Choosing a Verse or One Word of the Year (& tools to stay focused on it!)

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You may have heard about the New Year tradition of choosing One Word for the year. It’s a popular trend where people pick a word to be their theme, and is often done in lieu of New Years resolutions or goals.

I started doing the one word tradition several years back. I don’t always pick a word, but when I do, it’s a blessing! In the process, I’ve learned some tips and tricks to help choose a word and stay intentional about it throughout the year.

Check them out below, along with a free printable to help you choose a word/verse stay focused!

choosing one word for the year

Why Choose a Verse or One Word?

First, let’s be clear about what this activity of choosing one word for the year really is: It’s simply a tool to stay focused on one theme. That’s it. It’s important to keep that in mind when you come across posts that make it sound like some mystical or magical solution that will transform you. The only real change in us comes through the work of the Holy Spirit.

For me, choosing one word or verse for the year is a great tool for focused prayer and for intentionally meditating on and interacting with God’s Word on a particular topic. You can change your word/verse anytime if you want, and some folks even choose a different word/verse every month. Make it work for you!

How to Choose a Verse of the Year or One Word

Each year, I go through a basic process for choosing one word: 

  • Reflect on the past year: what I learned, what I struggled with, what the Lord taught me. 
  • Pray for inspiration and guidance: what areas could I grow in, where my faith needs strengthened, godly habits to pursue, or verses that the Spirit is bringing to mind. 
  • Let it marinate: Brainstorm a bit, pray, read Scripture, sleep on it, chat about it with friends… usually a particular idea, word, or verse will come to the forefront as a good one to focus on for the year. 

In the past, my words have included Faithfulness, Cultivate, Focus, Habits, and more. I always choose my word based on a Scripture verse that keeps coming to mind. This year, my word is Anchor and Hebrews 6:16-20 will be my focus. I’m excited to dig into it! 

anchor in the bible Hebrews 6:19

We have a steadfast hope in Christ that can keep us from drifting. Clinging to Him, to the character of God, and to His Word… no matter what the storms of life may bring or where our wandering hearts may try to take us… it holds us steady on this side of heaven, anchored to the holy of holies. 


But what if you can’t pick a word for the year?

What if you don’t want to limit yourself to one verse or word, or nothing in particular comes to mind? 

That’s fine! It’s just one of many tools for being intentional in our walk with the Lord and our daily habits. Let it sit and see what comes to mind later. You don’t have to start January 1!

If all else fails, there’s one word that’s always the right word: THE Word! Whether you choose a focus verse or word for the year or not, get into God’s Word, friends. 

  • Our feelings and circumstances might change, but the Word of the Lord stands firm. 
  • The more you know God’s Word, the more you know His character and purposes.
  • God’s Word will guide you no matter what the year brings. Pray for understanding, discernment, and wisdom as you read!
  • Scripture equips you to live for the Lord wholeheartedly in all that you do.
  • And so much more.

So, don’t stress over choosing your verse or one word! Reflect, pray, and think on it. Be sure that you’re in the Word daily. And may the Lord bless you in the New Year as you aim to bring Him glory!

What Do you DO with One Word or Verse for the Year? 

The biggest issue people come across is that they simply forget about their one word or verse after just a few weeks. I’ve been there!

There are several ideas for how to stick to it. My favorite thing to do is jot down one activity a month that will help me keep my word and verse at the forefront of my mind. I keep it relatively simple, but just having one touch-point like this each month helps so much.

I’m more likely to pray about my verse/word, be listening the the Lord’s guidance on that topic, and be intentional in my application of God’s Word in my life.

Consider using the list below or making one of your own to help you stay intentional. For your convenience, I’ve also provided a free printable below that includes this list. 

  1. Write – Write your focus verse (or one related to your word) on a few 3×5 cards. Put them in a few conspicuous places to memorize and review often. 
  2. Context – Read or listen to the whole chapter where your focus verse is found. How does it help your understanding of that verse or word? Practice reciting your focus verse from memory.
  3. Artwork – Put an image, painting, or other piece of art relating to your word/verse up in your home where you will see it often as a reminder. Practice reciting your focus verse from memory.
  4. Song – Find and listen to a hymn or worship song relating to your word/verse. Optionally build a playlist around the theme. Practice reciting your focus verse from memory.
  5. Book – Find a book/audiobook on a topic related to your word or verse. Add it to your to-read list for the year and make a plan for when you’ll read it each day/week! Practice reciting your focus verse.
  6. Words – Pick other word related to your one word or focus verse. Look them up in the Bible and see what God’s Word says about them. Practice reciting your focus verse.
  7. Study – Use Blue Letter Bible to look up your word or focus verse. Use the dictionary, commentary, and Strong’s word tools to learn more about it. Practice reciting your focus verse.
  8. Article – Look up and read a Christian article or blog post about your word. Tell someone what you gleaned from it. Practice reciting your focus verse.
  9. Verses – Choose 5 verses related to your word or focus verse. What do you learn about God from them? Make a list of them and pray through them over the next few weeks. Practice reciting your focus verse.
  10. Application – Ask the Lord to show you one way you can live out your word/focus verse this month. Put something on the calendar to make it happen. Practice reciting your focus verse.
  11. Friend – Choose a friend to pray for this month with your word/focus verse in mind. Write them an email or send them a card with a prayer and encouragement. Practice reciting your focus verse.
  12. Reflect – Take time to reflect on the year and what God has shown you relating to your word/focus verse. Give thanks and pray for guidance for the coming year. Practice reciting your focus verse.

FREE One Word & Verse for the Year Printable 

printable pack for one word of the year

Need help choosing a word and verse for the year or staying focused on it for all 12 months? Download this FREE printable pack to get you going! Includes pages for brainstorming and choosing a word/verse, activity cards to stay intentional, and a one-page focus sheet you can use throughout the year. I hope it’s a blessing to you!

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I’m not sure what I’m doing, but it sounds like something I need to do. Thank you for being obedient and sharing with others, what God has blessed you with.

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