WORD!  Claiming Your Year with Purpose and Pizzazz: Danna Schmidt

WORD! Claiming Your Year with Purpose and Pizzazz: Danna Schmidt

WORD! Claiming Your Year with Purpose and Pizzazz
by Danna Schmidt

Choosing a guiding Word versus a New Year’s resolution has become a popular way to be more intentional about ways of being, doing, and having. Google “word of the year” and you will discover countless resources that hint at how resolution-setting is so last millennium.

I first began theming my year in 2008 and since then have expanded this theming into a methodical branding system. Not only do I name and claim my year with high vibrational words, but I also create taglines, a yearly soundtrack, a vision board, and pair it with a visual talisman (a decorated stick, stamped necklace, or inscribed rock, for example). Adding these touchstones helps me keep my word(s) and intention for the year alive and thriving.

Should you feel inspired to carry a word or words with you for 2019, here are my top 10 tips for doing so.

Top 10 Tips


Take stock of where you’re at by writing a letter to your year, noting categories such as your joys, sorrows, activities, travels, successes, milestones, detours/roadblocks, stressors, support, moments of flow, and peak moments. Express hopes for the future and gratitude for how this year changed or marked you. From this letter, you may glean insights into an emerging theme.

image by Danna Schmidt

image by Danna Schmidt


Spend some time searching out words that express your 2019 intention/wish. Consult a thesaurus, hit up a word-nerd friend, look up the etymology, and spend time seeking out high-vibe verbs, or words that are both noun and verb, words that are an imperative, and my personal favorite, portmanteau and hybrid words. Printing out the thesaurus and dictionary listing of your word can also be very inspiring, as can making an acrostic poem of it.

My favorite new wordplay trick is to type my word or words into an online anagram site, choose the most relevant and intriguing ones, and then go to a word cloud site to digitally collage all the lively words these anagram tools elicit.

image by Danna Schmidt

image by Danna Schmidt


Pay attention to these desires. What are you longing for? What is constantly on your mind as an area of growth and opportunity? What is it you want to manifest and create?


Consider your word from an elemental perspective. A few years ago, I chose Airworthiness (pairing the notions of dreams taking flight with self-worth). Another year, my element was fire, which meshed beautifully with my dance-themed word.

image by Danna Schmidt

image by Danna Schmidt


This somatic approach is another tool that has really inspired me. I consider how my chosen words align with a chakra and sensory perception. This year, my theme is about creative voice, so I am paying heed to my throat chakra and my sensory perceptions that relate to expression.


Source poetry, song lyrics, inspirational quotes, and even your own journal entries and writings for clues. One year, my theme was Rise Up Rooted… (which included the dot dot dot), partially inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem about rising up rooted and Peter H. Reynold’s renowned picture book, The Dot.


I don’t often choose my visual symbol first, but if I resonate with the pairing of my word and a certain talisman that helps me keep my word alive and thriving, that’s often a sign that my word will empower me all year long. Examples of how I’ve made symbols work for me include choosing a feather during my Airworthiness year, and moss as my touchy-feely thing. Another year, the image of Snoopy dancing felt inspiring.

If you’re stuck, look around at symbols or your own personal icons (compass, tiny music box, a poker chip, a bird, a nest, a small mirror, etc.)—inspiration is everywhere! Other tangible items that can help support you include a themed vision board, word jewelry charms (bracelet, necklace pendant, or keychain charm), custom word art pieces (small canvas, door wreath, decoration or other wall hanging), painted rocks, a custom art journal, or even a miniature prayer flag.


Sometimes the upcoming milestones, travels, places and events in your life offer clue enough. I knew that in the year I turned 50, I would be venturing on a solo pilgrimage journey to Europe, so I allowed that to help guide me with my theme of being more earth-based. The year prior, I was launching my business and creating my marketing tools, so my theme naturally morphed into one of taking flight, building confidence, and tackling issues of self-worth.


My SEAL of approval, which helps me know if my chosen word has enough oomph, is to ask myself if it’s [S]exy, [E]nergizing, [A]mbitious and [L]asting. If it doesn't give me goosebumps, make me smile like a Cheshire cat, scare me a tiny bit, and have the potential to be a story I can still talk about years later, it won’t get my SEAL of approval.


I have more than a decade of cool word choices. Sometimes our soul is way ahead of our heart, mind, and body in the choosing of a word. If you’re stuck, go back through previous years and see if there is any residual longing and energy with previous choices. I know people who have lived their word two years in a row, especially if there’s big work to do. My word choice of Airworthiness one year was born from my 2014 Dubstep year (which contained 12 monthly W words including Worth). My epiphany from doing my year in review work at the end of my Dubstep year was that I needed to keep working with Worth. Claiming that word for the next year proved to be a very, well … worthy endeavor.

image by Danna Schmidt

image by Danna Schmidt

Turning Point

Claiming an intention has helped me shape my story, add meaning and momentum to my journey, and learn more about myself.  

My chosen word pairing for 2019 is Turning Point. The words turn and point function as both nouns and verbs. This theme reminds me to go against myself, sidestep roadblocks, and shift gears where needed, and acts as an imperative for me to lend focus and direction to my dreams. Turning Point holds many other intriguing and relevant words such as toning, touring, ignitor, tuition, origin, intuit, uniting, print, union, putting, grin, pining, pruning, outing, etc., and deeply resonates with me around issues of focus and redirection.

Turning Point embraces what is real and raw for me at this epoch in my life, at the start of what is my first full empty-nesthood year. It IS my turn!

And so, with all this said, I now turn and point to you and whisper: your turn! What word or words are calling out to be claimed by you this year?

Unapologetic: Nolwenn Petitbois

Unapologetic: Nolwenn Petitbois

word of the year: TPS staff

word of the year: TPS staff