A few years ago Alece Ronzino started blogging about her practice of choosing one word to focus on each year, rather than making New Year’s Resolutions. Since then, it’s since exploded into a full-blown movement called One Word 365.
Since January 1st, over 500 people have written blog posts about their One Word for 2013 and linked up on the community page.
A few of our writers share below about how their One Word has impacted their life.
To be fair, I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions.
If I made one, I would usually just come up with something around 7:40 pm on December 31. It’s not as if I put a lot of thought or time into them. It was just something I felt obligated to do.
Three years ago, I stumbled across Alece Ronzino’s brilliant “One Word” idea.
It was deceptively simple: instead of my choosing a resolution for the year, I would instead discover a word that would frame my actions for that year.
I say “deceptively simple,” because while it sounds incredibly easy, it is instead a challenge to your heart and mind that requires far more thought and action than simply “promising” to take up a new, positive habit while watching a ball drop in Times Square.
Unlike my typical resolution which made a statement about what I planned to do in the coming year, my One Word has defined how I am to be that year. Most of my resolutions were about an external action impacting the inside. For example, going to the gym or eating healthier. I had to go to the gym or buy (and subsequently eat) the broccoli in order for a change to occur within me.
With my One Word, I’ve watched how year after year it has radiated out through my being and impacted my relationships, my faith, my being a husband and father.
The change had to occur with me first.
Unlike a resolution, which is easy to defer until a more convenient time (because let’s be honest, there’s not really a contest between which is more desirable: staying in bed or getting up to go to the gym, especially during the winter months), my One Word has found its way into different aspects of all that I do in unique, almost humorous, ways.
There’s never been a desire to defer it, because to do so would be deferring me, to say nothing of the work God is doing within me.
My word for this year? Now.
Which means there are some things I need to go do.
One year ago I sat at the kitchen table of my childhood home, unemployed and broke and disillusioned.
In an impulsive move, I had just quit my big-city publishing job, moved all I owned from the turn-of-the-century brownstone I shared with my best friend, and hopped a flight to Ireland for a few weeks.
I needed time to think, space to breathe, and a large pint of Guinness.
My personality doesn’t lend itself well to resolutions. Year after year, I would lose sight of New Year’s goals by lunchtime the next day.
When I first read about One Word 365, the dreamer in me jumped at the chance to chose a grand, sweeping theme for 2012. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew it wouldn’t last. Just like all the goals to sweat daily and keep clothes off the bedroom floor and be kinder to roommates prior to coffee in the morning.
I chose two words: risk and commitment.
Risk because my life had become too routine and mundane and on the path to white picket fences. Commitment because I ran from everything. From jobs, relationships with good-hearted men, leases and cities.
The words settled into my subconscious, and suddenly I viewed every step and decision through the lens of risk and commitment.
It began with A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and a U2 concert. Then a first-time drive down to Nashville, Tennessee for Donald Miller’s Storyline conference where I first wandered those city streets and wondered if I could live there. Then came the call from a nonprofit and an interview and a job offer. And then I uprooted everything for a chance in Nashville, a blank slate of a city in every way possible. Far from family and friends and familiar roads.
Seven months later, I’m still here.
And I’m happier than I’ve ever been. And Nashville feels like home.
Seeing life through the lens of risk made me pack all possessions into the car and drive 14 hours away. Living this new life through the lens of commitment allowed my feet to rest (for good?) on soil that – for the first time in my life – felt like home. And somehow in 2012, I stumbled into exactly where God wanted me to be.
I have a new city skyline, friends I call kinfolk, and a lighter heart.
As I counted down the moments till 2013, I chose the same two words for my new year. Because if a little risk-taking and commitment changed my life entirely in 2012, I cannot wait to live the stories 2013 holds.
I’ve stepped away recently, stepped away from everything I once deemed important and I can’t tell you I’ve been successful. No, that would be wrong to write these words to you and pretend my life has taken a 180 change because it hasn’t.
But it’s been a month now since I laid down in bed, exhausted from celebrating New Year’s Eve and something within me suggested 2013 be a year of “less”. Less.
Eyes tired, mind fog-filled, I slept and I thought no more of the word but the next morning, I saw it sitting there on my dresser as I slipped on my expensive watch, black, sleek, powerful.
And the watch stayed there, solemn hands moving slowly, ticking life and all it had to offer and all I wanted from it, but there was something I left when the watch stayed there.
Less time for me, more for others.
Less writing of words, more reading of others.
Less social media (none in fact), more time for the Bible.
Less talking, more listening.
Less eating, more feeding the hungry.
Less intellectualization, more waiting for God’s simple direction.
Less thinking, more doing.
Society tells us influence and power are respectable traits.
We idolize those who have these traits, we listen to their words, we watch their status in life, watch their audience grow… and I was that person. People watched. People read. People noticed.
And I don’t mind if people watch or read or notice my life but I hope they see Jesus instead of “me” when they do.
Have you picked your One Word yet? If so, tell us about it. If not, it’s not too late!