It’s Not About Doing More: Choosing Your One Word for 2013

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“One year I committed to risk more. It forced me to step out of my comfort zone and do things I wouldn’t ordinarily do.”

I’ve lived most of my life by shoulds. Growing up, I was the all-American good girl. I did well in school. I went on mission trips. I moved to Africa when I was 19 to serve as a missionary. I did everything “right.” By the book. The way I was supposed to, expected to, told to. The way I should.

But the treadmill of striving is exhausting. If only I could do more … If only I could do better … Yet for every “should” I managed to check off, more got added to the list. It was a vicious cycle of defeat.

In my painful journey of the past few years, I realized how badly I needed to stop should-ing on myself. And I discovered how challenging it can be to get off that treadmill.

One of the ways I’ve found some freedom from the should shackles has been by ditching New Year’s Resolutions. I used to make a long list of goals I’d like to achieve in the new year, but never managed to live up to them (or, at times, even remember what they were.)

It only left me feeling like a failure.

So I began choosing just One Word as I step into a new year. One word that sums up who I want to be, or a character trait I want to develop, or an attribute I want to intentionally add to my life.

And since it’s just one word, it’s easy to remember. I place reminders of it around my home and workspace, and I inevitably start seeing and hearing it everywhere, which helps me stay mindful of it.

One year I committed to risk more. It forced me to step out of my comfort zone and do things I wouldn’t ordinarily do. Another year, my word was “look”—it gave me eyes to see God’s divine fingerprints even in the darkest of moments. This past year, my word was “choose”—a daily reminder that while I can’t control what happens to me, I can always choose my response.

My One Word isn’t another to-do list. It’s simply a guide as I make decisions, set plans, and go about my every day.

And I’ve seen these words shape not only my year, but also myself. They’ve challenged me, inspired me, changed me. Such is the power of intentionality.

I’ve chosen “enough” as my One Word for 2013, and with equal parts trepidation and curiosity, I am anxious to see how it will grow me this coming year.

Will you join me in choosing One Word for the year?

It’s not about doing more, but about being who you were created to be.

Maybe a word popped right into your head. Maybe you need to let the idea percolate a bit longer. Either way, more often than not, your word finds you. You’ll probably have a love/hate relationship with it. That’s okay. If it doesn’t scare you at least a little bit, it’s probably not the right word.

So … together, let’s stop should-ing on ourselves. What do you want to focus on in 2013? Who do you want to be by the end of the year?

Once you’ve landed on your word, write a blog post about it. Then come add it to the community link-up on the One Word 365 site. Also, leave your one word in the comments here on this SheLoves piece. I’d love to read it!

________________________________

Dear SheLoves friends, I’d love to know:

  • Have you chosen your One Word for 2013?
  • If you’ve had One Word in previous years, how did it work out for you?
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Alece Ronzino
Alece is an extroverted introvert passionate about grace, authenticity, and red wine. She’s the founder and curator of One Word 365, a nonprofit strategist, and a freelance copywriter/editor. Alece blogs candidly about searching for God in the question marks of life and faith.
Alece Ronzino
Alece Ronzino

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Alece Ronzino
  • Nita

    Last year was the first time I selected a “word for the year.” It was, adventure. I loved it, I did accept more adventure in my life. Not always a physical, going adventure, because sometimes those cost money I didn’t have, but other adventures.I’ll be posting about my word tomorrow on my blog. This year, unless something changes, the word is change..

  • fiona lynne

    The amount of impact my one word had one me last year is something I would never have believed this time last year. “Brave” has been my encourager, my support, my deep breath, my kick-up-the-butt. I think it will remain my one word for a while to come, but I am adding another one – JOY.

  • Erin Wilson

    Release. It’s already been a mind and spirit shifter for me. Looking forward to seeing what grows out of this word 🙂

    • it’s as though i can SEE the “letting go” even when i read your word. gonna be an amazing journey…

  • abby

    My one word is a little scary. I have actually been contemplating it for days and kept trying to chose my own. They were expected words, typical New Year words and I wanted something different. I kept asking God.
    As I began my first blog post for the New Year, the word came to me.
    NAKED. I want to understand what it means to be so cleansed and forgiven by God that unlike Adam in the Garden of Eden, I can stand before Him naked and unashamed.
    I want to see the nakedness in front of me in the form of need or poverty. I want to see hurting people in nakedness and offer them the clothing of the comfort of Jesus Christ and His righteousness.
    I want to live in naked honesty before everyone, so that I never have to reap the consequences of even the tiniest white lie.
    I want to reach out specifically to those girls who through the viciousness of an eating disorder have such a terrible body image that they despise the beautiful naked, perfect body God gave them.
    So. Naked, is my word for 2013

    • AbbyKNorman

      Umm…. My name is Abby and my one word is UNASHAMED! As in “naked and unashamed. I would love to keep up with you and see how our journeys mirror each other.

    • love, love, LOVE this! so many layers of significance…

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  • Thanks for the challenge of choosing one word as my theme word for the year. The first word that popped into my mind is “community”. I will look for ways to move toward building a sense of community and away from my tendency to choose isolation.

  • Jane

    Unearth is my word for 2013 and perhaps beyond. Last year was the most difficult year of my entire life even worst than all the traumatic events I’ve experienced in my 40 years (mother’s death, bullying, assaults, incest & rape). This word will create more pain but for every memory I’ve repressed, for every secret I unearth, and for every shame I’ve bore, there will be peace and light. And that’s my final destination.

    • what a powerful and life-giving word, jane. i pray your year is restorative in so many ways…

  • Kelley Nikondeha

    my one word is CADENCE… movement, rhythm, discipline, determined activity.

  • BrennaDA

    Hi Alece. I’m so glad you did this. Last year I picked a word, but never spoke about it as I wasn’t blogging yet. But this year I did and already I can feel a shift. There is just something about saying it aloud, for all to hear, that starts to change your perspective.

    My word is SOAR. I want to change my perspective. I want to rise above the muck that we’ve been walking through. I want to be brave. And somehow, soar seems to wrap up all my hopes in a neat, yet challenging, package.

    • YES! you are so right. there is strength, courage, and motivation in speaking out loud. i’m always reminded about the verse that says we overcome by the WORD of our testimony. our testimony alone isn’t what does it — it’s putting words to it and saying it out loud.

      love your word, brenna!

  • Sherrine Francis

    I’ve done the one word journey for 2 years now and I’ve absolutely loved the experience. Being a high school teacher, I’ve also made my students do it and they love it. Initially it seems wayyyy less daunting than a whole list of to-do’s but by March we all realize that its actually a bigger challenge because it covers and hovers around all of our life decisions. It’s like a sneaky shadow that will not go away. I also love the idea of sharing our one words. Because, I’ve been held accountable to mine at times when I would rather pretend like the word didn’t exist at all. 2 years ago, I picked the word ‘adapt’ (I had just gotten married and boy did I adapt that year.) Last year, I picked the word ‘now’ and I did a lot of things I have been putting off for years – some boring, some monumental. But I stopped procrastinating and did it. This year, I want to dig deeper – in my relationships, marriage, students, education and mainly myself. My word this year is to cultivate.

    Thanks for getting this party started, Alece. Your piece was just what I needed with my morning coffee.

    • so so awesome, sherrine! and you’re right — it’s not an easy journey. i love the way you described it as a sneaky shadow that won’t go away. so true!

      here’s to journeying this amazing road together!

  • I’ve been reading a lot of Brene Brown lately and decided to focus on the word “wholehearted” for 2013. In one of her books she lays out 10 guideposts for living a wholehearted life so I’m taking a guidepost a month to focus on what it means to live wholeheartedly in that way (authenticity, gratitude, etc). I’ve asked a group of friends to join the journey and am excited to see how our lives are changed as a result.

    • I’ve got Brene on my list for books to explore this year to help me in my journey as well.

      I love how you are tackling this — with one guidepost per month — so exciting!

  • Kaysie

    I didn’t realize that there was a community cheering “one words” when I began to do this. How exciting to stumble upon this! My word this year is “bless”…

    I’m thrilled to see where God leads me through this word.

    http://alabastergrace.com/2013/01/01/naming-new-years/

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  • My one word: Listen
    “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” keeps repeating over and over again in my head.

  • Dawn

    Unencumbered. I s’pose the simpler word would be “Free”, but “Unencumbered” is the one that keeps coming to mind. Looking forward to cleaning out, letting go, and laying down the things that hold me back in tangible ways.

  • My word for the year is promise.
    Because He who promised is faithful…

    http://forgivenessmadeaway.blogspot.com/2013/01/twenty-twelve-and-promise-to-come.html

  • Courtney

    My word for 2013 is beloved. As in I’m one of God’s chosen people, holy and beloved, so freaking act like it! (And diving into the Word to really learn about what that looks like.) And also, I wonder how my relationships will change when I see others and myself as beloved before anything else. It’s slightly scary but exciting all at once!

  • my word for 20.thirteen is GRACE. but it’s not that sugary-sweet, neatly wrapped with a pretty bow kind of grace. i want messy grace. the hard, gritty kind. the ugly-beautiful, with weight and substance. because that’s the stuff that transforms lives + stands the test of time.

    http://elenateresaann.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/messy/

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  • Holly

    This is my first year participating but I can already feel how it wants to stick by me like an encouraging friend. It is so different than a resolution, which seems to almost smack of failure. The one word idea feels more like a foundation upon which to keep building. It opens up the year for so much more than a list of resolutions would.
    My chosen word for 2013 is “With”.

    • YES! you summed that up so well — a foundation on which to build your life this year. i love that!

  • Lindsay

    My word for the year is Action. It’s time to take all those dreams I dreamed last year (my year of “freedom”) and give them legs. 🙂

    http://lindsaytweedle.com/a-call-to-action-2013/

  • 2012 was the first year i chose my one word. it was ‘release’ and i was amazed at how that word wove itself through the days and months of the year. i left stickies around the house (my new baby’s crib, the mirror . . ) to remind me of specific areas i needed to release. it was completely life changing for me. this year, the word i’m choosing is ‘own’. as in, own who i am as a mother, a woman, a writer, and all the other roles God is positioning me in. i want to fully engage, not apologize, and be confident in these areas moving forward. thank you so much for the encouragement and challenge.

    • this is so incredible to hear, megan! thank you for sharing!

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  • Em

    quietude-[noncount] literary : the state of being quiet or calm : quietness I so need this in my life and remember that this is just as important as having a voice.

  • hopejem

    My word is GALVANIZE
    I blogged about it here: http://ahopefuloutlook.blogspot.com/2012/12/galvanize.html
    I have so much more to say and I’m thankful for this idea. I believe it will promote the courage I need to move in a hopeful direction.

    • such an intriguing word! looking forward to following your journey.

  • Ann B

    Last year JOY, this year SERVICE. (My life outlook is so different now than it was when I first ‘chose joy’ as my word last year. Truly, I feel like I chose to be joyful, to rejoice. I loved focusing on a word instead of resolutions. It was very empowering. My family is going to join me in the “word thing” this year! I am excited to see where God will lead us with this word.

  • Jenny Call
  • I just learned about this as a new writer. What a beautiful idea, thank you so much. I’ll be linking up next Monday, but my word is Kneel. Sometimes when you feel a little lost, kneeling before God and in service to others helps me put everything in perspective. I plan to do a lot of it 🙂

  • Jennifer

    I stumbled upon this blog by accident. (or perhaps not) Not realizing that my one word has been ringing in my ears for months….simplify…. now I know.

  • Lisa

    My friend Michele challenged me to find my one word for 2013 and I went to the cross and asked Jesus what He wanted my one word to be for this year and His answer was…warrior…I have had to be a warrior in my life more times than I can count without knowing that this is what God wanted me to be…I’ve had to fight, be brave, be courageous for my life, my family, my son who is autistic and yet when I was facing fear I didn’t see myself as a warrior…so here goes

  • My word just came to me – honor… I’ll write a blog post in the next couple days, but for tonight I’m just percolating on how ‘honor’ is going to play out in 2013 in my life.

  • I’d never heard of this “one word” thing until this year, but I love the rational behind it. My word for 2013 is “Rooted” – coming out of Ephesians 3.

  • REVEAL
    That’s the word … this is all new to me after years of championing goal setting and achievement. Thank you for this sweet gift, this compelling invitation, Alece!

  • My one word for 2013 will be HARMONY. I’ve been re-reading John Eldredge’s book “Walking with God” and am learning that a lot of the dissonance in my life is because of false agreements I’ve allowed. Being aware of this makes me want to take responsibility for my part in it, reject dissonance, and embrace harmony as the alternative.

  • Joanna Kitchen

    Such a simple idea, I’m really enjoying hearing about the impact it has had on other people’s lives and I hope mine will shape and change my life this year.

  • I’ve never done this before but in the last few days I haven’t been able to get the word ‘hope’ out of my mind. So that’s my word for 2013!

    • beautiful, joanna! so glad you’re joining the journey with us!

  • My one word for 2013 is Practise. Not an exciting word, but I am excited about it!

    http://www.leafbyjana.com/2013/01/one-word-2013.html

    • there’s a lot packed in that word, jana. so great!

  • Heather Deeming

    This concept inspired me so much! I’ve cheated a little because it was two words that kept springing to mind, but on reflection I think that’s no mistake – that this year I’ll need the combination of both, that one without the other won’t do. Not quite sure how yet, although I have some ideas, but excited to find out over the next twelve months. My words are ‘grace’ and ‘truth’.

    • those two definitely dance together… love that, heather.

  • simplelifeheartenings

    I Choose Joy!!!

  • I love this…Idelette introduced me to the concept 3 years ago and I’ve been choosing a word since! This year I battled to find my word….but here it is! AMPLIFY

  • Ok….I’ve got my word. I’m terrified and thrilled 🙂 Here goes nothing….I will SOAR.

    http://www.iambrandilea.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-one-word-for-this-year-you-have-to.html

    • i feel the same exact way about mine — terrified and thrilled!

  • Thank you, Alece for champoning this! It put the fire under my bootay to write my post and to encourage others to participate. Here’s my one word post…
    http://www.gabbingwithgrace.com/2013/01/04/my-one-word-for-2013/#

  • My one word for this year is “freedom.” The freedom to be exactly who I need to be, freedom to flow, to relax to LIVE. I’m excited about this word and claim it for this year. 🙂 http://yourcreativebiz.com/my-one-word-for-2013-freedom

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  • My word is attitude. It is making me a little nervous, which I guess it should. I hope to find a verse to go along with this as that would help confirm this for me. I am known as a positive energetic person, but actually have a deep negativity that as of late has been hard to hide. It affects how I behave, what I say, and the look on my face. Moving forward with hope.

  • My word for this year is create. I’ve written two blog posts about it. You can read them here: http://www.thealmons.com/ccblog/?p=7892 & http://www.thealmons.com/ccblog/?p=7897

  • Mary from Switzerland

    from GIVE 2011, to GIFTS 2012 and this year live! I am excited to see how it will shape me to become more and more who I am…

    • “shape me to become more and more who i am” — i love that, mary!

  • Jade Beasley

    This is my first time picking a word. I have, however, picked scriptures in the past. After praying about it, the word I have chosen for 2013 is SANCTIFY. I love that Jesus prayed for his disciples to be sanctified by truth and that truth is the Word of God {John 17}. I desire to be set apart for His holy purposes as I delve more intentionally into the truth of His Word.

    • what an incredible journey you’ve embarked upon, jade!

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  • olivechan

    My husband and I have been choosing one word for each year since we got married four years ago. Our word for this year is “Courage.” We just posted about it on our blog today: http://timandolive.com/our-word-for-2013-courage/ . Thanks for this lovely explanation of the concept!

  • Jenny

    Go ahead with your detailed and lengthy lists. I really do hope you accomplish them and then some. But me? No thank you. I’m choosing ONE thing this year to grab hold of and allow to grab hold of me. It may seem too simple, but the most valuable and meaningful things usually are.

    When I look back on you, 2013, I expect to find that I was able to EMBRACE. And not with reluctance fueled by fear, confusion, doubt, or distrust that there are strings attached! (Embracing will require trust on a whole new level for me.) Wholeheartedly I choose to EMBRACE God, my family, those who come my way, each blessing AND every trial as an opportunity to grow, be stretched, be healed, and do great things. Written all over, threaded through every circumstance, every lesson, and every detail WILL be the realization that I have let go of what I think I need to EMBRACE what He wants to give me.

    To truly embrace, I must lay down all the things I’ve gathered. I must make room in my heart, soul, mind, life. No more guarding against disappointment or waiting for the other “shoe” to drop. No more pushing away compliments (this one might be the hardest), good things, or difficult situations I’d rather avoid. I will EMBRACE what God has for me, and I’ll live knowing it was His best.

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  • Julie Jordao

    I came up with a word due to Gods prompt, and had no idea this was a common thing! My word is wholeheartedly.

  • JT

    Thank you for sharing this thought of yours. As I read your post, one word came to mind, and I do fear this word from time to time…it’s FOCUS. It’s interesting how my thoughts of it is getting stronger, yet I have no word to describe it…but after reading this post, it seems like things become a bit clear. Thanks once again!

  • Andrea Bolliger

    Unquenchable

  • Kathryn

    My one word is STRIVE. Yikes!
    “Jesus, what are You preparing me for?”
    I genuinely don’t know. One of my favorite stories in scripture, Joshua, reminds me what God repeatedly told Joshua, “Be strong and of good courage“, ”Be strong and very courageous.”

    The familiar rally cry to Joshua that consistently elicits a dance in my heart is now overshadowed by the clamor of my own heartbeat. Might the trumpet call suddenly be a lot more personal?

    As I peer into the horizon of a new year, I am choosing to trust in the strength and protection of my Shepherd, anticipating the discovery of an entirely new grace.

    Uncovering the grace in STRIVE.
    http://www.itsallgrace.org/the-word-is/

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  • Tracey

    My one word is ‘LOVE’.

  • Natasha

    This year I am choosing the WORD… LOVE. time and time again, i always end up being hurt by a person because I love them too much. So this year I am vowing to Learning to love myself a little bit more.

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