My One Word for 2013

by Andy Wood on January 2, 2013

in Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, LV Cycle, Principle of Increase

Lean 2

A few years ago Mike Ashcraft came up with a revolutionary idea.  In considering what we all intuitively know – that New Year’s resolutions are inherently powerless to produce real life change – Mike proposed capturing the essence of the person we want to become, or what we most want God to do for us in one simple word.

“My One Word,” he called it.

The idea caught fire, and his web site,, became a gathering place for people all over the world to share their core essential idea for that particular year.

I arrived late to that party when a LifeVesting reader pointed me to the site a couple of years ago.  I was captivated by the idea, and landed on the word, Finish! as my word for that year.

I revisited the idea when I wrote this post about things to do before the end of the year.  I learned in the process that Mike, along with Rachel Olsen, has since written a book that is now available to guide you through the process.

In prayerfully considering what my one word could and should be for this year, I began searching for the themes the Lord seems to have been playing out in my life recently – what I call the Descants of the Soul.  Those themes have a way of ebbing and flowing.  And it didn’t take me long at all to land on what my one word should be…


It started when I saw the movie “People Like Us.”  There’s a poignant scene where the main character tells his nephew six rules his otherwise failure of a father had taught him.  There is some crude language involved, but if you haven’t seen the movie and would like to see a clip of the scene you can do so by clicking here.

One of the six rules was, “Lean into it.”

“It means the outcome doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you’re there for it, whatever ‘it’ is, good or bad.”


The idea of leaning in has really motivated me over the last few weeks, especially with things I have a tendency to procrastinate.  When I’ve gotten distracted or frustrated or felt strong feelings of avoidance, I would say to myself, “Lean in.”  In other words, face this.  Get this done.  Brian Tracy calls it “eating that frog.”

Do the thing that needs to be done – especially if you have a tendency to avoid it.

Lean in.


But the word “lean” is much bigger than that.  It also speaks of dependence.  I don’t just lean in, I also lean on – as in leaning on the Lord.  My life is not a do-it-yourself project, and neither is yours.  It’s a do-it-with-God’s-help project.  LEAN speaks of my need to rely on Him for strength, hope, and endurance.  To believe with clarity and conviction that His strength is greater and more desirable than my own.

An old King James word for our relationship with the Lord refers to Him as “my stay” (Psalm 18:18).  I love that word.  Isaiah 50:10 exhorts us to “stay upon” our God.  He is the one I can lean on for security and courage.


Lean also has the idea of simplifying.  Of making choices to eliminate the clutter and “go lean and mean.”  As Hebrews 12:1 suggests, going lean means to “cast off the weights, and the sin that so easily besets us and run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

The older we get the more baggage we carry with us.  That baggage often comes in the form of what Jesus called the “cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust for other things.”  In other words, left to its own devices, life has a way of complicating and choking your life and fruitfulness as time goes by.

Time to get lean.  To pull some unnecessary weeds to make room for more productive things.  That doesn’t feel good at first, as we’re reminded here.  But the end result is worth it.

N-4-150x150Meanwhile, Back at the Gym

Then there’s that number one resolution that hardly bears mentioning.  You know – the one that fills up all the gyms for about seven weeks.  Lean means, get lean.

Other than the fact that seven weeks is about how long it takes for a treadmill to work off all that holiday food, I think I’ve found another reason why long-term, most diets don’t work.  Ready for this?

It’s because we don’t work them.  Especially when life gets busy or stressful.  We don’t lean in to being lean.

But there’s another factor.  Diets don’t work because we study fat people, not lean people.  We watch “The Biggest Loser” or read about somebody who’s knocked off 50 pounds, and we want to know their secret.

That has its place, but here’s a thought.  Why not study people who never got fat in the first place?  Why not do what they do (and they ACTUALLY DO different things)?  Here’s one source to understand the difference.

What About You?

So lean!  That’s my one word for 2013.  But what about you?  Where are your “descants” taking you lately?

I have a feeling you may already know the answer to that question.  The few people I have mentioned this to all knew right away what their one word should be.  I’d love for you to share yours in the comments below.

Meanwhile, get a copy of Mike’s book.  Check out the web site for more ideas about how to discover and share your one word.

And whatever your theme is for this year, I hope and pray that when the fall rolls around, you’ll still be leaning into it.

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Martha Orlando January 2, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Oh, wow, Andy! Yet another blogger with a word for the year!
I had never even heard about doing this until 2012 when two bloggers I follow shared the word which declared their year. In ruminating over it, I chose mine, and will reveal it in my Friday post.
By the way, I love yours! We must, indeed, lean upon the Lord in all things. And, we can’t grow lean, I agree, unless we first observe the people who are.
Great post, my friend!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..Content, No Matter What . . .

Andy Wood January 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Well, I’ll look forward to seeing that! 🙂
Thanks, as always, for the encouragement.

Lynne Watts January 3, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Really a well-written and clever post. You are right—the first time I thought about it I knew immediately that my word for this year is joy. Blessing and peace to you my lean friend….
Lynne Watts´s last blog post ..Goal Setting. Are You Working the Plan Backwards?

Andy Wood January 3, 2013 at 11:17 pm

I love it, Lynne! Which reminds me, that’s what your writing does for me… it adds to the joy! I pray that you both experience and radiate joy throughout this year. It’s a pretty joyless world out there.

Pam January 4, 2013 at 10:42 am

Don’t overthink, put off, dread, pray over incessantly or plan to death Pam, just DO what God puts on your heart, knowing the end result is up to Him.

I’ve been waiting way too long – it’s time to get busy!

Andy Wood January 4, 2013 at 10:54 am

Whoa, Pam! I love it! Successful people do have a bias for action.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing. I like your blog, too! Keep writing. 🙂

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