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How to Navigate the New Year One Step at a Time

By Marcia Smalley December 26, 2022 Lifestyle

Like many people, I select a one-word intention at the start of a new year. It’s gentler than a resolution and more akin to a promise. I watch for opportunities to put it into practice, and I use it as a barometer to make decisions.

In 2021, I was intending to Thrive. But instead, I sort of sprouted. Not a bad outcome, just not what I’d envisioned. I was aiming a little too high in a (not quite) post-pandemic world.

This past year the word Forward whispered to me. Within days, my inbox filled up with posts related to that: “5 Ways to Start The New Year!” “7 Things That Will Make Your New Year Great!” “11 Questions to Ask Yourself This Year!”

It was a lot. I didn’t want to make a forced march. I just wanted to take a step forward, get the lay of the land, then take one more.

During periods of great change (like the one we’re living in), we don’t have to commit to 5, 7, or 11 things. We can, however, commit to One Thing. Then, if that feels okay, we can choose one more. And so on.

So I spent the year taking one forward step at a time and ended up congratulating myself for how far I’d come.

We’ve all earned permission to take things at our own pace.

So, if you’re eager to hear what’s calling to you in 2023, here’s a simple formula for finding your magic word.


It helps to acknowledge what was in order to get clearer about what’s to come. To get to the heart of what matters most in the coming year, ask yourself some questions:

  • What’s one thing I loved about this past year?
  • What’s one thing that surprised me?
  • What’s something I could have done without?
  • What’s one thing I want more of in the new year?
  • If I could make one change now, what would it be?
  • What kind of support do I need to make that happen?

Set One Intention

Too often, we make long lists of things to do, goals to accomplish, items to check off. Then we feel overwhelmed, maybe even defeated.

  • Release one thing that’s been holding you back. 
  • Acknowledge one thing that felt like a win this year.
  • Claim one thing you’ll start doing. 

Take One Step

Our culture doesn’t reward standing still. It values action, problem-solving! “Just do it-ness.”

Forget all those years of conditioned response. Be true to yourself, stay true to the spirit of small, and be content with one step at a time.

  • Do one thing that lights you up. 
  • Write a note to one person you love.
  • Sing one song at the top of your lungs.
  • Walk one mile.

Repeat as you can, when you can. Build a little momentum. Notice how you feel – are you on a hot track or a cold trail? Follow what feels best.

The key to living our intentions is to identify what we don’t want and to be honest about the life-affirming nature of what we do want. And if one word shines brightly after you play with these three simple invitations, then you have a North Star to guide you.

Whatever your intention, may your New Year sparkle with traces of the Peace, Joy and Love your holiday season left behind like specks of glitter on the living room floor.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What have you learned about taking things one step at a time? What is your intention for yourself in the New Year? Join the conversation!

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Beth Anderson

I think my word of the year is going to be depth. I tend to be very scattered, I have enthusiasms that seem to have devolved into buying supplies for projects that I never do. This year I want to go deeper into my hobbies, my relationships, even my chores


My word for 2023 is relevance. People say that I can look at my 5 grown children and 6 grandchildren and see that my influence in their lives means I am relevant. But at 63 and newly retired, I do not feel it is enough. Parenting and grandparenting is a role I play. But relevance encompasses all of me as a woman. Invisibility and loss of purpose are very real after 60.

Barb Villani

Thank you! That word works for me, too!
I’m relevant to my grown children , my grandchildren and my pt job as a pediatric nurse .


One word for 2023? Accept! Odd choice in a way but I have spent my whole life trying to change others snd things that I can’t change. So as life flows on into 2023, Stopping will be a guide!

Marcia Smalley

I love this as a word for 2023, Jennifer! Thanks for reading.

Marie Story

My word for 2023 is JOY …that’s what I want more of.

Marcia Smalley

I couldn’t agree more, Marie! Cheers to more JOY in the new year!

Donna Minkel

The most important thing I finally learned this past year is….it’s not for me to fix. Others issues/problems/sadness/lives are theirs to figure out. I had some clarity in my own life that’s brought me tremendous peace. ☮️

Marcia Smalley

I love this, Donna. Thank you for weighing in and thanks for reading. Happy New Year!

Pamela Shaw

Donna, thank you! Reading your comment was like a light bulb for me! I realize that I’m physically and emotionally tired from trying to fix things for others that are not for me to fix! I’m looking for that peace! Just breathe!

The Author

Marcia Smalley is a certified retirement coach and life coach, a writer and a teacher. She delights in helping mid-life women step confidently into their next act and design a joyous, expanded life. Marcia provides coaching support to women who are navigating retirement or other life transitions and writes a monthly e-newsletter to her entire online community. Please visit her website at

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