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How to Choose Your Word of the Year (helpful reminders and simple steps)

When I was a young girl, I had the New Year’s resolution every year of reading through the Bible. On January 1, I would read 40 chapters of the book of Genesis and then by January 8, I would be on Genesis chapter 43. I’ve made that same resolution about 20 more times at points in my life and guess what, I have never read through the whole Bible no matter what I’ve tried. It’s been the same for me with exercise plans, diets, organizational goals, etc.

You know what I mean. You feel the same pain.

Bottom line: resolutions rarely, if ever, work.

On the flip side, I’m all about HOPE. I love a fresh start. A new day. A new week. A new month. And especially a NEW YEAR. Hope “rocks my socks.”

Thank God He gives me a fresh start every morning, even every moment. I don’t know what I would do without the place where I can begin again, take a first step toward change, growth and healing, and then come to that same redemptive position again and again. HOPE.

HOPE, my first Word of the Year (hereafter known as WOTY) is the main reason why I opted to throw away all New Year’s resolutions and choose a WOTY. I need HOPE. 

A word of the year encompasses HOPE. It's an inner, gracious guide that allows room for us to change and grow. Resolutions are harsh external masters that heap shame on us when we “fail” to keep them.

Here’s why:

  • A resolution concentrates on “DOING.” A WOTY values “BEING.”

  • A resolution instructs. A WOTY inspires.

  • A resolution is mandatory (“work out three days a week”). A WOTY allows for room to go at your own pace (taking the next baby step).

  • A resolution is limited in possibility (“lose 10 pounds”). A WOTY is expansive and limitless.

  • A resolution can be “broken.” A WOTY cannot (it is a gentle friend).

If you’ve never done this, it’s a lot of fun. I know people who spend an hour or two (me) and some who spend a weekend (my husband). 

It’s not a race. It doesn’t matter when. But it might matter IF.

It might seem overwhelming. It’s not. It’s just fun. Give yourself the treat.

Helpful reminders:

  1. Concentrate on who you want to BE(come) this year, not what you want to get done.

  2. Cup your ear to your hopes and dreams. Be mindful not to listen to your doubts and fears.

  3. Be true to yourself. You want your word to represent your unique needs and desires.

  4. Remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be perfect. This isn’t traditional goal-setting. This is grace-filled friendship-making. There is plenty of room to change your mind.

  5. It’s intended to be a kind guide that walks along side of you during the year, not a harsh master that dictates a set of “to-do’s” (God knows we don’t need any more of those voices in our heads…I call that “shoulding” all over yourself). It’s a friend that accompanies you during your journey.

Simple steps:

  1. Ask yourself a simple question: What do you need? Many times, we concentrate on improving ourselves instead of being kind to ourselves. This is a huge starting place. Don’t skip this step. Write down all the random things that come to your mind.

  2. The next question can be (after you haven’t skipped the first one) who do you want to be(come)? Write down a few of the most important things that jump into your head.

  3. Make a list of words that come to mind. Write as many as you want. It can be a noun, verb or adjective. If you need help, click on the downloadable alphabetical list I put together for you at the bottom of the blog post.

  4. Cross out the words that don’t work for you. Narrow your list down to at the most 10 words.

  5. Check out the definition of each of the words, its origin, synonyms and antonyms. You might just be surprised at what you find out!

  6. Give yourself some time to process the list. Allow yourself to “try each one on for size.”

  7. Take a deep breath and choose your word. Take a few minutes to write your thoughts about how you hope it might play out in different areas of your life and relationships.

  8. Write your word down on something and post it on your mirror, your car, your computer, wherever you will see it every day. I found a picture and put it as the background of my computer (it will feel weird to change it out).  Look at it each morning and remind yourself about this friend who is with you today.

  9. Give yourself permission to change your mind. If you want to, take the time to reflect and re-evaluate your word at any point in the year.

I hope this was helpful and if you have any other questions, just fill out the "contact form" at the bottom of this blog post.

Word of the Year Ideas
Download PDF • 82KB

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