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Hello friends! I hope you had a beautiful New Year and are ready for the fresh and new. Sure, it’s just a date. But the turn of the year somehow packs a lot of symbolic power. We can take that natural surge of energy to the next level with a well-chosen word of the year (or WOTY, if you like).

If you haven’t picked a word yet for this year, but you did last year, start by taking a minute to check in with 2023. How did your word relate to the year? What happened?

If the word you picked influenced your life—the whole point—perhaps we can use last year’s outcome to tweak this year’s word.

Here are some ideas

You can go simple and focused: Cultivate. Steward. Gratitude. Generosity. Those are obvious ones, maybe, but WOTY is not an “elevated vibes only” exercise.

Your guiding word could be Cheese. Heiress. Oaxaca.

You can be maximal, if you prefer, and go multi-word. I mean, there are 365 days to cover—unless you get 366, as we will this year—and maybe you’re no minimalist.

I didn’t stint last year. I had three words (plus arrows): Capacity → Agency → Money. (Oh yeah, I went straight there. MONEY. I told people about it, too.) And I added a sidecar reminder, courtesy of Kate Davies, “Don’t ask.” She meant “permission,” and when it’s Kate Davies putting down that kind of encouragement, I’m picking it up.

Usually I will pick a word to vibe to. It’s about how I want to feel.

This year it’s not about feelings. Instead it’s about action. So my word is a verb, and I’ve used it like a hypnotic command, a marching order. I’ve preprogrammed myself to do this: Choose. As in, “Don’t dither, Max! You don’t have that kind of time.”

I am genuinely excited to see what will happen for me as a result.

It’s all up to you, but I will say this: your word has a way of shaping the year that can really surprise you.

One last idea: you can keep your word of the year close to your vest, if that would have more power for you. Or you can tell us all below in the comments, which is also quite a gathering of power, and we can all share in the majesty!

More Max

Instead of Resolutions, Just a Word

Warm for the Winter

Self-care in Check Box Form

Image credit: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Art and Artifacts Division, The New York Public Library. The Writing Lesson by Morris Shulman; The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1935–43. Used with permission.

About The Author

Max Daniels is a research-based life coach whose weekly emails make us laugh with recognition and rethink everything we thought we knew. Her new book is Meals at Mealtimes. What a concept!


  • My WOTY for 2024 is discipline. It’s something I struggle with (thanks ADHD) and I believe having discipline is so important in almost every area of life. For example, I love knitting, but sometimes I need to wash dishes or eat, you know? But seriously, I believe discipline will help me with focus and prioritization. It may help me reduce or eliminate what’s unnecessary in order to make room in my life for what is important to me. And now it’s time to go to work…

  • My word? : Finish!!

  • My word this year is OPEN. I participate in Ali Edward’s “One Little Word” class, which offers monthly prompts about your word. It helps me stretch myself in exploring how my word shows up in my life.

    • Thank you for this information. I have not heard of WOTY before this article . I looked up Ali Edward’s class and it is interesting to me I have several words that come to mind, even though I am a little late.

  • My WOTY is serene. Been driven my whole life, now it’s time to chill.

  • My WOTY is in Gaeilge/irish … Bí Cróga be brave singular or Bígí Cróga plural! It’s an approach an adjective an attitude! Just do it!

    • love it!

      • I think my words for 2024 are courage and perserverence.
        I hope 2024 is a good year for all.

  • My WOTY last year was “Today”, as in “the present moment.” It sporadically helped me stay focused on Today, instead of constantly rehashing the past and worrying about the future. It’s been a really difficult year, so I’m okay that I often forgot.

    So for 2024 my new word is “Acceptance” – as in Accepting the things I cannot change. This will be a challenge, as there are quite a lot of things these days I really dislike (intensely) but definitely cannot change. Along with that of course is focusing on things that I *can* change.

    Thank you Max!

  • My word for 2024 is mindfulness….and my hope is that I will finally finish reading “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hahn. I bought the book about ten years ago. I’m 83 and running out of time.

    • My WOTY for 2024 is … Resilience. I will need it after health challenges in 2023 with my spouse. Crocheting has been my meditation. I plan to learn a simple knit this year too.

  • I have words that I post daily, as a mantra to put them out in the world my intention. I use them as codes in my knitting, particularly in gift knitting, often as lace in a moebius scarf, but using color, as well. This year, at the request of a friend I added PATIENCE. The other words are VIGILANCE, COURAGE, UNITY, and GRACE.

  • Grace and gratitute

    • Grace and Gratitude. Thank you Laura. I’m adding those to my calendar now.

  • My word for 2023 was Commitment——to finishing all unfinished knitting projects. And by March I was all caught up! Much easier than I thought as anything that had me stumped ( as in pattern problems) was cleared up. Putting something down and coming back to it , may not be such a bad idea.

  • My word found me. Consistency.
    That word continues to appear as I read about starting a new year. Consistency in exercise. Consistency in music practice. Consistency in all things where I want progress.

    • My WOTY is the same as soft New Year’s resolution: patience. I think it was last year’s resolution too, but still needs improvement.

  • I think that “steward” and “patience” will work well, and “finish” which is applicable to all the works-in-process taking up closet and garage space (only the woodworking projects are in the garage )

  • My WOTY for 2024 is Intention, and not the type used for paving.

  • Mine is “off switch,” a gentle reminder that there is choice. Reaching for that third glass of wine? Off Switch. Letting dust bunnies in every room derail my walk? Off Switch. Offering annoying unwanted advice to adult children? Off switch. I guess I could have chosen “live consciously” but I do like that visualization of toggling that switch. PS: The switch also toggles to the “on” position depending on how best to frame a situation.

    • Love these words and the concept. Especially for turning off irritation about things my spouse does or doesn’t do.

    • I like this idea, and the visual! Especially for those young adult children ☺️

      • A knowing comment when my grands roll their eyes at their parents better than their father ever did? Off Switch.

  • Thrive is my word!

  • My WOTY is “Flight”. I’ve done fight and flow, now it might be time to step away from some things, but I’ll sure fight if I have to.

  • A phrase to point out that habit of procrastination. ‘What are you waiting for?’

  • Last year it was “Go Placidly” (the first two words of the poem Desiderata). And it helped me gracefully get over quite a few of the bumps last year. This year it is “neutral buoyancy” – a remembered feeling from days long ago when I went scuba diving. Just being able to hang in place, not sinking, not struggling to rise up, being able to be part of whatever is going on around me without being pushed or pulled.

  • Consider us my word but more as in be less reactive than to dither…I find that just as we hopefully gain self awareness over the years , having a word of the year is similar…. I think about how the word can apply in so many ways… love the WOTY!!!

  • After 53 years of marriage it’s not getting any easier. My word is relationship.

    • Love that word. I’ve been married 51 years. Relationship is always a work in progress.

  • My word for the year is “reduce”. Reduce everything; the amount of time I spend playing games on my phone, reduce my weight, reduce my spending, reduce time spent worrying or complaining, reduce negative thoughts, etc…

  • First of all, I love your columns. I always take away something important from them. This prompted me to choose my word. The word is “Stop”. Stop procrastinating. Stop Instagram all day long. Stop avoiding exercise. As another reader commented, I am 71 and only have a finite amount of time left. Stop wasting it. Thank you!

  • Mine is “wear the diamonds”. As in, don’t save things (diamonds, yarn, the good dishes, the kind words, the opportunity …) until you think the time is right or some special occasion. I lost some people this year which made me more realistic about how much time I have left.

    • I love all the words that everyone chose, but this one really sticks. At 84, I think it’s time I wore the diamonds. Thank you so much.

  • I used to take inordinate amounts of time and energy to make a decision. New philosophy-1950’s psychology-
    Do it “like a man”!


  • My WOTY for 2024 is Create. I used the same word last year and found it really inspired me and I was able to achieve all my knitting goals I set for myself in 2023. I was trying to think of a new word and a friend said “who says you have to pick a new one if you like that one.” So Create it is!

    • The best word of all! I’m going to copy you – Create it is.

  • Wondrous and Magical
    Not sure how that will manifest, but I couldn’t contain my call to the Universe to one word!

  • The word for myself is patience, in all things and with all people. Communicate is second for myself and to encourage in others. Communicate clearly and in a timely fashion.

  • Schedule it.

    Travel, tasks, activities…not just thought of but planned and to be done at a given time.

  • My WOTY is Carpe Diem — a latin phrase which is usually translated “Seize the Day.”

  • My WOTY is Calm

    I spent a few years with depression, & have been coming out of it

    I have quite a bit of clutter to tackle to get more calm, but I’m getting there

  • My 2023 WOTY was “Progress Not Perfection” and it was very helpful. It think this year I’m going to try just Progress. I am, after all, a work in progress myself.

    • I have two WOTY – create and meraki. Meraki is a Greek word meaning to do something with soul, creativity and love; to put something of yourself in what you do and create, to love what you do and do it well.

      • Ooh, I didn’t think of using a foreign word! I read an article on Art of Manliness about 7 Japanese principles to live by, which I can use in future years. The one I remember most is kaizen, seeking continuous improvement.

  • My WOTY is READY. Last year it was SEEKING AND for 2022, it was WONDER. I’d have to look up others before that. I am ready for a relationship, a new garden, a new home and new friends. I may be 73 this year, but have one more big life ahead!

  • I confess, I want to steal some of the words suggested in the comment. So many of them would work for me. But I need to keep it simple and not over reach. So, though my word is small, it is packed with a lot of energy. ACTION I realize that I spend a lot of time thinking and planning. This year, I would like to still plan but not over do it. When I was active in parish life and working in publishing, my major complaint was that we spent so much time in meetings there was very little actual DOING. And, here I am retired, and I fell into the same trap. So its ACTION this year. Thank you for this simple word tool to help keep me focused.

  • This year my word of focus is Perseverance. I act as a nanny on weekdays for two of my young grandchildren. I am trying to be a dedicated Weight Watcher. And I developed Sjogrens Syndrome, a cousin to Lupus, from having a severe reaction to the Covid virus. I must 1) keep my sense of humor, and 2) persevere. My issues are so small compared to so many other people. I just need perseverance.

  • So many things to think about here. Life can be a roller coaster and mine has significant ups and downs. So one word is not enough-Patience-Calm-Mindfulness-
    Action. Lots of irons in the fire and stuff on my plate so I will try and make decisions and actions that generate peace and ease. Hoping these words will help me remember before leaping into the fire!

    • Yes this is exactly what I think for my WOTY! That one isn’t enough! I am adding “self to your list because sometime I tend to be last on my priority list!

  • I had a few struggles in 2023, with friends and a family member taking a trip to heaven. I am very soon to be 76, so my first word is de-clutter not just material stuff, but my mind and body. And just Laugh more.

  • My word for 2024 will be savor. Whether it be a favorite food, wine, book, knitting project or time with someone I love, I want to savor the joy I experience. I too often do not take the time to fully appreciate the moment.

  • I am totally alone. My children have not spoken to me since 2011 without any explanation of why and nothing happened to have them suddenly stop speaking to me. My mother died which was fine with me as we had no relationship but she did leave me 2.5 million dollars which is under the control of a trustee. I’m allowed just enough money to survive in this economy. I did something very positive for myself which was to return to Eugene, Oregon and I spent my Christmas in Cannon Beach with my dog, my knitting and my books. At the age of 70, I cannot believe that I am in this situation. Still under the control of my ugly mother and alone. Happy 2024.

    • Oh my!! I’m so sorry that you’re feeling alone. Can you find a knitting or reading group to join? Or maybe find friends at a dog park? Look around you. There are others out there who could use some company and maybe you can connect. I’m 78 and blessed to have a good relationship with my son and his family. But we’re not in each other’s pockets, so to speak. Please try to reach out to your children. If they’re not responsive, it’s their loss. In the meantime, know that you have a yarny family out here sending you caring thoughts and hopes for a better year. ❤️

    • I feel for you-I sometimes think that the women in our parents’s generation (I’m 75) felt cheated, possibly because of the depression and WW2. And they took it out on their children.
      Secondly, children sometimes “rewrite” their childhoods, casting their parents in a negative light.

    • Ach, family estrangement! That’s very hard and I’m sorry. I DO like thinking of you enjoying Cannon Beach—I once had a solo day there in bad weather and it was absolute MAGIC.

      May 2024 have life improvements in store for you and all of us <3

    • Right. It’s not a word, it’s a place.

  • Oh how I love a Word for the year. This year I am going with Notice – I want to be more aware of myself and those around me. What moves me and what stops me. I want to notice what is in front of me as well as what is behind me. I just want to notice life and all of its pieces.

  • My word(s) for 2024 are “Let it go!” Let go of petty grievances and jealousies, let go of excess clutter in my life, let go of unessential things and activities that don’t bring me joy.

  • My word for 2024 is Joy, as in “Find the Joy.” I just completed a needlepoint which says “Don’t postpone Joy.” This is important to me as I’m usually so busy doing the work (cleaning, tidying, etc) that I don’t take time to be joyful.

  • Connect

  • Serendipity

  • Mindful – of people, places, things, reactions, work/life balance, food, vacations…I want to be fully present

  • My word this year is STRONG. I will be 66 in July and I’m conscious of losing my strength in my arms and legs. I need to be able to do more things without relying on others.

  • Simplicity.

  • Last year’s word was Distill, as in refine, clarify, gather the essence of the matter. I’ve been waiting for this year’s word to present itself, and it turns out to be: Go for it!

    Thank you to everyone who shared comments.

  • My word for this year is “steadfast”

  • My WOTY is—Show Up
    I’ve been a caregiver for aging elders for the last 10 years… Over these years family members have passed away, and my mother recently moved to an assisted living, relieving some of my responsibilities.
    I now have some time to reclaim interests and to make connections and friends.
    I’m tired, very tired. Recovering from perpetual caregiving 24/7, all I want to do is sleep to heal my mind and body. But healing includes creating and connecting. Showing Up can heal, too.

  • last year my word was ‘happy’ and i tried to make the most of it even when an unexpected move took over a good chunk of the months; this year, i’m going with explore to encourage me to check out my new habitat.

  • My word of the year is “baby”. I have a new grandson, and I am taking care of him frequently, which is fabulous. But I am choosing the word baby to remind myself to “baby” myself, too. Sometimes I get so busy I forget to eat! I know I need to take care of myself if I am going to be helpful to by daughter and grandson.
    The new baby has left me with less knitting time, so I need to remind myself that projects will get done with “baby steps”, too. Even if I can only knit one row a day, I will be content with that.

  • Abundance. Both giving abundance, and accepting abundance when it is offered.

  • Ok, Max! I pick “Sow.”

  • RETIREMENT, with all its ramifications and resonance.

  • Abundance. I’m surrounded by so much abundance that I don’t recognize it every day. This year, I will make it my vibe and reverberate with awareness of abundance!

  • My word for 2024 is content — as in being content with who I am and what I have — and if I’m not content — think about why not and what I can change to be content again.

  • Peace: For myself and for our world.

  • My word for the year is “positive”. I find myself being negative about stuff. I need to turn it around.

  • Ok, I’m bad at resolutions, and bad at monitoring myself, but I just retired, so my word for the year will be *Accomplish.*
    As in, don’t just let the days roll by. Accomplish something!
    I have accomplished something by getting to the culmination of my work life, and I want to continue to feel accomplished, and to continue to accomplish things.

  • I think last year’s words were LOVE and PEACE. This year’s words are ingredients that put me on my path towards peace within myself: LOVE (first and always), Power, Compassion, Joy, Yes!

  • My word and goal for this year is Kindness. I noticed that over the last couple of years, I got into the habit of not liking most of mankind and it was turning me into a grump, so I am making the shift with a one word reminder, Kindness.

  • My WOTY last year was “connect” – with myself, with friends, with things I care about. This year I’ve chosen “sustain” to keep those good things going, as well as to remind myself that the best plans can only happen with follow-through.

  • My word of the year is WONDER. Being aware and looking for wonder, all around me, in my everyday life.

  • My WOTY is ‘less’. In all things except knitting!!

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