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Embracing the Anti Word of the Year

As we dive headfirst into the new year, you may hear people talking about their “word of the year.”

Or maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about, this sounds way too hippy-dippy, and you’re thinking I’ve been reading too many self-help books lately.

Hear me out though because this is one resolution that can be as easy as four letters!


What is a Word of the Year?

A word of the year is a word you choose to guide your decisions throughout the year. It’s meant to be a mini mantra that keeps you moving when things get tough, or a gentle reminder about what is important. Like an inner wrist tattoo without the needles.

Think words like fearless, family, faith, further, fajitas, flour tortillas… Nope, nope got off track there…

In 2019, my word of the year was “finish.”

The idea of finish was to keep me on track with finishing the manuscript of my book, finishing existing blog posts before jumping into new ones, and getting that achiever’s high of crossing things off my to-do list.

In 2020, my word of the year is “focus.”

Finish and I had a good run, and it was super helpful to motivate me towards my goals. But I still ran into the problem of trying to finish too many things and jumping between projects too quickly. So I’m planning to use more time-blocking this year to focus in on tasks instead of multi-tasking. Focus also applies to my personal life. My brain is often going a million miles a minute, but I want to focus more intently on the people I love and tell my brain to chill.


The Anti Word of the Year

I also subscribe to a different approach to word of the year – the anti word of the year.

Along with the word of the year I wanted to center myself around last year, I also had a word I wanted to STOP saying. The more I thought about this word the more I realized it is unnecessary, it holds me back in my career, it’s not good role modeling for my kids, and it’s inflating my word count.

The word? Just.

Curious about why this word might be one to nix in the new year for you too? Read on, my friend!


Find your Anti Word of the Year
Pin me as a reminder!

Just Following Up

Women have a tendency to over apologize.

Taking ownership for your actions is completely virtuous, and “I am sorry” are three very important words. However, these words can hold you back when they turn into an apology for existing.

I am sorry to bother you.

I am sorry that I’m sick.

I am sorry that I am taking up a regular human amount of space at this table.

“Just” is the same way. You aren’t “just” following up on an email that hasn’t been responded to. You’re following up. You don’t “just” want to discuss an issue for a minute. You want to discuss it. There’s no need to tiptoe around what you want to say or do, or try to make it softer.

Same goes for taking credit for your work. If you put together a killer PowerPoint slide deck you didn’t “just do the slides.” If you are a stay at home mother you don’t “just stay at home.” Your side business is not “just a hobby” if you don’t want it to be. You don’t need the just qualifier.

Forget “just do it.” Do it. You’re doing it, I’m doing it. This year, let’s take credit for it, and stop apologizing for it.


Just A Second

How many times a day do we tell our kids “just a second,” or “just a minute”, or “just hang on”? For me – it was a lot.

THEN I would turn around and spin into a mom rage when my kids told me they are “just doing one more thing first” when I’ve asked them to put on their shoes 13 times.

No! I said to do this thing, so do this thing! Don’t “just” do something else!

“Just” in this context feels dismissive of needs. What I’m doing is more important than what you want me to do, so meh, I’m just going to do that instead. Now I don’t think that I should drop everything I’m doing to be at my kids’ beck and call, and I don’t think that my kids need to be mindless yes men and women, but I do want to remove “just” out of our collective vocabulary so that we really acknowledge each other.

So I started catching myself when I immediately go to “just” mode when a request comes my way. If I am in the middle of something, I’ll let the kids know that I will help them out as soon as I am finished. But not in “just a second.” I find that it gives what I am currently occupied with some credit for being meaningful, but also doesn’t feel like an arbitrary blow off. Using my anti word of the year in this context helped me lead by example for the kids. A monkey see monkey do situation.

Now, this is still a work in progress, for sure. But we’re getting there.


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Just Go For It

All this thinking about word of the year and anti word of the year is well and good, but to make it stick you need to commit to implementing it into your life.

So put it in ink!

I realize I promised no tattoos, so your ink can be with pen and paper. But if you’re super inspired go ahead and get that tattoo. YOLO right!? (Do the kids still say YOLO?)

For 2019 I broke free from the blue light of my computer for a smidgen in favor of a good old pen and paper planner to help me stay on track.  The words “finish” and “just” both got written down in bold Sharpie on page 1 of my planner as a reminder that I want to finish and I don’t “just” do anything.

The result? I finished my manuscript, signed on with a publisher for my children’s book, finished a bajillion blog posts, and launched a coaching business.

This year, “focus” is going on page 1 of my planner, and “just” is coming along for the ride in Sharpie too because it’s still worth remembering. As long as I can find the Sharpie… Oh no… I have two small children and I can’t find the Sharpie…

Be right back…

That’ll come off eventually right?


Do you have a word of the year? How about an anti word of the year? I’d love to hear about it!

Not sure yet? Check out Jennifer Fulwiler’s Word of the Year Generator.


With big plans for the new year and big thanks to Nike for letting me tear up their slogan,


P.S. Looking for a great planner to write down your word of the year and anti word of the year? Check out PurpleTrail. They gifted me this little beauty last year and I loved it!

Anti Personal Word of the Year for 2019

Read More on Personal Development:

Inspiring Personal Development Books for the Dreamers

13 Game-Changing Working Mom Hacks to Make Life Easier and More Fun

What is StrengthsFinder and How Can It Help You Find Your Career Sweet Spot


A personal word of the year can help guide your decisions, but how can an anti personal word of the year also change your 2019? #newyearsresolutions #personawordoftheyear #personaldevelopment

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One word you should stop saying in 2019. #newyearsresolution #personaldevelopment #careerdevelopment
Personal development goals for 2019. #newyearsresolution #personaldevelopment #quotes

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20 Comments

  1. Okay, I love this post, but I just (GAH!!) have to say that due to the ad placement, it looked like you were announcing that your anti personal word for 2019 was “weed killer for yards” and I was very confused (yet still supportive!) at the strong feelings against weed killer.

    But seriously, so much YES to this post. I too am constantly throwing in “just” into conversations to seem all breezy and casual, and it needs to stop. Maybe we can be accountability buddies. Or not. Just a thought! (…This is going to be tough, isn’t it?)

  2. I love everything about this! I def minimize everything I do. This ish is HARD. (Maybe I’m trying to trick myself into thinking that taking care of the kids and the house and the chickens and the cat and OH YEAH starting a business and also still working a side hustle is easy? It’s JUST like 75,000 things per hour, nbd.)

    1. I read that post last year, loved it, commented on it, and then completely forgot and wrote my own take on the subject. Gah! Linking to yours in the post now. But I agree there is lots of room for all of us to take the just out of our lives.

  3. YES YES YES! I’ve been working on this little word, too. I use it in emails and conversation ALL. THE. TIME. “I’m just checking in about xyz…” “I’m just wondering if xyz…” Thanks for the great reminder, Becca! And fantastic post, as always. <3

    1. Thanks so much, Paula! It’s such a common one and so easy to throw into conversation without realizing it. I love when I catch myself about to type it and then breeze right past. It’s pretty empowering!

  4. I hate the qualifier, “right?” “Right?” Like I need to get buy-in from the whole world when I say something. I should get rid of that one. And if I can get the rest of the world, especially teenagers and grown people who talk like teenagers, to stop using “literally” needlessly, my year 2019 will be made! Fun post!

  5. “Just” and “sorry” definitely need to be removed from my vocabulary, too. I find myself apologizing for the most ridiculous things, like being hard of hearing. Maybe I’ll make those words my new swear jar and allow myself to curse as much as I’d want and fine myself for “just” and “sorry.”

  6. Oh man, that hits hard. You’re so right, and I’m so guilty of this! I’m going to work on rescuing my use of the word ‘just.’

    I don’t usually pick a word for the year, but last week at church I was hit in the face with ‘choose joy.’ I’m looking forward to improving my joy and choosing to love life more. 🙂

  7. It is truly amazing when we stop to think about the way we diminish what we are saying! Just is a pretty frequent word in my emails and phone calls as well. Great insight here. I will now be more focused on that word! 🙂

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