One Word for the Year
We recently just finished our first full month in 2018. Statistically, by now around half of people who made New Year’s Resolutions have already broken them. Honestly, I haven’t done “official” resolutions for quite some time now, much for that reason. Instead for the past few years, I’ve approached the New Year in a different way. I come up with one word, kind of a theme word, to focus on for the year.
The idea is to come up with a one word vision to focus on for the entire year. I got the idea from a bible devotional that I read on my YouVersion Bible app, called “One Word That Will Change Your Life”. It was a quick, simple 4-day reading plan. “Change your life” was a bit of a dramatic claim. I can’t say I experienced any life-altering evolutions, but subtle changes, yes. I’m a firm believer that lasting change happens little by little anyway. However, it truly did change how I approached the New Year, and my focus truly did last all year as opposed to a fleeting and failing resolution.
How does a person pick their word for the year? Ideally, God will reveal your one word to you as opposed to you just randomly picking one. However, I think that even if you struggle with determining if your “one word” is truly divinely inspired (as I did one year) or even if you just pick a word that seems good, I believe that God will work with that to teach, grow, mold, and change you over the year. Try to listen for God to speak to you about your one word.
How I came up with my one word each year
I started by looking over my journal notes from the previous year and thinking back over the year to see any patterns or recurring themes. Then, I noted any words that were repeated or any lessons that I felt like God had been teaching me. I spent some time thinking about if God was trying to prepare me for anything in the upcoming year.
Next, I spent some time in prayer. Sometimes this took me several days of asking God to reveal my one word to me. The reading plan instructed me to ask God, “What do you want to do in me and through me this year?” Then, I would sit quietly and listen to see if any word or words popped into mind. Over the course of a week or maybe two, I would pay attention to any themes, patterns or repetition in my quiet times or just in normal day-to-day life. I wrote down any of these things that came to mind or anything that seemed to stand out to me.
Once I felt like I had my one word, I made a note in my journal and also shared my one word with a few other people. The reading plan suggested keeping my one word front and center—posting it somewhere I’ll see it often, sharing it with family and accountability partners, writing it my journal and journaling about it as I continued to focus on it throughout the year, and so on. The goal is to stay focused on my one word and live it out as God directs me.
Examples of words
Your one word could be in the form of a character trait or attribute, a discipline, a spiritual focus, etc. Some examples listed in the plan included: love, joy, patience, kindness, rest, prayer, health, train, flexible, devotion, intimacy, discipline, commitment, bold, positive, green, inspire, finish, purity, integrity and strong.
A few of examples of my one word have been “power”, “prophesy”, “purpose”, and this year it’s “new”.
The year that my word was “power”, I learned more that year about how God is my power source. God also empowered me to step outside of my comfort zone significantly that year. Additionally, God showed me that I had power within me to do things I never thought possible. When “prophesy” was my one word, I learned so much that year about both the noun aspect–prophecy (i.e. prophecies in scripture, etc.) and the verb aspect (the ability to predict or foretell).
The year “purpose” was my word, I grew tremendously learning about and cultivating some of my own gifts and talents and discovering how I could use them for God. I learned more about my purpose and calling here on this earth, and I also grew more intentional that year doing things on purpose.
This year my one word is “new”. Already, I’m experiencing this word in many aspects. Eric has a new job, I’m experiencing new things in several of my roles. I also believe that God is telling me that He wants to do a “new thing” in and through me this year. Kinda scary and exciting all at the same time!! I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for me.
The writers of that 4 day plan actually have a whole website (GetOneWord.com) and a book focused on choosing your one word and developing an action plan for your word. I’m sure these would be excellent resources, especially if you need the extra help with focus and accountability.
I also ran across another “one word” resource that looks pretty cool which a couple of my friends had posted on Instagram. I’m not an affiliate or an endorser, but it does seem like a helpful and fun resource. They participate in “One Little Word” projects where they can take part in year round workshops, be involved in an idea-sharing community, put together a One Little Word book (like a scrapbook focusing on all things around their one word), and they can even order customizable products with their one word.
Honestly though, I personally haven’t spent any money on my one word for the year endeavors; although I do love some of the ideas out there. I didn’t buy the book, purchase an action plan or word kit, or join a workshop. I just went through the reading plan for free (no purchase necessary), discovered my one word, and I ran with it (writing it out, sharing it with others, and focusing on it throughout the year, journaling as I did). Then, I do this same thing again every January (or end of December) to pick a new “one word” for the year.
Does one word sound like a good alternative to resolutions for you?
If your resolutions have already fallen by the way side, maybe go try out the One Word reading plan, or take some thoughtful time in prayer to come up with one word to focus on this year. You’ve still got plenty of year left! No need to throw in the towel!
“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.” Lamentations 3:40 (NIV)
“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11 (NLT)
Take Some Practical Steps to Get One Word for the Year:
Go check out the 4-day devotional reading plan on the YouVersion Bible app, called “One Word That Will Change Your Life”.
It will give you more in-depth instructions on choosing your word and/or asking God to reveal it to you.
Reflect on the previous year—look back over journals, think about lessons God taught you, consider ways God may have been preparing you for this upcoming year.
Write down any recurring themes or patterns or anything you feel might be relevant.
Then, spend some time in prayer about your one word.
Ask God, ““What do you want to do in me and through me this year?” and “Lord, please reveal your one word for me this year.” Then, sit quietly and listen to see if any word or words pop into mind. Write it/them down and continue praying about it for a few days to confirm your word.
Once you have your word write it down, make it visible, and share it with others.
Keep it in view so you can continue to focus on it throughout the year. Here are a few ways you can do this…
- Write it on a card–Put it on your mirror, nightstand, light switch, car console, or refrigerator
- Make a free poster printout at GetOneWord.com
- Write it on the front cover or front page of your quiet time journal
- Add it to a screensaver on your computer or as a background image on your computer or phone
- Get a stamped bracelet or necklace with your word
- Get a custom cutout of your word
- Make a bookmark
- …There are endless ideas of ways to keep your one word front and center. I’m sure you could look on Pinterest. You crafty people out there probably have a whole slew of ideas!! (Share some of your ideas with us….comment below)
Finally, when you have your word and keep it front and center, start living it out.
Make note of anytime your word is relevant. Look for ways to learn more about your one word, to grow in your word, or to hear from God about your word.
Do you use one word for the year? What ideas can you share about fun and creative ways to keep your one word front and center? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below.
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