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6 Tools To Help Cultivate Your Word of the Year

If you’ve followed along for the last few years, I have started picking a word for the New Year instead of making resolutions. This year is no different but, I must admit that it took me longer than usual to find my word and I was getting a bit frustrated.

It took quite a bit of effort, but I finally had a list of about seven possible words. So I started looking up the definitions of each. Most of the words were quickly crossed out, but one pesky little word kept grabbing my attention, even though I tried to ignore it.

To be honest, when I landed on this years word, I wasn’t all that pleased. I even fought and argued against it and did my best to choose another word, but I kept coming back to it.

January brings with it a feeling of a fresh start, but that feeling soon fades. The following is a list of tools that can help you not lose sight of your word of the year. 6 Tools to Help Cultivate Your Word of the Year |

My word for the year (2018) is “Rest.”

How dull! It’s about as opposite from being action oriented as you can get and at first I was not motivated by it in the least. But, the more I thought about it and read through the dictionary’s definitions it became clear that it was the right one.

In the end, my final confirmation was that I ended 2017 with a massive cold, flu, or virus something that sucker punched me and it only got worse the first day of 2018. It has required rest (of course) to start to feel better.

As I looked up the word in different dictionaries, I realized it there were lessons to be lessons to be learned through focusing on this word.

Rest as a noun:

  • To stop and heal
  • A pause in music (which reminds me of the word Selah!)
  • Refreshing quiet, sleep, a period of inactivity

Rest as a verb:

  • To support
  • To be at ease
  • To be quiet and still
  • To be present, dwell, linger upon

I must admit that I get a bit squirmy looking at both lists, I enjoy slowing down but often find it hard. Which I think is at least part of what God wants to work on in me and why this word kept landing at the top of the list.

Applying My Word of the Year

While I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I do work on cultivating intentional habits and goals, for me and my business.

With my word selected I could now look at my list of potential goals through the lens of rest. It immediately shortened my list of project and goals. It also extended the deadlines on a few, and I quickly saw that there were some that would need to be put on the backburner until later in the year.

I think that is what an effective word of the year is supposed to do.

January brings with it a feeling of a fresh start, but that feeling soon fades. The following is a list of tools that can help you not lose sight of your word of the year.

6 Tools to Help Cultivate Your Word of the Year

Tool #1: Knowing Your Why

When you connect an idea, a project, a goal, or habit to a strong Why you have a much higher chance of success. Knowing and having a deep understanding of that connection will help keep you moving forward even when it’s hard.

Tool #2: PowerSheets: Intentional Goal Planner

I’m starting my third year of using “PowerSheets” from Lara Casey at It has become an essential tool for me. Her goal planner has helped me see goal setting differently, and I’ve been able to tackle and finish more projects than I have in a long time. You can read more about it here.

Tool #3: Word of the Year Journal

I’ve started a journal to explore my word throughout the year. It will be a collection of verses, quotes, definitions, resources, ideas, and tools all centered around the theme of rest. Plus it’s a great excuse to go crafty and pull out my Washi tape, pens, stickers, and art supplies and have some fun. 🙂

Tool #4: Scheduled Reviews

I’ve written about the importance of Quarterly Reviews here. These reviews will include weekly check-ins and more in-depth quarterly reviews. It will be a way to evaluate what is working, what isn’t, and make adjustments as needed.

Tool #5: Accountability

I’m still working on how this idea will play out, but I know for a fact that accountability makes a difference. It’s how I’ve gotten books written and made substantial progress on goals and projects.

(Note: One idea I’ve been tossing around is a private Facebook group where participants would post their word and goals. Nothing too structured but a place to connect, share motivation, and hold each other accountable to do what we say we are going to do. If this would be of interest to you, click here and let me know.)

Tool #6: Visual Reminders

I’m creating a set of visual reminders of my word, like a tea mug, tote bag, art prints, notepads, screensavers, backgrounds, and more. I’ll share more about these later as I have them designed. Having and using visual reminders will help take care of the “out of sight out of mind” problem we often face.

It's time to learn to work from rest and not rest from work |

Resting While Pursuing Big Goals

I have some big goals for my business this year and taking the time to rest will help me have the energy and mental capacity to tackle them.

To go along with my word, I’m also adopting this phrase, “Work from rest, not rest from work.” In just a few words it expresses what I would like to learn this year.

What about you?
Have you picked your Word of the Year yet?

Want to dive more into picking and using a Word of the Year?
I’ve got a couple of podcasts episodes for you that might help.
You can listen in or read the transcripts to each episode at the links below.

Episode 31: Word of the Year or New Year’s Resolutions? Which one do you need?
Episode 32: I’ve Picked My Word of the Year… Now What?

More on Picking A New Year’s Word:

2 thoughts on “6 Tools To Help Cultivate Your Word of the Year”

  1. Hi Marta! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Epiphany!

    As always your writing speaks directly to me. Sometimes I read your words and wonder how did she put into words all the “stuff” that rolls around in my head! You do it so beautifully too. Thank you.

    Have you ever heard of the book “My One Word”? I just got it for Christmas and I’ve heard he gives great ideas for how to keep your word front and center through the year. Creative ideas and ways to watch God working in your life regarding your word.

    One question, I’ve been trying to do quarterly reviews since Aug. Each time I plan the day, my husband or family has other ideas. How do you carve the time out (I’m a deep thinker so I like my space to do this), and do you have a separate journal for this? If so, then do you have 3 journals? One for the daily brain dump, one for the Word for the year, and one for quarterly reviews?

    I hope you are doing well. I jumped back into life too quickly after being clear of Lyme and am choosing to step back again and regroup. Listen and accept a slower pace and less on the to do list. It doesn’t help that I am in full swing peri-menopause and they are still trying to figure out how to get my body to handle hormones. Life is never dull is it?

    Looking forward to an awesome new year filled with good things!

    Wishing you God’s peace,

    1. Hi Dee, Great to hear from you! Thank you for your thoughtful comment, that is so wonderful to hear that what I’m thinking and writing about is of interest :), a writer always likes to hear that LOL.

      I have not heard of that book, that title is now on my book list to look into further. I do have One Word That Will Change Your Life by Dan Britton. I had thought about re-reading that this year but ran out of time.

      Quarterly Reviews: I have found that I really need to go somewhere else, even if it is just to the coffee shop. There are too many distractions at home, personal things I need to cross of my to-do list, and work I need to do on my business, to writing projects I feel behind on. Going somewhere else, even for an hour or two removes most of those distractions and I find I can find a quiet corner with some some hot tea, put on my headphones with some quiet background music and get to work.

      Shorter weekly check-ins I can do at home in a few minutes but for my monthly prep and review and quarterly review I do need to go somewhere else.

      Journals: I am a journal collector and have them scattered everywhere but this year I am working on being more intentional and plan what notebook gets used for what.

      1) My Bullet Journal / Travellers Notebook: This will be my monthly calendar, my braindump and my day-to-day activities.
      2) My Word of the Year Journal: I’ve decided this will be at least a once a week journal where I spend time writing out what I am learning about my word, related Bible Verses and quotes, as well as a list of 3-5 ways I can find rest this week.
      3) Quarterly Reviews: For me probably not a notebook but loose leaf paper to give myself plenty of room to answer my standard list of questions. It gives me more room to scribble, doodle, and make a mess. Once I have worked through the questions and updated my goals for the next quarter, they will go into my PowerSheets Goal Planner and probably one or two other places where I can easily see them.

      Good for you for stepping back and taking the time to regroup. Healing is slow work and it is so easily to overdo and commit to too much and wear yourself out. That is a lesson I have to re-learn over and over again.

      Happy New Year Dee!

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