Choosing a word that acts as your guide is a fundamental part of Circles of Life rings.  To help people choose their word I created a Word Guide for people to download.

I recently discovered a book, ‘One Word that will change your life’, which elaborates on the power and value of choosing One Word and offers a simple process of finding it.

This post outlines the ideas in this book, including the three step process to finding your One Word.



The secret to life change


Written by three friends, Dan Britton, Jon Gordon and Jimmy Page, ‘One Word that will change your life’ gives examples of the power of choosing and living by a single word. The book claims “it will help you become the person you were born to be”.

The book mostly promotes a practice of choosing a new word at the beginning of each year and living into that word over the year.  “By living a single word that is meant for you, you’ll find renewed purpose and meaning through the year and achieve laser like focus and power for your life”.  Having a One Word vision or theme is described as “the secret to life change”. 

Choosing a word at the start of each year is contrasted to the less successful practice of setting new year’s resolutions.  The difference with choosing a word is that we are setting a ‘to-be goal’, what we want to become, as opposed to setting ‘to-do goals’, which are about what we want to accomplish.  Part of the power of One Word is its clarity and simplicity.  Each of the authors tells stories of how powerful the One Word concept has been in their own lives and the lives of those around them.  



Three steps to One Word


The One Word process involves three steps: 1. Prepare your heart  2. Discover your word  3. Live your word.  Following is a detailed explanation of each of these steps.


Step One: Prepare your heart (look in)

This is a process of taking the time and space to look inside.  It means taking time out of our busy lives to be still and open our heart.  As the authors point out, this does NOT have to only happen at the start of the year.  They recommend going through this process whenever you are ready, and to simply choose another word at the start of the next year.  I would suggest that your One Word can in fact span a longer time than one year, although I understand the clarity inherent in choosing a fresh word for each year, as well as the opportunity to check in with your life to see how things are going and what needs attention.  As part of preparing your heart and looking in the authors suggest following two simple steps: (1) Unplug, and (2) Ask.  

Taking the time to unplug and find some solitude may be challenging, but it is extremely important.  The book quotes: “A word with power is a word that comes out of silence”.

The next step for preparing your heart, while unplugged, is to ask the following questions:

  1. What do I need? (what areas of your life need the most change and why?)
  2. What’s in my way? (What is preventing me from having what I need?)
  3. What needs to go?

In asking the first question, “What do I need?”, it is helpful to contemplate on which of the areas of your life need the most change, and why.  This can help to highlight which aspects of your life need attention and I found that this part of the process was really helpful for me.  Reflecting on the six areas of life; spiritual, physical, mental, relational, emotional, and financial, can help to reveal areas that need attention and start the process of coming up with some possible words.

The second question, ‘What’s in my way?’, involves looking for obstacles preventing your growth.  Asking the question “What is preventing me from having what I need?” is suggested as a way to reveal what we feel is stopping us.  This was a powerful question for me as ‘self expression’ came up as a big issue for me and the word I finally came up with was ‘EXPRESS’.  

The third question, ‘What needs to go?’, can help to highlight things that we need to let go of in order to move forward.

Asking these three questions, with an open and inquiring heart, helps to create the conditions for your word to appear.


Step Two: Discover your word (look up)

The authors describe this part of the One Word process as where you receive your word – “After preparing your heart, all you have to do is plug in and listen up.  Then God will reveal your word to you.”

I am a spiritual person, but after a childhood filled with fear from a fire and brimstone God, along with a fiercely independent personality, I tend to shy away from organised religion.  However, I appreciate the essence of this step, which involves letting go and opening up to receiving.  This ‘plugging in’ process is specifically referred to as making time for prayer.  It is suggested that ‘during your prayers, ask God to take control’, and to ‘ask God to reveal the word that is meant for you’, asking “What do you want to do in me and through me?”.

Each person will have their own way of asking for their word.  The power of this step is that it takes it away from being a mental process, and opens up the opportunity for inspiration to guide you.  Having asked, the next step is to listen.  Your word may be revealed to you in a number of ways such as while reading, in a dream, in prayer or during daily activities.


Step Three: Live your word (look out)

This final step where you live your word, which often involves stepping out of your comfort zone.  As the book explains, the yearlong process of living your word may start with obvious areas that could be improved, with more difficult areas of life change coming later.  

Staying focused on your word throughout the year is very important and there are many ways of doing this.  Posting your word in prominent places is recommended.  Circles of Life rings are an ideal way to see your word every day.  Having your word on display in your home or as a screensaver on your computer or phone are other ideas.  Recording weekly insights and lessons about your word into a journal is another suggestion.  Other suggestions include finding sayings, quotes or a song that relate to your word, having weekly discussions about your word or writing a poem or a prayer.  The book also recommends sharing your word with a  ‘Stretch Team’ – close people who you trust and who will stretch you and help you to grow and help to keep you accountable.  The two main points, therefore, for achieving growth with your word are to “post your word prominently and share it with others”.



Share the Power


The book ends with a rally cry to share this One Word concept with others as a group activity, giving many examples of where this has been done successfully with families, schools, businesses, workplaces, sports teams, and organisations.  



My One Word


In going through this process, the word I came up with was EXPRESS.  Expressing myself, especially verbally, is something I have not had a lot of practice at in my lifetime.  And the truth of how your word can have you step out of your comfort zone and open up difficult areas of life change is very front and centre right now after I spoke out of line last weekend and have been feeling the sadness and shame of my transgression ever since.  There is no doubt that for me this is a word that I have a lot to learn from.  



In conclusion


This book gives a very comprehensive account of the life-changing power of choosing a word to live by for each year.  The process described in the book for finding your word is simple and powerful.  It is a process of opening up your heart, asking and listening for the word you need, and then opening up to the lessons that your word brings over the course of the year.  It is ultimately a process of clarity, alignment, stretching and growth.

I would love to hear your word if you have one, and anything else you’d like to share.


With gratitude,






‘One Word that will change your life’ on Amazon

One Word website