Philadelphia, PA, USA

[REVIEW] One Little Word Workshop

olw one little word workshop by ali edwards header image

If you asked me about a year ago if I recommended Ali EdwardsOne Little Word workshop, I would have said absolutely! Now, it depends.

But before I get into all that, let’s back it up, shall we?

What is OLW

One Little Word (OLW) is an online workshop focused on personal development by using a word or theme as our north star for the year ahead. There are different activities from month to month, a community, an online video that Ali creates to follow along and explain her process, and more.

an example of January's activity in my Passion Planner small

Who’s it for

OLW workshop is for someone who:

  • Is looking for a community
  • Is looking for a journey
  • Is into personal development
  • Wants to raise their vibration or frequency
  • Wants to invest in themselves without spending a fortune
  • Enjoys self-care or showing up for themselves
  • Needs to show up for themselves
  • Is looking for ideas or activities to help stick to their New Year’s resolutions
  • Is looking to try something new
  • Has a problem with self-discipline but doesn’t want to be fully locked in
  • Someone who chooses a word to focus on each year
  • Is into Bullet Journaling or scrapbooking
  • Wants to have something to look back on

What worked

So a lot of what I’m about to point out may seem a bit off to you if you’ve never joined Ali’s One Little Workshop ever, but if you’ve already been with the workshop or tried it before this is nothing new to you. So what worked me in particular was:

  • January activity
    • Defining it 
    • A quote
    • Intentions
    • Reason why
    • Note to self
    • How I Want to Feel
  • February activity
    • Vision Board
  • March Activity
    • Practicing a habit in regards to our word in other terms a “personal practice”
  • October activity
    • Making a playlist about our words
    • Making a list of things we are thankful for that are within us (internal vs. external)
  • November 2020 activity
    • Goodbye + Hello
      • Do you lean more towards wanting your relationship with this word to extend or are you ready to let it go? Now is the time to write that down.
      • What are some things you want to say still, things that rattle your mind?
  • June activity
    • Mid-year reflection
  • December activity
    • Facts, feelings, and things I want to remember

Some months have more than one activity, and other months have shorter activities or activities that span the whole month. In particular, I’m a visual person but these were the activities in particular that I felt moved me forward. 

This past year I took an additional approach to the January activity, I added a page from Lavendaire’s Artist of Life workbook and came up with a list of ways to embody my theme or word. 

one little word olw ali edwards workshop digital planning artist of life workbook lavendaire

Another practice that I took a page from Lavendaire was the Current Me vs Future Me. I felt like this really helped narrow down the person I see myself as vs who I wanted to be after my journey with this word. Beyond this, as much as I enjoy the activity of defining it, aligning it with a quote, intentions, my reason why, note to self, etc. I felt like it needed a deeper dive. Therefore, I really went further in by filling out all the goals in the Artist of Life workbook. It really helped nail things down to the very detail of how I wanted my 2020 year to be. What I wanted to focus on, what I wanted to bring about etc. 

Ali’s activity is a great start, but for someone who expects their journey to be much more dynamic rather than static, I needed that extra step. Which leads me into what didn’t work.

What didn’t

What didn’t work for me may work for someone else, it may make sense or it may not. The first year I did every single activity even if it didn’t quite click with me at the time. This past year, I only did the activities if they made sense in doing them. I did try out a lot of them, like for example this year’s September activity was having a different task or something to do that you’ve been putting off in regards to what you envisioned with your word and creating either a spinner, a dice, a fortune teller, just something you can pick up and tell yourself to do it. 

I made mine into a fortune teller, why a fortune-teller? Because when I was a little girl I always made these, and I always found they had magical capabilities. A lot of the times I made ones with yes or no answers in them and they would always come true. So I figured, why not do it through a fortune-teller? The dice was a great idea, but what would I do with it after? At least the fortune teller I can flatten it and put in the pocket of my planner. Nonetheless, even after I made it I just didn’t stick with it. It didn’t seem to align even though it was such a good idea at the time. 

When I was young I used to take an index card, write numbers 1 through 6 on them, and then write similar things to do/an activity that I had to do them. They were kid stuff though, do a dare, rollerblade, etc. Roll the dice, the number that came up, do the activity next to that number. Therefore, I was trying to relive that moment, that memory, but I was making moves outside of my comfort zone already in other ways. Sure, if I wasn’t making moves at the time it probably would’ve worked out, but I don’t know, to each their own.

The full list of activities that didn’t quite work well with me are:

  • January Activity
    • Invite, let go, the year ahead
  • April Activity
    • Weekly statements activity
  • May Activity
    • Looking through our lens Intentionally taking photos to show our words
  • July Activity
    • 8 cards made with paints or other craft material with words you may need to hear right now
  • August Activity
    • Stories you keep telling yourself activity
  • September Activity
    • Writing a letter to yourself
    • Spinner activity, make a spinner, and write a different activity relating to a word in each pie. Spin every day or when you feel like it, another option is to make it out of a fortune-teller or DIY paper dice and write your activity on each side of it.
  • November 2019 Activity
    • A visual look at our word by documenting "right now"

The only other thing I felt really kind of against was a visual look of our words “right now” and looking through our lens intentionally, like what the fuck does that even mean? The amount of articles I read about intention and intentionality is ridiculous. I’m being intentional with my living as much as possible, but really capturing some of the acts seemed very detrimental to my end of the month reflection scrapbook where I compile everything. It looked ugly, conspicuous, it seemed cluttered, and maybe it’s different when you’re working on it in the album, but for me personally, I already look back on my month with photos. It’s usually photos of the highlights of my month, but they don’t always relate to my word. Sometimes these photos I add to the scrapbook part of my planner are really the seedlings of something I expect to be more later down the line years from now. 

So I find that activity quite pointless for me, and the last activity I wanted to talk about that I felt didn’t work for me is writing a letter to myself. Don’t get me wrong, it looked great as a reflection in my planner, but when I think about writing a letter to myself I think of it as writing to the me 5 years or 10 years from now and asking her questions like, “Are you the CEO of your own company yet?” “Did you open your own cafe yet?” etc. 

I made a letter like this to myself 10 years ago actually, and then I buried it in my backyard. Forgot about it, dug it up a year or so ago and it was just so cute and funny. My question to myself was, “So did you become a vampire yet?” Because I had, and still have, a huge obsession for vampires. 

But these letters that I wrote to myself seemed fragmented, it was lacking something. Maybe I just wasn’t into it at the time. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was the activity. It could have been anything! 

Maybe it could have been made better by writing a letter to my younger self of all the things I didn’t get to hear or things I needed. 

Nonetheless, it didn’t quite work out for me as much as I wanted it to.

What I liked

Weekly email messages from Ali that were “in the moment” and felt just right, that’s the best way to describe one of the aspects I liked about OLW. I loved checking my email every single week to read Ali’s emails. Honestly, even though I worked in an office when I first started OLW, it was Ali who made me look forward to checking my email. They always felt right on time with something I was dealing with within my own life. Also, when I think about newsletters I really look to Ali as a role model in this aspect because it didn’t feel like she was trying to sell me anything like most other newsletters do. It was well crafted, simple and to the point, the text was legible. But most of all, it connected. It was that simple.

example of ali edward's email message for the olw one little word workshop newsletter monday message
The initial newness of everything made me so excited for each and every new activity the first year, but also starting again with a new word is definitely something I liked and looked forward to. I still look forward to it. 

The community, even though I feel like the odd duckling out in the community when something does happen and I confide in them, and they are all sorts of amazing!

What I didn’t like

I found that most people within the community were usually mothers or older women, even though I was welcome, I still felt oddball out in partaking in the groups or community stuff. Therefore, I wish there were more people my age or have no kids, like me, to engage with, to support each other, etc., Although, I do understand that I’m not like most people my age. People make New Year’s resolutions all the time and never stick to them. People my age go, “New Year New Me,” but really don’t do anything that’s new to change from their previous self. So I get it, but I just still wish that if there are people like me in the community, to come out, reach out, etc. Maybe then we won’t feel so off if we have each other.

After COVID hit, the email messages came once in a blue moon and I honestly counted and waited on them. I was really disappointed to not have a Monday message to look forward to anymore. My email was once a source of joy and excitement, and now I just see redundancy. It sucks. I still light up the few times I do get an email from Ali, and I understand it was a luxury and there are circumstances beyond her control. But still, it was something that felt like it was detracted from my experience in 2020.

Moreover, I felt like sometimes activities were getting recycled too much or too often, and I realize they are, and to really do the same activity that I did last year for that same month felt like I wasn’t doing my word justice. It felt off to me, it didn’t align. Not all months are the same, in September and October we did something new, and it sparked that joy in me again. But I didn’t partake in many activities in previous months, in 2020, because it felt redundant and off.

What I thought it was going to be

When I first started my OLW journey with Bloom in January of 2019, I honestly thought that by the end of December I was going to come into myself fully. That didn’t happen, needless to say. I still had a really awesome journey, and it kept me together and sane when I was going through a lot:

  • A job I wasn’t so sure of
  • Friendships I wasn’t sure of
  • Leaving said job
  • Being treated like absolute shit by some people
  • My dad getting hit by a car
  • Figuring out how to pick up and feel better about myself
  • Standing on my own two feet
  • Going back to Poland and it going the exact opposite way that I wanted it to
  • Coming back from Poland mentally scarred, literally I didn’t even know I was even on the plane ride home. I didn’t know where I was because that much happened that fucked me up mentally
  • Picking up yet again from that feeling and figuring out what to do next 

I thought the activities would change year to year, in different months at times, and over 2020 a lot has stayed the same. As I mentioned briefly above though, Ali did switch up September and October activities. Through this simple switch up, things became enjoyable again. 

Moreover, I thought that I was going to come to the end of the year and be this amazing feeling person who did so many crazy things this past year, and alone to boot. That I’ve grown so much, and it’s not to say I haven’t grown or am not these things, 2020 has been abundant as much as it has been trying. 

What I’m trying to say is, it’s not what I expected. But that’s more so me than Ali. We always have expectations and wants and needs we want to be filled, but life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. Humans plan, God laughs. 

No lie, I literally thought it was going to be majestical and I don’t know like an awakening of sorts, both times, and it’s not a let down completely, but it really does teach you what it’s meant to be is right for you along the way. It’s a journey, the simplest way to explain it.

What it ended up being

It ended up being a journey of the self, a mental health journey, a self-care and self-love journey. 

Enough said.

2020 word PHOENIX on a vintage key from etsy

What's next

Even though I like to try things 3 times before I really make a decision on how to proceed further, Ali has unfortunately raised the price from $25 to $45. I know that the value is still worth for what she is offering, but due to the pandemic, I'm in a financial strain and cannot afford to pay the $45. In the future, I definitely do plan on revisiting the workshop. 

Also, a lot happened this year that didn’t make me too fond of the workshop. Ultimately the community and having that option at my fingertips kind of helps with focusing on a word, but moving forward I want to try my hand at creating something different that resonates with me but hopefully others as well!

A big reason why people don’t stick to New Year’s resolutions is that there's no sense of obligation to them, but I have decided to share my journey and all of which I do through this website. In the future, I hope to have either my own workshop or planner that helps others bring to life the experience I've had but also one that encompasses all of that and includes those who may not be into scrapbooking.

Ali did, just announce that the 2021 year is going to be done completely differently. She has invited guest professors to take the reigns and create new activities for different months instead of Ali always being the "professor," in a way. Ultimately, Ali will still be around. She will just be taking the backseat, but during January, June, and December those are her "teaching" months where the activity is largely the same as every year. I was really excited about this idea, but ultimately due to the money situation, I cannot go through with it. But that's okay. That's what {Shift} means to me. Take what resonates, and leave the rest. 

Originally, I wasn’t ready to leave “Phoenix” yet, and “Phoenix” will always be a part of me. It’s a never-ending journey. These next 10 years will be about “Phoenix,” and so I originally thought 2021 would be like “Rise” or “Ignite,” but now I’ve been thinking about the word “Shift” being my 2021 focus. Usually, it’s around this time that the word for my next year shows itself to me, and “Shift” has played a lot these last few weeks. And I feel “Shift” would be appropriate for 2021 after all that’s happened in 2020.

To wrap things up

One Little Word workshop by Ali Edwards is a great way to invest in yourself without overextending yourself. It's a simple, fun, way to bring into the New Year what you've always wanted. It is a great workshop to try if you’re new, and want to try something a little different than most years if you don’t quite stick to your New Year’s Resolution. With that being said, it can get redundant if you’ve taken the workshop before, and you may have to do things your own way if something is not quite making sense. 

It’s definitely worth trying it out, I certainly enjoyed the investment of it, but unfortunately due to the pandemic cannot be a part of the workshop for 2021

It is the easiest way to show up for yourself and be present while seeking lifestyle change or some personal development in your own life, but doing this on my own and sharing it on the blog, here, will hopefully be enough incentive for me to bring this new change into my life.

Change is scary but necessary.

Question of the Day

Do you choose a word or theme to focus on each year? What do you do to show up for it and yourself?

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