How to Pick a “One Word” Focus For The Year

Do you pick a "one word" focus each year? {Image credit: keeweeboy / 123RF Stock Photo; quote: Laurie Wallin}

Do you pick a “one word” focus each year? {Image credit: keeweeboy / 123RF Stock Photo; quote: Laurie Wallin}

I heard about that “one word” idea a few years ago, and loved it instantly. Not because it’s catchy or trendy, but because it’s a great way to aim our energy toward a single biblical principle over time. Focusing on one life-giving word for a full year builds emotional and spiritual endurance. {Tweet this}

It’s tough in our instant-gratification culture to think about anything for any length of time, let alone a single idea that can grow our peace, joy, hope, or patience. It can feel like starting to work out again after years of not doing it! We get emotionally winded, frustrated, maybe even a little stressed or discouraged or bored. But when we choose to focus on our “one word” idea for longer than what’s comfortable, we’ll discover treasures that have eluded us until now.

Maybe you’ve seen the “one word” phrase bouncing around online, feel a tug in your soul to have one of your own, but aren’t sure how to go about it. . .

How to pick a “one word” focus for the year:

Set aside some time to listen to God and to your life. Consider a few questions: What’s going well? What’s not? What’s still bugging you since last New Year? What do you keep bumping up against in work, family, or in your own thought life? What do you long to experience in your life. . . with God? Write down some words or phrases that come to mind as you consider these questions. Keep the list handy over the next week.

Fast from something to make space for inspiration. Choose to give up something for this seeking week—whether a TV show, favorite snack, or other indulgence. For me, it’s usually the nightly TV or some unnecessary part of my diet like sweets. We’ve only got so much time and attention, after all, and as in any other area of life, saying no to something lets me say a bigger yes to what matters most. The more good material we soak our minds in, the more opportunity for us to stumble upon important ideas to give us direction and focus.

Share your budding “one word” inspirations with a few trusted people. Once two or three potential words start to gel in your mind, bounce them off of your spouse, pastor, close friends, even your teen or adult children—people who know you and understand your heart, dreams and values. Ask them to pray alongside you as you seek this year’s “one word” theme.

The benefit of sounding boards is two-fold: they can give feedback to crystalize the one word idea that would most grow and support you this year AND they can be the people who pray and walk alongside you in exploring it. Bonus!

Above all, give yourself grace. If a year on one word seems daunting, perhaps just focus on a fruit of the Spirit or a name of God each month instead. {Tweet this}

Here’s to a year of focused growth, healing, and relationships!

Question: Do you choose a “one word” focus for the year? What’s yours for 2014? How did you choose it?


P. S. Just in case you’re wondering, mine’s “Loved.” You’ll probably see some posts throughout the year on different ways that’s unfolding. 🙂

Share the love. . .Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on FacebookEmail this to someonePin on PinterestPrint this page


  1. Jenny Hassenfritz says

    This is my 3rd year doing this and God has been so faithful in making the word a integral part of my walk each year without any real effort on my behalf. Its been life changing. My word for 2014 is pursue. I am praying & opening my heart to where ever God leads me to pursue! 🙂

  2. Jennifer says

    I do something similar every year. I listen for “the year of” type themes in prayer in December. This year for me is the year to move forward. [after a very difficult last year] Great post!

  3. says

    My word chose me several months ago. I had a few more ideas pop up in November and December, but when January 1 rolled around, the original word was what stuck.


    I struggle with being fully present in the moment. For the last few months, I’ve been trying to focus on ONE THING.

    Also, I struggle with looking to other people or things or habits to fill me when I feel empty. I want to remember that there is only One who meets my needs.

    I’m sure more meanings will surface…those are the two intentional ones right now!