Hop Off the Hamster Wheel of Life by Setting an Intention for the Year

Last week, I talked about cleaning out your fridge to make more space.

This week, I wanted to talk about what you want to create with that new-found space. Something that has become popular in recent years is selecting a one-word intention for the year. Not being clear about your intentions may feel like you are running on the hamster wheel of life getting nowhere.

This is not a new year’s resolution or something you want to DO in the year, rather it is about being. In this process, you want to connect to your heart’s desire. The idea is that you select a word which serves as a reminder of your overall intention for the year. The goal of it is to help you focus on your purpose, what matters most to you at this time in your life. Consider it a driving force or a theme for your year. What do you intend for this year to hold?

I have been doing this for several years now. One year, I selected “meaning” as I was feeling burnt out and unhappy in my personal life. I picked it because it started with “me”. I was going to put my oxygen mask on first and take care of me. I had previously been putting my needs last. Also, I wanted to do things that were important to me and I did not want to stay on the hamster wheel of life going nowhere. I would ask myself, “is this meaningful to me?” If the answer was “no”, I gave myself permission to say, “no”. The results were amazing in both my personal and professional life. I made powerful shifts in how I spent my time. I felt more in control of my life – and it centered me.

Why choose a word of the year?

This process helps you:

  • Clarify your purpose
  • Synthesize what matters to you
  • Focus your attention on your intentions
  • Ground yourself when under stress
  • Become more productive (getting out of the trap of being busy without direction)
  • Stretch and see what is possible for yourself

Plus it is free, low risk for high reward.


If this is something you’d like to try, here are a few tips:

  • Spend some time reflecting on what matters, what you need, what’s in your way, etc. (e.g., journaling, meditating, running, etc.) Let yourself diverge first. Then look at themes to identify the most important word.
  • Pick one word only (if you are thinking about multiple words, go “up a level” to something that could include all words or select which word is most important to you right now
  • Keep it simple so you can remember it
  • Make it memorable, some people associate an image with the word that helps them remember it
  • When thinking of the word, evoke as many senses as possible to make it come to life for you
  • Put the word somewhere where you will see it regularly – screensaver on phone/computer, post-it note on monitor, in your planner, on your mirror, in your car – anything goes.

Whether you pick one-word or not,
I encourage you to focus on what matters to you and an stay off the hamster wheel of life.


For a chuckle, I encourage you to check out this parody from the Holderness Family, Picking your 2021 Word.


“Purpose is a unique source of energy and power. It fuels focus, direction and passion.” – The Power of Full Engagement By James Loehr and Tony Schwartz

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