I’m a goal setter and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve always thrived on dreaming big with lofty goals and working to achieve them. One of the ways that I do this is by choosing a word. That word becomes the overarching theme for my year, and it’s the way that I filter my actions and decisions. Sometimes the word comes to me loud and clear, but sometimes I go a year without a word. This year, it came at me with sudden and fierce clarity while driving one day. My one word for 2024 is “breakthrough.”

Why choose just one word?

In my experience, and at the stage of life that I’m in, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. As a busy homeschool Mom, wife, and small business owner there are just so many hats that I can juggle. Setting a simple intention makes it easy for me to keep things streamlined. By choosing one word for 2024, I can use that word as a guideline for every other type of goal setting that I do. The word becomes a sort of funnel or lens that I use to align my personal life, family life, homeschool life, and business life.

One word for 2023.

Over the last five years, there have been two years where I just didn’t choose a word. I never felt a clear conviction for what the word should be, so I let it go. In my opinion, if I spend too much mental energy trying to choose a word then it’s not worth it anyway. I wait for the word to be clear. Last year, 2023, my word was “momentum.” That word felt right because I finally had some answers about my health (autoimmune disease and Celiac disease) and felt like I was making headway on finally feeling better. I made some decisions for my small business that felt like a catalyst for forward movement at a faster pace. There were some changes that I implemented in our homeschool that proved to be the right direction. Momentum was the perfect word for 2023.

Momentum, Rest, Sustainable.

Usually, the one word or intent comes to me at the most unexpected times. Sometimes it’s when we’re driving to one of our activities or sports practices. Sometimes it’s while I’m exercising, or sometimes even in the shower. This year, the word breakthrough came to me loud and clear and I had no doubt it was my word for the year. Last year, momentum came to me the same way. Rest and sustainable were a little more quiet and took some time to uncover. My general rule is to not push to hard to find a word. If it isn’t manifesting clearly, let it go. It’s perfectly okay to move into 2024 without a word or intention. My one word for 2024 made itself known to me all the way back in September!

End of year reflections.

One of the ways that I worked to uncover my word for 2024 is to walk through a series of questions or reflections. Occasionally, this will involve the whole family if I’m working on a word for us, but usually it’s just for me. I use these framing questions to examine the previous year and begin to project what I want for the next. It’s helpful to me to write it all down. I write it in a place where I can keep coming back to it, and that place is usually in my planner. Often times, it puts it in perspective just how many “hats” I’m juggling when I see it all on paper. These are the questions I ask myself:

  • What went well last year?
  • What felt “stuck” last year?
  • What were your wins?
  • What are your “hats” that you juggle?
  • Which “hats” do you have any control over?
  • What three “hats” do you want to apply your word to?

Taking the reflections forward.

Once I’ve had time to answer those questions, I create a chart. The chart has the three or four (or however many) hats or buckets that I want to set goals in. Typically, this includes a personal bucket, one for our family life, one for our homeschool, and one for my business. I keep this chart where I’ll see it often, in the “notes” section of my planner. The next step is to think about your one word for 2024 and how it can be applied to your buckets. This process is supposed to be fun, so don’t weigh yourself down with overly lofty or complicated goals. Unless you want to shoot for the stars then I say go for it!

Time tested goal setting.

Now that you have your buckets and your word, it’s time to set some goals. Cliche as it may sound, using the “smart” goals acronym is really helpful! Take time for each goal that you set and ask yourself:

  • Is it specific?
  • Is it measurable?
  • Is it achievable?
  • Is it realistic?
  • Is it timely?

In a nutshell: is it something you can accomplish, that can be measured, in a set amount of time. Now here’s a confession: not all of my goals are smart goals. That’s ok. My goal setting process is fluid and I prefer to not hold myself to hard and fast rules because life has a way of forcing you to be flexible.

How many goals to set.

The number of goals or intentions that I set depend on the number of buckets or hats that I have. I do hold myself to the rule of one goal at a time for each of those buckets. Each of those goals can be broken down and segmented into smaller steps, but I try to keep it to one goal per focus. That way I am less likely to feel overwhelmed. If I achieve one of the goals, great! Time to set another one and move on. If the goal starts to feel like too much and its’ negatively impacting my metal state, its okay to let it go. Hold them, but hold them loosely. These goals are not a defining your success or worth as a human, they’re meant to be guideposts to help you move through the year.

Why I chose “breakthrough” for my one word for 2024.

To be honest, I didn’t choose it. The word jumped into my brain with alarming clarity one day last September, while driving to sports practices for my kids. It doesn’t always happen that way but it’s nice when it does. I knew I had to go with it. I had just returned from the most amazing women’s entrepreneur retreat in Banff with Christina McEvoy of Macs Explore. It was a spectacular trip and the creative energy was so good. One of the sessions, led by Caz of Y Travel Blog, gave me an opportunity to pour out some things that were on my mind and heart. That reflective exercise was the catalyst for my one word for 2024.

There are many facets of my life where my word from 2023, momentum, absolutely held true. None more so than within my business and what I do with my social media pages. Sitting here at the end of 2023, I’ve had the most successful year yet for my business, both for the number of partnerships that I’ve had and the profit I’ve made. I also attended my first two industry conferences. Breakthrough feels like the natural next step for my business and I already have things in motion to make that word become a reality for 2024. PS – I would HIGHLY recommend going on a work retreat with a group of similarly adventure minded content creators and explorers!

Big or small, they all count.

It doesn’t matter if you’re setting big goals that can have a big impact, or smaller goals that make a big impact to you and your life. It all counts and all goals have value. If you’re wanting to drink more water or read more books, write it down and make it happen. If you’re wanting to reach a fitness goal, write it down and make it happen. Business profit goal? Write it down and make it happen. No matter how lofty or zeroed in, your goal matters. I’ll be cheering you on, whatever those goals are.

How to make it happen.

The key to making these goals happen is to always keep your one word for 2024 at the forefront of your mind. Write it down in a place where you’ll see it often. For me, that’s my planner. Some years, I’ve created an image in Canva to use as wallpaper on my phone, with my word somewhere in the image. Another important thing is learning to look at the “big” goal for each bucket and breaking it down into steps. If that means making quarterly goals, monthly, or even daily. Do what’s best for you. For me, it helps to take my big goal and break it down into four big steps that will get me there. Then, I do a little weekly check in during my “organize” day. That day is typically Sunday afternoon, when I’m writing out our schedules for the week and planning content.

What will your word be?

Have you ever chosen one word? Or maybe, one intention for the year? If it’s not your thing, that’s ok! If you find this helpful, I’d love to hear about what you choose for your one word for 2024. Email me at coleyraeh@gmail.com and tell me your word. However you choose to walk into this new year, I wish you the very best in all things and hope that you have many adventures and lots of opportunities to chase shenanigans. Here’s to 2024!

Thanks so much for reading!

Nichole is a writer, content creator, and family travel and adventure influencer residing in southwest Arkansas. Though her and her husband (Ryan) are originally from the midwest, they’ve lived in Arkansas for ten years now and are thrilled to call it home. They have homeschooled their children from the beginning of their educational journey. They have a now 12 year old son and 9 year old daughter, along with a one year Direwolf Dog puppy named Levi. Nichole is an avid outdoor adventurer and road tripper and has been taking her kids on adventures by herself since they were infants, it’s all part of what she calls being responsibly brave. She is also on the Executive Team for Run Wild My Child and has contributed to Wild and Free. Be sure to follow her on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date with all of their shenanigans.