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6 Steps to Discover Your Word or Theme for the Year

Have you always wanted to choose a word for the year but didn't know where to start? Try these 6 easy steps to help you discover your word for the year.

Since 2010 I have been writing about my Word of the Year. I’ve chosen words such as purge, discipline, prepare, focus, follow through, peace, and implement. Last year I decided to go with a theme instead and chose living the good life.

If you click on all these words you can read about my good intentions for each year. And you’ll also see I recalled how I didn’t quite live up to my word the year before.

I guess it stands to reason that unless you are super dedicated, you will most likely not live up to the word you choose. But, you know what, that’s ok! We are all humans with good intentions, but sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way we plan so we can’t live up to our expectations all the time.

However, that should not deter you from wanting to do your best during the year. I have found having a word or theme for the year has helped me narrow my focus and kept me from committing to things I shouldn’t. So, it’s very worthwhile to me to have a word or theme to live by to keep that focus and drive me to reach my goals.

During November and December I participated in a couple of goal setting classes. They approached goal setting in different ways, but they were both beneficial in helping me reach my list of goals for the year.

I want to share a few tips I learned from those classes to help you in case you want to pick your own word or theme for the year.

1. Write down your ideas for the year.

Before you can determine what word or theme will define your year, you need to know what you’d like to accomplish this year. This is not a place to set your specific goals. Just get a blank piece of paper out and write down all the things you’d like to do this year.

Think outside of the box. Yes, it’s ok to write that you want to lose weight or get healthy. Also include some other intangible ideas. For example, my list included thrive, cultivate new friendships, be servant hearted, trust God, and live with more intention.

2. Let it go.

No, don’t start singing the song, please! 🙂 This exercise is to clarify what you are feeling right now and identifying what may be holding you back in achieving good things.

Ask yourself how you feel and write about it. When I did this exercise, I wrote that I felt unsettled. There are so many areas in my life in which I’m waiting for answers. I detailed those unsettled feelings so I could remember them later.

Then ask yourself what are you willing to let go of so you can move forward. I wrote that I was willing to give up fear, standing still, regrets, past mistakes, comparison, and not feeling good enough.

3. Write down what went well in the last year and what didn’t go so well last year.

It’s important to take stock of the good and not so good things in our lives. I was pleasantly surprised how much God brought to my mind that went well last year. And I was also surprised at how much longer that list was than the list of things that didn’t go so well.

Writing both the good and the challenging can help you to see how you got to where you are today and what you can do to improve this year.

4. Determine what you’re going to say “no” and “yes” to in the new year.

This was a fun exercise for me. In addition to the things I mentioned above, I wrote that I am going to say no to social media. It seems social media stirs up all those other things I was willing to let go of.

Some of the things I’m saying yes to are relationships, healthy living, confidence in Christ, excellence, supporting other well, and putting the phone down.

Take some time with this and ask God to show you what He wants you to say no and yes to.

5. Ask God what your assignment is for this season of your life.

I wrote about this in more depth here, but I think it bears repeating. When I heard this question asked by the conference facilitator, immediately the word support came to mind. It just made so much sense as I pondered things I’d already written and thought about in the other activities.

Honestly, I think this is the most important step in determining your word or theme for the year. If we don’t know what God wants us to focus on, we will just be spinning our wheels.

6. Take all your answers from steps 1-5 to determine your word or theme for the year.

When you look at your answers, what word keeps popping up in your mind? What one word pulls together your hopes and dreams for the year?

As I went through this exercise I realized that even though this word did not come up much in what I wrote, I knew I wanted to do all things with excellence. Specifically support with excellence.

I guess you could say my word for 2018 is excellence and my theme is support with excellence.

All these years of choosing a word or theme boil down to one thing for me…doing things with excellence. No matter how much or how little I get done, if I do it with excellence, the year will be a great success.

I hope these exercises will help you out. If you feel you need further guidance or help, I’d love to work with you through a series of life coaching sessions. Together we can figure out where you are now and where you want to be by the end of the year. Then we can create a plan to make it happen. If that sounds like something you’d want to do, send me an email at theplanningwoman [at] gmail [dot} com.


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