Monday, January 01, 2018

Why the One Word Challenge is Important

Happy New Year!  The celebrations have ended, and today will be a lovely respite before returning to the regular schedule tomorrow.

Today, however, I'm feeling a little behind the eight-ball.  Not with celebrating (although I did a good deal of that with a plethora of chocolate!).  No, late in choosing my One Word.  One Word to live by in 2018.

What is this One Word Challenge phenomenon?  It is simply, yet deliberately, choosing a word which will be the objective of how to live in the New Year.

Alece Ronzino, from her website, encourages people to choose One Word because it is "one word you can focus on everyday, all year long . . . One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.  It will take intentionality and commitment, but if you let it, your one word will shape not only your year, but also you.  It will become the compass that directs your decisions and guides your steps."

For me, it was recognizing that choosing One Word isn't so much about the doing, as it is with New Year resolutions, but instead much more about the becoming.

The resource I found incredibly helpful was Margaret Feinberg's One Word Guide.  It is available now at her website,, and I highly recommend it.  For the past two years, this free guide has helped me discover the right word and put it into practice.

Why is taking the One Word Challenge important?  Because it is an exercise in creating purposeful,  yet more attainable life changes. 

Choosing One Word for the year is certainly more preferable to me than New Year Resolutions.  Resolutions have the tendency to weigh me down and create unreasonable standards.  However, taking the One Word Challenge makes starting the New Year a little more . . . sane.

Once I've selected an appropriate and hopefully a life-changing word, I've realized that it vital to keep it in daily focus throughout the year.  Here are a couple of my own recommendations:

1.  Use a journal . . . or not.  A journal is a common method for making notes and recording results for the year's word.  However, because some people are just not the journaling type, a visual concept, like a vision board, may do the trick. (Just google images for "vision board ideas" for an abundance of samples.)  I have a friend who has "Vision Board Party" at the beginning of the year: a creative time with others, collectively creating vision boards.  Designing a vision board -- or creating a board on Pinterest -- is a possible solution.

During the year, I use a journal for my personal Bible study and reflection, and I dedicate the first few pages of a brand new journal to write about my chosen word: why I chose that particular word, what I think it will mean to me in the coming year, and possibly one or two Scripture verses to memorize.  Throughout the year, when I am convicted by a daily devotion, find a nugget in a book that I'm reading, or discover something on social media that emphasizes my One Word, I will copy it into my journal, marking the page with a tab so it can easily be referred to again when I need to refocus.

2.  Find a community . . . or not.  At, there is a signup to "find your tribe," a group of people who have chosen the same word and want to connect with like-minded people with similar goals.  While connecting with online or local friends for support is appropriate for many, it isn't necessary to share the One Word journey with others. For 2017, my One Word represented something that I needed in my life, a trait that would only be possible with some intentional time with God as I worked out and prayed out things that today are still too personal to share.

This year in our homeschooling, I plan to have the Youngest choose One Word for the year, which I think will help him manage and work through situations that are currently tedious and frustrating for him.

Having One Word for the year may seem overly simple and incompatible when it comes to setting work or business goals. However, because the One Word is more about a personal transformation, it can certainly be advantageous in relation to active, strategic plans.  Living by One Word may help focus responses, actions, and motivation, creating the more desirable results.

The One Word Challenge has become an important exercise for me every year, as I desire to become all that God wants me to be.  It's my hope that you will also take the One Word Challenge toward an exciting transformation in 2018!