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My One Word: An Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions

Last week I wrote about the rituals that I perform at the end of every year and at the beginning of each New Year. Today is the last day of 2012 and I imagine that many of you are preparing for the year ahead, maybe even considering some New Year’s resolutions. I’d like to offer one more idea to kick start your plans for the New Year.

This idea comes from a book that my new friend, Mike Ashcraft, wrote called, My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word. In it, Mike and co-author Rachel Olsen recommend a great alternative to making New Year’s resolutions that you may or may not keep.

my-one-word

In years of leading himself and others, Mike noticed that people have a tendency to create lists of New Year’s Resolutions that, while they may be well-intentioned, rarely produce the results they’re after.

So Mike decided that for one year, he would pick a single word to focus on.

The transformation he experienced during this year was nothing short of amazing. As the year progressed, his one word guided him and gained layers of meaning as he carried it through a variety of situations and seasons.

The next year, he decided to pick a new word and has continued the practice each year for almost a decade. In 2007, he challenged the people at the church he pastors to adopt this practice. This action began a movement where it became common for people to have conversations around the question, “So, what’s your one word this year?”

It’s a simple practice but one that is so powerful in its application. Rather than being overwhelmed by an endless to-do list, picking one word allows you to gain focus over the course of an entire year, not just the first few weeks of January.

In fact, it reminds me of the Habitude, “Rivers and Floods.” We all know that water is a powerful force. When it flows in one direction like a river, it’s useful. But when it spreads out everywhere like a flood, it can cause great damage. The same is true with how we use our time, energy and resources. Focus acts like the banks of a river, allowing you to flow in the direction you want to go. “Rivers and Floods” reminds us that you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. In the same way, picking one word this year could keep you flowing like a river and not a flood.

If you’re looking for a way to kick-start your New Year, I’d recommend picking up a copy of My One Word. One of my favorite parts of the book is the numerous examples of words that people have chosen in the past and the outcomes they experienced as a result.

Click here to download a free chapter or order your copy of My One Word today. The good news is, you can go ahead and pick your one word today before you even dig into the book. Here’s to a life of focus in 2013!

So, what’s your one word for 2013?

18 Comments

  1. Jackie on December 31, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Past words; hope, together, wait. Came to comments looking for inspiration. Possibly ” focus” this year.

    • Tim Elmore on December 31, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      Great past words. Focus is always a good one! Check out myoneword.org – there’s lot’s of inspiration there for finding your perfect word for 2013.

  2. Damon Barber on December 31, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Discipleship. I plan to read more, begin listening to audio tapes, and share what I learn with others to start.

    • Joseph Lalonde on December 31, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      I like that Damon. Have you checked out http://www.radicalmentoring.com/ ? It could be a great resource for your journey.

    • Tim Elmore on December 31, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      Great word, Damon! I like how it has both a personal and community aspect to it – not just your own internal disciplines but how you’re actively sharing what you learn with others. That’s a powerful combination!

  3. Wes on December 31, 2012 at 10:14 am

    2013: Better. Am I a better person/dad/husband than I was yesterday? Will the next decision I make help me be a better person?

    • Joseph Lalonde on December 31, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      Awesome word for 2013 Wes! Keep it in mind as the year goes by.

    • Tim Elmore on December 31, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      That’s a great word, Wes. It’s a powerful daily reminder. I hope you will be better at the end of 2013 than when you started! It usually is determined one decision at a time.

  4. Tracy on December 31, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    suggest the website if you don’t have the book at hand either – http://www.myoneword.org – it helps explain it all. Still working on finding my word. One of the things Mike suggests to our congregation is to take your time in choosing. As a church we take all of January to consider and find our words. the thing that has always helped me is to realize that if a word is hard for me, it is probably because it is something need.

    • Tim Elmore on December 31, 2012 at 9:14 pm

      That’s a great point Tracy! If it’s not challenging to start, it probably won’t sustain you through an entire year. Taking the month of January to really intentionally decide is a smart practice – thanks for passing that along!

  5. Joseph Lalonde on December 31, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I like the idea Tim. It’s much easier to live one word than trying to remember resolutions and living them out.

    This year I’ll make my word Relationships. Improving them. Building them. Keeping them.

    • Tim Elmore on December 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm

      Glad you found it helpful, Joe! I wish you all the best as you focus on relationships in 2013.

  6. Tat on January 4, 2013 at 5:46 am

    My word is ease. Happy New Year!

  7. Homa Style on January 5, 2013 at 8:37 am

    I had one word last year is was do. Simple and effective. My one word for 2013 is “unbox.” http://homastyle.com/wp/2013/01/01/unbox/

  8. Root on February 25, 2021 at 6:32 am

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My One Word: An Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions