Another new year is upon us and I, like many, are glad to have a ‘clean slate’. The year of 2016 had it’s ups and downs for me and my family and I still feel a bit of it’s downward pull, so the act of moving forward with a new resolve and purpose is refreshing and mood altering to say the least. I am a firm believer in the fact that you can have a fresh start at any time of the year and honestly every morning God grants us a fresh start; a new day to begin again…His grace is immeasurable and His loving mercy gives us an opportunity to be made new every.single.day.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
However I also know that if I have laid out some sort of plan and purpose for me and my life moving in the direction I am being called to follow, than I am more motivated to start that new day with the heart and mission I know God is moving me into. This is becoming the best version of yourself; pursuing the highest value of our spirit, following God’s direction and overcoming challenges in our everyday lives. Matthew Kelly, author of numerous best-selling books and renowned speaker, Catholic evangelist and founder of The Dynamic Catholic Institute, speaks often about becoming the best version of yourself and he says, “All of us are called to holiness, and that means we should become all that God created us to be. Every decision we make needs to be made in relation to an unchanging principle, otherwise we’re just drifting.”
Last year I wrote a post about the most impactful way I start the new year. I discussed how I pick one word each year to be my umbrella, of sorts, for my goals and life direction. I also think of it as a personal guide word in how I want to conduct myself and live for the rest of the year; maybe habits I want to try to implement and a general thought to how I want to see my life change going into, and continuing through, the new year.
Last year I wrote- “the first thing I do to start my year is to brainstorm and pick one word. This one word encompasses what my year will be about…it reminds me of what I want to focus on and it is the drive behind my goal setting process. I love this practice of picking a word for each year…it is the jump start to my excitement for the new year and I truly utilize it all year long, unlike the dated resolution practice, this is one I stick to and am very motivated to do.
Two years ago I saw this video that talked about the “one word” philosophy and I was sold…I thought about my priorities and my season of life and what I wanted to remind myself about in the upcoming year. I wrote the words that came to mind down and narrowed it down to one. I then wrote this word on my planner, post-its and bathroom mirror. Last year I made myself a graphic tee with my word. This is the key to the one word…you must display it in places that you will see it often…it will serve as a reminder of your priorities, your goals and your purpose. It is so simple, yet so powerful and that is why I love it!
The other key to the one word is to tailor your goals around that word….for instance if my word is breathe (this was my 2015 word) I will make a goal to have a set rest time…to take breaks when needed and to remind myself to breathe 🙂 Your one word can most definitely fit into your priority categories that you use if you use the same system as I do of choosing 4-5 “categories” (or areas of importance/priority) and setting goals in each of those areas…and actually most of us probably come up with a word that already fits in with our priorities because that is what is most important to us.”
Last year (2016) was my year of ‘simplify’. I chose that word in order to get rid of excess; in my home, in my schedule, in my mind and overall life. I just wanted everything to be less ‘crazy’ and more peaceful. I felt a pull to simplify mind, body, soul, home and consequently bring peace to all the above. I felt drawn to that word and compelled to put some simplifying practices in place, which I did, in the first half of the year and then life got complicated and it was beyond my control. Sometimes there aren’t any words, goals, plans you can make to move forward with and/or achieve that help make your days or your year how you want it. It just is the way it is. But I think that is just it…it isn’t always about how we want it. It isn’t about controlling and making things happen; but more about listening and following to prepare for what God has in store for us.
I have been reflecting on my year the past week or so and I believe that I was led to the word, simplify, for the exact reason that my life was about to become more complicated. I felt the need to let some things go as a reminder to be there for the more important things. I de-cluttered and made more space so I would have time and energy for people. I didn’t fill my calendar with as many ‘busy’ things and did not commit to as much so I could be more open to the unexpected. Our year was hectic and full of unexpected; there were joys, but also sorrows. The reminder of the word simplify did help to keep me grounded at times that I thought I might just lose it. And I did lose it at times because life can be hard, but God was there…he was simply there….and the ever so quiet but yet all encompassing reminders of His presence might not have been seen if I had not simplified my life somewhat along the way. (Many of the lessons and reminders over the past year can be found in my Lessons from Fall post- check it out here) My lessons and reflections lead me to believe that God does put these words and thoughts in our hearts. He knows what it is to be the best versions of ourselves; sometimes all we need to do is listen and follow through with the choices, plans and goals to get us there.
So in choosing my word leading into this year I used the same approach I did last year. In an effort to remain consistent here is what I posted last year about how to choose a ‘word of the year’-
“So how do you choose your one word?
- Look inward. It is always a good idea to review over what worked this past year and what didn’t…and then where you want your focus to be…where do you want to be this next year? What is on your mind? What words describe where you are in your life? These questions will lead you to a few words I am sure…write them down.
- Look upward. Pray. God will lead you to your focus…to your purpose…you will be able to narrow it down to that one word I am sure.
- Look outward. Start thinking of how this word will look in your life this next year. Where can you put this word to be a reminder for you? What goals does this word lead you to in the priorities of your life?”
I started receiving messages and signs pointing me to my new word about mid November. I guess the practice of doing this for the past 4 years has me in a routine of looking inward, upward and outward before we are even done with the current year. It may also have been that I was desperately searching for refreshment; something to cling to despite the complicated I had been almost drowning in at the time. Or maybe it was God throwing out a life line; a light shining in the darkness to lead me to the next season. I like to think it is all true; I am growing and more aware of a God that loves me everyday despite the complications and obstacles. He is offering newness and refuge every morning, but also allowing me to see I am not stuck and there is a turn up ahead that will help lead me to a new season. The word helped define what needed to encompass my life in the coming months; where He wanted me to be and how I could pick myself up.
The word that kept coming to my mind was Intention. This word brings up thoughts of purpose and direction and it gives my mind clarity and focus at a time when I was feeling (and still can feel) foggy and sluggish. Matthew Warner writes in his book Messy & Foolish, that “You were made to live intentionally. You were made to choose how you live your life, not to let life simply happen to you.” This is what I need right now, I need intention. I need to focus on certain things I feel led to carry out in my life. I need to make choices to move forward in certain areas that I had let slip and to let others go in order to be the best version of myself. I do believe that God knows I needed a pick me up and a more clear focus once again, in order to carry out a life worth living and a purpose. Motivation to begin each day with courage, strong values and gratitude in order to find the joy in the everyday.
Along with my one word this year, I have also written a ‘Do It Scared’ statement, long term goals (starting with my ‘Big 3’ for the year and then several smaller goals in different areas) and a motto statement for the year. These all came in my new life planner available through Living Well Spending Less called the Living Well Planner; practical solutions for everyday overwhelm. (And no I am not an affiliate for this planner so clicking that link will not make me money, but I wanted to share it with you!) I found these pages to be very helpful in narrowing down what I wanted to do with my year once my word came to fruition. I won’t get into as much detail here about my goals (look for that in a post coming soon!), but I will share with you my 2017 motto statement since it is very closely tied to my ‘one word’; Intention.
My Motto Statement: “Intention is living with purpose; becoming the best version of myself. I will choose to live out my ‘best yes’ this year with my priorities front and center; staying focused on the goals in front of me and having the courage to do it scared, the grace to pick myself up and the ability to find gratitude and joy in the everyday.”
So my advice to you in starting the new year and/or your fresh start is to do three things:
- Find your word– I have found it to be a simple yet powerful way to move farther with my goals and direction going into the new year and/or season of life. See the ways above to figure out your word, unless you already know it and then move on to #2.
- What does this word mean to you?– Look up the definition of your word. How does it apply to your life? What changes do you want to see in your life? What does your word lead you to? What goals can you start to draft from this word? (At this point I would write all of what you are thinking so you get it all out…a brain dump of sorts to get it all out on paper) Why did you pick this word and/or why are you being led to this word?
- Motto Statement– Put all your thoughts into a motto statement of your own. This can just be one sentence or a few, but I wouldn’t make it long. Something that encompasses what you see this word accomplishing for you in the new year/season and a statement to motivate you to move forward with goal setting and purpose; the purpose you feel you are being called to in this new year and beyond.
A fresh start is available to you now!! You can do it! I believe in you! While we discussed each morning we start anew, God also leads us to new starts and beginnings in various ways. He is leading you to something great; listen and know that your life has purpose and meaning, listen and know you have direction, listen and know you are loved. Your one word can be God’s way of making you into the best version of yourself. Will you join me?
What is your one word this year? I would love to read about it in the comments! If you would like to share your ‘why’ and your motto statement I would love to read those as well!
(And look for posts about expanding this into goal setting and your own ‘do it scared’ statement…coming soon!)
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This was Part 1 in this series! Check out the other posts in this series: