• Yvette E. McDonald, LCSW

New Year Goals Reimagined


It's January 1st and we all know what that means, right?! It's time for some New Year's Resolutions!!!!!!




This year I'm going to get this done! I'm going to accomplish _______________ (fill in the blank). I'm going to stop _______________ (fill in the blank).


On and on dreams and ideas float around in one's head regarding their hopes and aspirations for the new year. We buy elaborate journals, read blogs, and follow the social media hype of setting goals. We say to ourselves this year it's going to be different. This year I'm going to reach my goals and feel accomplished at the end of the year. The list is expansive, the energy is contagious, the ideas and dreams are invigorating but the reality, the reality of reaching one's goal is a different story.


See, creating goals and the hype around New Year's Resolution is something we hear about all the time and if we are honest it’s become something that is fun to say and at times to create but something we rarely follow through with. According to U.S. News, approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February. What?! It's true 80% by February that's a big percentage of people walking away from their hopes, desires and aspirations for the year. But, I can't say I'm surprised. I myself am not big on goals but recognize the trueness in the saying “if you aim for nothing you’ll hit it every time" and the other one that says “if you fail to plan you are planning to fail” and then there’s “a goal without a plan is just a wish”. So with the conflict of needing to be more intentional and the struggle to keep a New Years resolution, what's my option?


To be honest for awhile I didn't have any options. I was part of the crowd that got all pumped up every year around this time creating resolutions that was going to change my life and make me into a better version of self the following year. I sat in contemplative thought. I determined each year this would be different and I went forward with full intention to carry through with my resolution. However, year after year I would sit in December no closer to my resolution and disappointed that I let another year go by without intention. Then one day in frustration and desperation I came across this concept of ONE WORD. After hearing about what it was all about I was sold and 6 years later still going strong.


So, what is this ONE WORD I speak of?


The One Word approach is a simple, narrowed focus/filter to personal change. This one word becomes the filter in which you examine yourself and your life for an entire year.


Step 1: DETERMINE THE KIND OF PERSON YOU WANT TO BE.

Transition from regret-based decision making to vision-based thinking. Though we may find that regret can be a powerful motivator at times it doesn't stimulate forward moving action like vision. Reflect on who you want to be rather then who you haven't been. Questions for reflection:

  • What are some things you would like to change about yourself?

  • What kind of person (mother, father, employee, boss, spouse, etc.) do you want to become this year?

  • What drives your desire to be this kind of person?

  • Describe the characteristics of this kind of person? Make a list of words based on this description.


Step 2: IDENTIFY THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THAT PERSON.

This is where you will go beyond thinking about behaviors you want to change but the characteristics of the kind of person you want to become.

  1. Ask yourself some basic questions with regards to what you would like. For example would you like to get along better with your husband, boss, peers? Would you like to not be so stressed in your relationship with your spouse and children? Would you like to change the rhythms of your day? Do you dream about a different life that doesn't seem to have you running on empty all the time?

  2. Make a list of the characteristics. Next, describe that kind of person. What characteristics does that person have? Make a list of the characteristics of the person you want to become by describing all the traits and patterns of a person like that. Research those words. Use the dictionary, your Bible, a thesaurus, and/or the internet.


Step 3: PICK A WORD.

Reduce. Define. Choose.

  1. Sit with your list. As you sit with your list the vision should slowly become clearer with regards to the kind of person you want to become. New words will surface. Greater clarity will be achieved. Nouns, adjectives , verbs and adverbs will jump out at you. If you filter life through the lens of your faith pray through the list.

  2. Narrow down your list to three words. Begin marking off words till you are left with 3 words. With these 3 you will unpack the words in order to have an intimate knowledge of what they mean and the possible translation into your life. This process will refine the list in order to allow the one word to rise to the top.

  3. Pick your word. It's the process of unwrapping a present until you get to the gift. The gift being your ONE WORD. A word that is personal and unique to you and that may only make sense to you. If you filter life through the lens of your faith choose a Bible verse that speaks to you about your chosen word. This will provide a foundation of truth you can continually return to and will fuel your hope to change.


According to Mike Ashcraft in his book My One Word the Top Ten Most Picked words are:

  1. Trust

  2. Patience

  3. Love

  4. Discipline

  5. Focus

  6. Faith

  7. Surrender

  8. Peace

  9. Listen

  10. Joy


Once your word is picked you'll need to apply the filter and readjust you're processing for the year, in order to allow for the full assimilation of the word into your everyday. The process of picking your word is great and all however if you don't intentionally keep it at the fore front all your work will be for nothing.


10 ways to Focusing on your word daily and keeping it in front of you:

  1. Create a notecard and place it in your line of vision. Your line of vision can be your dashboard, bathroom mirror, screen saver or any other place that catches your attention daily.

  2. Choose 4 books that help you master your word. Remember books come in all shapes and sizes. If you don't have time to sit and read a paperback check out audible books.

  3. Choose podcasts that help you grow in your word both in knowledge and application.

  4. Be creative. Create a keychain, stepping stone, plaque, t-shirt, etc.

  5. Journal. Have a journal strictly dedicated to your word in which you journal the process of becoming. This journal will contain your journey with this word. Both your setback and accomplishments.

  6. Create a motivation board. Place your one word in the middle of the board and surround it with ways in which you will accomplish it and when you do you can add pictures of the you applying the word to your daily life.

  7. Make it your computer password.

  8. Write it on your social media bio.

  9. Tweet it once a week.

  10. Make it your Facebook status.


Change is possible. Let your imagination run wild with all the possibilities for this year as you apply your one word as your filter for 2020.




Traveling Light Counseling is in the heart of Port Saint Lucie, FL and easily assessable from both Vero Beach and Martin County due to our close proximity to US1 and the Turnpike. I am committed to helping individuals be the best version they can be, even in the storms of life.



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​© 2015 by Yvette E. McDonald, LCSW.

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