At the beginning of last year I was introduced to the concept of having ONE WORD for the year. Basically, you pick just one word to represent your primary hope or aspiration for the year ahead. It’s meant to represent what you want to achieve, or the area of life you want to grow in. It’s your personal vision, in one word.
Having just one word helps keep you focused, and able to keep on track with this one thing all year long. I was a little sceptical at first – after all, life is too complex to be reduced to just one word, right? – but I decided to give it a go.
My one word for 2019 was TRUST. I had some big hopes and some big concerns as I entered 2019, and I wanted to bring them both under the authority of this one word. This would be my way of learning to trust God more to provide what I dreamed of and to resolve what I worried about.
Here’s how I got on. First, I can say that the exercise itself worked. I found it really helpful. There’s great value in this one word idea.
It’s remarkable how quickly we lose focus on the things we thought were important. I’ve heard that vision ‘leaks’ – that is, you lose it naturally amid the busyness of life – and I think the same is true of both focus and motivation. What we start off in January really excited and purposeful about we often find has deserted us in February or been squeezed out by March.
Life is busy, life is full, it’s easy to lose sight of the important amongst the urgent. One word serves as an anchor for your focus, something you can return to again and again to refocus and re-orient. I used post-it notes with key verses about trusting God on, and my talented wife also drew me an amazing picture of the word TRUST which I kept on display in the living room all year long. Combined with the digitised reminder messages that poked me at regular intervals, all this kept me on track and on message. I never lost track of the trust idea, and with constant reinforcement and mental attention it truly became the theme of my year, woven into every area of my life.
This one word guided my thinking and heightened my self-awareness. It brought me back on track when I started to wander, a solid anchor point for when life buffeted me around. It became an invaluable lens for looking at the world in a different way – trying to see everything in light of my resolve to trust. It birthed all kinds of new prayers and ideas and helped me grow mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
But it’s worth saying that it wasn’t the be all and end all. I made progress in other areas, had other goals and learnt lots in all sorts of ways. None of that distracted from the over-arching one word, though, which was like an umbrella over everything else I did. Having one word doesn’t mean you forget everything else or abandon all other channels of personal improvement, it just means that you don’t allow your focus to become fragmented and spread too thin.
I found that my one word didn’t dominate or displace other things, but in fact bound those other things together. The word TRUST, for me, was the string that bound together a parcel of lots of little pieces of progress.
I found it so helpful that I’m doing it again this year with a different word. I’d definitely recommend it for you too. Why not give it a go? If you struggle to stick by your goals or retain your focus where you want it, this might help.
Think: if you could summarise and encapsulate your vision for the year ahead in just one word, what would it be?
PS. To try it for yourself, check out the ‘One Word That Will Change Your Life’ reading plan on the YouVersion Bible app, or go to https://getoneword.com/.
In my next post I’ll come back to this idea and share what I learned about trust. Stop by again soon to read more.