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Words of the Year: A Resolution Alternative

Image created by Rachel Van Horne

New year, new resolutions! The new year is an exciting time for new expectations. Maybe in 2021 you want to become crafty, exercise more often or just become a better person. The problem with resolutions is that they can create an “all or nothing” mentality. For example, when one sets a goal to be more organized they have set hopes and expectations that they will follow through with this goal, and if they fail to reach their goal they will just give up and try again next year. However, I am here to give you a new alternative to resolutions.

Every year my family picks one word that they will focus on throughout the year, and then at the end of the year we reflect on the ways the word’s meaning has remained the same for us and how it has changed. As an example, my word last year was “growth” because at the beginning of the year I was thinking about academic growth. I wanted to succeed in my classes, get ahead in my clubs and organizations and grow in the ways I receive and retain knowledge. While I am proud to say that I achieved all of these goals, “growth” shifted in meaning. In the middle of March, I became aware of the fact that “growth” sometimes means growing apart from some people or things you love, whether mentally or physically. No one expected a pandemic to ravage our world or that so many social interactions would change to a virtual format. This year meant growing into a new, unsettling reality: classes on Zoom, treasured traditions lost and being unable to properly say goodbye to people dear to us. But growth can also be full of new meanings, like new additions to the family, accepting new leadership positions and sometimes just becoming your more authentic self.

As shown with my example, you can expect your theme’s meaning to change, and you can celebrate that fact. Having New Year’s themes instead of resolutions allows room for goals to shift when your life changes unexpectedly. By picking a theme instead of resolution, there is no failing, because you anticipate life’s changes and change your theme with them. Theme ideas could be a simple word or a few words such as “family time,” “self care” or “embrace the moment”. For me, I find a singular word works best. Included below are a few theme word ideas.

Some words of the year ideas include:








Growth (my word for 2020)



Illuminate (my word for 2021)







Self love (my words for 2018)

Strength (my word for 2019)


For more ideas or an exciting way to randomly generate words of the year, former programmer Jennifer Fulwiler has created this generator. Happy word searching and may your 2021 be full of success!

By Rachel Van Horne, News Editor



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