Ring in the New Year with One Word


Dec_Claire_800When I first heard about the concept of choosing only one word to guide me through the year I envisaged limitation.

How could anyone possibly walk through a year with only one word to lean on?

What about New Year’s resolutions?

Don’t we need to set goals?

I always believed I did.

At the time of being introduced to Alece Ronzino’s OneWord365 I was proud of my New Year’s resolution list and not exactly on board with reducing it to one word. I’m a planner so lists work well for me; in fact without them I’m quite the scatterbrain.

But here’s the thing: I don’t think I’ve ever “achieved” a single resolution on my list.

Today I flicked through a journal from 2011 and found this example of my New Year goals:

–       Lose 10 pounds (it goes up by five pounds each year)

–       Finish writing my book

–       Be a better mom

–       Volunteer

–       Workout 6 days a week

–       Take up yoga

–       Visit with friends more

–       Spend an hour with God every day

My first thought was this: I didn’t keep up any of those things. I probably tried to do all of them but there’s only so much you can demand of yourself before your body and brain scream enough.

I could have achieved (or, in the case of motherhood and friendship, at least improved upon) any one of them. But I didn’t.

That’s the problem when you set so many goals at once; it all becomes overwhelming.

My second thought was this: why do I set the bar so high?

Then I looked again. I studied the list for a while. And I realized all of these goals are rooted in feeling like I’m not enough—not writing enough, not slim enough, not spiritual enough, not fit enough, not a good enough friend or mom and not a giving enough member of the community.

My underlying message seemed to be, “you have to do better, because who you are right now isn’t making the cut.”

Yup—I’m done with New Year’s Resolutions.

Like many, I was entering every year with my freshly cleaned slate board, believing that with a new date comes a new mindset. But a new year doesn’t change those thought patterns—at least not long-term. And it doesn’t make you suddenly capable of taking on a massive to-do list that can only further feed the “not-enough” frenzy.

So when 2012 came around and I heard about oneword365 I was ready to ditch the to-do list and enter 2013 with a different perspective.

Picking one word after years of setting many goals wasn’t easy, but it was a relief. I relieved myself of the pressure to be more and entered this year without thinking about diets, deadlines and duties.

In short: I gave myself a break.

The word I chose was NOURISH. It came to me after several days of prayer and after reflecting on the season of my life at that time. It had been a year of hectic living: rushing from one school or sports activity to the next while trying to build my own business in-between. I was doing a lot—except nourishing my physical and emotional needs.

I wrote my word on a sticky note and taped it to my computer as a daily reminder. In my head I assumed that whatever challenges I might face in 2013, being mindful of my needs and the needs of those close to me would be easy with my nourish as my guide.

But the practice of leaning into that word hasn’t been quite so easy.

When January hit I grappled with a long bout of depression. And it became even more clear to me why this was my word: I needed to figure out how to take care of my needs in those dark places, how to turn towards instead of away from the light by nourishing my soul.

I’ve had to really take my word seriously because if I allow it to happen, I can become so wrapped up in my head and over-thinking that there’s no space for nourishment. I wade too far into the darkness and lose sight of the light. I forget all the tools available to me that could haul me out: Prayer, journaling, books, affirmations, the Bible, music, friendship.

Seeing my one word in front of me every day at my desk has helped me to ask questions such as “What do I need from this day?” Or, “What will nourish my soul today?”

And though my one word didn’t help me to achieve a particular goal this year, it did help me to check in with myself on a regular basis, which often changed the way I approached my day.

Finding your one word

The best thing about One Word is that there are no rules.

Your word doesn’t have to be meaningful to anyone else but you.

It could be something as simple as “no,” or “yes.”

It could be an action, a thought or an emotion.

Think of some of the challenges you have faced this year, or that may be facing you in the year to come. Is there a word that could be your compass? Your guiding light?

My One Word for 2014 is PRESENCE. To be present in the light and the dark, to try not to resist what is, but to accept it and grow from it.

Alece has just launched a new website for the One Word community. Within this community you’ll be able to see who else has chosen your word for the year, as well as who is in your geographical area, enabling in-person encouragement.

We’d be honoured to hear your one word. So go ahead and think about it, pray, or ask for help from other sheloveleys. Then, if you’re willing to divulge, we’d love for you to share your word in the comments section below.