Try This Unique Un-Resolution: Pick One Motivational Word to Focus on for the Year


With 2017 very nearly within reach, I feel inundated by all the headlines offering a better life in the coming year. News segments promise me financial freedom, better communication with my husband, how to live gluten-free and sugar-free and regret-free, how to add a year without aging a day, how to avoid identity theft, how to improve my posture and boost my creativity, how to have better sex and a better credit score, how to eat more fiber and wear better sunscreen, and when to replace my toothbrush and the mattress. Gyms are crowded, memberships are discounted, and the lists of goals are long and intense. We all intend to be people who are better and balanced. January presents an arbitrary newness, the chance to begin again.


A recent study from the Barna Group shows that two-thirds of Americans will make a resolution, but only 40% will follow through, and only 20% of resolution-makers tend to report achieving any sense of long-term change. There’s got to be a better way to aim for change, to improve your mind and spirit and body, without falling off the wagon before Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday in a couple of weeks.

In 2012, Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen released a book titled My One Word: Change Your Life with Just One Word. The book was born from a 2007 movement in Ashcraft’s church, Port City Community Church, when he challenged his congregation to ditch their New Year’s resolutions in exchange for one word to focus on that year. Through the lens of a single chosen word, people found a new approach to personal change that is “doable, memorable, effective, and sticky.”

Similarly, artist and entrepreneur Chris Pan launched My Intent Project, a movement wherein people wear jewelry emblazoned to declare their one word. Pan’s line of jewelry was featured on the Today show, and celebrities are embracing the idea of channeling their focus and energy to reflect the word of their choice. It has become a worldwide catalyst for meaningful conversations and intention.

When you allow a single word to become your approach for a new year, you bring clarity and concentration to your efforts. Here are some examples:

  • Boldness. Perhaps you’re a shy person who avoids eye contact, confrontation, or awkward conversations, and you’d like to change the way you see the world.
  • Enough. Maybe you go through life wondering if you’ve done enough, if you have enough, if you are enough. This word can challenge you to define your work, your life, and yourself with a filter of approval.
  • Faith. Is faith new to you? This could be the year that you put your faith in Christ, trust him with your marriage and your finances, your children and your future.
  • Integrity. With this one word, you can choose to make every decision and action with upright intention, even if nobody’s watching.
  • Shhh. You don’t have to say everything that comes to your mind. You can be quiet and listen. This word could remind you to be still, to close your mouth, and to see what newness fills your airtime.
  • Knowledge. This could be the year when you decide you’d like to learn more: perhaps a skill, hobby, or specialty.
  • Choose. Perhaps you need to remember that you always have a choice in how you will respond to the people, happenings, and the world around you. Be intentional and choose your response.

You bring about what you think about, and as Olsen and Ashcraft wrote, “it’s definitely better to do something about one thing than nothing about everything.” As you look into 2017, what would you like to bring about? What do you think the world needs more of? What are some things you want to change about yourself? And so, what would you like to think about?

The most-often-picked words are: Trust, Patience, Love, Discipline, Focus, Faith, Surrender, Peace, Listen, and Joy. For some direction on how to move forward into 2017, visit My One Word or My Intent, and pick your word.

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Tricia Lott Williford is a remarried widow and the mom of two young men who could charm you to the moon with their freckles. She collects bracelets, pens, words, and coffee mugs. She is a sought-after speaker for events and conferences around the country. Tricia is the author of three books: And Life Comes Back: A Wife’s Story of Love, Loss and Hope Reclaimed; Let’s Pretend We’re Normal: Adventures in Rediscovering How to be a Family; and You Can Do This: Seizing the Confidence God Offers. Tricia writes regularly on her blog,


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