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Balance. Pause. Sparkle. Readers share their nudge words for 2023.

More than 1,300 of you replied with words of adventure, movement, growth and possibility

(Abbey Lossing for The Washington Post)
3 min

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In early January, I asked readers to share their “nudge” word — something that would help them focus on their goals and values for the new year.

More than 1,300 of you replied with words of adventure, movement, growth and possibility. I was awed by the creative, brave and thoughtful intentions you shared.

If you’re still trying to figure out your perfect nudge word or not sure you picked the right one, keep reading for a great new list from readers that will inspire you. With nudge words, there aren’t any rules. If you find one you like better, just take it!

The most popular words on the list were “grow” or “growth,” followed by “reset,” “connect” or “connection,” and “evolve.” A surprising number of readers picked “focus” as their word. The same number chose “nourish.”

One of the more popular nudge words was “balance.” I can relate because it’s my 2023 word, as well.

I like the idea of focusing on balance this year because it doesn’t keep me from new opportunities but instead nudges me to be more thoughtful about how I spend my day. For me, balance so far has meant scheduling medical appointments I neglected in 2022, trying to prioritize sleep and eating more healthfully.

Nudge words can take you to surprising places. In my quest for balance, I began volunteering to walk dogs at the local animal shelter, a place where I’ve now met new friends, both canine and human. And it’s also great exercise.

One reader found a double meaning in the word balance.

“I tend to go overboard when I do things, and then get resentful if I feel that it’s taking too much time away from other things that I’d rather do,” one reader shared. “Asking myself whether I have balance will be really helpful in deciding how much time to spend on the different activities in my life. And, one of my favorite ways to exercise is ballet class, where I definitely need to work on balance!”

Other nudge words were focused on adventure and trying new things. While some people were centered on doing more, many were focused on doing less. In fact, words such as less, reset, lightness and pause were popular.

Here are some other themes readers shared.

Growth words: Accomplish, achieve, ask, become, begin, bloom, blossom, build, create, cultivate, expand, free, freedom

Mindful words: Abundance, acceptance, appreciate, awake, awareness, awe, breathe, calm, cherish, clarity, exhale, forgive, gratitude, presence or present, open, optimism, savor

Adventure words: Bravery, courage, curiosity, dare, discomfort, discover, evolve, explore, experience, perseverance, persist, seek, stretch, strive

Reset words: Calm, chill, ease, flourish, joy, pause, recharge, reclaim, refresh, relax, renew, resilience, simplify

Relationship words: Commitment, compassion, connect, engage, friendship, hospitality, kindness, reconnect, relationships

And finally, one of my favorite nudge words this year was “sparkle.”

The reader explained that the word is a reminder “to show up with my unique energy and light! It’s also just a fun, playful, energetic word — all things I want to embody more of this year!”

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