Setting New Year resolutions with one word

Setting New Year Resolutions

Sticking to Year-Long Goals with One Word
Setting new year resolutions has always been an exciting time of year for me. Extravagantly mapping out desires for different categories, vision boarding and writing down all the areas where I’d like to grow — I’ve tried all the methods for setting goals. Unfortunately discipline is not my gift. This frustration of setting really great goals and then not following through led me down a new path 6 years ago. Instead of planning the year out (and honestly losing motivation by February), I began using one word or phrase to vision for my year. Guess what my first year’s vision was? FOLLOW-THROUGH.

Choosing one word keeps me watchful all year long because I can easily remember where to put my focus. A unexpected blessing is, I noticed setting a simple, yet attainable goal actually shapes multiple areas of my life – with one word.

For example, two years ago, my word was Freedom. I watched for opportunities as this word read my life better than i could. There was opportunities for freedom in letting go of the security I find in money and choosing generosity. Opportunity for God to reveal where I was unwilling to grow or acknowledge hurt. Freedom to love differently then I had before by recognizing expectations in relationships that killed intimacy. Also, I was lead to look more closely at my coping habits and choose healthier options.

All of this awareness and growth came from looking for Freedom all year long AND expecting to find it. It also required taking new actions based on where I wanted to end up. This one word undoubtedly developed my character; but did you see how it also impacted my finances, relationships and personal growth?

So how do you choose your one word? If you’re a fellow over-thinker, that can feel daunting. Here’s a few steps to walk through as you consider setting new year resolutions!

Step 1

Begin reflecting on your past year. Reflect in whatever way keeps you focused: meditating, writing, talking it out, etc. Don’t just focus on your goals from last year. Where you see growth? How about challenges? Coping strategies, spirituality, financially, relationships and personal development are great areas to reflect on as well! The goal here is twofold:

1. CELEBRATE this past year and where you’re proud of yourself!

2. GET CURIOUS about how the past year may be guiding you to inform your next year. Be cautious of shame traps. Reflection simply gives you information and wisdom for areas to pay attention to.


Step 2
Be observant for themes and words that show up again and again. SPOILER: You don’t have to know all of your goals going into a new year. Sometimes a word hasn’t come to me until February. You’re not trying to set goals for the sake of completing a task, you’re looking for a guidepost. Stay watchful for words and ideas that are jumping out to you. Notice if it makes you pause. If your body has a reaction and something ignites in your spirit.

Example: Often times when I’m looking for a pattern for my vision word, it first shows up in a conversation I have with someone that I can’t stop thinking about. Then in a book or scripture I’m reading, or a song. Maybe I’ll see it somewhere random I never noticed before. All of these instances are confirming that I’m on the right track. Psst… this is how the Holy Spirit speaks to me, and it’s okay if it’s not the same for you. If you experience or hear from God in a different way, follow His leading.

Tip: I’m usually observant for a word for no less than three weeks!


Step 3 

“But how do I know it’s the right word?” Maybe a few have come to mind and you’re unsure. Focusing on a vision word or phrase is about trusting yourself and leaning into faith. I’ve doubted my word all the way into May and seen God bring breakthrough in November. Guess what? If you choose a word and it doesn’t carry you through the year, nobody died. It’s okay, I promise! Anything character building isn’t an instant fix, it’s slow, steady intentionality. Here’s a few useful filters to run your word through to discern if it’ll lead to the transformation you’re desiring:


  1. Does it challenge you, not just inspire you?
  2. Do you already know exactly what you want to do with it? Then it’s too simple. A vision word is all about going on an expedition because there’s so much unknown about how that word interplays with your life.
  3. Imagine how this word could potentially impact multiple areas of your life. This opens your imagination to not limit the word to where you think it may take you first (guilty!).
Step 4

I’m prayerful about my word for the year because I don’t want it to be my hopes and dreams, but something beyond me that’s powerful and directive toward purpose. I would actually tell you, I don’t choose my word. I know when the word sits in my spirit with a little (or a lot) of uncertainty that it’s the right one. Honestly, I rejected my word ‘Overcome’ a few years ago through April because I didn’t want to go where I was sure it was leading (See prompt 3 in step 3). And why? Because I knew it’d be hard. I couldn’t see how God could possibly use it for any other area of my life except the one I didn’t want to be touched.

Sometimes it’s right because it feels risky. Just enough unknown to feel inspiring AND challenging.


Friend, you’re made for purpose. Seek it!

By focusing in on one word or phrase, I’m able to remember my goal and be watchful for how it shows up all year long. It doesn’t mean I won’t go a whole three weeks without thinking about it sometimes, but dang when it shows up again, my spirit is filled with passion and awe that my path is directed AND there’s encouragement with every step from the One who created me to do bold things.

So what’s your word for this year? I’m over here cheering you on!”

I created something to save you time and brainpower! 

Download my free step-by-step guide: Discover your word for the year

If you’re visual like me and could use some guidance on setting new year resolutions with one word, this is for you. Work through the short activities to get clarity on listening and following a word choice can transform your next year!

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