Lifestyle Mindfulness

Words Hold Power (Part 3): 5 Steps to Select a Word of the Year

In my previous post, Words Hold Power (Part 2): Harnessing the Power of Words for a Bright Future, I let you in on some of the anxiety I experienced as perfectionism slithered its way into the decision making process as I tried to zero in on a word I wanted to serve as my “Word for 2019.”  I encourage you to read my previous post, so you can learn from my own experience and be on the look-out for any perfectionistic tendencies or anxiety that may try to butt its way into your own word selection journey.  

Instead of focusing on finding the “perfect word”…

…I suggest you allow yourself to select a word that serves you “well enough” for right now.  “Good enough” for today.  You won’t be “stuck “ with the word you choose: you can always change your word in the days ahead.  Heck, you may even have many words that provide you with guidance, encouragement, comfort, and strength in the year ahead.  

Life is fluid, life has seasons, and life involves change.  You can’t possibly know what the future holds, but you know where you are today.  And God is waiting to help you and guide you as you step into your future, seek to understand the person He created you to be, and strive after your own unique purpose and calling in life.  Seek God here in the present moment for both guidance and discernment as you plan for your future, and He will guide you as you think about what you want to work on, the person you want to become, and/or the things you want to welcome into your life in the coming year.

OK, so now that the stage has been set, how about we jump into finding that word of the year?

5 Steps to Guide You in Your Own Word Selection

Before you begin working through the following steps I’ve listed out below, remember: our words can change, and one word does not need to serve an entire year.  Do your best to remain focused on where you are today and what will serve you in the near-term as you strive after your bigger life goals.

Ready to try it out for yourself?  Excited to settle in on a “word for 2019” for yourself?  Great!  Let’s get started.  

Below are 5 steps to help guide you as you endeavor to settle in on your own word for 2019.  

Five steps, you can do that, right?! 😉 

5 Steps to Select a Word of the Year

Step 1: Reflect on this past year.  

Reflect on the events that took place in the past year, and ask yourself these questions:

  • What made my heart sing this past year? What sparked the most joy?
  • What areas in my life were the most challenging?
  • What do I want more of in my life (e.g., time with family, patience, 
  • What do I want less of in the coming year (e.g., stress, anxiety, anger, perfectionism, responsibilities on my plate, etc.)?

Step 2: Visualize an “Ideal Day”

Use the past to inform your future.  Recall a fond memory from the past year.  

  • What were you doing?  Who were you with? What made that memory so special? How did you feel? 
  • Consider what you can do in the year ahead to harness that same energy and create more memories like this cherished memory from your past.

Now visualize an ideal day.  I encourage you to find a quiet place, get comfortable, and close your eyes as you envision a day that would bring you joy and peace.

  • What would your morning routine look like? 
  • What energy would you embody as you carry on with your day? 
  • Who would you spend time with?
  • How would you spend your day?
  • How would you feel at the end of the day? 
  • What would your evening ritual look like before your head hits the pillow?

Step 3: Visualize Your True Self 

In a recent post, I described an exercise I completed wherein I spent some time in reflection with God, envisioning my “True Self” – the person God created me to be.  Refer back to my previous blog post, My True Self: the Person I Want to Be in 2019 (and Onward), to see some of the characteristics God revealed to me about my “True Self.” 

Now, do the same exercise for yourself.  Find a quiet, comfortable place, close your eyes, and begin to imagine your True Self as you partake in the following visualization exercise:

  • Picture yourself taking off any and all masks you feel pressured to wear in your everyday life.  In this moment: here and now: there is nothing to prove, there is no one to impress. There is nothing you “should” do or “should” be.  You just are.
  • Picture yourself stripped of all responsibilities, all fears, all anxieties.  All expectations of who you should be, any shame from past mistakes, any worries about tomorrow: lay them at God’s feet.
  • Picture yourself in a place that brings you calm, peace, contentment.  Where are you? What do you see? What do you smell?  What do you hear? 
  • Remember, it is only you and God in this place: so you have nothing to fear.  You can be completely transparent, honest, and open.  You can be completely yourself.  Feel yourself being consumed in love: acceptance embraces you as He looks upon you.
  • Now, begin to ask yourself: 
    • Who is my True Self? What does she look like? What is she doing?  How does it feel to be around her?  What energy does she exude?  
    • What is important to her?  What are her passions? What makes her happy?  What makes her heart bleed?  
    • How does she interact with others?  How does she spend her time? 
  • Continue to let your imagination roam, and let the Spirit guide you as He begins to reveal certain aspects of your True Self: the “you” you want to be, and the “you” God will help you step into as He helps strip away the bondage and shame from our past and fears about the future. 

Once you’ve completed the above visualization exercise, journal about what you just experienced.  Write down a list of the various characteristics that came to mind as you visualized your “True Self.”  

Step 4: Create a List 

After you complete steps 1 through 3, begin jotting down a list of words that resonate with you and the True Self you just envisioned. Consider the following questions to get you started, and then let the words flow.  Any word that pops into your mind…write it down.  You can narrow down the list in a bit. 

  • What words make you feel empowered, energized, encouraged, and motivated?
  • What words make you feel unstressed and at peace?  The words that make you feel as if “all is well” and offer you a big “word hug”?
  • What words encapsulate how you want to “feel” in the coming year?
  • What word(s) capture what you want more of in this coming year?
  • Which word(s) stick(s) out to you as you recall the True Self you pictured in step 3?  The Unmasked Version of yourself?
  • Picture your ideal day.  What words encapsulate that day and how you felt?

Here are some examples to get you going:

  • Acceptance
  • Authenticity
  • Awake
  • Believe
  • Brave
  • Calm
  • Community
  • Create
  • Embrace
  • Empowered
  • Enough
  • Faith
  • Gather
  • Grateful
  • Grow
  • Heal
  • Hope
  • Joy
  • Love
  • Mindful
  • Patience
  • Pause
  • Peace
  • Perseverance
  • Present
  • Purposed
  • Release
  • Simplify
  • Trust

After you’ve jotted down your list, narrow the results down to your top 3 before heading on to step 5.  

You can do this! 🙂 Go with your gut, follow your intuition, and select the 3 words that stand out most to you.

Step 5: Ask Yourself These 3 Questions to Select Your “Word of 2019″

The final step!  You’re almost there!

OK, so for this last step, ask yourself these last three questions to bring you back to a purpose-driven word for 2019: 

  • Who do you want to be?  (e.g., What kind of person do you want to be in 2019 and subsequent years…10 years, 20 years, 30 years…and onward? How do you want others to remember you?)
  • What do you want to have more of in the coming year? (e.g., resilience, focus, trust, drive, etc.)
  • What passions and dreams do you want to pursue? (e.g., What’s on your “What Matters Most” list? What makes your heart sing? What makes you feel alive?)

After asking yourself these three questions, take a look back at your top 3 words, identify the word that resonates most with you, and commit to that word.

Congrats! You Did It!  

So what’s your word for 2019? What does this word mean to you?  Share with me in the comments below!! 

Commit to Your Word and Remain Focused

Remember: this word is not set in stone.  Consider this word as merely a stepping stone on your journey, informed by your passions/dreams and directed by God’s plan and purpose for you.  Life is a journey, a journey that abs and flows.  A journey wherein change is not segmented to years.  

Some years are full of adventure, exciting changes.  Some years entailed many hardships and difficult changes.  Some years are mundane, seemingly unremarkable, coasting years.  Some years include the whole gamut: ups, downs, pivots and swirls all-around.   

We don’t know what 2019 will hold: only God knows.  The word you selected may carry you through 2019 and beyond; perhaps not.  Maybe this word will only serve you for a time, and you will adopt a new word as you journey through 2019.  Perhaps you will have many words that help encourage and direct you this year.  

Whatever the case: think on it a bit, and go with your gut.  But I encourage you to pick a word and commit to it for however long the next season lasts.  

May your word of 2019 be a guiding principal that keeps you motivated, focused, and grounded in the days, weeks, and months to come as you strive after the unique calling and purpose God has placed on your heart, bravely take of any mask you previously wore, continue to discover the “True You” in all your unmasked glory, and begin to step out into the world as the person God created you to be.

You don’t have to know all the answers right now or know what the future will look like for you.  Just take one day, one step, ONE WORD at a time

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