I used to set my one word, goals, and intentions for the new year at the beginning of the year, that is, every first of January. Imagine the joy lost from cramming this seemingly Herculean task on a day meant for simply relishing the gift of being alive on a brand new year.
Over the past three years, I found this practice not working for me anymore and have since been trying to ease gently into January before I set any intentions or goals. I find that I gain more wisdom and clarity when I let myself settle into the new year first to reflect, pray, and simply pay attention.
I have also been participating in my church’s annual prayer and fasting every second week of January to fast from distractions like the delightful hum of social media and overindulgence in food to be quiet before God. I have found this practice valuable not just for my physical body but also for my heart and soul. It is only after the prayer and fasting week that I start writing down my intentions, dreams, and goals for the new year.
What is One Word Practice?
One word is simply a practice of choosing one word for the year that represents your intention for the year. A word to focus on to make pivotal changes to your life or simply a word to embrace and to live by. This practice has been around for a while now and is very simple and yet so profound and powerful.
If goal-setting is daunting for you or you have given up on New Year’s resolutions which we know do not work, just choosing one word might be a refreshing practice for you to try.
How to Choose One Word for the Year
Here are four simple steps for you to try to choose your one word for the year:
- Write down what your heart longs for the most – Sit in a quiet place and listen to what aches in your heart, these are your longings and desires that come from the depths of your soul and best manifest themselves when you unplug from the distractions of this world. Do you long for rest, growth or promotion, breaking free from destructive habits, financial peace, or better health choices? Name them. Even those longings that are both so precious and fragile, write them down too.
- Reflect on what worked and what did not work the previous year – This step requires pen, paper, and brutal honesty. In bullet points, simply write down what worked for you and what did not. I wrote down “mindless scrolling in my phone” on top of what didn’t work for me. It is such a time-waster! Do not skip this step because it will help you reflect on your habits and choices.
- Write one-word ideas – From your list of longings and what worked and didn’t work, write down words that can support the person you would like to become at the end of the year. The focus is not on the goal, but on the person you are becoming.
- Choose one word that speaks to your longing the most – From your one-word ideas, narrow down your words until you get to one word that you would like to shape your year, one word to focus on every day, all year long.
I hope you find this simple guide helpful.
If you are curious how to put these simple steps into practice, my one word for 2024 (and a back-story of my one word for 2023) might help you!