I, personally, have used just one word for my yearly intention. It’s OK to use a short phrase, but if you can narrow it down to one or two words, it’s more beneficial.
Let's say you have a favorite quote or book that you want to have as an intention for the year. What word would summarize that book or quote?
For instance, if I chose the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, I would want to embrace the energy of that book. I would create a list of words that represented the book and how it made me feel. Once that was complete, I would do the meditation, to narrow down the word.
Some of the words I would take from the book would be creative, magic, or magical, expansive, adventurous or fearless. Even if you chose the same book, you might have a different list; this should be personal and push you a little beyond your comfort zone.
I will give you a few examples of my past intentions and how they affected me!
For years my word was surrender. I wrote the word on my white board in my office and sticky notes in a few places. I would meditate on the energy and deeper meaning of the word and ask for it to support me throughout the year!