#OneWord to Rule Them All: A Fresh Take on New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again, a time with so much promise as people look forward to a fresh start and new beginnings. The start of a new year is a natural time to reflect on the past and plan for the future, and many people see the new year as a chance to start fresh and make positive changes in their lives. However, despite New Year’s resolutions being the traditional method of starting afresh, there is a more effective method that I’d like you to consider.

For many, making a New Year’s resolution can be a way to set goals and work towards improving oneself and one’s life. It can be a way to take control of your future and make positive changes that can lead to a better life.

Some common reasons for making New Year’s resolutions include:

  1. To improve one’s health and well-being, such as exercising more, eating healthier, or quitting caffeine.
  2. To achieve personal or professional goals, such as improving academic grades, learning a new skill, or saving money.
  3. To make positive changes in one’s life, such as volunteering in the community, spending more time with loved ones, or trying new experiences.
  4. To build better habits or break bad ones, such as waking up earlier, being more organized, or procrastinating less.
  5. To reduce stress and improve mental health, such as practicing mindfulness, taking breaks, or seeking help when needed.

However, New Year’s resolutions are a notoriously poor method of self-improvement. This article suggests that the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is about 80 percent, with most individuals losing their resolve by mid-February.

There are many reasons why New Year’s resolutions can fail, including:

  1. Setting unrealistic goals that are too ambitious or not specific.
  2. Lack of motivation or commitment.
  3. Not making a plan.
  4. Lacking support from friends and family.
  5. Not being flexible.

10 years ago, I discovered the #OneWord concept that switched my thinking away from setting a New Year’s resolution and towards something much more straightforward, forgiving, and effective for me. So, as in years past, I will be choosing a #OneWord to guide me through the year ahead, and I’ll share with you the reasons why you should choose a #OneWord too.

Resolution. It’s a strong, demanding word. It screams, I must! It’s a demand that we place upon ourselves, and there is no room for failure. Yet, failure is pretty much inevitable. Most of us simply don’t respond to this word, and when we don’t, we feel disappointed in ourselves–even ashamed.


The theory behind the idea of identifying a single guiding word is that it points us toward the type of person we want to become. And unlike a resolution, a single word can’t be broken. I visualize this as a word that sits on my shoulder and gently nudges me towards a more improved version of myself. In this article by Nicole Dean, she suggests that you decide what one thing, if applied to every area of your life, will have the most impact and bring the most positive changes into your life. Then you work to apply that word to every area, situation, and task in which you find yourself. I have had much success with the #OneWord concept and will reveal my chosen word for 2023 later in this post.

So how does one identify the #OneWord to guide them over the coming year? You could be inspired by the choice of others. Last year over 800 people shared their #OneWord with me, and you might be inspired by this top 10 list from 2022. The words confidence, resilience, strength, passion, discipline, focus, courage, hope, persevere, and adventure all relate to personal qualities or characteristics that are often associated with mental or emotional fortitude, determination, and the ability to overcome challenges.

You can take this quiz if you need more inspiration before selecting your word. After responding to a few prompts, you will be provided with ideas to help narrow down your final selection. Here are the words that I have selected since discovering the #OneWord concept. Some have been more successful than others, but ALL have moved me closer to the person that I want to become.

Once I have chosen my word, I put it into action in a number of ways. I’ve blogged many times about my #OneWord experiences and I’ll continue to share my word with readers, my students, and friends and family. I know that if I share my word widely, then I have to commit to it. Plus I’ll also have the benefit of others nudging me towards a better version of myself.

One great tip to ensure success is to keep your word prominent in your daily life. Some people turn their word into a phone wallpaper, or frame it and hang it on their wall. My reading and podcast listening will revolve around my word as I discover the ways in which it can be interpreted and applied to my life. Additionally, I like to get creative and pin quotes and artwork pertaining to my word above my desk, also adding some to my iWatch face. Keeping your word prominent will inspire you and help inform the choices you make.

Tara Parker-Pope of the Washington Post recommends that you consider your values before selecting your #OneWord.

Value-oriented words (such as family, love, kindness, compassion, friendship, optimism, fitness, leadership) are a good place to start when choosing a word. Browse this word list of core values for inspiration.

What’s Your Word of the Year?

If you share your #OneWord2023 with me via this google form, using the power of add-ons, you will be immediately sent some images like the one above, but with your #OneWord2023 embedded in it! You can use the images to save and share with others. *This might not work if your email address filters out emails from outside of your network.*

Get your personalized #OneWord image here.

And so to my chosen word for the year. I was very optimistic at the start of 2022 and chose REFRESH as my #OneWord. I vowed to start anew in all areas of my life and be more open to new experiences, saying yes when asked to try new things. Unfortunately, I said ‘yes’ to coming out of basketball retirement after many years, tore my Achilles tendon and spent a year recovering. In my recent blog post, “10 Prompts to Help Reflect on the Your Year“, I described 2022 as more challenging than any other I’ve known. The injury knocked my confidence, and the pandemic has led me to close my circles of influence and focus on the family, friends, and students in front of me. So, as I face the coming 12 months in a healthier state, I have chosen EXPANSION as my #OneWord2023. I want to broaden my horizons, widen my music and reading tastes, eat more expansively from new cultures, and visit new locations.

I can embrace EXPANSION as I travel to new states to present at conferences. I can EXPAND my circle of influence by seeking out positions of leadership and responsibility within my communities. I can EXPAND my horizons by trying new things, and EXPANSION can extend to building and maintaining strong relationships with friends, family, and loved ones to help me feel more connected and fulfilled. Mental and emotional EXPANSION can involve engaging in activities that help me process and manage my emotions.

Look out for new EXPANSION quotes, check on my EXPANSION-themed playlist (see below), and requests for reading materials to help me EXPAND in 2023.

Now it’s your turn. What #OneWord will YOU choose to guide you in the year ahead?

If you liked this post you’ll also appreciate 10 Prompts to Help Reflect on Your Year AND 10 Prompts to Help Look Ahead to Next Year.

You might also like this New York Times article ‘What’s Your Word of the Year?’ by Tara Parker-Pope.

If you’re looking for reading inspiration for the year ahead, you should check out the titles chosen as our Books of the Month!

Here are a few questions for you to consider this week:

Q1: What steps have you already taken towards embracing your #oneword2023? #slowchathealth

Q2: Which areas of your life will be affected by your #oneword2023? #slowchathealth

Q3: With whom will you share your #oneword2023? #slowchathealth

Q4: How will you know if your #oneword2023 was a success? #slowchathealth

3 thoughts on “#OneWord to Rule Them All: A Fresh Take on New Year’s Resolutions

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