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Why You Need A Word For 2021 (and How to Decide On The Right One For You)

Most of us are more than ready to say goodbye to 2020, but can we really say that we are ready to walk into 2021?

If you know me, you know that I love self-reflection and all things personal awareness, and for that reason I am huge fan of focusing on a word for each new year.

I’ve been picking a word to focus on for the past few years (funny enough I can only remember the past 2 years)

2019– Seek.

2020– Align.

2021– I’ll tell you at the end of this post 🙂

There are so many ways that people decide on a word to focus on for a new year, and many people use their words to help them to select goals for the next year and give them a roadmap of how to approach the new year.

Most words that people choose to focus on help them to renew their mind and keep their priorities in check. For example, a few of my friends choose the word, “gather” for this past year and all jokes aside, even though our gatherings looked different than what we thought Jan 1 2020, it still has been possible to gather and also reflect on what we’ve learned from 2020 as a whole. (For one, I know our ability to “gather” virtually has been a huge blessing for many of us this past year!)

So let’s tackle the first point: Why You Need A Word For 2021

I’ve quoted this verse before, but it 100% applies here, and it is a great place to start.

Where there is no vision, the people perish: Proverbs 29:18 KJV

but I also think we can glean more information about what this vision means and how we can apply it to our lives by looking at more version of this exact verse:

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; Proverbs 29:18 NIV

When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. Proverbs 29:18 NLT

And of course, I really want to look at what this word is in the greek,

CHAZOWN. And if you follow me way back to 2016, I led a few studies on our CHAZOWN by pastor Craig Groeschel.

So not only are we referring to vision, revelation or prophecy, but our purpose.

If we use the word “purpose” in place of vision it will read like this:

Where there is no purpose, people cast off restraint.

Purpose gives us clarity and guidance.

It is imperative then that we have a purpose, and our purpose needs to attend in a specific direction.

As a life coach, I help people set a goal and work backward on how to accomplish that goal (often using the SMART goal frame work) Using the SMART goal frame work and focusing on a goal for the upcoming year are both ways to make sure that we are not wandering around aimlessly, but instead are remaining intentional in all that we do.

Here is something that may or may not be new news: Everything we do has a reason. Everything we do has a purpose.

And as I discuss in my book, every action is either moving us towards a stronger relationship with God or away from Him.

So why not pick a word to focus on that gives you a starting point for how you want to approach the year ahead? Once you have your word in mind, you can work backward to determine HOW you’re going to implement that word/idea in the coming year (this is where the real fun begins!)

So now that you’re on board to pick out a word to focus on for 2021 and agree that it is important to set a word as an intention, your next question may be,

How Do I Choose A Word?

Let’s backup to what we said about our purpose,

Where there is no purpose, people cast off restraint.

If you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing, then why are you doing it?

We desire to see change and accomplish these goals that we set for ourselves, but without having a strong WHY for doing so, paired with a very tangeble end-goal vision, many of off will fall off.

This is the reason that many new years resolutions fail, we start out full steam ahead, but somewhere along the way, “lose our motivation” and ultimately end up falling off the wagon.

Our purpose then, or reason for doing something is best defined by a source outside of ourselves.

God created us. God defines us. Therefore, God created us for a purpose and our word for the year must reflect His purpose for us.

There are so many ways in which people go about deciding on a word for the new year, everything from prayer and fasting to choosing a word at random, but I believe that the best formula for coming up with a word with a purpose lies somewhere between to two.

Pray for the Word.

We seek God for vision and direction in our lives, so it is no secret that we need to also pray for the word he wants us to focus on for the upcoming year. The word we decide on for the new year is so much more than what we purpose to do, but rather WHAT GOD WANTS TO DO THROUGH US.

Sometimes we might hear the word during prayer and reflection time. Sometimes we might be reading or listening to something and then the word seemly jumps out at us, and often we can hear the word and see it come up in several places as confirmation, as I discuss in deciphering messages and Godly themes.

Look for the Word.

We can also be looking for the word through THE WORD. Since we want to set an intention related to attributes outlined in the bible, we can also be reading the word for inspiration or revelation of what our word to focus on for the next year should be.

For example my word for 2019 was seek, and it was largely based off of two different verses in the bible:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 NIV

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

And this past year, my word was really about aligning my heart with God’s heart. In fact, I highly encourage you once you have your word for 2021 to write out specific goals related that word. Here are my notes from the word “Align” I chose earlier this year (exactly as I wrote them out, just copied and pasted)

2020 word of the year- Align

  • Align my will with God’s will
  • Align my heart with God’s heart
  • Align my mind with Godly thoughts
  • Align my body with the right nutrition and exercise

From these 4 Key points on Align, I was then able to get even more specific on How I was going to align these areas of my life. And as a reflection exercise for this year, I can go back and examine how well these areas worked out.

As with many words that we choose to focus on or the goals we set, it is less about “arriving at the destination”, and more about the consistent effort we make along the way.

So something that I might (ok I definitely will) do is to look back and ask myself:

How well did I:

Align my will with God’s will

Align my heart with God’s heart

Align my mind with Godly thoughts

Align my body with the right nutrition and exercise

Again these goals and areas are not things that we can accomplish and forget about, but rather areas that we can continue to grow in.

I will use these questions to help me determine my goals for 2021 related to my word for the year (which I’m almost ready to share), but I have some other important notes about choosing and activating your word of the year:

Many of the words you choose or are drawn to might be similar, for example gratitude and thankfulness, but I encourage you to pray specifically about what (if any) are the differences between those two words for you in how you define them and how you practice them.

  • A follow up action-step question might be, “How can I demonstrate gratitude this year/ How can I demonstrate thankfulness this year? (pay close attention if the answers between the two are different!)

Your word of the year can also evoke a specific image related to how you’re going to live that out.

  • For example, if you have the word “Give” as in “give it over to God”, some other more emotionally-charged words that you might consider could be:

surrender. release. relinquish.

  • These three words can essentially mean the same thing as give, but seem to be “stronger words” that might give you a specific idea of WHAT you need to surrender/release/relinquish over to God. (visualizing surrendering vs. visualizing giving)

Ok, you’ve made it this far and I sincerly hope this post has been helpful for you in deciding how you are going to use your word of the year and what that word is going to be.

God gave me my word (well words) in a series a few nights ago and I want to share this story because I feel like it just demonstrates how much God care for us and is concerned about the intimate details of our lives.

A week or so ago: I started adding, “praying for wisdom and discernment for word for the year for 2021 into my prayer journal.

A a day or so after that: I got the idea to have a word that could be interpreted differently based on context (so I really thought my word was supposed to be PRESENT)

  • as in, being present in my everyday life, and being mindful of how I present myself to others and to God. (see the difference there?!)

A few days after that: I started reading the book of Revelation and got really attached the word revelation and was trying to figure out how I was going to make that my word of the year.

Yesterday: I was taking a sip of my water and the word, POUR came to me as a revelation. (I wasn’t even pouring anything!) Then in my devotion and reading for the day the word “pour” was mentioned several more times.

So that is how I know that POUR is my word for the upcoming year, because it came as a revelation and it also relates to WHO OR WHAT I POUR INTO and WHERE I POUR FROM.

And because I believe in accountability by means of setting a goal and telling others, I will go ahead and share what POUR in 2021 will look like for me:

  • Pour into my kids- time, attention, teaching about Jesus, love and grace
  • Pour into my marriage- making an effort to carve out time for connection and growth
  • Pour into my friendships- we are making a big move early next year and I will need to pour myself into establishing a community once we get settled in.
  • Pour into my career- I’m working on coaching projects, speaking projects,, teaching, and even some more book projects I’m guessing will come my way in 2021. But I want to make sure that I’m pouring myself into the right places/areas.
  • And as we all know we can’t pour from an empty cup, so I also need to make sure that I fill myself up with the Word of God so it is His spirit and example that is poured out of me.

Ok, that’s all I got, friends! I would love to hear from you, have you chosen a word for 2021, and if so what will your word be? It could be YOUR WORD that you share that sparks the word for another person to be practicing and applying in 2021!

Praying God gives you the wisdom to know the word, and the discernment on how He wants you to use that word for the upcoming year!

Blessings, sweet friends!

P.S: Are you tired of quitting something over and over again and ready to move forward once and for all? Well I’m honored to announce that I wrote a chapter for the, “I Quit!: Stories & Strategies to Help You Let Go of What No Longer Serves You” book.

This is the perfect way to start off the new year by getting rid of the things that hold you back so you can become who God called you to be! Grab your pre-order copy for just 99 cents here (for a limited time!)

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