How to Choose Your Word for the Year

New Year’s resolutions. Let’s be honest – how many of us stick with those throughout the year? That detailed list of absolutely EVERYTHING we wish to improve about ourselves. More often than not New Year’s resolutions are more of a joke than an inspiration.

But should the idea be thrown out altogether? There’s no avoiding the fact that a New Year brings a feeling of a fresh clean slate and the desire to do better. As strange as that is – considering that it really is a day no different to any other day – it would be unwise to embrace that feeling. As human beings, we must live in an atmosphere of growth to be satisfied and happy – and certainly as Christians we must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Every year should bring us closer to God and Heaven.

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

One thing that is growing in popularity is this idea of having a singular focus for the year – limited to one or two words, or even a phrase. This is something I personally have practiced the last 2 years, and I find it has sustained me throughout a year where New Year’s resolutions did not.

In 2017, my words were “grateful and generous”. I found that I was complaining a lot and that living overseas had placed me in a position where I was getting more than I was giving (out of neccessity, but still – I came to expect it). So I decided that 2017 was going to be a year where I wrote thank you notes, gave without expecting, and gave more prayers of thanksgiving. Whenever I thought, “should I give this…?” or “should I pay for this?” I reminded myself of my words, and simply gave. It was uncomfortable, but it became more of a habit, for sure.

In 2018, my words were “create and conquer”. I was afraid of a lot concerning my art business, driving (I hadn’t driven in over 5 years), and other things. I also had some specific, destructive struggles I knew I needed to have the courage to confront and kick to the curb (or at least get a better handle on). This year, whenever I thought, “This is a good thing, but – I’m afraid…” I went ahead and said “yes”. There were A LOT of firsts this year. A lot of things that scared me or had a grip on me that I conquered. Some little things, some very big things. But these words carried me through and gave me purpose.

This year, 2019, my words for the year are “Present and at Peace”. I’ll be talking more about them later this week in detail and what they are going to mean for me.

If you haven’t picked a word of the year before, I highly recommend it! It doesn’t have to be a stressful exercise. Here’s how it has worked for me:

    I pick an area I feel I am particularly deficient in. This will be area that effects many areas of my life – my relationships, my faith, my health, and my practical daily living. If we are honest and vulnerable with ourselves, we know what it is we need to work on. Don’t pick something easy – make yourself a little uncomfortable. You want to get to the end of the year and be proud of all the comfort zones you stretched!
    I pick 2 words that I want to replace my negative habits. These are words that are different but that also go hand in hand in being solutions to my problem. “Grateful and Generous,” for example, are two words that complement each other while still giving a lot of room for reaching more areas of my life. You can, however, simply pick one focus word – or even a phrase! Keep it simple though – you want it to be easily memorable.
    I create a brain map of things in my life that these touch on. This is just me, sitting down with a pen and paper and asking myself, “What are all the things that these two words effect in my life?” “What areas under this umbrella do I need to grow in?”
    I set clear, defined goals that are in line with those areas of my life. This is the practical aspect of the brainstorming – asking myself, “If I were to BE these words, what kind of things would I do? How would I grow in my Christian walk? How would I treat my spouse? How would I change as a mother? What things would I do to serve my community? What books will help me with this?” and so on.
    I choose scriptures that correspond with all the areas I want to improve. These are more for me to focus on – but I think this year I may just try and memorize them!

The reason why I think a word works as opposed to resolutions is that while resolutions are disjointed, a word brings every goal you make in light of it into focus. You can recall the word any time you want and remind yourself of your purpose with every decision you make. It adds purpose and focus to your aspirations and achievements, rather than simply giving you a list of goals.

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Now it’s your turn! The process might look different for you – and that’s okay! The most important thing is that we are all growing closer to God and closer to Heaven – the way we do that is not as important!

My prayer for you this year is the same as Paul’s for the Philippians:

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:9, 10).

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Have you chosen a word for the year? How has choosing words helped you in the past? Let us know what your words are below!


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