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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!