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Around this time of year, besides getting ready for Christmas and all that that entails, I find myself looking at how the year’s been going in general: you know, what’s working and what needs tweaking. While many people use this season to also consider New Year’s resolutions, I’ve chucked that whole concept for my “Word of the Year”. This is the 4th year I’m working on that principle, and without being overly-dramatic, let me say it’s absolutely been life-changing!
I first came across this concept when a friend of mine gave me the book One Perfect Word, by Debbie Macomber. It was/is a simple read. But over the previous few years, I had been increasingly discouraged by the short lives many of my New Year’s resolutions had been experiencing and knew something had to change! That sweet little book opened my eyes up to new possibilities…
My Word of the Year Inspiration…
The graphic on the left is a little collage I put together with the words I’ve used over the last few years. When I stop to think about the things I accomplished during this time, it’s really incredible to see how they matched up with the word for that year. For example:
In 2014, “Foundations” applied to the quiet time habit that I had 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 the blog and my business, and an overall growth in reaching out to others and up to the Lord in my life.
I finally put things together in 2016 and wrote my 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…
Crafting your own Word of the Year
I’ve found that having that Word has provided me with a terrific lens through which to evaluate life. 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 specific things, such as finances, parenting, sex, vacations, home-care, or anything else? How ’bout with the kids – are they getting enough quality time from me? My folks? Friends? Small group and church family?
- 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, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, etc I can be?
- Future plans – what plans for the coming year do we need to discuss as a family?
Benefits of a Word of the Year
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 benefits.
Perhaps they are best described by the lens analogy above. For example, the year I had “Endure”, when something came up at home or related to my business, 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 family, to my work, to my relationships…”? 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.
And if you DO decide to move forward with this concept, I’d love to hear about your Word, or words, in the comments – I hope you’ll share them with us :-)!
But finally, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, and prepare to close out the Old year and ring in the New, I will be praying that the words of Jeremiah 29:11 will be made manifest in your lives:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.