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Choosing A Guiding Word for the Year

Each year, I embrace a tradition that transcends typical New Year’s resolutions. I choose a single word to guide me through the year. In the past, this practice has led me to profound personal growth and insight. Last year, my word was “intentional,” a choice that propelled me towards more conscious and deliberate decisions. This year, I have chosen “compassion” as my guiding star. Let me share why and how this choice aims to reshape my perspective and actions.

The Year of Being “Intentional”

Reflecting on the previous year, when “intentional” was my guiding word, I experienced a significant shift in mindset. It was about being deliberate in every action, ensuring that my choices aligned with my values and purpose. This approach brought clarity and focus, helping me to navigate life more mindfully.

Why “Compassion”?

As I transition into the new year, “compassion” resonates deeply with me. Compassion encompasses empathy, understanding, and kindness, not just towards others but also towards myself. It’s a response to the inner critic that I often battle – a way to replace judgment with understanding and kindness.

Practicing Self-Compassion and Compassion for Others

My journey with compassion begins with self-awareness. When I catch myself being overly critical, I pause to reflect. When I feel critical of others, I ask, “How are they protecting themselves? Why might they act in such a way? How can I behave compassionately towards them?” These questions help me understand their actions from a place of empathy rather than judgment, so that my response will be kinder.

When I catch myself judging myself, the questions are slightly different: “What am I gaining from this self-criticism? How is this serving me? How can I show myself compassion?” Such introspection allows me to acknowledge my feelings without dwelling in self-judgment and to shift my thinking to one that nurtures rather than demonizes myself.

Inspiring Others with Your Word

This practice isn’t just for personal growth; it’s also a powerful tool in coaching and team-building. As a coach or a leader, you can encourage others to choose a word that resonates with them. It could be a word, a phrase, a quote, or even an image that encapsulates their focus for the year. The key is to give others space and time to find the word(s) that truly speak(s) to them.

Keeping Your Word Top of Mind

Once you have your word, find ways to keep it at the forefront of your daily life. Here are a few strategies you can employ:

  1. Visual Reminders: Place your word in visible locations – as a desktop wallpaper, a note on the fridge, or even a piece of jewelry.
  2. Journaling: Regularly reflect on how your word is influencing your decisions and interactions. Writing about your experiences can deepen your understanding and commitment.
  3. Mindful Practices: Incorporate your word into your mindfulness or meditation practices. This can be as simple as repeating your word as a mantra or contemplating its meaning during quiet moments.

The Impact of Your Word

Choosing a word for the year is about setting an intention for personal growth and reflection. It’s a lens through which you can view your actions, decisions, and interactions. It’s not about achieving specific goals but about allowing this word to guide you towards becoming a version of yourself that aligns with your deepest values.


As you embark on this journey, remember that the power of your chosen word lies in its ability to inspire and guide you through various facets of your life. Whether it’s “compassion,” “intentional,” or any other word, let it be a beacon that guides your thoughts, actions, and interactions throughout the year.

And so, I leave you with a question to ponder: What will your word be this year? How will it shape the path you walk in the days to come?

Please declare your word for the year in the comments below!

About the Author

Leigh Ann Rodgers, Founder of Better Teams, Team Consultant Academy, and FORWARD, is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field. Leigh Ann is a skilled meeting facilitator, trainer, and coach working across the globe to help leaders cultivate teams that are happy and high-performing.

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