Advance! My One Word for 2015

by Andy Wood on January 1, 2015

in Exploring the Possibilities, Five LV Laws, Leadership, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Increase, Time

Making the right choice

It’s been a couple of years now since I repented of New Year’s resolutions.  I knew it was time when somebody asked me about mine a few years ago and I said, “Oh, you know, the usual.”

(Totally irrelevant side note:  Wouldn’t be funny to go into a gym today or tomorrow and find some dude who’s built like a tank and who looks like he’s lifting one and say to him as those muscles rip through his shirt – “Ya’ know, those New Year’s resolutions never really work.”  Anyway…)

That’s why when somebody introduced me to Mike Ashcroft’s idea and book a few years ago it really hit a nerve.  The idea is very simple:  Build your year around one simple word – one theme that describes who or where you want to be at the end of the year.  What amazes me is how easy it is to land on a theme based on what I call my descants of the soul – the themes that seem to be repeating themselves in my life recently.

In 2011, my one word was Finish!  I didn’t finish a lot, but it was exciting to think about.  Lean was the word in 2013.   And my one word for 2014 was One.  Both have been helpful in shaping my thinking and focus for the year.

This one is different.  It’s more of a call to action, and frankly, a part of me doesn’t like it.  I’ve reached a point in my life where a significant part of me is screaming out for quiet, simplicity, retreat, and life on the porch.

Not time for that yet.

So the word for this year:  Advance.

Ugh.  Sounds like work, doesn’t it?

Actually I’ll be working regardless. The point here is taking the initiative to move forward in the direction of God-given vision, claiming and celebrating progress along the way.

Advance.  Sometimes that means waging war against fear, despair, or idleness.  Sometimes it means something as simple as putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. Either way, while we do have the privilege of Sabbath-type rest, we don’t have the luxury of careless coasting.


The primary dictionary definition of “advance” is “to move forward in a purposeful way.”  In other words, you can’t know you’re advancing unless you know what or where you’re advancing to.  This calls for clarity – and redefinition – of purpose.  Why are we here?  What are we trying to accomplish?  And what does progress toward that purpose look like?

Purpose needs to be revisited often – not because it should be changed, but because of how easy it is to lose sight of it once we grasp what our purpose in life is.  What has surprised me most throughout all the changes I have experienced in life is not the changes themselves, but now unchanging my sense of purpose has been, regardless of the circumstances.


Advance, properly understood, is actually liberating.  It sets you free from the get-it-done-today mentality that breeds perfectionism and compulsive living.  As they say in Recovery, “We claim progress, not perfection.”

Earl Nightingale, one of the pioneers of the modern success movement, defined success as the “progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”  He didn’t just make room for progress – he coronated it.  In other word, as long as the ideal is worthy, advancing is its own form of success.

Put Forward

To advance a date on the calendar means to move it forward – to step it up.  To advance an idea is to put it out there in front of the group for consideration (and yes, risk of rejection).

In other words, advance is a leadership word.  It’s a word that speaks of change and initiative.  People who advance shake things up.  They aren’t willing to accept the status quo if the status quo isn’t acceptable.  They’re willing to suggest new solutions, try new ideas, or start new or sometimes taboo conversations if they mean moving forward.


Lest you think that advancing is only about self-interest, it also involves promoting the vision and causes of others.  In my case that starts with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Whatever my narrow self-interests or causes, I have never shed blood for them.  I have never given my sinless life in exchange for the sins of the world. I have never had the authority, love, or worthiness to offer everlasting life to people who were completely unworthy of it.

But I’ve met Someone who has, and is worthy.  And He’s worthy of an investment of my life in advancing His truth and His gospel so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

So there it is – my one word for 2015.  I think I have some work to do.  But all I have to do today is today’s work of advancing.

There’ll be plenty more tomorrow where I left off today.

So what’s your one word for 2015?  Feel free to share in the comments below.  And Happy New Year!

Martha Orlando January 1, 2015 at 6:07 pm

Advance! That’s perfect for you, Andy! Mine is Wonder. My blog tomorrow will feature this word and what I hope it will mean for me in the New Year. Blessings to Robin and you, that 2015 will bring you both abundant joy in the Lord!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..Christ is All We Have

Michael "Yama" Hoyes January 2, 2015 at 12:09 am

Dr. Wood
I like your one word! Is it OK if I use it also? One of my goals for this year is to be able to run 5K by my birthday…of course you’d have to know that my birthday is 3 Feb to know that isn’t a year-long goal, but it is one that I started just prior to Thanksgiving 2014…and I am on week 5 of my running program. The running goal is meant to be inspiration for me to ADVANCE along with whatever it is that God would like me to do…and here’s a scary thought…I am considering (haven’t even shared at home…my wife would kill me! :)) throwing my hat in the ring for elected office! Whatever I do, I’d like to help our USA refocuses on 2Chron7:14…we seem to be heading down the path of a divided states of America instead of United States…so I want to be a part of getting our focus back. Praying hard for His guidance…in the meantime, I’d like to also gain back a tad of the physical fitness I had prior to beginning the doctoral program, and if I can achieve that, it will be a motivator.
Well sir, will I see you in May? I’m planning on dancing (not really) across the stage then and it would definitely be a pleasure to introduce you to my family, and to thank you for your counsel and prayer that certainly made a big difference , enabling me to COMPLETE the program!
Oh, I have turned my final project into a book, and am hoping to get it published…Julia Mattera has already edited it, and I’m waiting for Dr. Oster to do a forward…if you have time and the desire, I could shoot it to you for an additional forward from you. The title is “SEEING CLEARLY: PRINCIPLES, PEOPLE, AND PURPOSE — FIRST STEPS FOR LEADERS.” Inspired by: “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:2-5)

So I certainly need to ADVANCE through 2015! 🙂
Very Respectfully,
Doctor Michael B. “Yama” Hoyes

Evelyn January 2, 2015 at 3:48 pm

I think I’ll steal (how about share?) your word. I feel like I’ve stalled for too many years, and I’m much too old to be this “full of potential.” I still have enough life ahead of me to realize my lifelong dream … if I take the steps to advance. I am inspired. I am relieved. I have work to do. Thank you!

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