Have you ever picked a word for the year? It’s one of my favorite traditions, and I’ve been doing it for twenty years. My word for the year is a single word I choose to embrace so it can teach and encourage me. It’s a single focus to help me grow, like a companion who will walk beside me in the coming year.
In 2020, my word was THANKFUL. And this word served me well. Who could have known in January what kind of year we were headed into. When I felt overwhelmed (and there were MANY of those days), my word would beckon me to come and sit recalling all things I was thankful for. Sometimes I didn’t want to do it, but I had made a commitment to engage with this word. In doing so, she had so many things to teach me.
Choosing my word for the year is often a process.
Around November, I start thinking about it in the back of my head. Not ready to fully engage, I let my spirit begin to process it on almost a subconscious level. It’s like I see my new word approaching from a distance, but it’s still to far away for me to make a clear call of what her name is. I have ideas by the way she moves and feels, but the ideas shift at a moment’s notice.
By December, the word has come closer. I feel like I have a good sense of what my new word will be. But I also feel like a fickle teenager not wanting to commit just yet. Once I announce it to my family, it feels like I’ve set it in stone. So I hold the word within and keep pondering it.
Family New Year’s Ritual
Every New Years, our family sits down to do 4 Minutes for each other. Each person gets their own 4 Minutes as we all listen for what God has for them in the coming year. I teach you how to do this with your family in my new book, 4 Minutes to Hear God’s Voice. CLICK HERE to find it on Amazon.
When it’s my turn, I wait until everyone has shared to see if anyone got pictures or words that confirm my new word for the year. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. Then I share my word with the family. It’s finally out in the open, and at once I feel that single word take flight in my heart.
5 Ways to Engage with Your Word for the Year
I’ve had many people tell me they will choose a word for the year, but by early March they’ve forgotten what their word was. It can happen to the best of us. That’s why I find all sorts of ways to engage with my word throughout the year–the whole year. These are the first 5 ways to engage with your word for the year that I do every January;
- Journal It All Out. I take a morning to journal my thoughts around this new word. Why do I feel like this is my word? Am I surprised by it? Do I have an awareness of needing it? Does it feel challenging, odd, or like an obvious fit? Over the last few years, my word often feels like the opposite of me! That’s why this journal time is so helpful because I start to see the word in a new light.
- Research Definitions. Write down the Webster’s Dictionary definitions around your word. I love doing this because the second, third, even fourth definition to the word often surprises me in how it connects with what I’m going through.
- Identify Your Word’s BFFs. Write down a list of synonyms. If your word had BFFs, who would they be? Choose two or three from your list of synonyms.
- Know Your Word’s Enemy. Who is your word’s worst enemy? I discover this through writing a list of antonyms down. This is often revealing in what to watch out for, guard myself against in the coming year.
- Find an Inspirational Quote. I love this last step especially. I’ll get on Pinterest and dig through inspirational quotes around my word until I find one that I can write on a note card and have on my bathroom mirror or on my desk.
Take time to share all of these things with a close friend or family member. Speaking these findings out loud makes your word come to life that much more. Instead of an idea living in your head, you’re engaging with your word by sharing it with others.
Right after the New Year, Pascaline and I did a little road trip together.
We packed our masks, books, journals and left town. One night at dinner, we shared our 5 ways to engage with your word with each other. It was so fun to hear what the other person’s word was in more depth, especially who we thought our word’s BFFs were and enemies were. As a mom, I just treasure moments like this with my adult kids. It’s so amazing to see them growing and evolving.
Struggling to Choose a Word?
If you don’t have a word yet, it’s okay. It’s still January. The bus hasn’t left the station yet. (I’m saying that for all my Type A kindred spirits.)
To find your word, do this. Find a quiet space in your home where you won’t be interrupted for four minutes. If you have little ones, this may mean sitting in your car or locking yourself in the bathroom. I remember those days well. Set your timer for four minutes and quiet your mind to focus on what word God has for you this year.
Be open to the word feeling odd or not even making sense. I remember when I got the word SOAK, and I was like, “What? That doesn’t make sense because I hate baths!” But God gave me that word for a reason that changed my world. You can read about that journey by CLICKING HERE. There are a few more ways to engage with your word for the year that I share in that post.
Write down whatever words come to mind and ponder them in your heart before sharing with anyone. Then try Step 1. Journal about the words and see which one seems to hold the most weight for you. Then you’re ready to dive into the rest of the 5 ways to engage with your word for the year.
In a couple days, I’ll share two more exercises I do each year to engage with my word. And I’ll also share my word with you then too. I know! The suspense! Right?!
How would you like to start 2021 SUPER inspired and with a lot of laughter?
If you liked my new book, 4 Minutes to Hear God’s Voice, you’re going to love the NEW 5 Week Interactive Master Class that Brian and I are launching this month! And here’s the best part, Week 1 is FREE!
It’s open to anyone who wants to dig deeper into the 4 Minute practice. If you’re doing a 21 Day Fast with your church like we are, is there a better time to learn how to hear God’s voice?! Right?! Join us Monday evening, 1/18!
Week 1 is FREE! We just need you to register so we can send you the details!
Date/Time: Monday, Jan. 18th 2021 at 5:30pm PST / 8:30pm EST
Are we starting the New Year together on Monday? So EXCITED!
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER so we can email you the zoom link!