Photo Credit: Adriaan Greyling

Have you stopped working on your New Year’s resolutions already? Not surprisingly, studies show 90% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February 1st! 

I LOVE the New Year. There’s a freshness to it that reminds me of the new-fallen snow from my Midwestern winters. All clean, sparkly and fluffy, softly blanketing our world for a few days. Then LIFE happens! That once beautiful snow turns into a dirty, brown-gray slush, clinging to everything, and mucking it up.

Resolutions are like that for me. Even though it pains me to admit this, I was such a resolution failure that I eventually just gave up on having them. 

So, for the past decade instead of a resolutioner, I’ve been a Word of the Year Girl.

Let me tell you: I’ve had some GREAT words over this decade. Words like “Joy”, “Persevere” “Boldness” and “Freedom ”.  I pick words I love. Words that simultaneously inspire and challenge me to grow into the fullness of them.

Words supported by beautiful scripture.  

Words are POWERFUL. Words are IMPORTANT.  God created the world with a single word.

But at the end of the year, even though I could point to some areas of growth in my word, I couldn’t measure it, and I definitely did not grow into the “fullness” of that word. Last year my word was “flourish”. Such a great word.

I set out determined to grow in flourishing – in my health, my relationships, in our ministry, in every area of life, and to help others flourish too. Guess what happened? I’m not flourishing. Or at least, not at all in the ways I had envisioned.

I guess you could say I’m a Flourish Failure.

So –after ten years of riding in that wacky WOY (word of the year) rodeo, in order to avoid picking yet another beautiful, inspiring word, that sparkles, but gets mucked up by LIFE, I’m doing things differently this year.

I still believe in the beauty and power of words. This year I am going to give my word LEGS.

Even though those quotes are true, if I’m honest, my right-brained self still resisted putting plans to my WOY. Part of me is overly optimistic. Part of me resists actual goal setting because I think I would just “grow into” my WOY.  As though it would just “come to be” by thinking about it. That makes as much sense as sitting on your couch envisioning how lovely a trip to the beach would be, while making absolutely no plans for how you are going to get there, and resisting even deciding which beach to go to!

Gosh darn it- the left-brainers were right, we need a plan.

Perhaps you’ve heard of SMART goals. These goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timebound. Great system for left-brainers, but that acronym never resonated with me.

I prefer LEGS.  So we will give our words LEGS- because legs enable us to walk into the fullness of those beautiful inspiring words that we crave in our lives – but this time, with STRATEGY. So here’s how it works.

1. Pick your WORD of the YEAR.

This should be a word that inspires you and ignites some joy and passion. Pray about the word to choose. Ask God to show you the right word theme for you in this season. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

Pick the word you sense Hum stirring in your spirit. It should also be a word that challenges you to WANT to grow into it. Any word that gives you guilt and shame, drop it like a hot pocket left in the microwave too long.

2. Now give your word some LEGS, so it can get you where you want to go.

  •      L= LIFEGIVING GOALS & HABITS.  Determine 12 specific goals &/or habits that align with your word.  What goals and habits will support implementing your word in your life? Do a massive brainstorm list. Then pick the top 12, so that each month will get its own dedicated goal/habit to work on. Goals are measurable. Habits become automated in our brains and help us to reach our goals. The combo of both is powerful.
  •      E= ELIMINATE OBSTACLES .  Under each of the 12 habits/goals, note all the things that could prevent or get in the way of those 12 monthly goals/ habits happening. A general brainstorm list is fine here. These might be internal thoughts that get in the way (resistance), or external challenges. Next to each obstacle (internal or external), write a possible practical solution for handling it (delegate, rethink it, or eliminate it wherever you can). Pick the top 12 goals supporting your word that have the best shot in your life of finding practical solutions for the obstacles that get in the way. If you cannot find a solution, ask a friend or mentor to brainstorm with you. Perhaps they will have a solution you haven’t thought of. If a solution cannot be found, then perhaps this is not the season for that particular goal or habit. Leave it be for another season, and instead pick one that you CAN implement.
  •      G= Go in Baby Steps  – now take each monthly goal and break it down into weekly action steps you can commit to. From there, create DAILY baby steps/habits/rhythms and routines to implement for that week and month.   
  •      S= SUBTRACT- You cannot add any goal or habit, without practicing subtraction. Our lives are overstuffed. For everything we add (a “do this”), we must also have a “don’t do that” list.

Determine what must GO/be subtracted or delegated for our plan to work. This is where we eliminate distractions. Renew our minds. Learn to say NO to FOMOS and people-pleasing.  


We must build in rewards each week for working toward our new habits, and rhythms.  We may not hit the mark every day or every week, but as Galatians 6:9 says “Do not become weary in doing good.  For you will reap a mighty harvest if you persevere and do not give up”.   All progress is still progress. Even when it’s 2 steps forward/1 step back. Keep going. Break your goals into tinier bite-sized pieces. Keep moving forward. Celebrate your wins.

4. Get help from others.

Determine what type of accountability you need. Are you self-motivated and can use apps to log your progress? Or do you need another human to be accountable to? Think of accountability as a support partner, and ask others for this help. 

It might be a diet or exercise partner. Online groups work well for some people. Others need a trainer at a gym or a neighbor. Proverbs 27:17 says that “just as iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens another”. Life is not meant to be figured out alone.  When you have a supportive community of friends, you all will help each other learn and grow. 

Life-groups are GREAT for this. (If you are in Charleston, SC we have several great ones to choose from for 18-30-year-olds. Click here to contact us for group info). Life groups are all about growing together. No judgments. Just support and love, along with others who are seeking to grow in their own ways.  

Figure out what support system you need in-person or virtual to support your daily/weekly baby steps and for your monthly BIG steps to reach your goal. 

Does any of this resonate with you? Do any of you struggle with walking out your resolutions, goals, and words? Are you a New Year’s Resolution Person?  Or a Word of the Year person? Leave a comment below with your WOY or Resolution. Let’s do this together in 2021.

Whatever your method- let’s put some LEGS to it this year, and be able to CELEBRATE our growth and progress by this time next year.