A “Word of the Year” is intended to be a kind guide that walks along side of us 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). It’s a friend that accompanies us during our journey. (The Dolly Mama)
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. The 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 is what “rocks my socks.” And God knows this about us. That’s why we have fresh starts 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) in 2015, is the main reason why I opted to throw away all New Year’s resolutions and choose a WOTY. I need hope. Hope is 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).
I am so thankful that my husband stumbled upon the idea. It has been life-changing as we approach the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one.
If you’ve never done this, it’s a lot of fun. While you hopefully have some “time off” from your regular duties (unless you are a mom, of course), today or tomorrow might be a good day to spend the time. Or any time in the next couple of weeks. I know people who spend an hour (me) and some who spend a weekend (Allen). (Click HERE to understand why that’s the case.) 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.
- Concentrate on who you want to BE(come) this year, not what you want to get done.
- Cup your ear to your hopes and dreams. Be mindful not to listen to your doubts and fears.
- Be true to yourself. You want your word to represent your unique needs and desires.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 this printable alphabetical list I put together for you for some ideas. (Word of the Year Ideas)
- Cross out the words that don’t work for you. Narrow your list down to at the most 10 words.
- Check out the definition of each of the words, its origin, synonyms and antonyms. You might just be surprised at what you find out!
- Give yourself some time to process the list. Allow yourself to “try each one on for size.”
- 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.
- Write your word down on something and post it on your mirror, your car, your computer, wherever you will see it every day. You can even buy a customizable bracelet by clicking HERE (I don’t get anything from this. Just thought it was a cool idea.) 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.
- 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.
An Update From Yours Truly:
My WOTY for 2019 was “Shalom.” I don’t want to give up this friend. I love her. She’s been a kind, yet forceful voice in my life, the best of the best. I have a long way to go in my friendship with “Shalom.” She means “the presence of true human flourishing in all areas” and I want that for a lifetime, not just one year.
The good news is that just because I make a new friend does not mean I have to give up my old one. “Shalom” can come along with me into 2020 and who knows, maybe my new word will stand hand-in-hand with her. When I think about all my WOTYs since I’ve started, it makes for one wonderful Dolly Mama posse (HOPE, BECOME, DEPTH, TEND and SHALOM). That makes me super happy.
Now, that I’ve welcomed them all, I would like to invite another new friend into my life for 2020: my Word of the Year is HYGGE!
Hygge is one of those words (it’s a Danish word) that encompasses an idea that’s hard to translate, because it means so much more than any one thing. In essence, it’s the “feeling of coziness and well-being.” I even bought a little book about it that I’ve been reading the last month or so.
Here is what it encompasses:
- Connection to Nature
You can find out more by checking out this article HERE.
We even bought a house this past year that is the definition of a Hygge Home. It’s a house with huge windows with a big wood-burning stove and surrounded by the most beautiful gardens and woods that I’ve ever seen.
We want it to be a place where both we and others find comfort, companionship, simplicity, connection to both Creator and His creation, where we are able to just “be” instead of “do.” Ultimately, a place of healing for our truest selves. A house filled with hygge. We hope many of you can join us for real and in person here! It would be our greatest joy to share a little space of hygge with you!
Back to You:
Consider joining me on this journey to find out what word can come along side you and be your gentle and kind friend throughout this new year that we are embarking on. When you do, please please send me a note letting me know what your word is. I love to remind you every so often throughout the year about your new-found friend.
Happy New Year from my heart to yours!
**ALSO PLEASE DO ME A FAVOR AND GO BACK AND LIKE THIS ON SOCIAL MEDIA**
18 thoughts on “How To Choose Your Word of the Year (helpful reminders and simple steps)…Find Out Mine”
I love this post! I have already been praying about my word of the year. I like you am not ready to part with my companion from last year, and feel this years word will walk with last year’s word. Last year’s word was “Rest” and I am still learning so much from this word. This year’s word I believe is to be “Creativity” or “Create” in some form or fashion. I have learned that WOTY are beautiful as companions, but harsh if they become rulers.
I love that. Rest often brings creativity. I can’t create without it for sure. I need lots of white space. What would you like to create?
I bought into the lie when I was told in 3rd grade I was not artistic. I crosstitch and am venturing out into calligraphy, but it still doesn’t feel like art. I just finished L’Engle’s “Walking on Water” and am reading Luci Shaw’s “Breath for the Bones, Art Imagination, and Spirit Reflections on Creativity and Faith” I feel like I am coming to the conclusion that much of how we “be” is art. Looking forward to embracing this in my ordinary everyday life. Thank you for being apart of loving me well, with your words and encouragement. Blessings!
This makes my heart so happy that you are moving toward your true self! What a gift!!!
Love this, as always. I need to save this and go back through to review and take action. Happy new year and much love to your family, Lisa
Love to you as well. Please make sure you send me a message to tell me what you’ve chosen!!!
Liked, shared, and excited to try this!
My WOTY is STRETCH. Your “simple steps” really did the trick — easy to follow! Here’s the brief account of the short meandering path I took to find the word:
Thank you for introducing me to the WOTY, Esther 🙂
I am so glad! I love your word and the blog post you wrote about it!!!
Thank you for these ideas on how to reach our word for the year. I had chosen mine a couple of weeks ago but this helped me to solidify it. I rambled about it on my blog as well today. Not that you rambled…I mean, I ramble. Ha! Anyhow, I love your word! What a great thing to strive for in the new year – comfort and coziness.
I just found out that the word HUG comes for Hygge. The year of the HUG!
That is even more awesome! The year of the hug could solve sooooo many problems!
P.S. Linked to your post today.
So so glad Lisa! Happy New Year!!
My word is gratitude. We are often wishing for something but I feel we must be grateful for what we have and not take anything for granted.
That is so true. What a beautiful word. I always say, “Gratitude unlocks joy.”