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  • Writer's pictureAnjum Madan

My Struggles With Picking A Word of the Year – and Why I Chose One This Year

Picking a word of the year seems to be one of those must-do’s at this time of year. Everywhere you look, you see social media posts and blogs where people reveal the word they have chosen. You may have even seen these word searches which say the first word that pops out at you is your word of the year.

Picking a word of the year has always seemed overwhelming to me. So much so that I’ve never chosen one before, even though the idea seems really motivating and fun.

After all, what if I choose the wrong word – will I manifest things that I don’t want to? What if I end up choosing a word that leads to a terrible year?

What if partway through the year I realize that the word I chose just isn’t working out for me? I’m pretty sure A LOT of people didn’t manifest what they thought they were going to in 2020!

And yet, I was drawn to the idea once again as I saw those posts in the past few weeks.

I read a lot about it (if you know anything about me, you’ll know that I’m a researcher!) I read about how other people choose their word. I read about other people’s words and why they chose them. I read about how they have found that their word influenced their year. And then, I thought about it and decided I did want to have a word of the year.

However, I wanted it to be a word I could apply to my entire life- not just my business, not just my personal life – something that could encompass the entire thing.

As you know, the past couple of years has been a journey for me – therapy and a lot of self-work have meant that I am far more intentional about my choices now. A huge part of what I’m working on is doing things because I choose to – not because I feel like I should.

So yes, this year I’m jumping on the word of the year bandwagon. Not because it’s something I feel like I should. But because I actually want to. I want to take on this experiment of choosing a word that describes the feeling I want to embody in the coming year and see where it takes me.

Now that I had decided to do this, the next hard part was figuring out my word. What is the energy I want to take with me in 2022? I tried journaling about it. I pulled tarot cards. I listened to music that made me feel that energy. I kept coming back to the idea of a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.

I had read a lot of motivational posts about therapy and self-healing being about coming home to yourself. But they didn’t resonate with me – because I feel like I have never fully been myself – even as a child. So the idea of a butterfly hit home with me – because when it went into its cocoon it wasn’t a butterfly yet. It was a caterpillar. So when it emerges it is something more beautiful than it has ever been.


Yet, at first, that didn’t seem quite right. There has to be a better word, right. A word that immediately evokes that feeling. With Google as my weapon, I set on that journey to find exactly the right word that described that moment. It was not easy, let me tell you. But finally, I found the word.


Phew! I found it! What a relief. Except…..I don’t like how that word sounds. Maybe because it sounds like it has the word “close” in it – but I don’t like the way it sounds. Ugh. Back to square one. Or is it?

I let myself ruminate on it and realized that maybe emerge was the right word. Maybe I had to go through the exercise of finding eclosion in order to realize that the right word was, in fact, emerge.

Yes, that’s it.

That’s the end, right. I just have to pick a word. Except I decided that wasn’t it. I need to make sure I actually embody the word emerge in the coming year. So, I told my art therapist. And we worked on it during our next session. She got me to draw a fast emerge – for which I thought of a jack-in-the-box – except I chose to have a Care Bear emerging from my box. Then a slow emerge – which was a chick emerging from its egg. A happy emerge – for which I thought of a little kid emerging from the windows of her playhouse yelling “surprise!”. And finally a scary emerge – which for me was the image of walking down a dark road and someone emerges from between the buildings.

This was actually a pretty important way to think about my word – it made me consider different ways the word may show up in the coming year. And after going through it all, I had to consider if I still wanted this to be my word. I decided that yes, I’m still happy with the word I chose.

I have one final step that I did. I used the word to decorate the first page of my planner. This was very important to me – because I want to make sure that I look at the word regularly during the year. I want to make sure that it remains a focus for me – almost like a guiding light. There are so many things I want to do this coming year – and they all involve emerging in some way. I want to write on this blog consistently – this means that my voice will emerge. I have workshops and courses that I’m planning to bring into the world – again emerging from behind the veil of my security and letting myself be seen. Personally, I am looking for the person I am meant to be – and I hope to let her emerge and shine brightly.

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