The Word of 2016: Brave

Happy New Year, everyone! I’m back on the blog, and feeling regretful over recent missed blogging opportunities. Most bloggers do take some sort of hiatus over the holidays, but I’ve realized that this is actually a great time of year for the kind of posts I like to write: reflective, introspective, goal-oriented, habits-conscious. If only December weren’t also the prime time of year for other things! In December 2016 I resolve to get ahead of the chaos and schedule some extra posts in the last week of the year.

Over the past few years, I’ve gradually stopped making New Year’s Resolutions. Even though I love the idea of them, I’ve discovered that it’s much better for me to target goals seasonally. I don’t need or want to project my goals a whole year in advance; for one thing, I can’t predict where the year will take me, and for another, I’m always carrying my goals around with me in my head. Or in my heart. (Finish novel! Produce more nonfiction work! Get published! Make a podcast! Give interviews!) I don’t need a piece of paper stuck to the wall to remind me of what I want in life. 

But there is one New Year’s tradition I love: picking a word to symbolize 2016.

The word is….


When I started thinking about my symbolic word, I knew I wanted something to project fearlessness. I considered “Risk,” because I do want to take more risks in my work life and maybe try some new things in my personal life. But the word didn’t sit well on my gut; my personality type assigns negative connotations to riskiness, and I didn’t feel like I could get past that. I also thought of “Bold,” because it has similar forward-thinking overtones, but I didn’t think it would help me if something unexpected crossed my path. “Brave” works on all fronts. It helps me identify things I’m afraid of, move forward despite the fear, and helps me cope with challenges I didn’t anticipate. 

I’ve had varying success with past years’ words. My first, in 2014, was “Accept,” and that word got me through a lot, especially my cancer scare in February of that year. I have to admit, though, I can’t even recall 2015’s word, which I didn’t publish on this blog because I was transitioning to the new Words From The Sowul. (I can’t believe that was just under a year ago.) I think I told a friend or two what the word was, and I probably wrote it in my journal. But the point is that it didn’t work for me; I didn’t let it work for me.

I have high hopes for Brave. I tend to find that fear is the root of anything that holds me back in life, so I need a little Brave in my arsenal. 


Do you choose a word for each year? If so, do you mind sharing it in the comments? I love to hear what people come up with! Alternately, of course, you can always tweet me your word to @sowulwords. 


5 Responses to “The Word of 2016: Brave”

  1. Kathy says:

    I do choose a word of the year, and one year I chose Brave! It served me well and I hope it will give you that little extra something you need when faced with challenges. Last year my word was Delight. I was tired of aspirational words of the year that made me feel like I needed to improve and change myself (not that that doesn’t need to happen; I just didn’t want a reminder in my word of the year). I haven’t chosen a word for 2016 yet, but hope to this week.

    I’m also with you on the resolution thing–I don’t do year-long resolutions, but I like your quarterly goals idea and am planning to play with that this year. I’ll keep you posted!

    Happy New Year, and I hope 2016 holds much happiness for you.

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      “Delight” is a great word, Kathy! Good luck choosing one for this year. It’s smart to wait until you’re sure you’ve found the right one. I’ve heard so many great suggestions, I almost wish I could choose more than one word! But it’s never good to split your focus, so Brave it is.

  2. Tracy E. says:

    The word I would choose for 2016 would be Overcomer. (It literally just popped into my head as I type this). I want to Overcome fear and doubts that come with finishing writing my novel – revising, editing, and publishing it – and blogging regularly. I want to Overcome the feelings of unfairness and fear with a health issue that’s been with me for two years because I’m choosing to be inactive. I want to Overcome laziness and selfishness and learn and love to take care of my home and husband and dreams first. I want to Overcome our pile of debt and live debt-free. I want to be Overcome with love for my God, for people, and for myself.

    I’ve never chosen a word for my year before, but I have one now 🙂

    Thank you for writing this post, Leanne. After NaNoWriMo, I planned for December to my Christmas + goal-planning + resolution + bullet journal prep month. It’s January 1st and my novel is still waiting to be finished. The bullet journal is still waiting to be created. I read two and a half books. I did enjoy Christmas and presents and family.

    I love that you chose Brave. And I will look forward to reading about your Brave year 🙂

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Tracy, I LOVE Overcomer. That’s an awesome word. It has a lot of the same qualities as Brave, but with sort of a warrior feel to it. I think it’ll serve you well with all the things you’re gearing up to conquer this year. Best wishes for a full and happy 2016!

      Oh, and I hope you will see a lot of Brave here on the blog… it’s my intention to “show my work” more this year, and be candid about my writing/publishing journey. That’s something that’s Brave for me!

  3. Brave/courage was one of the things I worked on last year. I made a few difficult, scary moves and set boundaries with abusive things in my life.

    This year I chose Poise. Last year was one of dis-equilibrium, this one will be where I regain my equilibrium. I was also inspired by the Madame Chic series by Jennifer L Scott. Poise. Inside and outside. 🙂


  1. The Word of 2017:: Leanne Sowul, Writer - […] choose a word every year. Last year’s was Brave. It served me well; I accomplished a lot this year,…

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