2016: A Year of Intention

Choosing a word to embody all that I want for the entire year is a difficult task. I didn't want to choose a word that was simply a synonym of all my past words (bloomrealizeflourish... they all have similar ideas behind them). Yes, I want success. But I think I need a word that goes deeper.

I've been thinking about habits I want to recommit to. I've been thinking about goals, new ones, old ones.

I've been thinking as much about what I need to prune away in terms of habits and goals as what I need to add or to resolve.

If I truly want to learn from 2015, I need to listen to the fear that I was focusing on the wrong things.

intention*, n.
: the thing that you plan to do or achieve: an aim or purpose

1. a determination to act in a certain way: resolve
2. import, significance
3 a. what one intends to do or bring about
b. the object for which a prayer, mass, or pious act is offered
4. a process or manner of healing incised wounds
5. concept -- especially: a concept considered as the product of attention directed to an object of knowledge

watercolors, paint palette, color, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

And so, I come to INTENTION.

My days, my art, my choices, my actions... all weighed and gauged by INTENTION.

I don't want to blindly follow a path without a clear reason why.

I don't want to realize (too late) that I've been following someone else's path.

I don't want to realize (too late) that I'm not following any path at all.

I don't want to fall into distractions and I don't want habit to dictate my actions and choices.

I want intention, purpose, thought.

The word feels right. It feels strong.

orchids, orchid flowers, flowers, houseplants, inspiration, studio, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Are you going choose a word for your year? Here are some ideas:

If you don't know where to start...
  • Start with your goals and work from there.
  • Don't have specific goals? Think about what you want or need in the coming year. This can be concrete or more abstract.
  • Keep it simple and don't overthink it.
  • Write in your journal and/or pay attention to your thoughts (especially when you're doing other things like driving, taking a walk or showering). What do you keep returning to in your mind?
  • Scan through a dictionary or thesaurus and see what jumps out at you.
  • Make a list of all possible words, looking for synonyms and then check the definitions -- sometimes there are secondary meanings of words that will help you decide.
  • Take your time; after you jot down your list set it aside. When you return to it later see what resonates.
  • Look back at your past year: what have you learned about yourself? What do you want to invite more of into your life? What do you want reduce or eliminate from your life?
Other things to consider:
  • Is one word enough? A collection of words, a phrase or a quote might suit you better.
  • Or maybe choosing a word isn't right for you.
  • Choose a word that speaks to YOU. Don't worry about anyone else's choices.
  • Aim high, but choose something doable to keep from being frustrated or disappointed.
  • Think about parts of speech. If you're looking for an invigorating, active year a verb might be best. If you're looking for a year that is nurturing, healing or inward focused, a noun or adjective might be best.
  • Listen to your heart and be honest with yourself.
  • Take it seriously, but also have fun.
word of the year, intention, watercolor roses, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry
Once you've chosen your word:
  • Post it somewhere in your home to remind yourself of your focus for the year.
  • Type it with a pretty font or create a piece of art:
    • paint it, stamp it, collage it, sketch it, stitch it, hand-letter it, make a banner or bunting, commission an artist friend to create a piece for you... make it special.
  • Write the word on the front of your calendar or planner
  • Carry the word with you:
    • in your wallet, folded in a locket, stamped or beaded on a piece of jewelry
  • It's ok to keep your word private.
  • Check in with yourself throughout the year (write this on your calendar) to make sure your word still resonates and that you're still on track.
watercolor, art print calendar, terrarium, butterflies, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Here's to a wonderful year!

* definition from Merriam Webster online


  1. Your 'Intention' is beautifully painted Anne along with the surrounding flowers. You have obviously put a great deal of thought into choosing your word. I didn't put much thought into choosing my word 'Advance' but it came to me straight away. Perhaps it was in my subconscious that I feel the need to advance in so many areas of my life. I feel that things have become static and I need to move things forward. Good luck with all your intentions for the new year. I look forward to seeing how you get on with your intentions. :-)

    1. Thank you, Simone.

      I think sometimes our words speak to us. Sometimes it's loud. Sometimes it's quiet. I think your word is a great choice. Words have such power.

      Wishing you all the best as you move forward and ADVANCE this year!

  2. Intention...I like it. :-) I love how you included tips for us to find our word. I have never picked out a word. I will keep you posted if I do.

    1. Hi, Carla! I hope the tips come in handy if you decide to choose a word. It's fun to do, but I know how hard it can be to find just the right one.

      Hope your year is shaping up to be a good one!


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