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One Little Word 2011

My 2011 necklace from the lovely Lisa Leonard. Get one for yourself here.

My word for 2011 is light.

This year my word sure seemed to choose me.

Most years I start thinking about my word for the following year in November or December. I think about it in passing and start listening, looking, and being open to the possibilities of a new word.

This year the word light seemed to be trying to catch my attention.

I found it in books, in magazines, in music, in conversations and in quiet moments.

So I'm going with it. It's already surprised, delighted, challenged and sparked some new things within me.

Some years I've had to look harder or listen longer or simply choose one that fit with what was on my mind and heart at that moment. There's no right or wrong. The main thing to remember is that this is your word. It's not for your child, parent, partner, spouse, sister, etc.

And what do you do with this one little word?

You live with it. You invite it into you life. You let it speak to you. You might even follow where it leads. There are so many possibilities.

I'd love to read what word you've chosen or are considering for 2011. In the comments feel free to simply leave your word as your comment or write a bit about why you are choosing this word.

In a couple of days I'll post a compilation of the words as an inspirational reminder to us all.

If you’re new to the concept of One Little Word, you can read some of my previous posts here: 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.


I'm excited to be offering a brand new One Little Word online workshop through Big Picture Classes in 2011 as a way to connect with and honor our words throughout the year.

Each month you'll receive a prompt with a simple creative project and a gentle reminder to check back in with your word. By the end of the year you'll have compiled the contents of an 8.5x11 album that documents, defines, celebrates and generally makes your word more visible. Workshop materials include printable elements, full-color PDF handouts, and video presentations.

People have been asking me if you have to be a scrapbooker for this class. My answer is no. Even though we are making an album it's really more of a journaling/record keeping/thinking/exploring project. I'm excited to see how people interpret the prompts and make them meaningful for their own lives.

This is not complicated and it's not time-consuming. It's simply a way we can come together to share our experience with our words throughout the course of the year.

The One Little Word classroom opens on January 1, 2011.

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1654 thoughts

  1. Denise says…

    You are such an inspiration and I thank you!

    I have chosen the word surrender. Much like you this word has chosen me and I am excited to see where it takes me.

    Looking forward to your One Little Word class!

    Reply 4 Replies
    1. andie says…

      what a great choice!

    2. Gail says…

      FORGIVING I know that is what I am running from...but to embrace and follow through I know I could move on to a more artistic, organized me; I am going to try, and thank you:)

    3. Tab Wolowicz says…

      Still thinking about word for 2011. Part of me thought of the word "tranquil" or "peace". Something that reminds me to slow down and be present and not let life's bumps upset me so. Maybe it should be trust??

    4. Aarean says…

      Such a cute little necklace. My word this year is POSITIVE. I actually decided that last week, my new years resolutions is to be just that...more POSITIVE about all aspects in my life. :-)

  2. Melissa S. says…

    My word for 2011 is "experience." I want to go and see and do all the wonderful things that life has in store for me this coming year.

    Reply 7 Replies
    1. Michelle says…

      I was planning on having my word be JOY but it didn't feel complete. When I read EXPERIENCE, it made my throat knot, so that must be it. Thank you.

    2. Katie says…

      Experience is a great word!

    3. Beth says…

      I've been trying to get my desire to "do new things" in 2011 into just one word, but couldn't quite do it until I saw your word. I think "experience" will be my word too. Thanks!

    4. Jaki says…

      Experience is my word for 2011 too...I want to experience life more this live with purpose instead of just coasting along on auto pilot and suddenly look back in December and wonder where the year has gone!

    5. Anne says…

      FUN. I have only one new years resolution: To become more fun. Somehow, I've lost touch with my fun/silly side and I want to find it again this year. :)

    6. Ellen McKinley says…

      Enjoy your adventure, and don't forget to move just a little beyond your comfort zone--amazing things wait for you there!

    7. Kelsey says…

      I think I'm going to pair this with my word. My word is fearless. I want it to lead to experience.

  3. BeverlyBling says…

    I have chosen a word for the past 3 years and each time amazing things happened around that word: firstly Confidence and I gained it; then Happy and I got myself out of a business relationship that made me very unhappy without hurting anyone; 2010 my word was Persistence and I got my book finished and published.

    Focussing on just one word really works!

    My word for 2011 is Prosperous. 2011 will see the end of my financial struggles.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Jessica B says…

      Thank you!!! I read your word "Prosperous" and I thought I like that. However, I don't just want to be physically prosperous but spiritually and mentally. Which lead me to my word "Bountiful"

      I wish you prosperous blessings.

  4. Lisa says…

    space - i need more of it.

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Jennifer says…

    My word is CARE. It found me.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Betsy Partridge says…

    This year is grow. I just found out that I am expecting my first child come August, so this word has a lot of meaning...physical, emotional,personal...I see a lot of growing happening!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Melissa says…

      I'm thinking about using grow too!:)

  7. PeggyK says…

    SIMPLIFY - Too much stuff, it needs to be in someone else's home.
    Ali, thanks for the inspiration. This is my third year selecting a word, and I'm amazed at how it makes a difference.

    Reply 14 Replies
    1. Carla G. says…

      Simplify is also my word. I've been thinking about that word for the past month, especially as the hustle and bustle of the holiday season impacted us, the never ending quest to find the right gift, and all the advertisements and product displays that jump out and say, "buy me!!" I'm going back to the basics in 2011!!

    2. Stephanie says…

      I have chosen simplify as my word also. Everything seems to be so hectic lately and this seems to be what I need to do.

    3. Andrea Q says…

      I love it! Great idea!

    4. Ruth says…

      This is the word my DH chose.

    5. Cathi Coutu says…

      This is my word as well and it chose me...This is my second year using the one word concept and I hope that Simplify makes as many changes and has the benefits that "forgive" gave me last year. As part of my challenge to myself and in an attempt to "simplify," I'm going to try to rid my home of 365 "things" in 2011. These will either be donated, sold or simply given to family or friends. Good luck to all! :)

    6. Janet says…

      I was on the fence about this word and the one I ultimately chose. Will keep it on the back burner for 2012!! Great choice...we can all use a little simplifying these days.

    7. Bonnie says…

      My word too! My mind is scrambling with so many things I need to try to calm it down and I'm hoping my word will remind me daily!

    8. Stephanie says…

      Simplify is my word too :) It defitely 'chose' me. I have been thinking a lot lately about less stuff and more time. I am hoping in my quest to clear out and lessen the load (both stuff and schedules) I will find more time in my days and weeks! I am really looking forward to organizing my home again and cleaning out my attic (stuff) as well as creating a better home routine and a meal plan (schedule). More organization = more time, right?! I sure hope so!

      This is my first time choosing one little word and I am so excited by it!! Can't wait for class to begin :)

    9. Di says…

      Cathi I love your idea of simplifying 1 item a day! Might do that myself!

    10. tiffany says…

      i love "simplify"...i have been toying to "purge"-i so want to purge so much unneeded things in my life..but "simplify" is a much more gracious word...thank you for sharing the word that so simply encompasses my desire to not only purge but get back to basics!

    11. Jennie says…

      That's mine too and I couldn't be more excited about it. A huge attack on all the junk in our house today has me in the mindset already.

    12. Wendy says…

      Me too, SIMPLIFY. Lots of "letting go" in so many areas of my life. My mom inspired my word after such a hectic 2010 - in her words, "I can only do so much". It sort of hit me over the head and finally sunk in! Thanks, mom!

    13. Liz Ness says…

      I, too, am going with Simplify. In 2011, I expect a lot of growth and change and amazing adventures and it seems that simplify is a great reminder and intention to help guide me through it all.

    14. Pat H says…

      Simplify is my word also - it just jumped out and grabbed me!

  8. Carolin says…

    clarity - it's what I long for in many different ways.

    This is my first year selecting a word. I'll be in your BPclass, Ali, and I'm excited! :o)

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. CB says…

      Without reading your selected word first, I too choose Clarity as my word for 2011. This is my first time at choosing a word of the year.

  9. stephanie says…

    Serve is my word for 2011. It found me several months ago and I'm excited to see how this will show itself more in the months ahead.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Gina says…

      This is soooo the word for me too. I was trying to think of a word that would emcompass getting involved in my community, my church, my family and my co-workers lives in a more humble and giving way. SERVE is exactly the word that says that to me.

  10. BEATRIZ says…

    My word for 2011 is "ENJOY (DISFRUTAR)" I think it's a word that I will support this year and is going to teach me to be happier and do simple things around me.

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. Jolande says…

      It was my little word for this year. I made a journal in which I everyday wrote, stamped, glued etc something little or big that I enjoyed that day.
      And now I can look back at all the things I enjoyed this year.

    2. Shannon C says…

      I have been pondering this issue for sometime now and ultimately was torn between "FOCUS" and "ENJOY". To me, they had so much in common, but I finally chose ENJOY. This past year, I found myself bogged down with a lot of negativity and was not as appreciative of all of the good things in my life. SO, my goal for 2011 will be to ENJOY (more than before) my kids, my husband, my life, reading, scrapping, friends, etc. This is my first time choosing a word and I am hopeful that this will keep me on track!

  11. Susan says…

    Hey Ali,
    My One Little Word for 2011 is GIVE. I have such a difficult time giving - mostly of myself. I want this to be a year of becoming less selfish. Most people probably wouldn't see me as selfish but I see me that way. So this year is all about giving - of my time, of my talents, of my gifts, of my self. I can see how GIVE can go in many directions and I'm really looking forward to what is in store. I will be signing up for your class later today too! Taking an online class was on my goals list for the year and I thought this would be a great first.

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Ruth says…

    My one little word is 'better' ~ things have been tough for my family over the last 18 months and I'm hopeful for light at the end of the tunnel in 2011. See you all in class!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Amanda says…

      Better is my word too....better mother, better organizer, better cook, better blogger, better crafter, better friend, better patient, all things better to start a better life for myself! Best of luck to your "better" year, Ruth.

  13. Bec Kilgore says…

    My 2011 word is revivify. At the risk of totally revealing my nerdy self, I felt a transitive verb was appropriate for the 2011 journey.

    Reply 4 Replies
    1. MichelleGB says…

      Love it! Saw it when I was searching for my word and looked up synonyms for renew.

    2. Peggy says…

      I love a one little word that I have to look up a definition for it! Cool one!

    3. Tammy says…

      I Love this work I also had to look it up and it resounds within me.

    4. Kim Woods says…

      That's a great one! I might have to join you in that one, I'm still waiting for the light bulb.

  14. Duckienz says…

    Freedom from pain, freedom from hurt, freedom from the past, freedom to make my own decisions, freedom to do what is best for me. I asked the Universe what my word should be and it popped into my head so I am going with it. Last year was balance and it was good but I didn't live it as I would have liked. My fiancee has chosen 'Balance' as his 2011OLW as he thinks it will serve him well :D
    Looking forward to class, Allie.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Michelle Clark says…

      Great choice I am still narrowing mine down to one word.

  15. dawn says…

    I have two words that are staying with me and I'm hoping to weave them together. The first word is art (thanks to you Ali, and all that you create, all the painting you do, etc.) so art came to me awhile ago, in any form be it on paper or just by doing home decorating.

    My other word that has spoken loudly these past couple months since my grandpa's recent death is TIME!! I'm going to make TIME for my extended family instead of just seeing them on major holidays, we are going to start having dinner parties at my house and each month my kids will pick a name of who we should invite over. Also to make more TIME for my kids and start by having one on one dates with them. On New Year's Day I'm giving them a coupon book with 12 coupons, one good for each month and we will go on dates together. Then there is to make TIME for me ( to make sure I can create some ART and play with ART)

    Thank you Ali for this inspiration as this will be my first year choosing a word. I'm looking forward to this new year with you and the others who are joining.

    Reply 8 Replies
    1. dawn says…

      Thank you for comments and support ladies. I love the idea of making coupons for myself, need to make time for me this year and learn more about myself. Good luck on your new word and have a Happy New Year.

    2. Cindy says…

      I've been tossing around a few "words", seeing which one speaks to me the loudest. I agree with your choice of "time". I think the idea of giving my two boys coupons for special time set aside just for them is great. But I also think that I need to give myself some coupons as well. Not enough time for myself lately, too much to do, being pulled in too many directions. Good luck with your goals for this new year!

    3. Calliprune says…

      Thanks Ali for all your ideas. It will be my first year also to choosen word. I choose "TIME", in french "prendre le temps".

      Take time for my family, my friends (some of them I never saw since many years), reading, writing, scrap, every thing in my life.

      Happy new year to you and each of your readers.

    4. Janet says…

      I love the idea of Time. It can take so many directions, but your idea about making time for extended family and having dinner parties is superb!! What a fun way to include the kids, too!

    5. Julie-Ann says…

      Renee, It sounds like you could use this print on your desk too, I love mine!

    6. Julie-Ann says…

      I'm sorry, I meant Dawn, not Renee! Good luck making TIME for your ART and other things! :)

    7. dawn says…

      Thank you for this link Julie-ann. This is perfect and just what I need to keep motivated and focused. Good luck with your word and have a Happy New Year.

      It's great reading all your comments and so neat that some of you have the word time as your word also. Looking forward to learning more and seeing more from everyone on this journey.

    8. Maddy says…

      I liked your ideas about inviting extended family over and creating a coupon book. I have my own pity party in winter about not visiting. What a great idea to have a dinner party since one of my intentions is to try new recipes. (Have to try them first before I invite some over to sample! :)

  16. emily says…

    my one word is to LISTEN.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Daphne says…

      I chosed LISTEN as well; my comment was below. I looked (thought I did) at all the comments prior to mine and didnt see anybody with LISTEN. We should exchange emails and keep each other motivated! Are you taking her class? Good Luck!

      My post:
      47.December 29, 2010
      Daphne said…
      My word is LISTEN. First, I need to listen to God. I need to learn to listen more to my family; my husband, my children and my immediate family and friends. Sometimes, I get caught up in MY everyday activities and I JUST dont take the time to do it! I think; I am combining my One Little Word class with my Project Life 2011. I am looking forward to it!

      Thank you, Ali for being a continual source of inspiration to all of us!!

  17. Lee says…

    DO :: the reasons can be found here

    Love the idea of "light". Looking forward to how you interpret it.

    Reply 5 Replies
    1. Pam says…

      This is my word too!
      DO- because I feel like this year has so much potential for me to get things done... and there is much I want to actually accomplish.

    2. Lisa says…

      My word is DO as well. It seems like I spent all of 2010 holding myself back, not wanting to invest myself in anything...not feeling like I had the resources (time, strength, health, money, attention span, etc.).
      It will be a surprise to no one if I say that didn't work out for me.
      So now my word is DO:
      --Do show your loved ones how much you care for them.
      --Do start taking care of the body that is wrapped around this mind of yours. Do eat healthy and exercise like you should.
      --Do express yourself: With your words in your writing; with your hands, creating; with your feelings. No one is going to laugh.
      --Do help others.
      --Do read. You miss it.
      --Do the best job you can do homeschooling your son.
      --Do reach out and make friends.

    3. Thea says…

      I have just signed myself up for the class and hope to incorporate my word in my life throughout the year. My word is also 'Do'. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I would like to do, rather than actually doing it, and I really want to change that around this year. Like a lot of commentators here, I feel this word found me rather than the other way around. I am off to visit the link Lee mentioned.

    4. says…

      do :: my word also! i need to DO instead of spending all of my time planning, dreaming, stalling, being afraid...

    5. Lu says…

      I have picked DO too. I like your idea of a word Ali. I tried it half way through last year when I saw it on Abby's blog but it didn't work too well for me. But this year will be different!

  18. Stephanie says…

    Is it a word? Is mine.
    Life is so stressful! I run, I no longer take the time to look around me, listening to those around me ... Zen means taking care of myself and others.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Haley D. says…

    The word that keeps popping up to me is "family." I don't know if that is definitely my word for 2011 (the first time I've ever done this) but it speaks volumes to me. I am loving all the words I am reading here!

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. PattiP says…

      Family was my word for 2010. It turned out to be a very good word for the year, in ways I never would have imagined when I picked it. It helped ground me and keep my focus in some tough times, and reminded me how much I have to be thankful for all year long.

    2. Lynn says…

      My word for 2011 is also "Family". Our family is growing and changing. One child growing up and getting ready to leave the nest in a couple of years. One child, living with our family for almost three years now, will become a permanent member of our family legally this year. We're so excited. I need to refocus my energies, anything that isn't connected to my FAMILY needs to scaled way back this year.

  20. Jennifer says…

    The word that I'm leaning towards is vitality.
    –noun, plural -ties.
    1. exuberant physical strength or mental vigor: a person of great vitality.
    2. capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence: the vitality of an institution.
    3. power to live or grow: the vitality of a language.
    4. vital force or principle.
    I'm on a weight loss journey and I also want to do more for my family. Be more present, find peace and happiness...

    Reply 3 Replies
    1. Sharon in California says…

      love your word Jennifer

    2. jamie says…

      i love this word.
      great definition!!!!

    3. Carrie S. says…

      Wow, Jennifer. That is an excellent word. I picked diligent, but vitality seems to embody everything I want to strive for in 2011. I might have to follow your lead. :)

  21. Genevieve says…

    Risk(s). Taking them, embracing them, and learning from them.

    Both in the bigger things in life (starting a new business) and the smaller things (dying my hair a strange colour).

    Can't wait!

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. brandy messer says…

      love the word risk!! very good choice, indeed!!

    2. Megs says…

      I just ran across this idea today. When I read your word, risk, it literally sent shivers down my spine. I need to think about it for a few more days, but what a great word! This is totally what I need right now.

  22. PiaAmes says…

    I have chosen the word "responsibility".

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. caro says…

    Hi Ali, I've chosen MOVE as my 2011 word. As in "out of my rut/comfort zone . . ." There are 3 big areas that this applies in my life and I too am excited about your class - my jazzy red album is ready!

    Reply 3 Replies
    1. Christi says…

      MOVE is my word too. ;)

    2. Andi Sexton says…

      This is one of my 'top 3' words!!!

    3. jamie says…

      another great word!
      it is so defining of many things.
      good for you!

  24. Jenny says…

    My word seemed to choose me this year too. I wrote this almost a month ago, as part of a daily journal entry: "Focus. In all things, I need focus. Less distraction, less procrastination, less avoidance. Focus on what is important. Focus on getting things done. Focus on my relationship. Focus on the decisions that will shape our future. Focus on my health and welfare. Focus on my job." So that's my word - FOCUS.

    Reply 16 Replies
    1. Stacy Simpson says…

      FOCUS - it hit me last night that this would be my word! I just purchased the Kindle version of Leo Babauta's book - thanks for the suggestion.

      I am purchasing supplies for class today - can't wait!

    2. Jenny says…

      Thanks for that, I've just downloaded the free version of the e-book as a starting point!

    3. Donna says…

      Have you checked out Leo's (zenhabits.NET)e-book,Focus? Very good read.

    4. Terri Porter says…

      That's my word too, Jenny -- FOCUS. At first, it came to be because it's the thing in photography that I most need to work on, but as I thought about it, it is something I need in my life as well. Everything you said goes for me as well regarding the need for focus in my life. I plan to order my Lisa Leonard necklace today. My birthday is January 2, so it will be a birthday present to myself.

    5. Alayna says…

      Focus is my word too! I ran across someone's thoughts on this word and it really stuck with me. Still need to explore my thoughts on it further, but I think this is my word!

    6. Peggy Leland says…

      I too chose focus. I need to focus on my job, my home and my health. I hope to break the months up into the different things I want to focus on.

    7. Melissa says…

      My word last year was focus. I loved it! I kind of want to use it again!

    8. Nancy Nally says…

      I think mine is going to be focus as well. I was leaning toward something else but then I realized that it probably won't be as much a theme for the whole year (I hope) as focus needs to be.

      Focus has two meanings for me. I was recently diagnosed with ADHD, so that meaning is obvious. But it also means to get better at narrowing my priorities and shutting out extraneous stuff that distracts me from them. Choose my goals and go for them.

    9. Kelly McCord says…

      Count me in the "Focus" Group.

      I really need to Focus on getting things done this year - No more starting and stopping or forgetting them all together. Focus on getting myself and my family where we need to be.

      Who knows, maybe I'll even apply Focus to finally learning how to use my new camera!

    10. Robin says…

      Mine is focus too! I feel so all over the place lately--can't find stuff, can't finish stuff, can't remember stuff. I need to focus on me and what I want to accomplish this year. In general it'll make me a better wife and mother if I do.

    11. linda says…

      Put me in the FOCUS group. Can't wait for the class

    12. Kerry says…

      My word is focus too, I can't wait. I have lots of things to focus on this year and that books sounds a good starting point!

    13. Gina, Mom to The shoe says…

      Jenny, FOCUS was my word in 2008 - I knew I was going to have a newborn baby and was going to start I knew I'd need focus in my life! :) It's such a great word!!!

    14. Megan says…

      "Focus" was my word last year. I was unemployed after being laid off and I needed "focus" in order to figure out where my next steps were going to be and get myself back on track. It really helped me last year. It is a great word to live by!

    15. mary says…

      focus is my word, too, for 2011. I love that it's a noun and a verb, with a bit of photography thrown in, too. looking forward to the class and to seeing how the year evolves with focus.

    16. Denise says…

      FOCUS is the word that chose me, as well. Good luck!

  25. Cheri says…

    I was working on using the word Focus, but it was sounding like work and not fun. Then I started reading the book "Manifesting Change" and the word "HAPPY" found me!

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. Philarney says…

      my word is happy too... finding happiness in anything and everything that may come my way in 2011... and I love how that ties in to manifesting change - thanks for more inspiration.
      And thanks to Ali for so much inspiration to so many people

    2. Heather C. says…

      I have also chosen Happy. I've noticed that over the past few years I developed a habit of focusing on the negative stuff in my life way too much. So recently I've been learning how to focus on being happy, just because. I decided this morning to make that my word for the year, then later when I was putting up my 2011 Mary Engelbreit calendar that I bought 2 months ago I saw that it is called, "All the Happiness You Can Handle!" I love life's little synchronicities... they make me happy. hee hee :-)

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