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On Choosing Your Word

| written by Alece Ronzino | 6 comments

Do you have your One Word for 2020?

Maybe a word has already risen to the surface for you. Or perhaps you have a list of possibilities and feel unsure which to choose. Or maybe you’re still drawing a complete blank and have no clue where to start…

Wherever you are in the process, here are some helpful things to consider when choosing your One Word:

Focus on being rather than doing. Different than resolutions, your One Word isn’t a constant reminder of what you “should be doing”. Instead, it stands to inspire how you want to live. Think about who you want to be, and choose a word that will help you become that.

Be authentic. Your word should reflect YOU, and no one else. It’s easy to listen to others’ words and then pick one that sounds good. But you want a word that’s uniquely yours: a word that resonates with you and calls to you in some way. 

Don’t overthink it. It’s not rocket science and there’s no wrong answer. Don’t over-analyze the process. It’s not about whittling down a long list of potential words; it’s about identifying the one word that keeps coming back to nag at your heart. Stop the hamster wheel in your mind long enough to listen for your word.

Your word can be anything you want. All that matters is that it has personal meaning for you. It can be something tangible or intangible. It can be a thought, a feeling, an action, a character trait. Your word will stand as a reminder, a nudge. Something you can reflect on, that will challenge you, inspire you. A touchstone you can return to time and time again to help you stay the course this year…

You may have a love/hate relationship with your word.That’s okay. You’re choosing a word to help you grow and live with intentionality: it should be challenging. For myself, I know that my word needs to scare me — at least a little.

– – – –

If you’re still feeling stuck, perhaps this journaling exercise will help: 

    1. Spend some time imagining what you want your life to look like. What kind of person do you really want to be by the end of 2020? What state would you like your heart to be in? How about your relationships? Write out the mental picture you imagine.
    2. Write down the characteristics of that person you want to become. Describe him. What’s her heart like? What character traits does he have? What drives her? What are his best qualities?
    3. Make a list of words that sum up that description or that conjure up an image of that vision you started with. It can include nouns (such as peace or joy), adjectives (like thoughtful or brave), verbs (like create or pause) or even prepositions (like with or in).
    4. Then whittle your list down to the few words that resonate most with you. Take some time to look them up in a dictionary, thesaurus, and quotes. Spend some time digging into what the words mean.
    5. Turn them over and over in your heart and mind. Give yourself time to mull over your short list. Try them on—get a sense of what it would be like to intentionally pursue them. Keep your eyes and ears open: are you seeing or hearing any of those words all around you?
    6. Take a deep breath and choose. Just go ahead and decide. Remember that there’s no right or wrong answer here. Simply follow the prompting you sense.

      – – – –

If you already have your word, what tips do you have for others still looking?

If you’re undecided, let us know if any of these suggestions prove to be helpful to you in the process!

After pioneering a nonprofit in South Africa for 13 years, Alece Ronzino now lives in Nashville, TN. She’s a nonprofit communications strategist, freelance copywriter/editor, and the founder of One Word 365. More importantly, she dances in the car, talks with her hands, and makes a mean guacamole. She blogs occasionally but candidly about searching for God in the question marks of life and faith. Follow Alece on Instagram and Twitter, and visit her blog, Grit and Glory.


Iliana: Alece, thank you so much for keeping OneWord365 alive! Your journaling exercise is pretty much the way I arrive at my words. Some may find it easier to join OneWord365 and look through the words others have chosen for 2020 or previous years , and see if any resonate with them, if they get aspired to choose that work for themselves. Like you said, there is no right or wrong answer. My word for 2020 is #Light Happy New Year! Reply

Stephanie Lancaster: How do I look back to see what my #oneword365 for 2019 was? Reply

Katie Bowman: My word is congruent. It is my desire to be more like Jesus. However, too often my actions and words don't reflect that and are not congruent with my beliefs. If, I am congruent I will experience other words that came to mind for my one word, i.e. truth, peace, and joy. Reply

Cindy: My word is courage. I need this to fulfill my dreams before it’s too late. Reply

Tracie Finley: Resilient. Reply

gypsychic4ever: I’m a little late to the game as I’ve never done this before. A year of “Serenity” is what keeps manifesting itself though, so I’m going with that for 2020. Serenity: The state of being calm, peaceful & untroubled. Additional definitions/synonyms for serenity: - Tranquility, - Peace of Mind, - Quietude, - Equanimity, - Steadiness of mind under stress - The absence of mental stress or anxiety. Reply

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