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One Powerful Word 2012: A Simple Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

Note:  This is a revision of an article originally published on my blog last December. 

I love the simplicity, force, and focus of choosing a single word as a guiding light for each year.

One Powerful Word 2012

According to some surveys, almost 90% of resolutions end in failure.  So why not skip the exhaustive list of New Year’s Resolutions?

The truth is there’s a physiological limit to the amount of willpower we each have.  Hence, if you try to change too many things at once, you inevitably fail.  It’s a scientific reality.

Instead, consider the simplicity and elegance of selecting one powerful word.

But let’s not get hung up on the idea of “one” word.   You could choose one word or two.  Or a whole phrase.   You could work with your word for a full year, six months, or until its done.  You might decide to focus on a different facet of your word each month.

There are no rules!  It’s your life.  Experiment and find what works for you.

Finding Your Perfect Word

Is there is a single word or a phrase that captures what you would like to manifest in your self or your life in 2012?

A perfect word may immediately pop into your mind.  Or you might need to let the idea percolate for a while.  Then see what bubbles up.  There’s no rush.  It might be easier to see clearly once the chaos of the holidays have passed.  But you can let the idea simmer in the meantime.

These questions may help you with the process of finding your perfect word:

  • Is there a quality you would like to grow in your life?
  • Is there a quality that you would like to diminish?  If so, what’s the opposite?
  • What outcome would you like to see at the end of the year?
  • What activity is primary for the coming year?
  • What change would you like to see in yourself or in you life in the coming year?
  • Can you encapsulate a goal for the year in one word?
  • What do you want your year to look like?

Your word might be eminently practical.  Or it might be creative.  It might be light-hearted.  Or it might be laser-focused.  It simply needs to be the perfect word for you.

Here are some of the words or phrases that my readers entertained or selected in 2011:

  • Balancing Serenity
  • Full Throttle Ahead
  • Bold
  • Compassion
  • Continuous and Never Ending Improvement (CANI)
  • Courage
  • Creativity – Express and Embrace
  • Decide
  • Fearless
  • Flow
  • Growth
  • Healing
  • Just Breathe!
  • Gentle
  • Kindness and Positivity
  • Love
  • Mindfulness
  • Minimalist
  • Nying je – the Supreme Emotion
  • Omipotent
  • Peace
  • Peace and Abundance
  • Present
  • Reconciliation
  • Rise and Shine, Sunshine
  • Simplify and Grow
  • Success
  • Team-Time
  • Trailblaze
  • Passion
  • Void
  • Yield

Here’s a few other sumptuous words that capture my imagination:

  • Serendipity
  • Light-hearted
  • Free-Spirit
  • Dynamic
  • Fearless
  • Confident
  • Aware
  • Awake
  • Dreamlike
  • Whimsical
  • Illusory
  • Intuition
  • Receptivity
  • Time
  • Space
  • Productivity
  • Clarity
  • Eco-Friendly
  • Minimalist
  • Active
  • Nourishment
  • Frugal
  • Moderation
  • Exercise
  • Flexibility
  • Safe
  • Mechanical
  • Manifest
  • Fun
  • Garden
  • Yoga

Interesting phrases and proverbs

  • Wabi Sabi, Embrace the Imperfection (from J. D. Meier at Sources of Insight)
  • Nying je, a Tibetan word which means love, affection, kindness, compassion, gentleness, generosity of spirit, warm-heartedness, sympathy, and endearment altogether.
  • Bien dans sa peau, which is French for “feeling well in your skin”, well in yourself.
  • Kaizen, a Japanese word that means continuous improvement.
  • As easy as pie.
  • Rise and shine.
  • As happy as a clam.
  • This too shall pass.

Unleash the Power of Your Word

A single word can be immensely powerful if you invest in it.  Spend time with your word!  Embrace your word.  Recall it daily. Let it swim in the unconscious waters of your mind.  Meditate on it consciously too.  Let it be the focus you lightly return to again and again.  Let it be the measure of your thoughts and actions.  Your touchstone.  Your guidepost.

At the same time, there’s no need to obsess on your word.  Just have fun with it.

Here are some ways to bring your word alive:

  • Post your word in a visible place around your house.
  • Post your word on a desktop sticky.
  • Reflect on your word.  What does this word really mean to you?
  • Write a story or a poem about your word.
  • Draw a picture or paint a painting about your word.
  • Create a collage about your word.
  • Journal your process and insights as your word sparks evolution in your life.
  • Create affirmations with your word.
  • Blog about your word.

My 2012 Word

My word seems to naturally appear around my birthday, a few months before the New Year sets in.  This makes sense astrologically as new life themes and challenges are often revealed each year in the months surrounding your birthday.

At first “Manifest” caught my attention, the name of my blog theme.

But “Faith” won the prize.  Faith is my one powerful word for 2012.  Faith in myself, in my spiritual path, and in my spiritual teachers.

The word “faith” might sound a bit stodgy or conservative.  But I’m not talking about blind faith.  Rather, I’m speaking about an exuberant, confident faith that comes from both a keen observation of the world as it truly is and a deep inner knowing.

It’s easy for me to get stuck in the display of mind > all the thoughts and emotions.  It’s easy for me to get caught up in the all the circumstances of life and mistake the material world for reality.  I believe “faith” will be the perfect antidote to these delusory habits and the foundation of a more relaxed and joyful life in 2012.

You might also like:  The Secret to One Powerful Word:  A Simple Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions

How do you approach New Year’s Resolutions?  Have you tried the one word approach to New Year’s Resolutions?  What word or phrase will you choose for 2012?

Thank you so much for reading and sharing. If you are new, welcome – you might like to subscribe for free updates by email.

*Word Cloud created at Wordle


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  1. My word last year was “bold.” I am not feeling that at all this year. I am feeling a more, steady, calm, ongoing energy. I would say, that in many ways, I did express that energy in starting new things and venturing out and engaging more fully and fearlessly in life.

    Now, it is all about being persistent, patient and just letting things unfold naturally in time as they will. So, I am going to say “allow” for this years word. To be open to whatever way the universe chooses to manifest in my life.

    • Debbie,

      Persistence and patience are big part of my life at this stage too! We can journey together in that regard. “Allow” is quite profound. I wish you well with it and will love to hear how allowing goes!

  2. Oh my gosh, it’s that time of year again, isn’t it?! I’ve been reflecting on my word this year — yield — and what it has meant to me this year. I have put a few feelers out there, but no word for 2012 has come to me yet. Maybe not till New Year’s Eve, when I go through my end of the year ritual at the cabin. I’m still getting my head around the idea that your post is timely and that this year is coming to a close!

    • Galen,

      I’m completely with you. I posted this article about the same time last year, but this year it seems like 2012 is light years away. Even though it’s just around the corner. I fully understand needing some space and time to get your head around the idea. Will love to see where it goes for you.

  3. Queen Mary

    So have you been to She has a class called “One Little Word.” Each month she sends a prompt, and idea for celebrating, living with your word. Her class is in the form of creating a scrapbook of sorts dedicated to your life with this word. Sometimes the prompt involves photography, sometimes journaling, sometimes seeking.

  4. Sandra,
    I just purchased an early Christmas gift for myself – a sterling silver ring that reads, “Faith.” It circles my finger and reminds me each time I look at it that I must have faith despite what may or may not be happening.

    I agree that to often we ovewhelm ourselves with too many New Year’s resolutions and promises to change our ways, but instead should focus our energy and efforts on choosing one aspect of our lives and make the changes there no matter how small.

    Words, as Maya Angelou states, carry power!

    Wishing you a most wonderful holiday season and New Year!

  5. My 2011 word was “Money,” in hopes of changing my subconsciously obstructive/negative attitude toward it. So far so good, things are definitely heading in the right direction. At the risk of seeming facetious, I could do “More Money” in 2012. It isn’t just about the amount of money, though, it’s about achieving a natural ebb and flow with it, about fair exchange of work/product for money to live on, about achieving a good balance between doing what I love and awareness of what my readers want. So will have to get back to you on this one!

  6. Thanks for the invitation to think about this, Sandra!

    I cheated and picked two words, but they go together really well: Embodiment and Joy. Each week, I’m vowing to do at least one “embodied” activity that will bring me joy. By this, I mean an activity in which I am invited to be fully in my body, and to bring awareness to this experience.

    I actually started this vow a few weeks ago on my birthday, and since then I’ve gone to a “Dance Jam” and joined a gym. Other things I want to do soon: yoga class, Pilates class, NIA, snowshoeing….

  7. Hi Maia,

    Those two words do flow together so well! This could actually be a perfect prescription for me too. I love you commitment to “be fully in my body, and to bring awareness to this experience.” You’ve already taken big steps! Good luck with this. I would love to hear how it evolves for you.

  8. Hi Sandra,
    My word for 2011 was ‘soften.’ I think I did very well. I asked hubs how I did and he laughed. Gotta love his humor.

    2012 word is ‘create.’ I’m going to spend the year creating and I’m thrilled about it. Thanks for posting this or I would have forgot to pick my word!

    • Tess,

      That’s funny! Hubs that is! I’m glad you feel good about your progress with “soften”. You’ve created so much this year related to your blog. Can’t wait to see what “create” brings in 2012. You seem to have a fabulous jump start on the word.

  9. I really like this one word approach. I do delve into goal setting and follow the book ‘your best year yet’ as my annual ritual at the end of December. But I’d like to add a one word theme too 🙂
    I’m going for ‘Action’ for 2012

    • Aileen,

      I believe it can help to mix and match approaches. I’m not opposed to goals at all! I love that you have an annual ritual that serves you well and that this one word approach may enrich it further. Ready to watch you blast into “action.”

  10. Hello Sandra,

    My phrase for 2011, as it turned out, was: Live & love fully while shedding everything not crucial to transformation.

    2012 feels like it will be: deepening strength, faith, and rooting into community.

    This will take the form of creating the products & services I talked about all year, transforming ML&M into a profuse garden of love (literally, technologically, and metaphorically), planning & planting my new garden at my new home, connecting within my local community instead of only my online one, and marrying my love. 🙂

    I look forward to connecting more with you, eloquent beauty that you are. 🙂

  11. Jeanie,

    I like the way you weave a big picture with one phrase. The garden metaphor speaks to much positive growth to come. I love the idea of “rooting” into community. Beautiful!

    I look forward to connecting with you more, as you sow your seeds of love all around you.

  12. I responded to a #reverb11 prompt recently and the word ownership came up right away, but now that I’ve seen “bien dans sa peau” I’m choosing anew!

    With regard to faith, during my recent silent retreat I carried a stone inscribed with the word faith – not a word I use often – that a friend had given to me. But it felt right and it became my companion during those powerful days of silence.

    • Hi Sandi,

      Nothing like a little French flair to light up your new year! I love the idea the stone, Sandi. I’m going to look for one! That would be the perfect companion for me this year. Thanks for the idea. I loved your post on setting intentions for the new year.

  13. Love this idea. “Non-judgmental” is what immediately sprang to mind for me, probably because I try to practice it all the time and know it’s much easier said than done, at least for me. I’ll keep focusing on it.

    Thanks for sharing this idea. And thanks to Lisa Miller for pointing me in your direction.

    • Hi Wendy,

      Oh gosh, “non-judgmental” is such a powerful word! It is easier said than done, but I bet you will make huge leaps having it as your “word” for the coming year. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your word.

  14. Hi Sandra
    I love the one word or phrase idea. Just contemplating what mine might be for 2012. Belief, Commitment, Persistence are all things that I value but I think maybe Forgiveness might be a good option for next year. Forgiveness for myself and others also

  15. Great post! I’m gonig to go with Purify. Purify my body with enough sleep, no added salt, keep up with my workouts, quit smoking. Purify my soul. My mind. My heart – by getting rid of toxic people. I’ve already made my resolutions, but if I go with one word, I’d go with Purify.

  16. monika

    great idea,my phrase for 2012 is “i believe in myself”

    • Glad you like it, Monika. That’s a great phrase. I’m totally behind that one! Good luck with it. And thanks for sharing.

  17. I can’t say enough how wonderful this post was to me. I feel myself lost these days, blogging has become a little difficult and looking for perspective this year. But the one word that stood out for me was Nourishment. I feel the need to Nourish myself. thanks to you, I now know what to do.

    • Cathy,

      I’m happy this post resonated for you. Nourishment has been an important word in my life in recent months too. May you discover the perfect nourishment for you. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

  18. Josephine

    Hi Sandra, the word that springs to mind for me is “connect” – build new connections, stronger connections – with my sisters, my step daughters and grandchildren, my staff, my work colleagues and with myself, my emotions and my health. I will create my goals to achieve this. Thnaks for this spark for my new year focus.

    • Josephine,

      I love the way you are using the word “connect” to expand both outwardly and inwardly. May you weave a beautiful web of connections this year!

  19. hi josephine,i like your word,i wish you all the best and have a great connecting 2012

  20. Hi Sandra – my word is EXPAND: to open up, unfold. The picture I see is great wings unfolding, opening up to take flight. You don’t know how big your wings are unless you expand. I’ll be finding out just how big my wings are this year! Thanks for a wonderful and informative post. Wishing you a joyful, wondrously abundant new year. ~ Lorrie

  21. FREEDOM is my word! I’ve achieved it in many areas of my life but this year I’m particularly focusing on “Freedom from my business!”. Ah the joys of being self-employed! 😉 Thanks for your inspiration!

  22. I guess having a “word” is similar to giving yourself an overlying theme for the year, something that ties in everything we want to change about ourselves
    My word / theme is “be me”
    just to be myself, not be afraid to be myself, or apologetic for who i am
    i’ve put up the strong front for an image, reputation for too long.
    it’s ok to be me
    Noch Noch

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