Have you heard about this One Word phenomenon? Around the world, people select one word to be their guiding intention for the coming year. Rather than setting goals or resolutions, they focus on this one word.
I first became acquainted with the idea of One Word in 2016 in a blog post by my friend Ashley. I was inspired by what she wrote and I promptly added One Word to my existing goal-setting strategy.
My word of the year for 2017 was courage. I thought about courage a lot throughout the first part of the year. Then in July, something shifted.
I was having a pity party about not getting enough of my husband, Jer’s, vacation time. In response, he suggested that I go do something alone. I thought about camping solo and visiting more Minnesota State Parks, but the idea of camping alone terrified me.
Then I remembered my One Word, courage. I thought, what’s the point of setting this intention if I’m not going to embody it? And that’s when my One Word became real.
In 2018 my One Word was confidence. Ooof! That year included a lot of inner work on perfectionism and limiting beliefs. To be completely honest, that work continues to this day. Beware of (and embrace) words that may stick around for years to come.
In 2019, I decided to do something different. I picked the word wholehearted and decided to share my journey with my email subscribers. I’ll be sharing a blog post about my journey to live more wholeheartedly very soon. But first I want to share what I learned about implementing this one word on my wholehearted journey.
Like resolutions, I imagine it’s very common for people to set their intention, talk a little bit about it, post something on social media, and then forget about it until it’s time to pick a word for next year. I get it. Life is busy and we all have a lot going on. But if you’re going to go through the trouble of setting your intention, don’t you at least want to try and make the most of it?
Here are five tips I learned while trying to embody my intention last year. I’ll use my One Word for 2020 as an example, but I encourage you to insert your own word. As we walk through each step, I’ll invite you to complete each exercise before moving on.
Before we begin, you’re going to need to set your One Word. Do you have one in mind?
If you answered “no,” let me ask you a question. In one word, if you could change something that would make the greatest impact on every area of your life, what would that be? Maybe it’s love, gratitude, discipline, joy, balance, surrender, health, trust… It could be anything that inspires you. If you’re stuck, check out this list of ideas.
Do you have your word? Take a minute to write it down. You can write it in your journal or give Evernote a try.
I selected abundance as my One Word this year and here’s what I plan to do with it.
Step One – Measure it
Now that you have your One Word, how will you know if you’ve made progress?
I understand that many great words are hard to quantify. Ask yourself, how will my life be different a year from now if I’m successful with this intention?
For my word, abundance, I’ll feel like I succeeded when I spend more time being open to the goodness flowing into my life than unconsciously trying to block it.
We all have an inner thermostat of how much love, money, and success we believe we deserve. In his book, The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks calls this our Upper Limit. As people level up in their lives and exceed this limit, sometimes they unconsciously do things to sabotage their success.
Looking back I can see that I’ve been doing this my whole life. Since I’ve become conscious of this behavior, I’ve been able to flip the switch and keep moving forward. And a big part of this will be allowing more abundance into my life this year.
How will you know if your One Word is a success?
Step Two – Name Your Why
Why do you want this change? Why do you really want it? Keep asking yourself that question until you come up with an answer that makes you feel something. That’s your why.
For example, when someone sets a weight loss goal, they’re more likely to be successful and maintain it if they have a compelling why. Looking good in a bikini for your upcoming vacation is a fine reason to shed a few pounds. But it’s not as compelling as being able to run and play with your kids and create lasting memories. How about being there to walk your daughter down the aisle or seeing your grandkids graduate from college? You must find a why that’s meaningful and moves you.
Personally, I’m at a point in my life where my personal growth will become stagnant if I don’t allow abundance to flow more freely. At some point, I labeled myself as the person who offers help, but I’m not someone who’s good at receiving it. This self-constructed box is no longer working for me. I need to cut it open and allow abundance to flow through in every direction.
We can only serve others as much as we’re willing to receive help. If I’m unwilling to accept help and abundance, I’ll eventually hit a plateau with how well I’m able to serve. This is my why.
To become my highest self and fulfill my true potential, I must open myself up to abundance.
What’s your compelling why for your One Word?
Step Three – Define It
I was talking with some friends over the holidays and the topic of words came up. I don’t remember the exact conversation, but I remember saying, “Words are crazy. What do they even mean?”
If you look up a word in the dictionary, it can have a handful of different meanings. Coming off of the holiday season, the word squash comes to mind. I could bake you a delicious squash for dinner. Then I could squash your hopes and dreams. Or maybe I’ll bake you a squash because I feel bad that I squashed your hopes and dreams and then we’ll make up and celebrate by playing a game of squash.
And this doesn’t even consider tone and inflection. But I’m sure you get the point. You have to define what your One Word means.
When I selected confidence as my intention for 2018, I defined confidence as:
- Faith and trust that I can rely on myself.
- A feeling of self-assurance arising from my appreciation of my own abilities.
Here’s how I’m going to define abundance this year.
If you’ve ever grown a garden, especially in a cold climate, you know how everything seems to peak at the same time. You have tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, cabbage, and raspberries by the buckets full. There’s no possible way you could eat it all, so you call your friends, take their orders, and drop off care packages to share.
That’s exactly what abundance means to me. You have enough goodness that you can enjoy as much as you want and still have plenty left over to share.
How would you define your One Word?
Step Four – Set Your Strategy
When I began my year of living wholeheartedly, I created a plan to work through over the course of the year. I created an area of focus for each month that would help me become a more wholehearted human. I set each month’s assignment at the beginning of the year. Then each month I focused on embodying a new task, such as embracing laughter, song, and dance.
For my year of abundance, I’ve broken it down by quarter. During the first quarter of this year, I’m going to focus on connection. This nice slow time between the holidays and summer is perfect to reconnect with those we’ve lost touch with and create new connections.
The second quarter is spring here in the northern hemisphere and with everything greening up, I’m going to focus on financial abundance. Long summer days follow spring so during the third quarter I’ll work on cultivating an abundance of time. And finally, the fourth quarter can be a time of stress and unhealthy holiday habits, so this is when I’ll shift my focus to an abundance of health.
And you were thinking abundance was all about wealth, weren’t you?
What kind of lessons and challenges could you create to keep your One Word top of mind throughout the year?
Step Five – Create Accountability
Since I thought my year of living more wholeheartedly could be useful to others, I decided to share my journey with my email subscribers. Throughout the year, I shared a lesson about wholehearted living on the first Monday of each month. It was a great way to hold myself accountable to my word and to make sure I kept following through. I plan to do the same this year with abundance. You can follow along here.
How could you create accountability with your word? Maybe you could share your progress on social media. Or find someone else who has a word and create an accountability partnership. There are many creative ways to ensure you keep working on your word as the months tick by.
What can you put in place to ensure you stay consistent with your intention?
Setting goals and intentions in the new year is a great way to keep growing so you can enjoy all that life has to offer. But don’t just set it and forget it. Make your One Word part of your daily life and enjoy accelerated growth and abundance this year.