A new year is a perfect opportunity to make changes in your life, but New Year’s resolutions are notoriously easy to break. According to Mike Ashcraft, there are two main reasons the average resolution is ineffective:

“They’re vague; they don’t have any kind of real, sticky actions steps to them. And even more importantly, a lot of our resolutions are based on what we wish we didn’t do. We want to be more organized, not for some visionary reason, but because we’re tired of being unorganized. It’s almost a response to the things that we regret.”

Instead, Ashcraft suggests a different strategy: pick one word that encapsulates the change you’d like to see in your life over the next year.

How does condensing your vision for change into just one word make a difference?

“The difference is that My One Word focuses on the future, and it embraces a process. Resolutions are typically promises that we make ourselves; by the end of January, we’ve broken them and then we feel like a failure, and the solution is just wait until next January to start over. Whereas this process assumes starts and stops, successes and failures, and those failures never become end points–they’re just part of the process by which God forms us more closely into His image.”

He says it’s critical to shift our goals from what we want to do, to who we want to be.

“I think we all know that who we become is far more important than what we do, because that’s what affects all the relationships around us, and ultimately it affects what we do and (more importantly) why we do the things that we do. That’s why it’s really important to stop all of the pressure (to do).

Ashcraft says choosing your one word for the year isn’t an instant reaction–it’s a process that requires you to think about who you really want to become.

“Say I yell at my kids, and my New Year’s resolutions are going to have something to do with not yelling.  Then what you want to do is to try and determine what kind of person you would have to become for that behavior to be unthinkable to you.”

“That’s what makes the one-word process so rich: you begin to focus on the kind of person that you long to become, and ultimately that God wants us to become, has created us to become.”

Mike Ashcraft is senior pastor at Port City Community Church in Wilmington, NC. He’s the co-author of the book, . Find more information and resources at the My One Word website.

My One Word with Mike Ashcraft