3 Powerful Reasons To Choose A Word of the Year with ADHD

Many of us ADHD brains have a complicated relationship with New Year’s resolutions.

We think back to past experiences setting goals, and we find:

  • A trail of half-finished projects.
  • A closet full of unused supplies.
  • Vision boards long-forgot.

And we gather each experience as evidence against ourselves in the case of “I can’t reach my goals.”

We tell ourselves, “I’m just not a goal person.” 

And we truly believe, “I can’t stick to anything.”

Sound familiar?

If so, then I invite you to choose a word of the year. 

Doing so helps you:

  • Create clarity on what’s most important.
  • Stay centered and grounded. 
  • Maintain a focused yet flexible approach to living your year with intention.

Plus, anytime you slip into overwhelm or you’re ready to throw in the towel, you can hit pause and return to your word.

You can refocus on your vision.

And you can get back to what’s most important to you this year.

Are you ready to give it a try?


I invite you to listen to episode 127 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast above.

Then, download this free workbook that walks you step by step through the process of choosing a word of the year that’s right for you.

Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.

In This Episode, You Will Discover How To… 

  • Create clarity on what’s most important to you this year.
  • Stay centered and grounded when you feel overwhelmed.
  • Maintain a focused yet flexible approach to living your year with intention.

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Episode #127: 3 Powerful Reasons To Choose A Word of the Year with ADHD (Transcript)

Hey, everybody! How are you? I am doing really well today. I’ve just returned from visiting my family in Minnesota, and I had an absolutely amazing time. I got to spend time with my parents and my sisters, and my incredible niece, with whom I am ABSOLUTELY smitten. I was able to play games and sleep in and go for very chilly walks. And now I am super stoked to be back here, well-rested and so grateful to connect with you on the podcast.

So, that’s what’s going on here in the Engebretson household. I hope all of you are also doing great, too. 

Alright. What are we talking about today? Well, I decided to return to a concept that I introduced two years ago, way back in episode 24, which is choosing your word of the year. But today, I want to look at it through a different lens. 

I have been spending the past several weeks thinking about what I want my word to be for the coming year, and as I considered different options, it also had me reflecting on several reasons why I think this practice is so powerful.

And like I said, I have some new perspectives that I wanted to share with you on this word of the year idea in hopes you might consider choosing a word for yourself this year, too.

Now for those of you who may be newer to the podcast or haven’t heard of this “word of the year concept” before, it is exactly as it sounds. You choose a word that you want to help define your year ahead. 

And if you’re listening to this episode outside of the December/January months, I encourage you to keep listening. Because you can implement this concept at any time of year. In fact, the first time I did this, I think I chose mine in September or October. And if you already chose your word this year, it’s an opportunity to reflect on how you’re using it.

New Year’s Resolutions and Goals 

Now, I love this word of the year approach for the new year for many different reasons, and this is especially true for those who may be a bit hesitant to set goals or feel a bit averse to New Year’s resolutions. 

I know for many of us with ADHD and ADHD tendencies, we have so many past experiences of trying something, going all in, and then never following through on it. Or maybe we get all the supplies, sign up for the program, buy the book, or whatever, but we don’t even get started. 

And after years and years of this process in different variations, we stop trusting ourselves to follow through. We start thinking, what’s the point of even setting goals in the first place? I only end up failing and feeling disappointed. I’ll just skip it. Goals just aren’t really my thing. 

In fact, this comes up so often with my clients, and it’s one of the first things we explore when we set goals together. We look out four months into the future, which is the length of my coaching program, and we decide ahead of time: what do you want to create? What do you want to see happen?

And I would say 65% of them have a lot of hesitation and get really uncomfortable setting clear goals. About 30% of them have 20+ goals to tackle in the first month alone. (I’m exaggerating a little, but that is definitely one of my obstacles). And then about 5% of people. (These are often the clients I’ve worked with before and are on the next round of sessions.) There are about 5% who have a small handful of goals that they want to tackle over the four months.

But again, a large majority of people I work with have a lot of aversion to goal setting and an even stronger dislike of New Year’s resolutions. And if you fall into this camp for whatever reason (and even if you’re all in on goals and resolutions), I think you’re going to like this word of the year approach. 

Word Of The Year

Essentially, choosing your word for the year allows you to decide what energy you want to fuel your year ahead. If we think about the concept that I repeatedly teach on the podcast – our thoughts create our feelings, and what we feel causes us to take – or not take – specific actions. And the actions we take or don’t take ultimately shape the results in our lives. So if we think about this with choosing our word of the year, that word we choose is like the fuel we put into our model to shape our results for the year ahead, which is so fun. 


And before I forget, I have an awesome workbook that guides you step by step through the process of choosing your word of the year. So if you find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed worrying about how you could possibly choose one word for the year ahead, I encourage you to head over to today’s show notes in your podcast app, where you will find the link to download the workbook.

Now, I have been doing this practice of choosing a word of the year for several years. I began the process toward the end of 2017 and chose the word courage, which I continued into 2018. Then in 2019, I chose the phrase all-in. In 2020 my word was committed. And in 2021, my word was joy. Finally, this year, I picked the word possibility. 

I love the word possibility and everything it has to offer. One of the dictionary definitions is “something that can be done or achieved or can exist.” And I love this. I’ve decided to make 2022 my year of possibility. Of living into my goals and turning them from ideas into something that is done and exists in the world. 


And that leads me to the first of three powerful reasons why I encourage you to think about what you want your word of the year to be this year. And that is because doing this exercise alone encourages you to practice being intentional in how you want to live your life on both a big and small scale. 

When I am thinking about my impossible goal for the year and what I want to achieve in my business and personal life over the year ahead, I challenge myself to do so through the lens of possibility. Just as last year, I chose my goals through the lens of joy. 

And as I’ve considered the coming year through the lens of possibility, it has me dreaming big. It has me thinking big. And it’s encouraging me to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

Because as I also say on the podcast time and time again – the way we grow is by stepping outside of our comfort zone. The way we do big things is by stepping into the unknown. And let me tell you from first-hand experience; this does not feel good! 

But when I remind myself of what’s possible. When I think through the lens of possibility, it helps me dig deep and intentionally choose the option that makes my toddler brain think, umm, really? Are you sure? And the rest of my brain think, yep, I’m sure. Let’s go. 

And what’s more, I love using my word of the year on a much smaller scale, too. When I’m thinking about the day ahead, or I’m planning out my week, I can intentionally pause and ask myself, what does possibility look like? As I plan out my schedule, what is a true reflection of possibility? 

So as you think about your word for the coming year, I encourage you to use it to help you think intentionally about the big picture as well as the smaller experiences you encounter each day.


And that leads me to the next reason why I especially love having a word of the year. I love how having a word of the year provides a powerful way to ground yourself when things seem like too much. 

Over the past several years, as I’ve chosen my word, I’ve returned to this concept of grounding myself frequently. If I’m feeling overwhelmed thinking about all the work I have to do, and I’m telling myself I have no idea where to start. If I’m spinning out in indecision and can’t seem to make a decision. Or if I’m feeling stuck, apathetic, or simply a bit “blah,” I love returning to my word of the year to center myself. 

I’ll check in and ask myself, “of all the options available within this decision, which one is the best representation of possibility in this moment?” Or if I’m too overwhelmed thinking I don’t know where to start, I’ll think, “of all the items on my list, which one helps me live into a life of possibility the most?” And if I am feeling unmotivated, tired, or just plain blah, I might ask myself, “where is the possibility in this moment? How can I live into possibility right now?” And I answer that question.

So if you ever find yourself completely frozen in overwhelm. If you’re spinning in indecision. Or if you’re feeling a bit down or lacking that drive or motivation to take action, I encourage you to focus on your word of the year to ground yourself, return to center, and make a decision through the lens of your word. 

And the third thing I love about choosing a word of the year helps tie together the different points I shared about ADHDers and people with ADHD tendencies often feeling reluctant to set goals and resolutions with the other two points I’ve just shared. It basically pulls everything together. 

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Focused Yet Flexible

The third reason I love choosing a word of the year is it creates a container for growth that’s both focused and flexible. If you are not interested in setting super specific outcome-based goals. If you’re not keen on revenues goal in your business, or landing a new job, or publishing your book by X date. Perhaps your brain either feels closed to that approach for now, or you simply do not like outcome-based goals. Either way, choosing a word of the year can help you live into what that word means to you in a focused yet flexible way. 

For example, let’s say you chose family as your word for the year. Then maybe at the beginning of each month or every two weeks or when you plan each week, you could reflect on living into that word of family. Maybe it means doing one family outing every X amount of days. My parents and sisters have an awesome Sunday tradition of making brunch at 11:00 each Sunday. 

If you’re like me and don’t live near your family, maybe it’s building in a habit of calling or texting someone in your family every few days. I was just talking with my older sister about trying to facetime with my niece more often. 

And of course, family is just a random example; you can use it for any word you choose. Essentially, you use your word of the year as an opportunity to pause and ask yourself, “how am I living into the meaning of this word today? this week? or this month?” It’s focused yet flexible. 

What’s more, you’re never “on” or “off” the wagon. As another throwback to a very early episode – there is no wagon. Instead, you can make it a practice each day of asking yourself, what does “joy” look like in this situation? what does “possibility look like today?” how does committed look like tonight when my alarm to get ready for bed goes off and I’d really rather stay downstairs and keep reading or scrolling on my phone?

I’m telling you. When you choose your word of the year, and you find ways to keep it front and center of mind on a regular basis, it’s incredibly powerful because it’s helping shape how you feel and show up in your life each day. 

So maybe you make your word of the year your screen saver on your phone or computer. Maybe you make it your password. Perhaps you create a pretty design of the word in something like Canva and hang it on your wall. Perhaps you write it at the top of your planner each week and reflect on what you’re scheduling through that lens.

It doesn’t matter how you remind yourself of the word; the important thing is doing what works for you, so it stays front of mind as often as possible. Again – it doesn’t have to be perfect. We’re all about focused flexibility, right? But if you put it in many locations, you help increase the likelihood of remembering more often.

When you find ways to keep your word front and center, and you make decisions based on that word, you show up to your life with greater intention. You stay grounded in what’s true for you. You give yourself the focused flexibility of living the life you want for the year ahead. 

If you’re ready to choose your word, be sure to grab the workbook through the link in the show notes. Then, I’d love to hear what you picked! You can head over to Instagram, I’m @imbusybeingawesome, and send me a DM or share it below the post for the podcast episode. It will be so fun to hear what word is guiding your year ahead.

Alright my friends, that’s going to do it for us this week. And if you’re ready to take the concepts you’ve learned on the podcast and apply them to your life. If you’re ready to shift from information to implementation, head over to imbusybeingawesome.com/coaching to learn more about how we can work with your brain to take things to the next level.

If you know someone who would love to learn more about choosing their word of the year, would you be a rockstar and share this episode with them? Each time you do, you help me get these tools to even more people, and I really appreciate it.

Until next time, keep being awesome. I’ll talk with you soon.

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