I’m not usually a trend-follower or given to peer pressure. For instance, if you sent me a chain letter way back when, I confess to breaking that chain. But when it comes to choosing a single word to guide the coming year, I’ve enthusiastically adopted the practice.
So once again, I’m choosing one word for the New Year and invite you to do the same…if you want. And I have tips to help you choose that single word that best expresses and informs your goals in the coming year—especially for your marriage.
My One Word
Some years, that one word guides me for weeks; other years, for months. This past year, my word stayed true all year long: REBOOT.
In the post My One Word for 2022 (and What It Means for My Ministry, I described my choice this way:
After mulling it over a bit, I realized that REBOOT captured the essence of what I want: to clear out all the data and “cookies” I don’t need while keeping the core aspects that help me function well in life. For example, my trust in Christ and my commitment to my marriage don’t need a reset, but I should reconsider some priorities and plans.
In short, I had to ask myself what I should keep and what I should throw away. And believe me, I learned a lot this year on that count!
This year, my word is not an action verb, but a noun: HEART.
It summarizes the focus I want to have in 2023, including:
- Settling into a new home after 15+ months of waiting: “Home is where the heart is.”
- Learning more about the heart God wants me to have and pursuing that vision.
- Drilling down to the heart of my purpose and ministry and doubling my efforts there.
- Fostering relationships that both feed my own heart but also express my heart for others.
- Seeing a cardiologist to make sure my ticker is okay, given some recent high blood pressure.
My one word, both last year and this year, relates to various aspects of my life and helps me lay out specific goals.
One Words from Others
It all began with the 1999 book One Word That Will Change Your Life, authored by motivational speakers Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page. (Not the Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page—a different one. ~smile~) Since then, many have adopted this approach.
If you search Twitter, Instagram, or Google for #onewordchallenge, you’ll find a number of folks sharing the one word they chose last year or what they’ve chosen for next year. Here are a few that stood out to me:
But one word not only stood out but grabbed a spotlight, threw glitter, and sang an anthem. Okay, maybe it wasn’t THAT spectacular, but given what I do here—with all this talk about sex and marriage—I couldn’t help but wonder why someone would choose intimacy and what they did with that word in their lives. But I digress…
Anyway, you can see how a single word can link to many areas of your life and encompass a lot of hopes and plans. Especially if it’s a good word for your particular season.
Tips for Choosing Your Word
Now that you understand the history and power of One Word, you are probably wondering how you figure out your One Word.
Through our own experiences and our work with countless others, we’ve developed a simple, three-step process that will provide an easy framework for finding your One Word:
One Word That Will Change Your Life, Amazon Book Page
- Prepare your heart by looking in
- Discover your word by looking up
- Live your word by looking out
But many other authors and content creators have shared their own suggestions for finding one word for the New Year. Honestly, I hadn’t even heard of the book from which all this came until years after I started doing it. So here are my tips based on what has worked for me.
1. Don’t Let Someone Else Choose.
As helpful as others are trying to be in providing One Word quizzes, memes, and direct suggestions, you’ll be far more committed to the word if you go through the decision-making process yourself. Sure, take wise counsel from others and use their thoughts to help you tweak your idea, but make this choice your own.
2. Expect a Process.
Speaking of that decision-making process, it IS a process. That is, you don’t just sit down, scroll through some words, point at one, and say, “There!” Yes, now and then, a particular word might be so perfect, that’s exactly what happens. But most of the time, it takes days or weeks to mull through options and come up with a word that reflects and inspires your goals.
3. Take Stock.
How’s it going in your life? What are you involved in? Where have you seen progress in your life, and where are you still struggling? (I assume this is the “look in” part of the three-step process the book recommends.) Let your mind wander and think through questions like these to get a sense of what your next steps should be.
4. Consult Trusted Resources.
Yes, this could be a mentor or friend in your life. But my trusted resources for this process tend to be the Word of God and the thesaurus. During that “take stock” part, a few ideas come to mind, and then I go look up how those words are used in the Bible and synonyms that help define a word or could be good substitutes.
5. Try Out the Word(s).
Before settling on HEART, I toyed with several words but didn’t embrace my choice until it really clicked. Try out your potential words, imagining how each word would help you set and pursue goals the following year. Does it apply to the various areas of your life? Does it both inspire you and urge you toward action? Does it feel personal and potent?
6. Make It Visual.
My pick isn’t final until I see the word and its results on the page. What your visual looks like depends on your personality. It could be a color-coded spreadsheet, a diagram, a vision board, a bulleted list, or a free-writing exercise. But viewing how the word branches out to touch on various areas of your life will confirm your word or make you rethink your choice.
7. Announce It (Selectively).
Are you more likely to achieve a goal if you announce it publicly? Some say yes, others say no, and both have some research to back them up. But obviously, if you never put the goal in front of yourself, you won’t do anything with it. So at least post an announcement of your one word for the year somewhere you can see it. Share with others you respect and/or close friends, if that tends to encourage you.
8. Be Willing to Adjust.
If you hit March and your word hasn’t helped you at all, you may need to find another word. Or ditch the whole one-word idea. Maybe this isn’t the year for that, or maybe it’s just not your thing. That’s fine. This approach is supposed to work for you, not the other way around.
One Last Word
It’s not really a Hot, Holy & Humorous blog post if I don’t relate all of this to sex, is it? So, here’s another one-word that might inspire you next year: CRUISE. Yep, that’s right, it’s finally coming—the Hot, Holy & Humorous intimacy cruise. I’ll be hosting a group on a Carnival ship to the Western Caribbean in October 2023.
This event will include:
- Interactive sex-in-marriage workshops on sail days
- Couple’s coaching session with a licensed therapist and certified coach
- Q&A panel with host, guest speaker, and our spouses
- Opportunities to connect with your spouse and with like-minded couples
- Time alone with your spouse to have fun, create memories, and put into practice what you’re learning ~wink, wink~
Details are coming soon (still working on the sign-up page!), but space is limited so make sure you’re subscribed to my blog posts/newsletter to stay updated.