One Word Can Change Your Year

By Guest Contributor

Posted @ Jan 03, 2019

There is something motivating about the beginning of a new year that makes us want to start again, with a promise to do better than last year. Millions of Americans take up the annual ritual of setting New Year’s Resolutions. We are hopeful and excited as we review our list of ambitious goals. Only to watch in bewilderment and frustration as they sink into a black hole—never to be seen again until next year. Research shows over 40% of those who make resolutions will give up before the end of January and less than 10 percent will achieve them.

Let’s put an end to this futile practice and ditch the list of resolutions. What if I told you there was a better way, would you be interested? Well, there is. Choose just One Word! One that clarifies your focus and sustains your intentions for 365 days of the year. It focuses on who you want to become instead of what you are trying to overcome.

I learned about this concept while attending a coaching association meeting back in January 2017. It was discussed in the book: “One Word that will change your life by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page at I was intrigued, but skeptical.

We went around the room sharing our word and why we choose it. I had chosen the word “commitment.” It was a good word but it wasn’t the right word for me because I hadn’t really gone through the 3 Step process as outlined in the book. Luckily, every year we get the opportunity to pick a new word. In January 2018, I followed the process and decided on “Courageous.” Oh, what a Difference a Word can Make!

Before I share one of my personal experiences with you, let me give you a modified version of the Three-Step Process to finding your One Word.

Step 1:  Prepare Your Heart: Look In

Take time to unplug from the noise and distractions of daily life. Quiet your mind and really listen to your heart. Ask yourself these questions and write down your insights:

  • What do I need? This isn’t necessarily about what you want but rather what you truly need. What areas of your life need the most change and why?
  • What’s in my way? What is preventing me from having what I need? Sometimes the barriers may be just in our heads.
  • What needs to go? We may be held hostage by past mistakes, pain, or anger. Identify the things you need to let go of in order to move forward.

Step 2:  Discover Your Word: Look Up

It’s time to plug into the highest part of yourself to receive your word. The part that inspires and understands you at the highest level. Take the time to listen to yourself, whether that’s a day, a week, a month or more. If several words come to you, write them down. Take them for a test drive—get a sense of what it would be like to live them for a year. Pick the word that most deeply resonates with you.

Step 3:  Live Your Word: Look Out

Now you are ready to live your word out loud. Integrate into your daily life by posting your word in prominent places, sharing it with your trusted inner circle, make it a screensaver or come up with your own creative ways. It’s essential to remember and focus on your word throughout the year. Life’s stress and challenges may cause you to forget your word, if you let them. The more you use it, the more powerful it becomes in guiding your actions.

As I mentioned, courageous is my word, which I used recently when I attended a business networking event. It was kind of unique experience as they gave us a guide to walk us through the various activities. There were food stations, candle making and photographers taking pictures. However, I hate my picture being taken and avoid it whenever possible. Yet, I was here to build my business and be seen, hiding in the closet really wasn’t the best option. So, I asked myself what would I do if I were courageous? It turns out I participated in all the activities, including an embarrassing set of pictures where I had to dress up wearing a princess crown with a glittery scarf rapped around my neck.

I shared this experience with the executive of the association that put on this event. She loved it and immediately invited me to speak on this topic at their Women’s Business Meeting. Also, to be the facilitator at their Book Club. I’m convinced—this process Works! How about you! Would it be worth a try?

New Year Resolutions are grounded in “To-Do” goals and achievement is based on what we accomplish. One Word are grounded in To-Be goals and achievement is based on who we BECOME.


Linda Selner Vasquez is a Branding Strategist, Speaker and Certified Professional Coach (CPC). She is the founder of Branding Your Passion strong>(, which provides guidance to propel companies and individuals to transform their passion and purpose into unique and marketable brands. She has over 15 years of successful corporate Branding, Marketing and Communications experience. She holds an MBA, a B.S. in Marketing and a A.S. in Respiratory Therapy. She donates a portion of profits to animal charities.

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