1 Word | 1 Year: Looking Back, Looking Forward

arrows on a path - one faces left, one faces right

It’s finally “the most wonderful time of the year!” (at least for me) I LOVE the last week of the year and the first week of the next – planning, thinking, reflecting, organizing, preparing. It’s what I thrive on and what comes naturally to me. If it doesn’t for you, no worries! Keep reading for practical ideas to reflect on the current year and prepare for the next.

1 Word for 1 Year

While there are lots of areas of life we could talk about related to this, we’re going to focus on one that can then affect most other areas of life – 1 Word for 1 Year. I’ve written about 1 Word for 1 Year for a couple of years now and would highly recommend this practice if you’ve never tried it yet.

my words: delight, grace, abundance, nourish

2017 was my first year to choose a word – delight. 2018’s word was grace. Abundance was my word for 2019. And 2020’s word was nourish. God used each word to teach me so much and do work in my heart and life that I didn’t even know needed to be done. I already know this year’s word, but that’s a topic for another post in early January!

For now, here are some ideas about wrapping up your word from 2020 and reflecting on what God did through it. 2020 might be one year you’d rather not look back and reflect on. There was so much unknown, so much pain and loss, so much outside of our control, and yet I’m confident that if you take the time to look back you’ll see times when God stepped in, areas of growth and change, and aspects you can thank him for.

Looking Back: Reflect

Depending on your personality, you are probably either amazed at what was accomplished (no matter how small) or chagrined (because there’s always more to do). The beauty though, is that God doesn’t look at you from either perspective. He doesn’t wish you had done more. Nor does he hand out awards for doing all (or more) than you set out to.

He does, however, celebrate the ways in which you’ve grown closer to him. The times you relied on him instead of trusting in self. The times you ran to him instead of running away. The times you submitted to his will instead of fighting for your own. He celebrates the ways your heart and mind have changed to be more like Christ’s during the year.

This is the key to looking back and reflecting on the past year – thinking on what God has done, not you, identifying how your heart and mind have changed. This can easily be done in the context of 1 Word for 1 Year. Here are some questions to help:

  • What did your word teach you about yourself? How did that knowledge cause you to draw closer to God?
  • What did your word teach you about God? How did this knowledge affect your closeness with him?
  • How has God used your word to change the way you think about life or a particular aspect of life?
  • How has God used your word to change your heart – what you love, desire, or choose?
  • How have these changes in your mind and heart brought about changes in your actions this year? How do these actions cause you to reflect Jesus more?

Looking Back: Celebrate

images of people showing joy

I dare say that if you take time to reflect on these questions, you will see that change happened in your life. It might not have been what you expected (or even hoped for), but it will be progress. Change might not have happened in the prescribed ways you planned, but God was at work and when God works, he changes us internally in ways that are more permanent and meaningful than changes we make on our own.

Perhaps there were aspects of your word that frustrated you during the year, or challenges that came with embracing and living out your word. It’s easy to let our minds lock onto those aspects, but when we do, we diminish the good things that actually happened and feel overly discouraged.

Instead, fix your thoughts on what was good, what God taught you, what changed in your life, and then celebrate those things! The celebration doesn’t have to be big to be significant. Here are some ideas:

  • Find a song that mirrors the cry of your heart and pray its words to God.
  • Write your thoughts and reflections out as a prayer.
  • Sit quietly with God or go on a walk and rejoice with him about the year.
  • Make a list of good things that happened in your life as a result of your word and use them as a springboard for thanksgiving.

Looking Forward

After time spent looking back, it’s time to turn our gaze forward into the New Year. I find my mind starting to do this in late November or early December. I find it helpful to have 3-4 weeks where I’m toggling between looking back and looking forward. It helps give perspective, allows ample time to think through ideas, and provides a slow entrance into the new instead of diving in head first.

If you’re just now starting to think about 2021 and a new word, don’t feel like you have to know your word by January 1. You won’t lose ground or miss out on anything if you take time to pray, think, listen and slowly ease yourself in to the new year. In fact, you could easily take the month of January to decide on your new word and then get going with it in February.

If you’re looking for helps to get started with 1 Word for 1 Year, you can browse my series of posts on the topic.

Want something more straightforward that walks you through the process? Check out my, FREE 7-day email course.

1 Word | 1 Year email course link

Each day for seven days an email will arrive in your inbox helping you take practical steps towards getting started with your One Word for One Year. Move through them at your own pace!

Course contains ideas to consider, questions to ponder, printables to download, and a BONUS freebie! Check it out now!

1 Word 1 Year Wrap Up

I trust these ideas and resources help you as you transition from this year to the next. Praying God encourages your heart as you look back and see what he has done and that you enter 2021 anticipating what God will do in the next year.

Stay tuned in early 2021 for another post on my 1 Word for 2021. Can’t wait to hear your words too!

2 Replies to “1 Word | 1 Year: Looking Back, Looking Forward”

  1. Focus
    It was about a week AFTER I realized my word is to be ‘focus’ that it hit me: the year is 2020…

    1. Ha! I love it!

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