From 12 Big Words to 365 Little Things

in , by Stephanie, December 30, 2020

Right about now, many of us are thinking hard about one word that could guide our actions in 2021. First coined by Ali Edwards, the practice of choosing a one-word mantra for the coming year mindfully ushers in new mindsets to celebrate a new year and maybe even a new identity. 

I’ve been practicing the one word movement for a while and my past words include love, savor, matter, purpose and joy. But this year is different. I won’t just have one word….I’ll have twelve, instead. Twelve little words with big intentions to guide me throughout the year. Here’s why:

My one word for 2020 was design. I wanted to design a personal and professional life that brought me joy, satisfaction and happiness. And that one little word served me well…until the pandemic hit. I went from being in a mindful state of design to a mindless state of survival: Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting, virtual learning at home, roaming store to store to find toilet paper and dealing with the fear around all of it. 

My one word that was previously so perfect just didn’t feel right anymore. So, even though I am a rule-follower, I changed it. Often. My one word went from design to survive to breathe to flexibility to connect to rest to memories and more, all over the course of a few months. My word changed when the world changed and now, I plan to welcome that flexibility in 2021 rather than pretend it will not be needed. 

So this year, I am choosing one word with big intentions to guide each month of 2021 instead of one word to last the entire year through. And those twelve big words will turn into 365 little things with my One Little Thing™ notebook, too. 

Let me explain.  

Frustrated from years of choosing a one-word mantra only to lose steam after about a month or so, I needed a way to mindfully bring my one word into my daily life. So I turned to what I always turn to when I need to work through a problem: my notebook. I challenged myself to practice one little thing each day that could bring my daily actions in alignment with my daily mantra. I purchased a small notebook and colorful gel pen that held permanent space on my bedside table. Each night, I captured one little thing I did that day that brought me closer to my one word. Some nights, this was easy. And others, it was excruciatingly difficult. But regardless, it kept my chosen word at the forefront of my mind and reminded me to mindfully plan to live it into existence, even if it changed throughout the year. 

And it worked. 

So this year, I plan to take my 12 big words and turn them into 365 little things in my One Little Thing™ notebook and I invite you to come along on this journey with me in three easy steps: 

  1. Choose a one-word mantra to guide the first month of the year. Don’t plan ahead, just take one month at a time. And if you end up keeping a word for more than one month, then that’s fine, too. 
  2. Purchase a small notebook, a planner or print out a monthly calendar instead. Place it somewhere where you’ll see it every night as a reminder to capture one little thing from the day that showcased your word in action. On the nights these little things come freely, celebrate. On the nights they don’t, take a moment to intentionally plan for them tomorrow. 
  3. Repeat monthly. At the end of each month, flip through your pages and reflect: How closely did my actions align with my one word? Why or why not? What word might better suit me for the coming month? Why? How can I hold space for this word in my life and live it into existence?

I’ll be documenting my One Little Thing™ journey on Instagram using #OneLittleThing. Each month, I’ll offer a quick flip through of my pages and talk through how my year is intentionally unfolding. And you can do the same. No fancy notebooks, special journals or expensive pens are needed, just your willingness to show up to the page, and your life, each day. 

Join me.  

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  1. Replies
    1. Fantastic! I hope you join along and stay connected here!

  2. Great! I think that I will try this with my coaching team! Thanks

    1. Yes! This process works for our personal lives, as well as our professional ones, and choosing a coaching mantra can serve us well in these innovative times. Keep me posted on your progress!