Table of Contents
Yes, it’s February, and I’m just now getting around to sharing my words for this year.
And that’s okay. Because the subtitle for my words could be this phrase:
There are no deadlines.
That is a mantra I’ve been repeating to myself and as many other people as I can. January 1st wasn’t a deadline; goals not accomplished or set as firm habits by January 31st are not a wash; there are no deadlines to the projects or themes or desires you’ve been mulling over. There are closings and openings, seasons of change & transition, times to be productive, and times to rest—but no deadlines. No finish lines. No chances you’ve missed it. I promise.
All that said, you’ve still got time! So, let me share some of how I’ve chosen a word or words of the year to help you choose yours. Then, I’ll [finally] share my words for 2021 with you.
I usually can’t pick just one.
My history of choosing words for the year
Here’s the first thing you need to know about choosing a word (or words) for your year; it’s not a magical formula. It’s not automatically going to change the course of your year. An example of that would be my words for 2020. I actually forgot them! Hello, wedding, marriage, lockdown, Covid–they completely left my mind for most of the year.
Do you want to know what they were? Comfort & care. Funny, right? What a year for those words.
But you know what I realized about them as I reflected a little bit at the end of the year? They were still there, in the background. In my husband’s gentle care of me while I had Covid. In the comfort I felt while working through my own white privilege and the implicit racism & bias in my own heart–even when it meant damaging relationships in my life.
Some years, the words you choose might be wholly life-changing. In 2015, I choose the word “banner,” nestled in an old Bible story alongside its context: “a banner…over a battle not yet raging.” I wrote this blog post the day that battle began, a day that would change the trajectory of both my time in India, and my life as a whole. A day that began a story yet-to-be-written, which I call “the shattering.”
Twice out of maybe close to 10 years of choosing words? Very rare indeed.
How to choose your word of the year
I’m coming to this section of my outline realizing that I do not have a step-by-step, how-to guide for you.
So, maybe that’s my advice: don’t try to force it.
The goal of having a word for the year is simply to have a tangible, one-word or short-phrase reminder of what you want you want your life to be about. This isn’t about how you “should” act or what you “need” to do to make your life better.
No, this is about having a banner over you for this year new that speaks life over you. Whatever that looks like.
So, the second part of that advice: be on the lookout for it.
My words have almost always been stumbled upon: through journaling, reading the Bible, talking with friends. They’ve just sort of fell into the path, as opposed to me mining them out. I just tend to be more intentional towards late November and into December, that’s all. I’m on the lookout.
My words for 2021
Drumroll, please! I’ll finally tell you the words I stumbled upon for this year:
Keep moving forward.
These are words that I “woke up with,” according to my journaling during December; again, you cannot force this process. This is what I wrote concerning this phrase:
This morning I woke up with the phrase “keep moving forward.” This week is an in-between one; this season is very much an in-between type of season. Changing years won’t change that feeling – woof, that’s an important thing to remember this week. Changing years won’t change anything, except, perhaps, my mindset.
“Keep moving forward” is a phrase I think God is giving me for a few reasons:
– so that I remember that we’re always moving forward: growing, learning, moving towards his presence & kingdom
– that I avoid stalling out: no more half-finished journals or projects.
– so that I am ALL IN this year to the right things, the things that are all about moving forward: growing my blog/email/social/business/etc.
– that I see the purpose is ahead, not behind. I tend to romanticize the past, keeping my head whipped around and my heart displaced. it’s time to stay, to be still, but there’s movement inherent in both of those things.
These words for the year are important to me, an important reminder of movement in a season of steadiness and stillness. There’s not much tangible movement happening yet, but my soul–partially because of these words–is charged with hope that God is on the move, moving me forward, even without changing my circumstances.
The main idea of the phrase “keep moving forward” for me is that not a lot changes. There’s not a dramatic shift in my life right now; it’s a continuation with the trust that God is always working and is moving me towards some pretty big dreams.
How to carry your words throughout the year
Before you assume that I have a formula for remembering and acting upon your words throughout the year, recall that I forgot my words in 2020. This blog is not the place for formulas, that’s for sure. It’s a safe place for connection and support, for stories that move our hearts, and for practical advice that keeps a layer of mystery to it.
A very different thing I did this year to help me carry my words into the year with a bit more structure was take this free class (I’m providing the link because you can still join, watch the videos, and download the worksheets). It was exactly what I needed to be more purposeful with this phrase that I “woke up with.” Bonus: the author is sending out a worksheet to help us check in on these each month!
One of the ideas she gave us was the idea of “supporting words.” She led us through choosing 4 words that supported our main word or phrase, and gave us space to set tangible goals related to these supporting words and to different areas of our lives, such as relationships, work, play, etc.
For example: One of my supporting words is “celebrate.” That means, after a huge answer to prayer at work, I went to Kroger and bought a small bottle of champagne to celebrate. It seems so small and simple, but it was a celebration of that movement that God is working behind the scenes and in conversations–as opposed to big moves like a major career change.
Other ideas for keeping your word(s) with you throughout the year:
- paint your word/phrase to hang near you
- journal through what your word(s) mean to you
- create a pinterest board for your word
- create a vision board for your word
- do a bubble chart of different areas of your life that your word can impact
Bonus idea: End each month with a reflection question like I’m using:
How did I keep moving forward this month?
and jot down a few different ways you reflected your word or phrase in your daily life.