New Year Discovery: How to Choose Your Word for the Year

Two weeks into the New Year, I am ready to put pen to paper.

From November until now, the calendar has been moving me. From gathering to gathering. From place to place. From person to person. Because of good practices and policies, the movement didn’t knock me down. This season’s calendar was not easy living, but planned and possible.

In January, my oldest moved into his college campus after returning from a semester in Italy. My daughter and I returned from a service trip to the Yucatan Peninsula with her school. As I began this post, today is the first day of 2023 in my book.

A Word for the Year. But First, a Wrench

For the last three years, I have been choosing a word for the year. I tinkered with the idea prior to that. Because no intention backed it, the word choice blew with the wind and didn’t serve any long-term purpose. As I spent more time choosing it, I was able to let the word of the year lead and bleed like a watercolor painting into the next twelve months of the year.

Before I get into tips for choosing a word of the year, I am throwing a wrench. James throws a lot of wrenches at us in his short book. The verse below casts deep reality into literally everything we set out to do in the month of January, i.e., words, resolutions, goals, lists . . .

Now listen, you who say:

Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Instead, you ought to say,

If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.

As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

James 4:13-15

James’ words are harsh. If we can move past the sharp edges, the wisdom will flow with us as we choose our word for the year.

The wisdom is that God is in the words, resolutions, goals and lists. God is also omniscient and sovereign. Only he can work together good beyond our human understanding.

As he works, our words, resolutions, goals and lists have to be moldable in his mighty, loving hands. Therefore, be committed and flexible with your New Year choices as 2023 rolls out. Legalism or, in the alternative, passivity won’t serve you. This is the wisdom we will take with us as we delve into the joy of choosing a word for the year.

How to Choose Your Word for the Year

Part One: Reflection

Reflection is the way to begin. Go backward to 2022 to go forward to 2023.

  • Categorize your digital photos into the twelve months of year. Write a list of the events, trips, birthdays, places and people that were meaningful for each month.
  • Page or scroll through your 2022 calendar. Notice busy seasons, projects, checklists, the color of the pens, emojis or stickers you used. Be aware of your patterns, highlights and highs and lows. Write down any takeaways from this practice.
  • Page through your journal. Notice when you consistently wrote entries or had significant gaps of time. Look for recurring emotions, verses and inspiring quotes. Write down a few that are meaningful or jump out at you.
  • Write a list of the books you’ve read, podcasts you regularly listen to, bible studies you completed or your favorite tv shows or movies from this past year. Jot down your take away as you see your media choices.
  • Bullet five successes and five failures or disappointments from 2022.
  • Review anything else that is important to your daily, weekly or monthly practices.

Part Two: Observation

What are the common threads? What do you see recurring in your notes and lists? Write down three themes that have come up the most.

Now, narrow down each of the three themes to one or two words.

Part Three: Choose

Which of the three resonates with you the most? What makes you the happiest? What lifts your spirits? What brings a tear to your eye? Which word do you feel the most motivated by? What word or phrase can take you into 2023 with peace and inspiration?

If you are wondering how long this process will take, I suggest reserving 1-2 hours. You can split the time into two sittings or one long spread of time. I usually do this alone, but there is also value in meeting with a friend. You may not do a ton of talking as you work through this practice. However, the accountability of starting and finishing together is valuable.

My Word of The Year

The last few years, my words of the year have been a continuum. I included a few notes so that you can catch the flow.

2021: Shed

Shed the Overwhelm. Shed the Need for Stuff. Quit the Things. I did that in 2021. You can read all about it by clicking here. The quick version is that I removed from my calendar every event that was not work, family or close friend related. I didn’t go to church in person either. I resigned from organizations and leadership communities. I let the white space in and waited through this sacred season of winter in my life.

2022: Rise Up

After all the shedding of 2021, the time came to Rise Up. I was ready to be unmuted. I revisited my desires again. I wrote about the process of being unmuted in July of my Summer Discovery Devotion. You can download the PDF and read the July entries.

Rise Up was a year where I endeavored to be consistent with my creativity – – something I had not accomplished in the past. I wrote bucket lists, a summer devotion and blogged regularly.

I vowed to honor my body and committed to beach walking and yoga. I attended 118 yoga classes. I walked more than 100 times as well.

I committed to walking the long road of SAT’s, college apps and decision making with my son. We did that together and he is now living his next season of life with confidence and commitment.

In 2022, I had a few more Rise Up goals, but these are the three I am most proud of.

2023: Inspiration

For the last two years, I have met with a friend only once a year. In 2022, she asked me how my year of Shed went. I shared that it was hard to shed the overwhelm and quit the things.

She then asked, “what is different now?”

The answer spontaneously came to me. I was getting my inspiration back.

A long time had passed since I looked out into the blue sky or basked in the sun or stared into nature and heard the Holy Spirit speak to me. Of course God had been with me. However, I love the part of myself that hears and sees inspiration, and that got lost.

Inspiration has been found.

Inspiration is my word of the year.

If you’d like to share with me your Word of the Year and your process choosing it, email me at or share in the comments below.

If you are curious about what is next this month, I plan to share my process of creating New Year Inspiration Boards – – which I think you will love. You can view my Pinterest Inspiration Board in the meantime!



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Just Ask.

Dear sisters,

The one thing I am in these letters to you is honest.

This is my leading principle when it comes to being honest.

Offer truth and love without judgment.

I choose to let you in with the deep hope that you too will let someone safe in. That is why I press you to reply to my questions like What is your 2%? When you do, whether to me or someone else safe, darkness is broken. Freedom’s door is opened.

Earlier this week, I spent an hour with my counselor Dan. He knows me well. He knows how to help me build back from my lows. He knows my patterns of deep thinking that sometimes get me lost. He knows the truths to deliver to me so that I can be the strong, kind woman I aim to be.

Dan gave me a line from a book that my bible boyfriend James wrote.

You receive not because you ask not.

I did not know my boyfriend said that. I even had to look up that line to prove it to myself. I am hypersensitive to anything that sounds like the prosperity gospel and that’s what ask not, receive not sounds like to me. But Dan had a good point.

Present your needs to God. Be specific. Write them down. As time passes, look back. What did God say yes to? What did God say no to? This is insight. This helps you write your faith story. This helps you remember, in times of despair, that God says yes to your deepest needs.

God comes through.

This has been one of the BIG adult lessons of my forties. God comes through. I have been through some fire. So have you. The fire burned through my younger woman faith that “everything was always going to be okay” and “if I did my part (i.e. performed well), then, yes, everything was going to be okay.

Honestly, girls, everything isn’t always okay. Your kids wreck you – sometimes for years at a time. Your marriage can look more like a brick wall than a bridge, more often than not. Work exhausts you. You feel lonely. You try hard. Your health kicks your strong self down for the count. Your mind gets lost in circumstances and finds itself sad and panicked.

I am being honest with you.

You better be relating to my dirt and not differentiating yourself from it. 
This is one of my rules of friendship and authenticity.
If your gut reaction wasn’t relational, introspective and compassionate,
check yourself.

I check myself every day.

As the fire has burned though my younger woman faith, I am opening the door to new truths to live by that don’t include

  • How I see things
  • How I think the process should go
  • What the outcome should look like

The new truths include

  • I may fall but God pulls me back up EVERY TIME.
  • He gives me space, but He’d rather live in me that walk next to me.
  • The future is something I don’t have to worry about because His current presence evidences to me that He has already taken care of the future.

Here is Dan’s point. (which is also my boyfriend James’ point.)

Present your needs to God. Be specific. Write them down. As time passes, look back. What did God say yes to? What did God say no to? This is insight. This helps you write your faith story. This helps you remember, in times of despair, that God says yes to your deepest needs.

God comes through.

Sisters, God comes through. It may not be in the way you envisioned. It may not reflect the process you wanted or how you thought the glory story should go down.

So often, the process is harder and longer than you thought you could bear. The time waiting for the light to come through the darkness can feel endless and exhausting. For some of us, the time lapse between hardship and break though may bring us to hover over hopelessness.

Even in all of this, we learn that it is His unchanging character to ALWAYS BRING US THROUGH.


I have nothing more to add to that. It’s just true.




Today. Before you go to bed. Write three, specific needs to God with the parameters below. Share them in the comments to this post. We’ll encourage, pray for one another and watch God come through.

Be specific and measurable.

Please don’t say Help me be a more loving spouse or friend or Help me get a raise or bonus at work or Help me get out of depression.

Please say

Help me be a more loving spouse or friend by ________________ (name a few measurable things).

Help me get a bonus at work in the amount of __________________ so that our family or I am able to _________________.

Help me get out of depression by having the courage to share with _______________ so that I can feel that I am not alone. Help me reach out to this person by _________________.

Now that you’ve asked. Talk to God. See the doors He may open as the days, weeks and months pass. We’ll all be praying for one another.

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