One word: An alternative to traditional new year’s resolutions

Whenever a new year begins, many take that opportunity to make a fresh start for themselves.  They set lofty goals for themselves to accomplish throughout the year, starting off with high hopes, only to begin to forget about the goal by mid-January.  By the time July rolls around, they can’t even remember the resolution this year, and besides, it’s way too late to start now, right?

Perhaps you have fallen into this cycle.  Or, possibly even worse, you find yourself repeating the exact same goals year after year, only to be disappointed when, for whatever reason, you don’t accomplish them.

While I tried to avoid using the same resolution multiple times, I definitely fell into the previous pattern.  I was arguably even worse, because I wrote down my new year’s resolutions, and knew exactly where they were, but did I ever look at them?  Absolutely not.

However, the way I began to look at new year’s resolutions changed when I read [AN1] a book aptly titled One Word that will Change Your Life by Dan Britton, Jon Gordon, and Jimmy Page, which explains that every year, 87% of adults “create new goals and resolutions, only to experience the same frustrating results: false starts and failure.”

The book offered up an alternative option to the typical new year’s resolution: instead of listing out what you want to accomplish, simply pick one word that embodies something you want to work for throughout the year.  Once that year is done, reflect on your progress, and choose a new word to work on.  You can continue to incorporate the old word into your life, but the book strongly suggests choosing a new one in order to keep moving forward.

I tried my first word, open, along with my new year’s resolutions, and found that the one word was ultimately more satisfying.  Without specific tasks to accomplish, I felt like there was less pressure.  I also felt that I had more options as to what route I wanted to take.  By focusing on one concept for myself as opposed to a goal, I was able to focus on an aspect of who I was as a person, and not just my actions.

The year after, my family all chose words as well, all of which were different.  It was almost a better representation of what we hoped for in the coming year, because when you can only pick one word, it really makes you think about what really matters to you.  For example, my sister, who struggles with anxiety, chose the word peace, but my brother, who wanted to spend less time on screens, chose the word unplugged.

Choosing one word does still come with the issue of potentially forgetting the word.  The book offered the suggestion of putting is somewhere memorable, such as on a phone or computer background, which people are probably a little less likely to do with a list of new year’s resolutions.  However, in addition to this, I also find that it is much easier to remember one word than several resolutions, especially if considerable thought is put into choosing that word.

If you find yourself having trouble thinking of a word, some suggestions can be found here, where a social media movement has begun[AN2]  under #oneword.

Going into 2020, my word for the year is confidence.  Despite not giving me any specific goals to accomplish, I feel that choosing just one word allows me to identify a concept that I really want to work on developing.  A new year’s resolution might give me a goal to work towards that would ideally improve my confidence, but that resolution doesn’t really embody what I want, it’s more of a stepping stone towards confidence, and I don’t want to look at it as a stepping stone, but rather as a bridge that I will gradually progress across.  The typical new year’s resolution can end up feeling like a guilt trip, but the one word allows you to celebrate your progress, and there’s no shame in that.

Thumbnail can be found here.


One Word that will Change your Life is a fairly quick read.  Anyone who is curious about how the One Word movement began can find more information within the book.

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