I really believe in the power of choosing just one word to hold onto and grow into for one year at a time.
This is my sixth year choosing a word and though I enjoy the result, the process has been far from being an easy process. I’ve written about my process over the years, but have finally simplifying it enough to share because it’s important that each person navigate their own process for finding their word (or having their word find them).
Here’s what I’ve tried in the past.
- Ali Edwards | One Little Word Workshop
- Find Your Tribe | One Word 365
- Asking my son – at that time, he was “my people”
- Looking for patterns in Scripture
There were benefits to the first two but I found myself comparing and spending more time focused on how things looked than really allowing my word to be front and center. So, I think my current process – the one I’ve used to choose my 2017 & 2018 words – is the one that suits me best.
Here is my process for choosing my one word for 2018:
1 | REFLECT
Slow down. Grab a cup of coffee. Stare out the window. Try to be quiet.
Think about the year you’ve had and how you’re doing in that very moment. Ask yourself what worked, what didn’t and look for patterns in your responses.
I am such a cheerleader of this.
And I know it doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it is an important step. Even if you audio record what you’re thinking, take some time to get it out.
The reason this is important is that it is helpful in paying closer attention to what those recurring themes might be.
3 | SHARE
Be courageous but smart with this one.
Once I have a few words that keep circling about, I will share them with a few trusted folks – the closer they are to your everyday living and/or your areas of weakness, the better – and let them ask the tough questions.
You may not have an answer, but that’s okay. Being asked those questions will open you up to another level of understanding and hopefully help you narrow your words.
4 | PRAY
I’m hardly formal in my conversations with God, but in this area of finding my word for the coming year, I talk earnestly about my shortcomings, my desires, my hurts, my poor decisions and how I’ve hurt others. I want to be better, more like God in my relationships, so I want to consult Him and get some nudges toward the best word* for the new year.
5 | DEFINE
Look it up. All of the meanings. Use a dictionary and a thesaurus. Even check what it means in other languages. You’ll be surprised…
If you read your Bible regularly and noticed a scripture or theme that kept coming up for you throughout the year, take them apart and see why that may be happening.
I landed on peace this year because so many scriptures that kept coming up for me were related to fear, anxiety, worry. I didn’t want to keep living like that, so I spent time considering the opposite. What was the Bible saying about how to handle the fears and worries? A lot of it was related to ‘trust’ and ‘peace’.
7 | PRAY
This one is really ongoing so you could insert it between every step and still be winning. But maybe this next time around you have more clarity about what your word is going to be. Maybe you’re a little scared of it. You might not be “feeling it”.
This is the perfect time to go back and pray.
Ask God what He wants to do in your life and the lives of the people you impact and what may have been hindering your doing that this past year. Ask why you’re concerned or afraid of that word and even ask Him to show you why.
8 | ENVISION
This is my hardest step.
I think it’s because I still have a protective lock on my heart to not get too excited. To not let myself dream to big or hope for the unseen or seemingly impossible. And this is why this process is so important and why one word is powerful. Instead of talking myself out of choosing the hard word or out of allowing myself to dream and get excitable, I go back to God and allow my focus to shift from what is this word going to do for ME to what is He going to do through my focus on this word.
Think about it.
When I focused less on what it would take for me to “Be, Live & Love WELL in 2017” and more on what my impact on the Kingdom would be if I were well, I suited up. I didn’t think I would experience so many of the personal blessings, but He did.
And from my purview, I’d say He over delivered.
I believe this was because I focused on giving Him my word and letting Him do whatever He wanted to with it.
I’m hoping I’ll enjoy this step and have more fun with it in the coming years.
9 | DECIDE
There are over 170,000 words in the English language. I hope you’re not feeling like you’re choosing from all of them.
Take a breath. And now another one.
You don’t need any pressure on you in choosing this word. If you try it out and don’t like it, you can change it. If it’s two words instead of one, that’s okay too – as long as it means something to you. No need to fret about buyer’s remorse either.
*It’s not the “right word” by the way, it’s the “best word”. I’ve found that whatever word I choose, the words that made it into the finals (top 3-5) usually show up even if they weren’t chosen as “the” word.
Choosing the word should feel liberating, not as if you’ve been enslaved.
Your word can come to you in a moment and be the best fit or it may take working through a process to connect with your word. If at any time the effort to find your word becomes convoluted and makes you feel restless, simply take a break and go back to the step that works best for you and spend time there.
Ultimately, this entire process is about helping you choose a word that will help you focus when the busyness and unpredictability of life threatens to sweep you away. When you’re highly distracted or someone in your family falls ill and you need to switch gears to adapt. When you’re overwhelmed by a big project or move or even something as wonderful as a wedding.
This word is to help you re-center yourself on what’s most important.