Select Page

My Thoughts on Goals & Words-of-the-Years

I’ve noticed a trend this past week, a pendulum swing between two opposite extremes:

There’s one side, with new books and courses released and planners for sale and philosophies and mantras and manifestoes about “new year, new you,” with people eager and bright-eyed about making 2019 a phenomenal year with All The Things You Are Going To Do!. These folks are ambitious, positive, and hopeful.

Then there’s the other side, with instagrams and tweets from people bemoaning all this pressure, asking the other side to calm down, to stop putting pressure on everyone, to accept that You Are Fine The Way You Are!. These folks are well-intentioned, too, and thoughtful, and a little cautious.

Neither side is wrong. But I personally find myself somewhere in the middle.

I’m definitely not a huge fan of vague, lofty resolutions, especially when they’re about an entire year. “This year, I’m cutting out all sugar.” “In 2019, I’m gonna read 100 books.” “By this time next year, I’ll be running a marathon.”

(Until recently, I used to set annual goals, too, so not knocking anyone here. It’s just in my experience, they don’t work.)

But I also truly love the start of a new year. There’s something magical about a clean slate, you know? Sure, there’s nothing specific that happened when we started a new calendar after lighting fireworks a few hours the night before. But we humans love rhythms and routines; it’s why we’re drawn to timekeeping and millstone marking.

So, it makes sense that some of us want to use this season to find hope about the coming months. Fresh off holiday celebrations, we’re hankering for a concrete commitment to something.

I think landing somewhere in the middle of all this hullabaloo, between ambitious planning and hating on it, is why at the beginning of the year, I’m drawn to both setting goals and choosing a word. (You know, two of the most common rituals in January.) They tap both my go-get-em side and my reflect-over-coffee side.

A Word on Goals

I way prefer 90-day, quarterly goals over annual goals. If you’re enrolled in my class, Like Your Life, you know this already. (Side note: I used to also hate the word ‘goals,’ but I just go with it now.)

This is because 90 days is enough time to accomplish a doable goal, and it’s a short enough amount of time to create concrete steps to make it happen. 90 days is also not enough time to set more than 1-4 small goals (at most), and if I completely bomb them, I can easily course-correct for the next 90 days and keep on truckin’. No big deal.

So, for the past two years or so, I’ve used my quarterly Think Days to set a few 90-day goals. They need to be SMARTER goals, or else they won’t work (in Like Your Life, I talk about SMART goals, but I’ve since added the -ER, to make the goal also Exciting and Risky).

This doesn’t mean I don’t like to dream about the next year in full, or envision what we might be doing by this fall or something. In fact, I like to take those dreams and turn them into fuel for my quarterly goals.

our front entry, as of last week

A few of my dreams for 2019 include: take a real-life, month-long sabbatical from work this summer (I’ve never done more than a few weeks away from the internet), travel extendedly again with my family (overseas preferred, but not required), finish my novel, and finish renovating our house (well, at least get to a point where we no longer consider our house a fixer-upper).

So? My first 90-day goals to start the year include:

1. Write 28,500 words in my novel. This is 500 words a day, for 57 days (M-F starting this week, minus a few travel days on the calendar).

2. Decide with Kyle when and where, specifically, we’ll travel as a family this summer, and auto-save a set amount each week into a savings account marked specifically for this trip.

3. Create a work plan for the first six months of the year, so that I’m fully able to log off for a month-long summer sabbatical — then share the plan with my team, so we can start setting pieces in place now.

4. Spend the next 10 Saturdays focused on house projects (starting this weekend, minus travel days), doing my part to help Kyle finish the house. This is mostly his daily domain, and I want to be more intentional about accomplishing home tasks I care about.

These feel ambitious and intentional, but also grace-filled and doable. They’re exciting to me, a bit risky (they won’t be easy, especially the first one), and also specific, measurable, actionable, time-oriented, and relevant. So, SMARTER.

This taps my go-get-em side, for sure. But, I’m also all about curling up with a novel, keeping a warm mug nearby, and not feeling like the entire purpose of my existence is to get things done.

A Word on Words

My word for 2018 was agency, and boy-howdy, was that word fulfilled or what. With agency, I was reminded that ultimately, I’m in charge of my life, I have much more power and control over it than I give myself credit (yes, God is ultimately in control, but you know what I mean), and I can choose to let go of the lies I believed were true about myself. So. much. happened. in this department last year. I almost feel like a different person. I’ve definitely matured in a number of areas, thanks to embracing agency.

the pre-spring-town-parade gathering outside our front door

My word for 2019 is community. We’ve lived in our small town for several years now, and as much as I love it, I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface of living more fully here. I want to know my neighbors better, meet new people, make a few local friends, and have more people over for dinner.

In the spirit of “less but better” with AoS, I also want to focus on deepening my already-here community, creating spaces to make it easier to talk. I want to build the post-comment section back to its former glory, when readers would leave 50+ comments per post (even though They say it’s no longer possible, thanks to social media. I choose not to believe this.). Instead of launching yet another new thing (totally my usual modus operandi), I want to cultivate what I’ve already created, and make them richer in community.

I’m leading a second Literary London this summer, and the group of women attending are fantastic. I can’t wait to foster this tiny community, to know my beloved London even better, and perhaps even to cultivate a sense of community in the village where we’ll stay — I’ve found a new guesthouse, and if it’s as lovely as it seems (fingers crossed), it may be the regular home for all future Literary Londons. We’ll see!

So, community. This word came easily to me for 2019. I’m excited to see where it’ll take me.

For You…

As I mentioned last week, podcast episode topics are now reflected in blog posts from the week — so, this Friday you’ll hear me talk more about my ideas here. I’m chatting with my friend, Crystal, a long-time regular contributor here, who on Wednesday is sharing her Day In The Life as a working mom with three kids, one of whom is only a few months old. It’s a great chat!

If you haven’t yet, you’re also welcome to the questions I use on my Think Days — just pop your email here, and I’ll send it to you:

[convertkit form=4956409]

(You’ll also get my weekly email, 5 Quick Things, which can be read in under a minute. Unsubscribe at any time, no sweat.)

I’d love to hear from you: Are you more of a goals person, a word-of-the-year person, or something else entirely? If you want, share below some of your goals, your word, or your squid (or whatever it is you do for the new year)!

p.s. – Like Your Life is open for enrollment — if this stuff I wrote about here resonates with you, you’ll probably love (and benefit from) the class.

• Listen to the podcast episode for this post

Reading Time:

5 minutes





  1. Suse

    I’m very much a goals person, so was a bit disappointed when I thought about my word of the year and the word that kept coming to me was, ‘enjoy’… it seemed a bit lame! But there it is: the challenge to just enjoy every good thing that I’ve already been blessed with.

    Really love your new plan with the podcast – I’ll enjoy reading the post then hearing the discussion… it’s a lovely format. Like you, I’m a big one for change and totally understand your joy at shifting things up when they suddenly make more sense! Sending love xx

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks, Suse! And yes, I know what you mean about actually liking to set goals… sounds like your word of the year is just the thing for you right now. 🙂

    • Haley

      I hear you! My word is calm… can you get more boring than that? But I’ve really decided to embrace it. I’m a 1 on the enneagram and constantly fighting and education about justice, specifically when it comes to the environment. So far, the word calm has allowed me to say no to things that I don’t have the time and energy for, and has helped me to not fill my schedule minute by minute. It’s allowed me time to go to the gym every day and savor the moments when I’m at home with my partner. Although we are only a week in, I’m pretty excited to see how the word ‘calm’ transforms my life this year.

  2. Kate

    I have chosen a word of the year for several years now and last year followed Ali Edwards’ One Little Word workshop which I enjoyed but my word – FIND – never felt like it fit me for some reason, I liked the possibility of the word but life takes you to unexpected places. This year, I have chosen WORTH and this came to me very quickly. I am definitely going to spend time this year recapturing my own worth and reevaluating how I assess it. I will be finishing your Like Your Life course to help me do this. Glad you are going to be blogging more again – I love the format and want it to have a proper revival!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      What an interesting word, Kate! Hope you’ll discover how it plays out in your life this year. (And glad LYL has been good for you!)

    • Kelley

      WORTH is my word this year too! I’ve been doing a lot of research into the Enneagram over the last couple of weeks and as a 9w1 (or maybe 4w5) I feel like it was a good thing for me to embrace. ACTION was my runner up word because I know I tend to overthink things and getting into any kind of action can only help me.

      • Tsh Oxenreider

        “Worth” seems like a fantastic word of the year for an 9w1! And I love that you brought Enneagram into this; I think it’s helpful to remember how you’re wired when it comes to goal setting vs. word-of-the-year vs. something else.

        Related: have you seen this?

      • Sara Kruger

        I’m also a 9w1, and agree, worth is a fantastic word. My word for the year is adventure. My family moved across the country late last year, and, well, change is hard. So I’m trying to see the adventure in it, rather than be overwhelmed by all the changes. I make goals for the year but only because I’m married to a 3! Last year, I didn’t accomplish much, so I’m hoping to do better this year. One of my goals is to get back into the work force after 7 years as a SAHM. Again, more change. But if I look at it as an adventure, hopefully that’ll help.

  3. Jenny Krueger

    I am another huge fan of your new format for the podcast and blog! After several years in which unexpected events have flipped our world upside down, I am so hesitant to set goals. However, I have taken the time to reflect at the end of each year and identify a word or idea that I learned through those experiences. God has always taught me things I never could have imagined on January 1st!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Reflecting on the past year is huge to setting a goal(s) or word for the next year, I find. And thanks for your encouragement, Jenny!

  4. Sarah M

    I’ve always been a *list* person, but I generally set goals whenever I feel the need (i.e. any time of the year) or desire. I have always loved Sarah Von Bargen’s list-making, and have probably done that style of list every year for around 6-7 years. For example, 18 Things in 2018. It helps me be more intentionally with my family–exploring specific places, writing down something I NEED to do (hello, organizing my photo drive…), and puts fun things on our calendar instead of just letting our weekends pass us by. I usually end up completing 75% or more of them. I really think writing them down first helps -it’s seemingly half the battle!

    Last year’s list included seeing A Wrinkle in Time movie (one of my fav. childhood books) with my kids, play in the sand at the Oregon coast, buy a better-fitting swimsuit, eat some street food at our local Asian market, and be in more family photos. Random, but things I wanted to DO, not just never get to but wished I did.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      What a fun idea! Sounds more like a fun to-do list than a list of bland goals.

  5. Carissa

    I just went through and answered the 20 NYE questions…only 7 days behind on the new year. 🙂 I’ve been following your stuff since you were living overseas (Someone told me we worked for the same org at that time…small world!) In my single days, I was definitely more of a goal-setter. Every time I had a life-change–new job, completed a goal, moved, etc.–I would update my goals. Since marrying a more seat-of-the-pants kind of guy, I haven’t been doing that as much because I’ve felt I had less control over my own life outcomes once I got married and had kids. This year I’ve been trying to challenge that belief. We just moved to a new state this last summer and it’s shuffled all of us in ways that were unexpected. I’m working through the idea that I do still have agency as you talked about. I need to act on that more. So, today I’m making my goals and we’ll see what takes…what end up being real goals and what are just the “shoulds”. Thanks for the honesty you throw out there into internet land!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      All good thoughts, Carissa! And if it’s any encouragement to you — I do the whole reflecting/goal-setting/planning thing ALL January. No need to rush these things!

  6. Brittnie Blackburn

    I love this and I am the same way, a mix of goals + word/overall theme for the New Year. I have a few work/writing related goals, but my main theme for the year is “learning to live within the boundaries of today.” Basically, not rehashing the past over (and over and over) and also not projecting situations/conversations/etc into the future that have not even happened which ultimately hurts my joy, mindset, and relationships. 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I like that, Brittnie!

  7. Lindsey

    Loved your thoughts on this, Tsh! I’m totally a goals + annual word person but in the last year something has shifted for me too. I haven’t settled on a word yet, though I have a short-list going. I’ve set goals but they’re more of the 30-day variety. As a (constantly) recovering perfectionist, I feel like this is actually progress so I’m trying to be okay with this less intensive pace.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I personally don’t set a word every year… If one doesn’t come to me, I figure it’s not the year to have one, you know? And I like the thought of 30-day goals! Thanks for sharing, Lindsay.

  8. Sarah

    As an Enneagram 4, I THRIVE when I have structure and goals and routine. I crave it–and yet, it is enormously difficult for me to implement, especially with my 3 wing, which tells me that any mistake means I have to throw everything out and start completely over. That being said, I do try to goal set for myself because it gives me clarity, and I’m really liking the idea of quarterly Think Days. I’d heard you talk about them before, but have never tried them. I think they’ll be a great way to give myself mini-restarts and more achievable steps. I also usually settle on a word. Last year was RYTHYM, which turned out to be very apt as I navigated graduating college and getting my first and then second big girl job as well as learning how to navigate through the world as one-half of an engaged couple. But this year’s word hasn’t settled in yet–I’m waiting for that clicking feeling of connection. I’m considering pulling from my enneagram, though. Maybe something about identity or contentment? We’ll see.

    Also, I just want to let you know I am living for this re-brand of AOS. Everything you’re saying is resonating so strongly in my heart and are things I’ve been thinking about over the past year or so. Thank you for sharing your words with us!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thank you so much for sharing, Sarah; I’m glad! And as a fellow Enneagram 4, I so hear you (though as a 4w5, routines are my happy place). Related: did you see the link I shared here in the comments to Kelley, above? It’s about tying your word-of-the-year to your Enneagram number!

      • Sarah

        Ahh, I just checked it now, and yep, that looks right on track! (:

  9. Leesi

    I love the idea of quarterly goals. Yearly has never worked for me and now with my son to be born at the end of the “first quarter” I felt goals were pointless as I won’t work on them much “2nd quarter”. This simplifies my thinking about you year.

    I still haven’t come up with a word, but I’m thinking Sabbath, a time to rest, focus on God and my family.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Sounds lovely, Leesi! And yes, quarterly (or even monthly, like Lindsey, above?) sounds perfect for your season.

  10. Katherine

    Oh, I love this. Last year I had such a definitive goal – complete 200-hr yoga teacher training to become a certified instructor. Accordingly, my word of the year in 2018 was yoga – not just for that goal and for the sake of my personal practice, but also to remind me to practice yoga off the mat. Approaching difficult situations as if they are hard postures to breathe through has been incredibly challenging and rewarding. (To be sure, I don’t always manage to do it.) I haven’t settled on one word or goal for 2019, but I’m really drawn to the three words of a meditation I’ve been doing: love, surrender, trust.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Ooh, what a good way to look at yoga, Katherine! (Maybe share this in an upcoming podcast episode? ?)

    • Jacqueline

      Yes, I’d be interested to hear about this – sounds intriguing!

  11. Rebecca

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve had similar thoughts on landing in the middle of goal setting, being an adult in charge of my own life (-ish) and cultivating existing community. Encouraging to know it’s not just me. 🙂

  12. KC

    Hooray for bringing comments back to life! That’s one of the things I semi-decided to do late last year – leave comments occasionally on blogs I enjoyed, even if I was the only one. Some of my very favorite spots have lively comments that are worth reading along with the blog, but in other spots there are no comments, and while sure, they would get the stats from “this many people visited this page” – there’s something different about a human being checking in, even if it’s not substantive.

    Anyway, I look forward to more of this! 🙂 Thank you for your work.

  13. Lyndell

    My word for this year is create. Not as in start painting or write more poetry, but as a reminder to draw me out of stagnation and create the life I want. I get really tired ( a long term side effect of going through chemotherapy while pregnant 10 years ago) and have family members with complex medical issues, so need to be careful with how I spend my very limited free time. Rest and self care can easily morph into sloth and passively being overwhelmed but that’s not the life I want. I need to create joy, to create hope and beauty, for myself and my family.

  14. JoKoepke

    I am totally there with you somewhere in the middle, setting goals and choosing a word. I love the idea of adding the E and R to the Smart goals. Looking over what I’ve set for this year and particularly the first few months have those elements for sure.

  15. Megan

    I am new to the podcast and feel like I came on board at a good time. I like the idea of the podcast reflecting the topics in the blog because it helps me to dive deeper and chew more on the topics. I tend to be a goals person and very organized. I love the feel of a new year and a fresh start, but I find myself burnt out or having forgotten about the goals by summer. I like the idea of quarterly goals and I’m going to give those a try this year. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Jenn Giles Kemper

    I’ve been a goal-getter for years and have always had my word for the year emerge a few months early. This year, I’ve got lots I want to do, lots I feel called to do, lots of inner work I want to do…and yet. No word. No big plan. No clear vision pulling me forward. BUT, I am VERY excited to be in London with you this summer. That will certainly be a highlight of the year. I’m trusting the rest will come in their own time.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yes! Me too (London). And I’m a big believer in not pushing/forcing things like words, goals, etc. They’ll show up when they need to!

  17. Jaclyn

    I’m not into the “word of the year” thing. It seems to work for a lot of people, but it doesn’t resonate with me. I prefer to set goals related to habits. I feel like my habits are the foundation of what I’m doing with myself and in order for anything to change, my habits must change. So my “goals” for 2019 are things like “Exercise 3 times per week”, “Spend time in scripture 5 days/week”, “Journal at least once/week”….all of which I keep track of in my bullet journal. This works well for me, and keeping track daily of these habits helps me see if I need to change something. The habits I chose to set as my goals are the ones that I think will ultimately help me to best take care of myself physically and spiritually. And the nice thing is, if I think of another habit I want to add or change…I can just add it to my bullet journal and start keeping track of it.

    I also feel like I have two “New Years” every year….as a teacher, the beginning of the school year is always a fresh start. So it’s like two chances every year to re-think how things in my life are going!

  18. Sheila DelCharco

    I like both. I set goals/intentions/resolutions whatever you wanna call them. And I also usually get a word. 2019 is going to be the Year of Prayer for me so my one word is PRAY. I have some strong desires (for my children) that I cannot make happen. Only God. I want to grow in this area, so I’m teaching a class on prayer beginning tomorrow. I’m by no means an expert but I like to pull people along with me whenever I go on a journey. That’s funny coming from an introvert, isn’t it? I look forward to following along with your changes and see where it leads.

  19. Heide

    I’ve never been a goals person, but this year, a word for the year jumped out at me on January 1. My word for the year is Play. I feel like I’ve been watching others for too long, or waiting for things to happen for too long. I want to play more, see more, jump more, adventure more, and not stand on the sidelines. When an opportunity for an adventure comes up, I’m going to join in. I just went and looked at the Enneagram words of the year and the word for an Enneagram 5 is Action, which is very very close to what I’m after, funny enough.

    Looking at goals/plans for the next 90 days is also really useful for me this year. We’re planning a family gap year, leaving at the end of May. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the planning for that, and forget that there are things I can do in the next few months that are valuable in their own right, separate from the Big Trip. It’s not a waste of time to establish healthy routines, even though they will be disrupted in a few months. Meanwhile, putting our travel plans on a goals list feels a little like cheating, because we’ve been planning for so long. All those “someday” destinations are actually going to come true this year. It’s wild.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      What a great year, Heide!

  20. Rea

    I’ve been a ‘word’ person for the past few years, but once I set it I tend to forget it. This year I’m trying to be a bit more ‘goals’, but in manageable bites. So I switched planners from the one that had me making big goals and breaking down action steps by months and weeks because that always lasted one week, maybe two. The new planner lets me decide what I want out of the year in about 12 areas of my life. Each month I’m deciding what I want to focus on to help foster growth in those areas. So this month “Incorporate more contemplative practices and meditation into my daily routine.” I have a 30 day challenge to spend at least 5 minutes meditating each day…whatever that looks like on that day. And my action steps are things like journaling, researching different ways to meditate, lighting a candle, reading poetry, listening to music. It feels so much simpler and more freeing to only focus on one thing at a time. Plus, it just feels like I’m setting myself up for success in future months.

  21. Tana

    I stopped setting “resolutions” and started choosing a word about four years ago. My daughter and I enjoy talking through our word-finding process. We create Pinterest boards with our quotes and inspiration to help us live out the word all year. I like this approach because what you need might change throughout the year, depending on how circumstances unfold! This year I chose “Shine.” I like words that have both a noun and a verb definition. After I chose it, I saw little pictures with sayings around my desk/office and at home that had the word “Shine” on them. I didn’t even really recognize that before. You could say the word found me!!

  22. Judith Barillas

    Last year was my first with a word, ACCEPT! it was totally the right word as we moved to Guatemala to live with/help my in-laws manage their household. Though I’d lived here before, the cultural differences hit me hard. So, it was the perfect word. This year it is COURAGE – I live with a LOT of fear and am tired of it. So, 2019 will be about facing the fears and doing some of the things I’ve avoided as a result. Love, love, love to set goals and I do meet them. I use the Do It Scared method by Ruth Soukop, which is practical and realistic while encouraging me to dream big. My “big” goals are to learn the cello (I love how it sounds!) and get past the fear:)

  23. Ali

    Last year was my first year setting a word. It was “intentional”. Over the year it morphed into “slow”. Still with similar purpose, to do what is meaningful. But I needed to do less and focus more. Partly I started listening to 4 podcasts (never was a podcast person before!!): Simple, The Next Right Thing, The Lazy Genius, and Renovare. My word is morphing again in this coming season, fitting for a new year: aware. Be aware of what is going on around you, ask questions, listen. It pairs nicely with intention and slowness. Pay attention to my hubby, my daughter, my neighbors and what kind of community I am building. Be aware of where I can fill needs, not committing to more (keeping slowness in mind), but LOVING more. Time is limited, so to do what I do with value and goals and intentions and how I want my life to reflect kept in mind. As a 9 heading into this next season: full blown two year old, both families close by with one dealing with stage 4 cancer and the other dealing with Alzheimer’s, my husband and I each running our own business…I could easily be overwhelmed by it all. Anyone could, really. But if I slow down, acting in love towards myself and others, being aware of not just what others need but what I also need…the season can still be sweet. ♥️

  24. angela

    my word for the year is “cooperate”, as in choose to cooperate with what the Holy Spirit is trying to work in me! I Looooooove you work and am a really big tsh fan! keep it up!

  25. Alissa W

    I’m a word of the year person and a goal person. However I just started Atomic Habits and it has me rethinking my goals. I like the quarterly goal framework you use. My word for 2019 is kind.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      That book is on my TBR list!

  26. Lisa

    My word is fearless. Without the fears that have held me back from creating, success can be possible.

  27. Tori

    I love New Year’s Day as a holiday! I love the clean slate and the opportunity to change course. I do both goal setting and pick yearly word. I find the the goals tend to get me further, but I like the poetic aspect of choosing just one word. This year my word is growth. Last year my word was confidence, and I totally failed! This year I’m trying to be a little gentler on myself. I may never be totally confident, but I can keep growing.

    Along with my big goals (maintain a devotional schedule, develop a more refined wardrobe), my mom talked me into doing a 19 in 2019 list of small, more easily attainable goals (find a better mascara, master a bread recipe, visit churches of a different denomination). I think the 19 in 2019 keeps me from getting too serious about it all, and gives me little things to look forward to throughout the year. I’m excited to try it out!

    • Pauline

      @Tori, I like mixing big and small goals too! Also, some goals are just “stuff to cross off the list” and others are “big lofty dreams”. Good luck with yours!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      That sounds really fun, Tori!

  28. Amy

    Community was my word of the year for 2018. Years ago a wise person told me the best place to find new friends is amongst people you already know. For this reason, I took a very similar approach to you, focusing on deepening my connections with my existing community. I didn’t join anything new, in fact I actually stopped my involvement with two community groups. The single best thing I did was set up my day so I did not have to rush away at school drop-offs and pick-ups. I made time to chat with people I casually bumped into. It made all the difference and I got a lot more out of that than I would have from joining another committee.

    My word for 2019 is “enough”.

    Goals on that other hand, aren’t really my thing. A combination of not being good at aiming high enough and wanting to be open to other things. I do like the focus on 90 days. That makes a lot more sense than annual goals. Might give it a try!

    • Sarah-Jane Menefee

      We have the same word of the year! I’m sure it will take us to different places, but it’s nice to have some company with the word, “Enough.”

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      “the best place to find new friends is amongst people you already know”

      ….Man, that is wisdom right there, Amy! Thank you for sharing.

  29. Sarah-Jane Menefee

    Joining.the comment party! I don’t have any big goals right now (those are still percolating), but my 2019 word for the year is “enough” short for “More than Enough.”

    It started as a phrase I wanted my kids to repeat when they complained or acted fearful about sharing/being generous with their possessions. What I realized was at the root of their emotions was a feeling that if they shared or gave something away there wouldn’t be enough for them.

    As their parent, I knew that there was always more goldfish crackers, more chocolate, more plastic toys than they could possibly need or want. And that choosing to share did not diminish the amount that they had for themselves.

    While teaching my kids this lesson, God reminded me that it is the same in my relationship with him. While I absolutely believe God is our provider, I still second-guess and live in fear that they will not be enough when we need it. It isn’t always a conscious feeling. It is a deeply ingrained part of our humanity to self protect. It isn’t something I taught my children. They do it naturally.

    So we must train our hearts to the ways of heaven to trust God to provide when we need more goldfish crackers and when we need more patience for our family, more energy for the work he has given our hands and more funds to get to the end of the month. not only does the Bible say he does not withhold good things from us as our father, but in 2 Corinthians 9, Paul reminds us that there is heavenly abundance for everything that we need.

    2 Cor. 9:8
    Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have MORE THAN ENOUGH of everything—every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do. (TPT)

    I love that this verse isn’t really focused on providing the needs of our family. It really is about providing so that we can give to others. It’s a two-fold blessing. I’m not looking at this from a prosperity Gospel focus. I don’t want to receive God’s blessings so that I can store them away and keep them to myself. nor do I expect that they will keep me in comfort all of my days. In fact, living in God’s economy is one of the most uncomfortable things that I’ve had to learn since becoming an adult.

    But, there’s great comfort in learning to live with open hands trusting Our God has more than enough for our needs and for the needs of those around us. It’s not always in the timing that we expect or in the way that we expect. But it is sure.

    This year I will choose to focus on God’s provision and remind myself when doubt, fear and worry claw at my soul that there is MORE THAN ENOUGH.

  30. Misty

    I am a goal setter, but I am one of those people who resolves to fix everything at once and ends up failing an 95% of it. This year, I have decided to set a specific goal and really focus on that. I hadn’t thought about my word for the year, but as I read over this and the comments, I think it should be “focus” or “intentionality”. I want to really focus on getting where I want to be and intentionally make decisions that will lead to that.

  31. Cheryl Hughes

    My word for 2019 is “peace.” I want to be peaceful and to spread peace wherever I go.
    On another note, Tsh, would you consider a senior citizen literary tour one year? I have some friends who would love to do a slow-paced tour like that.

  32. Sharon

    So excited about more blog posts – and conversation here!

  33. Margaret

    First, OMG, look at all the comments! We want to talk – to you and to each other. Your people are curious and intelligent and love some good conversation.
    I am not one for goals….I have one item that has been on my to-do this month page of my Bullet Journal EVERY MONTH since this time last year. But, words…the words I have embraced. My word this year is Simplify. All encompassing simplifying. Home, soul, closet.

  34. Andrea

    Thanka for your post. Got my wheels turning as usual. I am somewhere in between with goals and words of the year although I err on the side of goals more often. My word for this year is ‘thoughtful.’ I tend to be a do, do, do for everyone and everything (hello #2 on the enneagram) and forget to think, really think about something, even a major decision, and give it a good turn over in my mind or on paper before I do it or commit to it. I want to deep dive into the ‘why’ of things in my life this year. Goals include becoming debt free (again, oops ?), fully funding an emergency fund (first time as a 33 year old) and taking a trip with my husband sans the kiddo for the first time in 4 years.

  35. Kate Laymon

    I do both a word and goals though I take the word slightly more seriously than my goals, and honestly my goals are actually more like intentions or directions. I’ve learned that things hardly ever play out the way I think they will, and usually my expectations are way too high so as long as I’m moving toward something, I’m happy. This works better for me as a SAHM of little kids. So my word for this year is DELIGHT… I tend to take myself and life way too seriously and seem to see what’s wrong more easily than what’s right… So I want to turn towards delighting in what is good, no matter what else is wrong. My husband and I make our goals together every year and so some overlap and are more family goals and some are personal. We use about 7-8 categories to try to capture the main areas of our lives: financial, career, community, family, recreation, etc. Then we identify from there our top 3 goals so we can really zero in on those. I do quarterly goals for myself, usually based off this master yearly list to break it down into more manageable pieces. And honestly, I don’t meet or even expect to meet them all, which is why I like to think of them as more intentions or directions.

  36. Katy Walton

    I love this post! I do both with a word (brave) and goals. I’ve realised that I need to break my goals down a little more so I think the 90 days idea is fab. Definitely going to be using that.

  37. Sue Kinney

    I love my career in emergency medicine, but after several grueling weeks (oh, the holidays…) I am just now taking a break, breathing, resting my body / mind / spirit, and feel ready to start my new year. So Happy New Year, everyone!
    Thank you, Tsh and all my fellow commenters, for this safe place to be vulnerable in community, to fully live my present (not just exist, but truly LIVE the full life that Jesus freely and graciously and lovingly longs for me to have), and dream my future.
    I embrace your suggestions: smartER goals, 90-day windows, word of the season (not the entire year, as I give my life permission to change before December 31!) — they came at exactly the right time!

    Tsh, your quarterly Think Days remind me of the quarterly festivals in the Old Testament (Lev 23) – may remembrance, celebration, and devotion always mark our days, reset our hearts and minds, and help us define our best selves.

  38. Amanda W

    I like a mix of goals and words too (it’s my 9w1 showing), and I REALLY like your idea of quarterly think days. I may try to adapt that idea for myself. So I have a few specific goals I will revisit and re-evaluate in a few months. My word this year is Faithful – based on Jesus’ teaching about being faithful in the small things. I want to be conscious this year of being faithful in this season, this place, these circumstances, in my own life with my own skills, personality, gifts, and passions.

    I love reading about everyone’s approach and dreams for the new year!

  39. Mirna R.

    I am definitely a word of the year person because goals feel too constraining, especially with how my life is going right now. There are a lot of rapid changes and not meeting my goal sends my brain to failure mode instead of “you’re living life, and things happen.” My word for the year is EDIT. I need to stop saying yes to things I don’t want to do, stop reading all the books (even though I know I won’t like them) because they are on some list on the internet, unsubscribe from certain social channels, etc. I have the power to make changes and I need to embrace that!

Join thousands of readers
& get Tsh’s free weekly email called
5 Quick Things,

where she shares stuff she either created herself or loved from others. (It can be read in under a minute, pinky-swear.)

It's part of Tsh's popular newsletter called Books & Crannies, where she shares thoughts about the intersection of stories & travel, work & play, faith & questions, and more.