my word is “gambarimasu.” in Japanese it means to make the maximum effort required to achieve something. you hear it all the time. when you are facing a challenge, others will say, “gambate kudasai.” give it your best effort.

    that is what i intend to do in the coming year – whether large or small, trivial or critical in nature, i want to give everything my best effort.

    thank you for a wonderful post and for a wonderful blog.

    may 2015 be the best ever for you and your motivational speaker.

    paul e. white

    • chelsea

      December 30, 2014 at 7:38 am

      thanks for your comment, paul! sounds like you have a great toastmaster meeting planned and it will be interesting to hear what people choose!

      wow that’s an incredible word you’ve chosen! i really like that….giving the maximum effort to achieve something! sounds like you are set for an excellent 2015 and hope it’s the best yet!
      chelsea recently posted…How to Pick A Word of the Year

  4. Rebecca

    December 29, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    This is exactly what I needed today. This is the first year I’ve decided to choose a word instead of make resolutions. I’m still wrestling with my word but this helps so much! I’m hoping to share my word tomorrow. I LOVE your word.

    • chelsea

      December 30, 2014 at 7:42 am

      oh i’m so glad it was helpful rebecca because i’ve found it to really help hold me accountable this year! can’t wait to see what word you come up with and we can help hold each other accountable 🙂

  5. Elizabeth T

    December 29, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    I love the definition you have for capable….I need to have it written down somewhere so I can remind myself of it. I have intentional as my word for 2015 because it’s something I struggle with and really want to get better at.
    Elizabeth T recently posted…Merry Christmas!!!!!!

    • chelsea

      December 30, 2014 at 7:43 am

      ha thanks elizabeth! that’s what i really need to keep reminding myself of for sure! absolutely looooove ‘intentional’ for your word of the year! that’s something else i want to do more of too because life can pass so quickly! thanks for sharing

  6. Amy

    December 29, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    great word! Shine on, girl. I am loving all the things you’re accomplishing.

    My word is MOXIE. The more I studied the more it just kept coming up. Please hold me accountable and ask me, “You got the moxie?” It will sure help me!

    Thanks a million! You’re a STAR.
    Amy recently posted…Plan for a Pantry Challenge

    • chelsea

      December 30, 2014 at 7:46 am

      thanks so much for your encouragement amy! totally love ‘moxie’ for your word of the year and i would love to help hold you accountable (sending you a tweet right now 🙂 )

      thanks for also giving an action item for how to hold you accountable! totally adding this to my article for tomorrow because it’s brilliant!

  7. Dmite

    December 30, 2014 at 12:40 am

    I was trying to figure out just one word to sum up 2015!!! But I know what needs to be done! I will be finished studying my Danish degree as Pædagog in 2016 and I need to admit to myself that I am in a major stage of Learning. I must allow myself to absorb the surroundings and just LEARN! That is a very suitable word for me as I step into 2015 – Learn – can be broken down into these smaller words: to gain, to grasp, to master, be taught, be trained, become capable……

    A new degree, a new country, a new language.

    I just need to open myself up to the Learning opportunities!
    Dmite recently posted…1 week until our Move!!!

    • chelsea

      December 30, 2014 at 8:05 am

      ohhh “learn!” is a fantastic one, dmite! so amazing that you will be wrapping up your degree in 2016 so really embracing learning as much as you can this year will set you up for even greater success!

      thanks for sharing!
      chelsea recently posted…How to Pick A Word of the Year

  8. Paula Howley

    December 30, 2014 at 1:00 am

    I remember you doing this last year but I didn’t pick a word because I felt just one might be limiting. This year I feel this word pretty strongly for many reasons:


    2015 is the year of release for me.
    The year I release my book, my memoir and the message of me out into the world.
    It is also the year I release myself from the constraints of others’ expectations and myself from my own anger.
    It is the year I release my daughter from my expectations and release my soul out of it’s box.
    I release the pain and the excess from my body and the worry from my mind.
    I seek freedom and freedom through RELEASE!
    Paula Howley recently posted…Head Start Public Speaking For Kids Week 11- Speech PAR-TAY!!!!

    • chelsea

      December 30, 2014 at 8:07 am

      incredible word for you paula!!! i cannot wait to get a copy of your book once it’s released!

      i got chills reading about all of the things you will be being released from this year, sounds so empowering and freeing and cannot wait to see how incredible this is for you!!! you go!
      chelsea recently posted…How to Pick A Word of the Year

  9. Courtney!

    December 30, 2014 at 7:49 am

    I love this concept. I had been kind of assigning a ‘motto’ to my years, but just a word is a lot easier 🙂
    Last year was ‘choose adventure’
    and 2013 (when I got married/was wedding planning and finished an ironman race) was ‘enjoy the journey’
    This year I’m hoping to really hoping to not just accomplish things, but to put in the effort to rock them, so I’m choosing “REACH”.
    Courtney! recently posted…2015 Goals (and WTF happened in 2014)

    • chelsea

      December 30, 2014 at 8:15 am

      ohhh interesting to do a ‘motto’ for each year-i like the sound of that too, courtney! choose adventure sounds like a good one for last year with all of your adventures wow! married and an ironman?! impressive lady!

      love your word of ‘reach’ because if you’re going to go after something you totally might as well rock them!

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