Trading New Years Resolutions in for Just One Word


‘Tis the season for making a new start. If you follow any publication or friends on social media, you know that right now they are all about how to make this year better than the last – more organized, more healthy, more financially stable, more whatever is on your heart.

There are a lot of posts out there about New Years resolutions and setting goals and how to do it so that you won’t fizzle out by February 1, and I am sure there is a lot of wisdom in that. In fact, I’ll even be doing some goal setting for the different ministries and activities I am involved with.

But I won’t be making any New Years resolutions.

I gave up on them years ago when I realized that they hadn’t changed much from my teenage years (keep my room neat, spend more time reading my Bible, be nice to my brother…), they usually weren’t such a high priority by February 1, and I never felt like I had made “enough” progress by December 31 — hence the repeat on resolutions the following January.

Instead, I will be choosing just one word to focus on this year. This is something I read about several years ago that has been popularized on the website My One Word. The idea is to choose one word to inspire you in the new year. Here’s how it works:

1. Determine the kind of person you want to become

Don’t stop at the surface, with finances or health or a cleaner home. Dig deep into your soul. Don’t just ask what kind of day-to-day life you want to have. Ask yourself who you want to be at the core. If there is a person in your life, or even in history, that you want to emulate? This is a good starting point.

I also commit to prayer on a yearly basis, asking God to show me what and who He wants me to be, which helps me to select my one word. (Although the idea behind My One Word has caught on with those in the secular media, the founders of this movement also emphasize the importance of prayer in this process, as they see all long-lasting change as rooted in God’s work in our lives.)

2. Identify the characteristics of that person

If you are not a word person, check out this awesome list of character traits or this collection of articles on the My One Word website. Words that you will find on my list are: patient, steady, calm, consistent, disciplined, abiding-in-Christ, Spirit-filled (yeah, sometimes I cheat on the one-word thing by using hyphens!).

3. Pick a word

This is the hard part. Not fifteen things you want to change, not even five or two. ONE. The one that means the most to you, or the one word that ties them together. Three years ago, my word was LISTEN. I chose it because I wanted to focus on on being a better listener: listening to God, listening to my husband, and listening to my children. It worked across many facets of life.

My One Word

I’ve been leaning toward “intentional” (not letting life just happen, but being more proactive than reactive), and “patience” (a dangerous prayer, I am sure!), as well as “Immanuel” (understanding better what the presence of God is all about and how it can transform me).

If this idea interests you, it’s not too late to do it! A lot of people who do My One Word end up thinking about it well into January, and “trying on” different words for a day at a time to see how they fit. That may be me this year too, and I am excited to see how God uses it, again, to give direction and focus to my year.

What about you? What one word would you like to focus on this year?

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Kristi is a pastor’s wife, mother, writer, and former public school teacher for English for Speakers of Other Languages. She grew up all over the United States as an Air Force brat, but moved to Columbia in the 1990s to attend Columbia International University, and has called the Midlands “home” ever since. Her days are kept full with the antics and activities of her children - homeschooling, church activities, American Heritage Girls, and Trail Life - as well as writing and leading her Columbia-based pregnancy loss ministry, Naomi’s Circle. Kristi is a contributing editor for “Rainbows and Redemption: Encouragement for the Journey of Pregnancy After Loss” ( and a co-author of “Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother“ ( She shares her thoughts about faith, family, and femininity on her blog, This Side of Heaven (


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