Have you heard of others choosing a “Word of the Year” and wondered what that was and how they chose it? Pam Farrel and I recently had a conversation on Your Hope-Filled Perspective podcast about Ideas for how to start your new year off right. Pam shared about her tradition of choosing a Word of the Year, and I talked about helping our minds stay focused on God’s promises and shared about a free 7-Day Today is Going to be a Good Day Challenge (more on the Challenge below.) In this post, Pam is sharing a deep dive into her process of determining a word of focus for the year and how to weave that word into your daily life. She’s even including some free worksheets. Key #2 is an invitation to a Challenge that will help set you up to make today and every day a good day despite your circumstances.
Two Keys To Your Best Year Yet
By Pam Farrel
I have been selecting a Word of the Year and Verse of the Year since I was 19 (before it was really a “thing”.) So, for over 4 decades, I have seen the power of having a Word of the Year. Word of the Year can also be labeled Word of Intent, My One Word, One Little Word, and I love the acrostic of Word of F.O.C.U.S.
The Bible has a few examples of the validity of having one focus:
“I have asked the LORD for one thing; one thing only do I want: to live in the LORD’s house all my life, to marvel there at his goodness, and to ask for his guidance.” (Psalm 27:4 GNB emphasis added)
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13-14 NIV emphasis added)
The first key to have your best year yet is to choose a Word of the Year.
The Process of Selecting Your Word of the Year
Typically, in late December or early January, we select our Word of the Year. Here is a “Looking for Your Word” worksheet, we created that gives 6 methods, 6 key questions to ask yourself, and 6 boxes to capture your top 6 words to help you then narrow down to your ONE WORD. (Download How to Discern My Word of the Year worksheet)
This is a simple list of the six places to LOOK for YOUR Word of the Year:
Look Back– What WORD summarizes what I learned last year?
Look Inside– What WORD captures who you want to become next year?
Look Ahead– What WORD describes the life I desire to live?
Look to God and His Word– What WORD is the essence of my AHA spiritual moment last year?
Look Around– What WORD did God roll across my path organically recently?
Look to Helps and Tools – Is there a repeating WORD or theme in the tests and tools I have used? (Dayspring and Word of Intent usually offer an online quiz)
Review the words you have captured. Pray, then see if one of these words or a synonym of one is the path God has for your future in the year ahead.
Power of Your Word of the Year
About 12 years ago, I (Pam) got disturbing news on my health. My husband, Bill, had gone through my own health issue a few years before that, so he was sensitive to the need make some changes in our life together. I phoned from a First Place 4 Health bootcamp, sharing the sobering health news with my husband. I suggested we choose the word: STRONG for our Word of the Year. We elected to focus on this verse as the motivation for the year ahead:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
The word strong here means to grow to be strong– so God says it is a process! Courageous is also verb meaning to make strong, bold, and victorious. We felt impressed God was saying: “Don’t tremble, be in terror, be dismayed or adopt dread or fear—don’t let this bad news “shatter” you!”
The answer of HOW to overcome these negative emotions is in verse 7, “obey ALL the law (the Word), don’t get distracted (go left or right). And from verse 9, remember “The Lord will be with you wherever you go.”
I added in a few other components:
Motto of the Year: Stay Strong
Song of the Year: Stronger by Mandisa
Symbol/ Art of the Year: We made a poster with a photo of weights that spelled out STRONG and hung it in our office. We also got matching mugs with the word STRONG on them
And the key element that brings the power to this improvement project is asking a “Clarifying Question” all year over each of our life choices. The clarifying question for this year was: “Will this choice make me stronger? My marriage and family stronger? My health stronger? My walk with God stronger?”
The Results: In 12 months, I lost 50 pounds, gained renewed strength and health. I also went on to write 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman to mentor women toward reaching their own God-given potential.
The Practice of Your Word of the Year
The next step after choosing a Word of the Year, is to begin to implement ways of weaving it into your daily life. Bill and I downloaded Your Best Year Worksheets (for women/ for couples) then I placed key info from the worksheets inside the front of my new bullet journal so I could review and maintain focus.
In 2022, I selected Valiant as my Word of the Year. Here are the ways I wove the Word of the Year through my life:
Verse of the Year: “Be strong and show ourselves valiant…” (2 Samuel 10:12) I also list many cross-reference verses that have my word in it, then I do a study of these verses the next few months.
Motto: #beVALIENT (What motto would you place on a coffee mug, t-shirt, or bumper sticker?)
Quote: “God aids the Valiant“- Theresa of Availa (A simple internet search with your Word can turn up a multitude of quotes from history, literature, or the Bible)
Song: I put together a playlist by searching words like courage, bravery, valiant.
Art: I selected a photo of a sword to represent God’s Word, the Sword of the Spirit. I had a photo taken in warrior wear, and in past years I have also I ordered a necklace, bracelet, keychain, mug, tumbler, art for the wall, paper weight, journal, etc.)
Color: Valiant Poppy (bright red!) An internet search can help you locate the color often associated with your word.
Symbols: A quick internet search revealed that there are MANY icons, animals, warrior wear and even flowers that symbolize bravery!)
Fragrance or Essential Oil: After looking up essential oils associated with courage, I decided to make my own Valiant blend for my diffuser! Also check perfumes, lotions, and candles for matching scents
CLARIFYING QUESTION of the Year: Does this choice make me more valiant or show the bravery God has placed through HIS POWER in me? Try to word your clarifying question in terms simple enough to ask yourself daily as a decision-making grid.
This past year, I practiced courage, bravery, and valiance which then prepared me for a surprisingly stressful November. I was able to choose faith over fear and stay near God in the midst of a life storm.
Jesus came to earth, and he was called Emmanuel, “God with us.” (Matt 1:23) God will be with you in the coming year. Enjoy the adventure of living out your Word of the Year!
The second key to having your best year yet is to intentionally set yourself up to have a Good Day each and every day. If you’re tired of dealing with stinkin’ thinkin’, please accept our invitation to join the 7-Day Today is Going to be a Good Day Challenge. It’s not too late to join!
In the challenge, you’ll get a daily email with an encouraging devotional, a playlist song, a short expert interview. You’ll get instant access to a Facebook group where we’ll come alongside you and support you in your endeavors to try to make each and every day a good day, despite your feelings or your circumstances.
In what ways do you set yourself up for success in the new year? We’d love to hear in the comments below!
About Pam Farrel
Pam Farrel and Bill Farrel are Co-Directors of Love-Wise, are relationship specialists, international speakers, and authors of 58 books including bestselling Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti: Understanding and Delighting in Your Differences; The Marriage Meet Up: Devotional Planner for Couples Who Want Passion, Purpose and Productivity (for him or for her,) and their newest creative devotional journal: VICTORY!
3 New Free Resources to Look Forward to in the New Year
Many years ago I was physically and emotionally failing and needed a reason to get up and optimistically face the day. I wrote my very first social media “Today is Going to be a Good Day” post to encourage not only myself but others as well. That became what has now been a seven-year daily ministry on social media, and the premise for my latest book, Today is Going to be a Good Day: 90 Promises From God to Start Your Day Off Right . I learned how important our mindset is, so I’m offering a free 7-Day Today is Going to be a Good Day Challenge. We’ll send you a daily encouraging email, short encouraging video with tips for helping you to have a good day, the offer to participate in a Facebook group for accountability and support if you desire, as well as freebies and giveaways. I hope you’ll join us. Register here.
I know the winter months following the hustle and bustle of the holidays can contribute to a higher incidence of the blues. So I want to offer a free webinar for you or your friends and loved ones, to share professional and personal insights on some things that can help you mitigate the blues even when you can’t change the finances, the weather, or some of your contributing relationships. It’s free to you. It’ll be a live event with a replay available for those who sign up but can’t attend live. Sign up now.
Readers have been asking me to lead an online version of the Hope Prevails Bible Study and God has spurred my heart to offer it in late January to help get through the winter months as we anticipate the joy of spring. I would love to have you join us, and perhaps even consider inviting a friend to join with you. Everything is better with a friend! I’ll be sharing more in future emails about the Bible study, but you can sign up here.
Friend, I pray that wherever you find yourself this holiday season, that you would experience that hope, peace, and joy that comes from having a relationship with Jesus!