As I reflect on 2020 and look forward to 2021, I take the time between Christmas and New Year’s to choose a word of the year. Even though 2020 was a bit of a bust, I still look forward with hope. Choosing a word of the year has been helpful for me because it sums up what my hopes and goals are for the year ahead, giving me one simple word to focus on. I’ll reveal my word of the year and why I chose it, but if you’ve never done this before, I’d love to walk you through my process on how to choose one for yourself! There’s no right or wrong way, this is just the process I use to narrow it down.
How To Choose A Word Of The Year
- Start With Reflection. First thing to do is look back at this year (even if it was a hot mess). Grab a journal and start writing things down. Ask yourself some questions like: What was the highlight of my year? What was the hardest thing about it? In what ways did I grow the most? What was the biggest thing I learned from this year? What do I not want to repeat next year? What do I want to take with me next year? These last 2 questions were huge for me at the end of 2019, because I realized I never wanted to end the year like or start a new one like that again. And I’m happy to say despite 2020, the way in which I ended it was the best in years. I’m starting 2021 in an incredibly healthy place, and had I not reflected, I probably would have repeated the cycle. Once you’ve got it all down, move on to step 2.
- Look Ahead. NOW we talk goals, not resolutions (no one keeps those). Turn to the next page of your journal and ask yourself some more questions: What do I hope to accomplish this year? Be specific! Maybe you have a goal to make a certain amount of money in your business, to travel to a place you’ve always wanted to go, to eat out less. Think holistically in all parts of your life, not just work-related. What things could be simplified to make my life a little bit easier? I’ll give you an example from this past year. At the end of the day, we were overwhelmed with the amount of dishes and clean up after dinner. Both my husband and I are writers, and after we get our son to bed, we work. By the time he got settled and we cleaned up, it was 9:30 or 10:00 at night. Then we were staying up way too late, I was a bear the next morning from exhaustion with my little early riser, and it was just a vicious cycle. So, for dinner we started eating on paper plates/bowls and plastic silverware. That way, all we had to clean up was the dishes I used to cook (and I made simpler meals). It was a game-changer and freed up a good hour of our time, making our life simpler and easier. What is my greatest hope for this year? If I could change one thing right now, what would it be? Write it all down.
- Find A Theme. Once you’ve done steps 1 & 2, go back through and read everything you wrote down. Is there an overarching theme? I write down some simple words or phrases I used throughout, or words that sum up what I wrote.
- Pray. This is a personal step for me. If you’ve read my story, you know that I like to be in control, but ultimately I have learned that His plans and ways are far better and greater than what I could ever do for myself. That doesn’t mean I do nothing, but ultimately because I want to be obedient to what He has for me, I lay all of this at His feet, asking the Spirit to reveal and guide me in the right way. He has never failed to make it clear to me.
- Look Up Definitions, Then Choose What Best Fits. I am big on truly understanding what words mean so that we use them rightly. Part of the way I find what best fits is revisiting those key words I wrote down from step 3, and looking up their definitions. Usually once I do that, there is one that really jumps out at me and thus becomes my word of the year!
Choosing My Word Of The Year For 2021
As I reflected back on this past year, one thing was clear to me that I’m sure you are also feeling: Almost none of my plans worked out. Funny, because my word of the year for 2020 was harvest. We’ve put in a ton of work in our writing the past 3 years, and I was just so sure that 2020 was the year that we were going to reap the harvest. Spoiler alert: We didn’t….or rather not in the way that I wanted. I didn’t do a reflection post this year, but personally the Spirit definitely showed me that it’s not my job to determine when the harvest comes or how it is supposed to look. It’s my job to faithfully sow good seeds and cultivate them. He will take care of the rest-the harvest will come in due time.
I hadn’t chose my word of the year yet, but when I sat down to do a little roadmapping of 2021 of a couple things I already knew I wanted to accomplish, I stopped right when I was about to put my color coded thoughts to paper. You better stop and make sure these are the right things to be committing to. A strong word from the Spirit. So I listened. I replaced my planner with my journal, and instead started praying “Here’s what I want, but…what do you want from me? I don’t want to take another step until I know it’s the right one.” That reminded me of some Scriptures.
“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”Proverbs 16: 1-3
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will act.”Psalm 37: 3-5
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”Proverbs 3: 5 & 6
Three words then came to mind: Trust, surrender, and commit. After looking up the definitions and meditating on these Scriptures, I decided my word of the year for 2021 should be commit. One definition I found was “to carry into action deliberately.” Halfway through 2020, I felt pretty lost on what I should be doing. Over the summer, I committed to things that, while good, weren’t what I should have been spending my time on. By the time September came, I looked up and realized I was doing what others wanted me to do, a habit that I easily slide into being an Enneagram 2 and people-pleaser.
Part of the reason that harvest wasn’t happening was because I wasn’t doing my own work! I hadn’t written on my own blog since March. The content I was writing didn’t sound like my voice anymore. There was so much noise and confusion I had lost my way. I needed to get to a place where whatever I was doing was deliberate, like my intentional choice to take an indefinite break from social media.
I’ll spare you all the details of my personal and work goals, but I’ll tell you what I am committing to in 2021.
- Praying and laying plans at His feet first, before I commit my yes to something. Collaborations, writing and speaking opportunities, things I want to accomplish, all good things unless they aren’t the right things. If I trust in Him, then I’ll give it to Him and He will direct my steps.
- More time away from social media and media in general. I’ll write about my experience with this another time, but one of the best things I committed to last month was taking a break from the noise and toxicity of social media. This has also led to less media consumption (like TV).
- In-person relationships and true community. I love the friendships I’ve made online and value the ones I actually talk to through texts and Marco Polo. After the isolation from 2020 that led to the most hostility and misunderstandings I’ve ever seen on the internet, I’m questioning using that word “community” in regards to anything online. The most important relationships to foster are the ones right in front of me.
Whether or not you choose a word of the year, I hope you’ll take the time to reflect, look ahead, and forge a path of hope for 2021. If this resonated with you, I’d love for you to join Coffee With Christa-a weekly coffee date with me via your inbox where we talk adoption, motherhood, and natural health. I’ll be giving some additional, practical tips there, and I hope to see you.