Written for Lifeschooling Conference, published 12/2/19
Yes, it’s that time of year again when people get to thinkin’ about their goals and plans and dreams for next year.
aka: New Year’s Resolutions – do you still make them?
I’ve certainly come full circle. And if you’re still struggling with that idea…you may find a Word of the Year just-the-ticket!
For more years than I can count, I was firmly in the resolution “camp”, even going as far as writing them down in my journal. I truly believed that this year was going to be “the year”…that I would lose those 10 pounds, be consistent with exercise, eat more vegetables, become faithful with my daily quiet time…you name it! And I did all those things…usually ’till about February 26th or thereabouts. Ruh-roh.
So, as may be no surprise to anyone, I eventually became a cynic. Smirking knowingly at anyone who set their own resolutions, wondering how long it would take them to break ’em, or proudly thinking that somehow I didn’t need to do that (set some goals for myself, that is). Pretty ugly, looking back at that…
But at some point, a friend of mine gave me the book One Perfect Word, by Debbie Macomber, and I ran across Theresa Ceniccola of the Christian MomPreneur Network, and the concepts they’ve each described. As Theresa wrote: “We’re choosing a scripture verse to guide us through the year instead…a verse that speaks to our hearts and offers support, hope or motivation for us to live out the following year with purpose and direction.” Increasingly discouraged by my own short-lived New Year’s resolutions and knowing something had to change, that sweet and simple thought was like refreshing rain to parched soil.
Over subsequent years, I, too, ran with the idea of choosing a life Scripture, and then focusing on a word from that Word to guide me:
In 2014, “Foundations” applied to the quiet time habit that I finally established each morning. That year, too, I decided on a few things business-wise that set me up to move forward on a solid footing.
2015 saw me reaching out in a variety of ways: taking on some new responsibilities at home and with our homeschool, branching out in my blog, and overall growth in reaching out to others and the Lord in my life.
I finally put things together in 2016 and wrote my first book (which was published in 2017 – oh joy!) My focus that year was to create a legacy: work and words that would not only inspire and encourage others but, ultimately, last…
Subsequent years proved personally fruitful, as well. “Joy” (Psalm 105:43), “Soar” (Isaiah 40:31), and “New” (Isaiah 43:18-19) are all common words that took on special significance and direction when inspired by THE Word!
But quite surprisingly, and just as importantly, over the years I found that my Word of the Year became a useful tool in our homeschool, too.
Benefits of a Word of the Year
I found that having that Word has provided me with a terrific lens through which to evaluate life and our home educating efforts. Specifically, I look at these things:
- Relationships – how’s my marriage working out – do we need some time away? Do we need to make time for conversations about school (or anything else, for that matter)? How ’bout with the kids – are they getting enough quality time from me?
- School – what classes have gone well (or not)? What character traits do I need to work on, either for myself or the kids? How does our schedule look: do we need to cut out some stuff, or would it be ok to try something new?
- Self-care – am I spending enough time in prayer and quiet time? Eating well? Getting enough exercise and sleep? Am I dreaming big dreams and following through with them for my sake? What am I lacking that cripples me from being the best wife, mother, and teacher I can be?
- Future plans – what plans for the coming year do we need to discuss as a family?
While I still do adhere to having some sort of realistic goals (you know, the SMART kind), I think that having an overarching Word probably appeals to the creative/dramatic side of my personality.
Sure I want the “how-to”, the steps, the practical nature of having goals at hand, and I certainly know the advantages of having them, but having a Word also has its own practical applications.
Perhaps they are best described by the lens analogy above. For example, the year I had “Endure” when something came up related to school, I would quickly ask myself “Does this lend itself to a legacy?” It’s amazing how easily our time can be frittered away by frivolous or unimportant activities and unnecessary demands on our time. The year I lived with “Foundations” …well, that one was easy! The question that came to mind was usually “Is this foundational: to my children’s education? To their character”? It almost becomes easy-peasy to prioritize when you have a quick question that helps to screen out activities and requests that pop up.
What about you?
I know this is a busy time of the year. But maybe because it IS so busy, it’s that much more important to take the time to create a space from which you can step back, evaluate the present, and craft a new year that will bring growth and hope and wonderful things to you and those you love.
Perhaps, after all, this IS “the year” – the year to pray for and operate under your own word of the year, inspired and led by THE Word!