Lessons from Word of the Year Challenges

The Biggest Pros and Cons and 5 Ways I Feel My 2020 Word Will Change My World

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

One of the many types of New Year’s Resolutions is to choose a guiding word. Sometimes this comes in the form of a quote that we want to live by. Sometimes it comes in the form of a word whispered to our heart. It can also relate to or summarize our largest goal for the year.

I’ve done the word of the year challenge for the last 3 years. 2017 was a year for determination and I got more done that year than any year previously. 2018 was love and through loss, the way that I love others changed. 2019 was fearless and led to me taking more risks than I’ve been known to take in the past.

However, choosing a word and living by that word does have it’s pros and cons.

The word of the year helps us to focus. It helps us to arrange our priorities for the year and inspires us in the decisions we make. It is the question we will ask ourselves in the days and weeks ahead when faced with various options.

For example, choosing the word fearless for 2019 helped me to keep pursuing what I wanted out of life. I asked myself if I was willing to make the changes to be happy and what the fear holding me back was. Once I identified that fear, it was easier to deal with it.

Choosing a word of the year also helps us to reach our goals. It keeps us on the right path and helps us to uncover obstacles. By asking ourselves if this is ____, we have more motivation to do what we consider to do the right thing.

Choosing a word and putting it out to the universe will inevitably challenge us. It will bring situations into our lives that will help us develop the character trait or aspect of our lives. Sometimes these situations are not easy ones.

For example, back in 2018, my word was love. That was the year I lost two people who meant the world to me. My Aunt’s best friend who I had always admired passed away right before Christmas. She was the person who embodied the spirit of Christmas the most to me. She was the person that I admired most. In the vein of thinking of love (however), I decided which of her characteristics I would carry with me and develop moving forward.

The second loss I had that year was that my friend, pastor and spiritual father was promoted to be the secretary treasurer of two states for the Assemblies of God. If anything, that was a lesson in humility. He and his wife had demonstrated how to love others for 17 years. However, when he was close by, I often neglected to see him because I was too busy working. It was a not so subtle reminder that other things than work needed to come first in my life. I was devastated and my only recourse was to learn to let go gracefully and make more time for things other than work in my life. It changed my heart.

The lessons a word of the year can teach us are sometimes painful. They force us to come face to face with things about ourselves that we might not want to acknowledge. They challenge us to redirect our time and energy.

To be honest, after practicing the word of the year challenge for three years, I didn’t think that I was going to choose a word this year. I had done the challenge a few times and had a few great lessons. I was done. Except, I wasn’t. Sometimes the word chooses us. It follows us around until we say yes.

For the past two weeks, the word has followed me around. It was displayed right next to my cubicle at work. It was given to me on a Christmas card from a coworker. It came up while talking with the guy that I’m dating on Christmas Eve, that he is beginning to do this word again. It came up in a conversation with my mom. It replayed in my own heart multiple times.

That word is:


It’s beautiful in it’s simplicity. However, it applies across the board.

To me, believe means:

  1. Believe in myself

This is something that I’ve gotten better at over the past few years. I’m not perfect at it by any means. I still doubt my abilities and my motivations. However, this year I’m planning to take more chances on myself and standing up more for what I want. Working through the Happiness Project (my project for the year) also couples nicely with the word believe.

2. Believe in others

This embodies another word that has been playing in my mind which is encourage. I’ve learned that it doesn’t take much to inspire, encourage or take time for others. However, the little things can make the biggest difference.

For me, believing in others means giving them the benefit of the doubt. It means encouraging them to be their best. It means making time that I so often withhold because I think that I am too busy. It might also mean taking an attitude of serving others, but in giving to others, we find ourselves fulfilled.

3. Believe in my dreams

My biggest goal for this year is to cement myself further as a writer (my biggest dream). I also have personal dreams that I keep close to the heart. This is a year to really work on those personal dreams. To believe that they are achievable and push myself to reach those dreams.

4. Believe in the impossible

The end of 2020 has begun to make me challenge my beliefs of what is impossible. If anyone would have told me in September I’d be dating someone right now, I would have laughed. However, it’s actually going well. I didn’t think I’d ever care about anyone that way again due to previous hurt. Yet, right now he’s in another state and I’m battling to get through two days without messaging him.

I also believed it was impossible for me to drop the tough girl front that I carry with me as an automatic response. However, that has been challenged as I’ve gotten closer with a small group of friends who were willing to get past the act and actually know me.

With those two incidents, I’m wondering what else I have labeled impossible that will be revealed as very possible this year. I’m definitely keeping my heart and my mind open for change.

5. Believe in God

This has always been a struggle for me. It’s not that my beliefs haven’t lined up with the Christian viewpoint of the world. I have always believed that there was a God. However, I have always failed to believe that he had good things in store for me. I have always seen him as a judge who created me for comedic value. That’s also being challenged this year.

Bonus: believe that good things are in store if I open my eyes to them.

Ultimately, I’m expecting there to be a lot of challenges with this word this year. I’m okay with challenges. I’m also expecting to learn a lot about being able to believe again.



Writer, wife, lifelong learner. I write about personal development, emotional wellness, relationships and lifestyle.

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Rachella Angel Page

Writer, wife, lifelong learner. I write about personal development, emotional wellness, relationships and lifestyle.