The new year always brings with it the anticipation of hope—whatever defined last year can change in this one.
New Year’s resolutions usually involve aspirations of self-improvement, like exercising, losing weight, or saving money.
But what if your resolution looked completely different this year? What if instead of focusing on an outward goal, you focused on changing the way you think? As Craig Groeschel said, “Our lives move in the direction of our strongest thoughts.”
Choose a word for the year
One popular trend in new-year goal setting is choosing a word or verse for the year to direct your thoughts.
The average person has around 30,000 thoughts per day. Our mental and physical health changes based on the direction of our thoughts. Think of it as a footpath: the more you walk on the path, the easier it is to follow. If our minds are continually focused on the negative—the what if’s, doubts, and fears—the easier it is for our mind to go down the negative footpath when faced with trouble.
Research shows that fear, all on its own, triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones. That’s just one emotion!
However, as believers, we have the power of the Holy Spirit. We can choose to focus on the goodness of God rather than negativity. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:12, NLT).
It’s an incredible gift that when we give our thoughts to God, we experience peace even in the hardest seasons of life. On top of that, the more we meditate on God’s Word, the more our mind is renewed and strengthened. “But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
How to choose your word and verse of the year
Take time to think through these questions and write down your answers. This process will help you narrow down your decision.
- What negative thoughts derail your thinking? What do they lead you to do?
- How do you feel about the direction your current thoughts are leading you?
- What truth about God could help you defeat your negative thinking?
This step seems obvious, but lay your reflections before God. Ask him to search your heart and reveal areas of your life where growth and repentance need to continue or begin. Ask him to help you choose a word that will bring him glory and help you be more Christlike.
Prayers for God’s glory and growth in holiness are the kind God loves to answer. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).
After reflection and prayer, what do you think God is calling you to this year? You’re ready to choose your word.
Here are some words and verses my colleagues at Faithlife have chosen for themselves this year:
- Grace (1 Cor 15:10)
- Stillness (Psalm 46:10)
- Abundant (2 Pet 1:2)
- Bold (Heb 4:16)
- Listen (Luke 10:39)
- Beauty (Ecc 3:11)
- Hope (Rom 15:13)
- No compromise (1 Cor 15:58)
Share your word & verse with your family and friends. Post it places you’ll see often, like the mirror, car dash, computer background, or phone wallpaper.
4. Pick a word for your family or community
You don’t have to stop with yourself. Gather your family and choose a word and verse to pursue together. Pick a word with your spouse to strengthen your relationship. Maybe your small group can go through the exercise above and choose a word for the whole group. It’s amazing what happens when you intentionally pursue God with others.
Did you know we have a free version of Logos Bible Study Software? It’s available on mobile app, desktop app, and web app, and it helps you quickly and accurately pull up insights from across all of Scripture and a collection of key biblical resources. It’s ideal for anyone who wants to get more from the Bible and go beyond the reading plan.