What’s Your One Word?


What are your thoughts on New Years Resolutions?

According to a study conducted on January 1, 2017, about 41% of Americans usually make New Years Resolutions, yet only 9.2% of those actually felt they were successful in achieving their resolutions. That may be why about 42% of Americans absolutely never make New Years Resolutions.

The study shows that 72.6% of resolutions were maintained through the first week, 68.4% past two weeks, and only 58.4% past one month.

So why is it that so few American’s are making resolutions and even fewer of those are seeing success?

The Problem

The biggest problem is that we tend to set to-do goals instead of to-be goals for our New Years Resolutions. To-do goals measure success by what we accomplish and not who we become.

“It encourages us to change our heads and habits, but ignores the most important part of life-change: the heart.” – Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, & Jimmy Page

Don’t get me wrong, I am a goal-setter and I see the value in goals, but I also understand why so many New Years Resolutions end in false starts and failure.

One Word is Different

Choosing just One Word is a completely different approach to start the New Year.One Word

Words are powerful, and most of us use too many. Leonardo da Vinci is quotes as saying that, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

By choosing One Word to focus your year creates clarity, power, passion, and ultimately leads to the life-change we want. In other words, One Word sticks!

I taught a class on January 2nd using the book One Word That Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, & Jimmy Page. The entire book is less than 100 pages and can be read in about an hour. I highly recommend picking this one up!

Three Step Process

There are three steps outlined in the book to help you find your word and be successful with it.3 steps

  1. Prepare Your Heart
  2. Discover Your Word
  3. Live Your Word

Action Plan

Step One. Prepare Your Heart: Look In

To prepare your heart there are only two steps:

  1. Unplug from the noise.
  2. Ask a few essential questions.

Today is the perfect time to separate yourself from the noise and distractions of life and create an environment to look inward. Enter a state of mindfulness: quiet your mind and listen to your heart.

Then, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What do I need?
  2. What’s in my way?
  3. What needs to go?

Step Two. Discover Your Word: Look Up

“Once you’ve prepared your heart, you are ready to receive your word. God has a word that is meant for you. Remember, God can use all means to communicate with us, and you never know when, where, and how your word will be revealed to you.”

Ask for your word to be revealed to you with a simple question: “What do you want to do in me and through me?”

Write down what comes to your heart. Listen and be open to the word that He shares.

Some One Word Ideas:

Breakthrough, Purpose, Intimacy, Life, Intentional, Drive, Focus, Believe, Surrender, Enjoy, Healing, Opportunity, Love, Joy, Patience, Kindness, Consistency, Prayer, Health, Train, Flexible, Devotion, Discipline, Smile, Productivity, Wisdom, Light, Abundance, Communicate, Commitment, Overcomer, Peacemaker, Temperance, Positive, Inspire, Dependable, Purity, Integrity, Strong, Imagine, Optimism, Courage, Balance, Journey, Pure, Pray, Trust, Go, Purpose, Give, Risk, Love, Generous, Detox, Powerful, Faith, Worth, Growth, Rest, Knowledge, Service, Live, Joy, Smart, Clean, Organize, True, Humble, Patient, Desire, Bold, Hope, Virtue, Green, Diligence, Tenacious, Productive, Finish, Thrifty, Helpful, Courteous, Brave, Reverent, Friendly…

Six Dimensions of You

There are several different aspects of life. The authors talk about six specific dimensions: Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Relational, Mental, and Financial.

Wellness-WheelAll of these different parts work together in your life. In a previous article, I talked about the Wellness Wheel with Wellness Coach Karen Weeks, which has seven dimensions. The principle here is the same.

Think of a wheel and imagine that each of the spokes is a type of wellness. If one spoke is too big, then the wheel is hard to move. The wheel moves the smoothest when all of the spokes are the same size, when our overall wellness is balanced. When the spokes are all different sizes it makes it very hard to get where we want to go.

The One Word that we choose should apply to the different dimensions in our life. Setting a goal in only one area may have some effect in other areas, but the best way to make a positive change in all areas of your life is to pick a word that is applicable to all areas of your life.

What’s Your One Word?

My word for 2018 is Create. It actually took a few weeks for me to determine what my word would be. At first I thought my word should be Abundance. I love this word and it is truly something I desire in my life but it wasn’t quite right for this year.

My next thought was Desire. What a great word. Desire could easily apply to all the different dimensions of my life. It would remind me to constantly evaluate my priorities and make sure that I was taking actions that would lead to the outcomes I desired. But that still wasn’t quite right.

So, I decided to do as the book suggests and pray about it. When I did that, my word actually came very quickly. Create. It is one thing to have desires, but it’s quite another to actually act on them. If I want to make lasting change in my life, then I need to do the work. I have to Create the life I want, not just wish it to happen to me.

Step Three. Live Your Word: Look Out

Once you discover the word that is meant for you, then it’s time to live it out. This is where the rubber meets the road.

Keep your One Word front and center.

Like the old saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” Keep your word where you will see it regularly. What gets your attention gets your focus.

  • Write it down and post it in prominent places: kitchen, car, in your planner, on your desk, in your locker, the bathroom mirror…
  • Create a screen saver with your word.
  • Use your word in your computer passwords
  • Paint your word on a sign and hang it where you will see it every day.
  • Take a picture of your word and save it on your smartphone.
  • Keep a journal and write down the insights and lessons learned each week.
  • Start a One Word dinner discussion once a week where you talk about progress with your family.
  • Create a weekly focal point or challenge every Monday.
  • Look for sayings or quotes that relate to your word.
  • Pick a song that reminds you of your word.
  • Write a poem.
  • Create a document on your computer to collect “All Things One Word.”

The options are endless. Enjoy the process and find ways that work best for you.

Spread the Word

Sharing your One Word with your Stretch Team ensures success.

Your Stretch Team is your inner circle of friends and/or family. These are the people who stretch you and help you grow. They are your team are personal cheerleaders, they can encourage, motivate, and celebrate with you. Give them permission to keep you accountable and staying on track.

Don’t Check the Box!

One Word is a process not something you simply check off your to do list at the end of the year. It is not a to-do goal, it is a to-be process. You don’t win or lose, whatever you experience throughout the year is meant for you.

One Word is a powerful way to approach goal setting because the word you choose is not just a good word, it is an inspired word. One that can transcend the different Life Dimensions:

Spiritual     Physical      Emotional      Relational         Mental        Financial

No Do-Overs

The key for success for the One Word process is to post your word prominently and to share it with others. These two things will ensure your growth. There will be highs and lows, but that is all a part of the process.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.” – John C. Maxwell

If you don’t make the progress you think you should or if you feel that there is more to learn, that’s okay. No one can fully experience their word in its entirety or fully apply it into their life in a single year.

No using the same words again. Choose a brand-new word for each brand-new year.

“The why is always more important than the what.” – Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, & Jimmy Page


  1. Gordon, J., Britton, D., & Page, J. (2014). One Word That Will Change Your Life. Expanded Edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  2. Harvard Health Publishing. (2012). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/why-behavior-change-is-hard-and-why-you-should-keep-trying
  3. Marist Poll. (2014). Retrieved from http://maristpoll.marist.edu/wp-content/misc/usapolls/us141203/Holiday%20Shopping_New%20Years/Marist%20Poll%20National%20Holiday%20Shopping_New%20Years_Tables_December%202014.pdf#page=9
  4. One Word That Will Change Your Life. (2013). Retrieved from http://getoneword.com/
  5. Palo, Krista. (2017). Evolve. Retrieved from https://www.livegrowgive.org/real-life-real-passion-episode-8-sustainable-small-steps-build-healthy-lives-interview-with-karen-weeks/
  6. Statistic Brain Research Institute. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/

Krista Palo

I'm Krista, the owner and creator of Evolve. I have a masters degree in Business Administration and I am passionate about development, motivation, and change. I love stories in all of their forms, and believe in continuous learning and the power of positivity.

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2 thoughts on “What’s Your One Word?

  1. Love, love, love this!! I’ve always hated New Year’s resolutions because they’re so easy to fail at. The last couple of years I’ve done a word for the year because how I achieve that one word is so fluid, and it can change as I change or my situation or needs change throughout the year. This year, my word is PRIORITIZE. I’m going to focus on deciding what serves me and my goals and let go of what doesn’t. 🙂

    • Thank you Jennifer! I have had a love hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions myself. I love the idea of a fresh start to a fresh year, but the truth is that change takes time. This way it’s not about the failures it’s about what you become by the end of the year despite the failures. I love your word! My word this year is CREATE. I’m working to create the life I want/need in every dimension of life!