My Word of the Year 2020

It took quite a bit of energy, brainstorming, and hard work for me to finally feel confident about choosing the right word of the year for 2020. In the past, I’ve set aside time leading up to the New Year to work on setting intentions and resolutions and choosing a word. And I try to take the first week of the year to get organized (and take our Xmas tree down!). This year didn’t play out that way. We were traveling on both sides of Jan. 1st thus I had very little down time to ponder these beloved practices. As week two of 2020 began, I knew I had to set aside time to really work on this.

Initially I felt drawn to choosing the word: CONNECTION.

But the more I thought about it, I wondered if I had a genuine pull toward that word or whether it was just an easy choice. That word rolled around in my head for days, as I tested it out to see how it felt. Connection is always something I crave in life. I could see it anchoring my desires with the blog, guiding me in my personal relationships with my husband and children, even with friends. Connection could mean less social media check ins and more intentional face time with family. Gosh, it was a well-rounded word, but for some reason it just didn’t feel quite right.

Then I discovered The Secret Library podcast (which is awesome if you haven’t heard of it). I’m not sure how I stumbled across it – probably late night IG scrolling which does sometimes turn out to be productive! I happened upon episode #131 between host Caroline Donahue and Susannah Conway about setting intentions for the year ahead.

“As writers, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can take care of our words. We don’t spend nearly as much time thinking about how words can take care of us as well.”

– Caroline Donahue

The podcast shoved me deeper into thought about choosing the right word. I decided to return to Susannah Conway’s Find Your Word guide (one of my goals for Jan 2020), which I had completed in years past. There are a series of exercises that help lead you to your word. First you are prompted to brainstorm what you need more of in your life in the upcoming year. Then, what you need less of.

The further into working through the guide, the less I was drawn to CONNECTION. I toyed with choosing CREATIVITY. But ultimately I found myself leaning into the word: NURTURE. See, I thought I could make nurture a broader word, which would allow me to incorporate other supporting words (like connection and creativity!). Meaning, I could nurture connections. Nurture my creativity.

I could nurture myself, my children, my marriage, anything I wanted!

I changed gears one morning in the midst of all of this word choosing and wrote out a list of 30-something books I want to read this year. 30 books. And those in addition to whatever I will read in my two different book clubs this year. Mind you, last year I barely made it through 24 books (which was a feat!). Now that I type it out, that sounds crazy. Especially because I know there will be a ton more books that I add to the list before the month is out from recommendations. (True to form, I added 2 more last night!).

On Tuesday I met a dear friend for lunch. We started talking about choosing a word. “I think you should choose FOCUS for the year” she said. I had considered it, I told her, but it was my sister’s word last year and so I sort of glanced right over it without further thought. You know you’ve found a good friend when they gently and kindly offer constructive criticism to you in a way that you find yourself very receptive to. My friend went on to explain that she enjoys hearing my ideas and new creative endeavors when we get together, but she always wonders about the follow through on those things.

And so I found myself wondering… could I fit focus in under my supporting words with NURTURE somehow?

Cut to a conversation later in the same day with my sister. She agreed that FOCUS would be a good choice for me. “Isn’t choosing NURTURE sort of the opposite of FOCUS – it seems like you’re trying to find a way to fit everything into one word!” she explained. I still wasn’t convinced. This is my nature, you understand. To want to do all the things! Read all the books. Take all the online courses.

Two days later and it was still haunting me.

word of the year 2020 focus unsplash image

FOCUS. Another conversation with yet a different friend I respect and admire encouraging me the same direction. “I agree it would be a good choice for you. You could even FOCUS on nurturing! Like really focus on nurturing your creativity.” Okay okay, I’m coming around to it I realized. So now FOCUS is rolling around in my mind.

Ironically as I delved back into my Find Your Word guide, I realized that it had been staring me in the face all along. FOCUS. It hit me like the relief of taking a deep full inhale/exhale after a long spell of breath-holding. So there you have it. I’ve really come around with this choice and I feel very excited about it. Excited to see what will come of it. Where it will lead me, how it will shape and/or guide my year ahead. Lord knows I need it.

Here’s a snippet of my distraction last night as I tried to work on a creative project:

Choosing a word of the year has always been an important process for me. Each time I have done so in the past, the word had served as a sort of anchor, a mantra of sorts. The right word has helped center me, balance my Gemini-ways, and lift me up to the best version of myself in years past. I am so thankful for the insight and support of those friends who helped me uncover what I need this upcoming year (which also happened to be the first thing I wrote on that journal prompt). I’m looking forward with positivity, motivation, enthusiasm, and most importantly, FOCUS for the year ahead.

word of the year 2020 focus unsplash image


Do you set intentions, resolutions, and/or choose a Word of the Year? I’d love to hear more about it!
Please share in the comment section below!


  • Ruthie

    Loved hearing about your process! My word for 2020 is PRACTICE, but I love FOCUS and it was a runner-up for me this year. Can’t wait to see how this manifests in your year!

    • elizabobryshev

      Thanks Ruthie. 🙂 PRACTICE sounds like an awesome choice! What a well-rounded and thoughtful word! We will have to stay in touch about how these both play out for us in 2020! Happy New Year friend!

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