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My One Word: Choosing a Guiding Word for 2021

Why is choosing a guiding word so important?

We can all agree that this past year has been a bit depressing. But we can turn that frown upside down and head into the next year with a positive mindset.

This year, don’t join a gym. Don’t decide to cut down on your expenses. Don’t make a long list of promises that will depress you in February. Instead, start the year by choosing a guiding word to lead your way through 2021.

We've all been there. That's why, instead of setting ourselves up for failure, it's so much more helpful to use a guiding word of the year for inspiration. Lots of people have begun this new tradition and ditched their resolutions in favor of a single word, and you can too! It's a simple process that takes a little introspection, a bit of prayer, and a pen and paper.

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Why Choose a Word of the Year

We’ve all set resolutions that were supposed to inspire us and experienced crushing defeat not too long after. In fact, 80% of us will fail to keep resolutions by February. Thank goodness someone figured this out and wrote a book about choosing a guiding word of the year, called One Word That Will Change Your Life.

“Instead of creating goals and resolutions, we found a single word that would be our driving force of the year. No goals. No resolutions. Just One Word! We simply developed a One Word theme for the year. It became a One Word vision for everything, and it changed our lives.”  -Dan Britton, Jimmy Page, John Gordon

The concept has helped so many people aspire to a better life without creating impossible standards. When you find your personal word of the year, it's a powerful reminder to make better choices. And you’ll be about 80% happier come February.

How to Choose Your Guiding Word of the Year

A simple word can do what resolutions can’t. It can influence each area you’d like to make changes in without raising the bar impossibly high.

But choosing a guiding word isn’t as easy as it sounds. After all, it should be inspiring, guiding, helpful, and challenging. To take some of the pressure off, use this list of steps.

Step 1 – Think About Your Past Year

When thinking about your guiding word for the next year, start with reflecting on the past year!

What challenges did you face? What did you learn? What mistakes did you make and what did you accomplish?

Is there a particular word that comes to mind that sums up what was missing?

Step 2 – Think About What's Coming in the Year Ahead

Your new guiding word should relate to the things that are coming ahead!

What challenges are down the road? What are you looking forward to? How would you like to grow as a person?

When you think about the coming year, how or what do you want to see change?

Step 3 – Write Down Single Words That Come to Mind

At this point, you probably have a lot of words that are spinning around in your head.

Write them all down! You may find that some of them are actually the same thing but said differently.

Step 4 – Reflect on Scripture

Now it is time to dive into Scripture!

Reflect on verses that have to do with the things you listed in the previous step.

Which verse or verses REALLY stand out as something you need to focus on in the coming year?

When your word of the year is grounded in God's word, it has an even bigger impact.

Related: My One Word: Change Your Life with Just One Word


One Word That Will Change Your Life Examples

Choosing a guiding word that is based on Scripture can truly transform or change your life! Why? Because God's Word is a blueprint that, when followed, will guide us to the many blessings He has in store for us!

If you could really use some inspiration for choosing a guiding word and a verse, these examples might help!

Courage – Has fear hindered you from reaching your full potential? Maybe “Courage” would be the best word of the year for you! When you have a daily reminder that God is with you, you can be more courageous in striving for new and bigger goals!

 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6 

Intentional – Did you go through the past year by “winging” it? Maybe your word for 2021 should be “intentional.” When we are more intentional with our time and our gifts, we are able to achieve so much more in a year's time!

“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it-not forgetting what they have learned, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.” – James 1:25 

Joy – Were you truly filled with joy this last year? Or were you preoccupied with the negative things of this crazy year? When we approach everything with a joyful heart, we will experience much better outcomes!

“The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” Psalm 19:8

Thankful – This past year has been filled with losses of every variety. It can be easy to become focused on the losses and loose focus on all their is to still be thankful for.

  • “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,” Hebrews 12:28 

Nurture – As a parent, we can easily get so overwhelmed with the stuff of life that we lose focus on one very important thing we are tasked with – nurturing the next generation. This year, be more focused on nurturing them in all areas of their life.

“Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.” Psalm144:12

Worth – You ARE worthy! Focusing on this one word can truly be transformative! When we don't truly understand our value and worth in Christ, we don't strive for all that God intended for us!

“So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:31 

These are just a few examples of a single word that, when you focus on all year long – can truly change your life!


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My Word for 2021

My Guiding Word for 2021 is HOPE.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 CSB

2020 was full of things that kept many of us in a state of fear. Fear for our health. Fear for our country. Fear of what is to come.

Hope is the only motivating feeling stronger than fear. Hope is what keeps us pressing forward towards something better. And when we place our future in God's hands, we can rest in the hope for a better future.

This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5 CSB

So, as I head into the next year, HOPE is the guiding word that will lead me through every endeavor, every obstacle – all of it!

Now that you’re an expert on choosing a guiding word, you’ve followed the process and created a graphic for yourself, you’re ready for a wonderful new year!

You’ll soon see how much easier it is to allow God to lead you through a single word than to fight to keep a resolution by your own strength. The irony is that your word could lead you to keep resolutions you didn’t even need to make.

Who knows? You might end up joining that gym anyway!

Be sure to also read our 15 Inspiring Bible Verses About Setting Goals for even more inspiration for choosing a guiding word and setting goals for 2021!

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