It’s the beginning of another new year, and I might as well make my confession now: I am terrible at resolutions.
Oh, I might make an impressive list of goals with corresponding sub-points. I might write them down in a pretty journal and even color-code them with fancy pens. But don’t be fooled. Before the Christmas decorations have had time to gather any dust, I will have forgotten all about my lofty aspirations and bullet-pointed lists.
So I’ve made a new resolution: No more New Year’s resolutions! Instead, I’m shooting for the “New Year’s for Dummies” version of goal-setting and choosing a word of the year instead. That’s right—no lists, no striving after a bunch of unattainable ideals, just a single-word theme.
The idea is that throughout the year, my heart and mind can settle on that one word and be open to what God wants to show me on that topic. This is a relief for a recovering perfectionist like me, because it offers a lot of room for grace. My yearlong quest won’t be about succeeding or failing; it won’t be about how many boxes I check off or how far off the mark I find myself come December. It will be about anticipating the transformation God is going to do inside of me in the year ahead.
As this new year begins, I’d like to invite you to join me on this adventure of non-resolutions. Whenever you can sneak in some moments of quiet—in the morning, while you’re in the car, or over a cup of coffee, ask God if there’s a word he wants you to focus on this year. And then, once you’ve settled on your word, jump in with both feet.
The beautiful thing is, there’s no wrong way to pursue your word. Maybe you’ll write the word on a sticky note and post it on your mirror or your refrigerator to recalibrate your thoughts throughout the day. Maybe you’ll read the Bible with an eye open for what God has to say on the topic. Maybe you’ll meet with a friend each month to share how you see this playing out in your life. Maybe you’ll find a book that speaks into this topic or tells the story of someone who lived out this word well. You might even have a family meeting and decide on a word of the year for your whole family.
If you’re not sure where to begin, here are a few ideas to get you started, along with some books that go along with each theme. Some of the books are for you, some are for your kids, and some are read-alouds for the whole family. I trust that they will be good company as you pursue your word of the year.
Once you decide on your word for the year, we’d love to hear from you. What word did you choose? How do you hope to see it play out in your life and in your family in the year ahead?
Stephanie Rische is a senior editor and team leader at Tyndale House Publishers, as well as a freelance writer for publications such as
Today’s Christian Woman, Christian Marriage Today
magazine. You can follow Stephanie’s blog at