New Year’s Family Activity: One Word for the New Year

You may have heard of this new simplified alternative to New Year’s Resolutions–One Word, Guiding Word or Powerful Word…. I’m sharing below how you can make it a New Year’s Family Activity: One Word for the New Year.


I love this idea it’s simple and easy to remember.

No matter what we call it: New Year’s resolutions, One Word, New Year’s Goals, Guiding word, Guiding Verse… we all have a deep need to reexamine our life and set assail for the new year.

Our first year of marriage, me and the hubs decided to come up with a New Year’s Bible verse as a guide for our family. New Year’s Resolutions only created wistful longings and self-induced pressure so we came up with “Goals’ (yes, they’re somewhat different from New Year’s Resolutions) for our marriage and for our family. It was a lovely idea and we did it for the first 8 years of our marriage but somewhere along the third child our life got a little bit more joyously chaotic and we lost track.

As a mother of three, I feel a desire to reflect as a family.  I enjoy carving this time out, so that we can share with each other what the Lord has done, where He has taken us, and how He has used us. In it we discuss our failures and what we have learned from them and in light of all of that to share how we want to move forward in the new year.

New Year’s Family Activity: One Word for the New Year

How we choose one word with our kids

My kids are old enough to ponder this with us but not on their own. So the best way for us to do this is for me to ask them some reflecting questions as a family and list them.  I give them some concrete examples and after we make a list of things.  We then narrow down the list to 3 things with a similar theme and have them pick one. We have also used this printable, “Looking Back at the Year” that helps them ponder the year.

Here are some examples of our questions:

  • What do you want to do or enjoy this year?
  • What do you want to work on? (we had 3 areas: spiritual, personal and family/home)
  • Name some of your favorite family activities that we did last year?
  • What are some things you would like to try as a family in the new year?

Don’t worry if it’s a phrase and not One Word, just let them go with it. Once we narrowed down our list with the kids to 3 words/phrases they picked one of them. We wrote it down on foam sheets and posted them on the wall in a visible and high trafficked place, the kitchen. Just remind them their One Word should be positive. Below I share some examples of One Word you can use.

One Word, New Year's resolution, guiding word

Choosing Your Guiding Word

Last year, I came up with a guiding word for myself: thankfulness. It was on my heart around November of 2011 and that is how I wanted to enter the new year, with thanksgiving in my heart. It wasn’t written anywhere or for that matter shared with anyone. It was my own little secret guiding word. It was lovely to focus on one word, so after this I was set on  sharing this wonderful idea with the family, a Guiding Word for our life.

So what is a “Guiding Word” or “One Word”? It can be so many things to so many people but this is how I came up with mine.

It’s a word that entails:

  • Reflects where you have been and you want to be.
  • It reflects your passion in life.
  • It’s a word that pushes you to the edge of your fears.
  • It reflects your values and morals.
  • It gives you strength.
  • It provides guidance.
  • It resonates deep in your soul.
  • It challenges you.
  • It will bring joy.
  • It will bring tears and frustration.

Ponder what you think you would like to see at the end of 2013. What you want your year to look like. What did you struggle with in the past year and you want to see a change.

After reflecting on the above jot down some of the words that come to mind and then pick one. If you still dont’ have an aha moment put all of these words suggested below in a bowl and pick one.

You may find yourself facing some strong resistance with your word but many times in life that brings growth. Enjoy it, just because it hurts a little and challenges us outside of ourselves, it doesn’t mean you picked the wrong word. For example, If you are ruled by your calendar, everything needs to be scheduled kind of person. Then you may think: I just need to learn to enjoy life as it comes. I need to learn to go with the flow. Then maybe your word is: Flexible. If you need to use two words or a phrase go with it. Don’t get bogged down on not being able to narrow it down to one word. One reader shared how she made an acronym for her one word: PLOW Pray, Love, Obey and Worship.

Here are some words to help you get started:

Clarity, Endurance, Hope, Simplify, Health, Passion, Family, Release, Love, Grace, Rest, Compassion, Growth, Truth, Presence, Kindness, Reflect, Change, Creativity, Courage, Strength, Faith, Live, Confidence, Freedom, Gratitude, Balance, God, Spontaneity, Content, Grow, Learn, Fearless, trailblazer, Reconciliation, Peace, Flexible, Dream, Dare, Fun ….

Now go embrace your word, there is great power in one word. Write it down, blog about it, share it, reflect on it and above all else be true to it.

Want more?

Stop by and check out our other New Years Activities: Countdown with Fizz Fun in champagne glassesNew Years Family Reusable Time Capsule Activity with 2 great printable options, New Year’s Balloon Countdown (printable and activities)

What’s your guiding word/one word for the new year?

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  4. Somehow I saw myself in your post and what 2012 brought. For me, it was also about “thankfulness.” It was also about hope, love, second chances. It was of laughter and tears, both made me realize I am so human and be so vulnerable. Vulnerability that lead me back to faith. Wishing you and your family a blessed 2013.

    • Island Traveler,

      I am so glad you stopped by and shared with me your experience. Wow, it’s amazing what God uses us to bring us back to Him. I am thankful, you once again found faith and I also wish you the a blessed 2013. ~Mari

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