A few weeks ago, I wrote about my love/hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. (You can read it here if you haven’t already.) There is value to goals and resolutions but they can easily become taskmasters or lead to self-reliance. If you love them and find they lead you to God to bring about needed change in your life, then, by all means, make your New Year’s resolutions. I’m sure you will delight in what you see God do in your life over the course of the year.
If, however, you’re like me and want change in your life this year but find resolutions too weighty, rigid or impossible to carry through, then why not give this One Word for One Year idea a try.
Choose one word that you want to dig into during the year. One word that you want to permeate and influence your life, relationships, actions, words, and attitudes. One word that can capture your mind and your heart.
Benefits of One Word for One Year
I shared some personal benefits from 2017 in my original post. Here are some other ways practicing One Word for One Year can help you.
It can influence every aspect of your life.
Oftentimes when New Year’s resolutions are made, different goals are set for various aspects of life – physical, spiritual, financial, relational, etc. The more areas you set goals for, the more there is to keep up with (aka remember!) and the more to DO to achieve them all. I don’t know about you, but I find it virtually impossible to keep up with various goals for every aspect of life for 52 weeks out of the year.
But, when you sit with ONE word, meditate on it, contemplate its implications for your life, and work it into your heart, you can’t help but be changed by it. And the beauty is that this ONE word will influence every area of your life, not just one or two.
It can help you go deep, not just wide.
I find that there’s a trend in society these days. We tend to engage in a superficial way across a myriad of platforms and arenas of life. I do it too. It’s easy to stay at a superficial level. It takes effort and persistence to engage in a meaningful and deep way – whether that’s with a person or an idea.
Staying with One Word for One Year forces a deeper engagement with an idea. It allows you time and space to sort through conflicting thoughts, to disentangle truths from lies, to rebuild strong foundations, to change the way you think about something. And thus, in turn, to actually bring about change in motivations, attitudes, and actions.
It can bring freedom and greater intimacy.
In the same way that resolutions can become weighty, One Word for One Year is freeing. Resolutions often come with daily or weekly tasks and milestones to assess progress. One Word for One Year provides a framework to read, study, pray, think and change without a preset agenda or goal.
Freedom doesn’t come through control and accomplishing goals. Freedom comes from relinquishing outcomes to God and letting Him achieve what He wants to in you.
You are free to draw close to God and listen to what He wants to speak into your life. You are free to spend 10 minutes with an idea or an hour. You are free to stay with one thought for weeks or months before moving on. Your focus is being still with God and letting Him teach you His truth related to this One Word. And, do you know what the natural result is of drawing close to God and listening to Him and lingering with Him is? A greater intimacy. That thing we were made for. That thing our souls long for.
What does One Word for One Year look like practically?
Here are some ideas. They are not prescriptive. Use what works for you. Toss out what doesn’t. Add whatever else suits you.
Find Definitions – Use the obvious resources like a dictionary and Bible dictionary for this. But also get definitions from others – authors, pastors, friends, etc. Then sit with those definitions. Look up words that are in the definition itself. You should end up with a robust and meaty definition, or even multiple definitions!
Look up Synonyms – Use a thesaurus to find these. Then look up their definitions too. The more you can add to your understanding of the intersecting ideas of these related words, the greater your insight will be.
Scriptures – Intentionally use a concordance or online search engine to identify key verses or passages. Keep your eyes open for the word or related ideas as you read or listen to sermons. Find a verse or passage to memorize or meditate on. The goal is not to do an exhaustive study but to sit with the Scripture God leads you to until it has done a work in your heart.
Read – Find books related to the word itself or to the idea of your word. For example, there aren’t many books about delight. But it IS a delight to read a book just for the pleasure of doing so. Or to read a book about noticing the small things of life or ways to enjoy your family. Also look for online articles or blogs on the topic. Bookmark or print the really good ones so you can re-read and soak in the information.
Quotes – Keep your eyes and ears open as you go through your days. God will give you nuggets of wisdom and insight related to your word throughout the year. You’ll find them in the things you read, in the sermons you hear, in daily conversation and in that still small voice that only you can hear. Write them down. Reflect on them. Internalize them. Let them help do the work of changing your heart.
Record Your Insights – This can be as frequent (or infrequent) and as formal (or informal) as you want it to be. Write down “aha” moments. Record observations of changes that you see. Jot down answers to prayer or stirrings of your soul. Write out prayers to God related to what He is showing you. The benefit to taking time to do this along the way is that you can look back and reflect on all that God did in you during the course of the year.
Again, there is nothing rigid about these ideas. They are just some of the things that I found helped me during the year. My planner had journaling pages in it, so I had one page for definitions, synonyms and quotes and others for verses. (I would add a verse as I ran across it.) Other than that, I just journaled here and there along the way which means that my thoughts are really scattered around.
One thing I do wish I had was a single page that I could use to write down what I wanted to investigate further – definitions to ponder, words to look up, Scripture to reference, books to read, quotes to reflect on, etc. So, I created one to use this year! It’s a simple 8 ½ x 11 size that you can keep a book, Bible or journal and help keep ideas together in one place. (There is a choice of two color schemes!)
I’d love to share it with you too! Download it for FREE!