One Word for 2018

December 31, 2017
Mary Jane Copps

I’m on my way to a place where I never dreamed I’d be, and that’s perfection.
Mary J Blige

Two years ago my colleague and friend Jeanie Burke, President of Home Instead Senior Care Halifax, shared with me the concept of one word – choosing one word to express my resolutions/hopes/wishes/goals for the entire year.

And it worked!

What words have I chosen in the past? And what will I choose for 2018?

The word I chose for 2016 was … DARE. I wanted to push against some of my self-created boundaries, challenge some of my fears and knock on more doors simply to see what was on the other side. With the word “dare” humming in the back of my mind, I agreed to publish a second book, got meetings with senior VPs at one of Canada’s largest banks,  did my first “keynote”. hired a virtual assistant,  attended DreamForce in San Francisco (along with 169,999 other people – yikes!), and the list goes on.

Throughout the year, every time I hesitated over an idea or potential opportunity I said to myself “dare” and amazing things happened.

For 2017 I chose the word LEARN. One thing that became crystal clear to me throughout my year of daring, was that I needed to know a lot more about a lot more things!

The word “learn” comes from Old English meaning “to get knowledge, be cultivated; study, read, think about” but also from the Proto-Germanic meaning “to follow or find the track”. So through my studying, reading and thinking, I aimed to identify my path for 2018 and beyond. I began with researching and then crafting a 5-year plan (with the assistance of Stephanie Coldwell and the support of the Centre for Women in Business).

And it worked again! With a focus on learning throughout the year, I attended more workshops, events, webinars (including a life-changing, 100-day marketing seminar with Seth Godin) than ever before. And when things got stressful or failed completely, I asked myself “What can I learn from this experience?”.

The result is a clear vision of where I want to take The Phone Lady that still leaves plenty of room for me to adapt to how business communication is changing.

And my year of learning has also clearly revealed what my biggest challenge is in growing this business – me! Which brings me to my word for 2018: IMPERFECT.

I feel a bit foolish for not owning up to my perfectionist streak until now, but better late than never. I’m going to move past “But it’s not perfect.” to “Here it is. What do you think?”

If this idea of one word appeals to you, there are many sites dedicated to the concept. I believe the idea became a movement due to the writings and work of Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page, and there’s more information at their website Get One Word.

What about you? Will you choose one word to guide your 2018? What will it be? Please take a moment to share in the comment section below. Happy New Year! 




  1. Anita Kirkbride says:

    I picked a word for the first time, just today… Amplify. I’m going to amplify my personal brand, my service offerings and my community.

    • Krysta Hartlen Côté says:

      Anita, that’s an awesome word.
      My past words have been intention, dream, inspire, grow, commitment, and I chose FOCUS for 2018.

      • The Phone Lady says:

        This is a great word, Krysta, and one that holds tremendous value in our world full of distractions. As a verb, focus came into use in 1775, referring specifically to optics and later to photography. It’s use as “centre of activity or energy” was first recorded in 1796. I wish you well on your focused year and look forward to an update.

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Oooooo – this is an awesome word, Anita! I was inspired to learn more about it and discovered that it has been in use since the 15th century, meaning to expand or increase. It was in 1915, with the advent of radio technology, that the use of the word started to be restricted in use as a descriptive of sound. I look forward to watching you amplify this year and to, hopefully, hearing about your experience of the word in December.

  2. The Phone Lady says:

    I want to share two “words” that appeared on Twitter as a result of this post.

    The first came from @TravelGalSuz and her word is “hope” . It originally comes from the Old English word “hopa” which means “confidence in the future” In the 13th century it evolved to mean expectation of something desired – also trust, confidence; wishful desire.

    And @thecasperagency chose “reinvent” . The root of this is the word “invention” which dates back to the 16th century and means to come upon; devise, discover as well as produce by original thought, find out by original study.

  3. Tanya says:

    What a great blog!

    My 2018 will be fearless. I will not allow fear to limit me, professionally or personally. I will be fearless. I will the obstacles but I will persevere regardless. I will be fearless.

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Fearless is a wonderful word to take through the year, Tanya. As I read your comment I thought about Susan Jeffers and the book she wrote over 25 years ago – Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway. It was the first “self help” book I ever read and it was, and continues to be, an inspiration. You can find more information here:

  4. Halina says:

    Love this blog and the idea. So my word for 2018 is WRITE. I want to write novels and I’m happy to report I’ve started already. Happy New Year.

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Oh Halina, I am so excited for you. Writing a novel. I have several bouncing around in my head but I’m not confident they’ll ever get on to paper. So I’m cheering for you for sure. Enjoy the moments, the process and I look forward to reading each and every one.

  5. Jane says:

    Great choice Mary Jane. I’m sure you will discover a lot about yourself as you explore perfectionist tendencies and learn how to embrace imperfection . Certainly is a challenge for many of us, as you and I have discussed. I usually choose a word or two for my yearly theme as well. Working on that tomorrow. Excited for 2018!

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Thank you, Jane. My conversation with you was certainly inspiring so I’m off to discover more about “imperfect”. If you think of it, do come back and tell us the words you’ve chosen for 2018. I know you have several wonderful projects on the go and I’m looking forward to seeing what you create in 2018.

  6. Eileen says:

    My word is determination. According to Wikipedia, Determination is a positive emotional feeling that involves persevering towards a difficult goal in spite of obstacles. Determination occurs prior to goal attainment and serves to motivate behavior that will help achieve one’s goal.
    I will remind myself every day, that determination is my word for 2018.

    • The Phone Lady says:

      This is a fabulous word, Eileen. It will support you in so many ways as you move through the year. Originally from the 14th century, it meant a decision, sentence or settlement – as in a court case or judgement. But it evolved in the 1650s to mean “fixed direction toward a goal,” originally in physics or anatomy. Then in the 1680s it came to mean “fixation of will” and further evolved in 1822 to mean “quality of being resolute”. I look forward to seeing how you and your business evolves this year with this word as your guide.

  7. Jacqueline Steudler says:

    What a great and brave word Mary Jane! Imperfection could become a good one for me too. (smile) In 2017 I chose ‘create’. Although I did a lot nothing of the many pieces I had been thinking of for 2017 came really to fruition. What I realized was that I was not clear enough. So my word for this year is ‘deliberate’. I want to be intentional in all my decisions and creations. I want to pick consciously how I spend my time and with whom. (smile) Thank you for all your inspiration!

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Oh Jacqueline, this is such a strong word. And thank you for sharing your story from last year. Deliberate came into use in the English language in the early 15th century, meaning “done with careful consideration”. By the 1590s it had also come to mean “slow, consciously unhurried”. It seems like a word we should all be considering. I look forward to learning how it impacts your 2018.

  8. Bill Hildreth says:

    Great article…. having recently celebrated 65 years of experience and learning and beginning to grow my business again exponentially I have chosen three words for 2018 , ” Contentment, Peace, and Abundance” . Reconnecting with life has been a challenge but after all of the hard work you all need to be grateful for all the experience good or bad that got us here.

    Happy New Year 2018 , Cheers

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Well said, Bill. And great words to take with you throughout 2018. You are an inspiration. Hope to see you again soon. Thanks for contributing to the conversation.

  9. Katherine says:

    Hi Mary Jane,

    I love this! My word for this year is “CREATE.” Last year was a lot of research and ground work and now I need to make things, which will make things happen. Thank you! Watch for a shout out in my newsletter. Happy 2018!


    • The Phone Lady says:

      This is a wonderful word, Katherine. Well chosen after your year of preparation. The word create comes from 14th century Latin and it means “to make, bring forth, produce, beget,” but also “arise, grow,” – so I look forward to what you produce and also how you and your business will grow.

  10. Jeanie Burke says:

    I love reading everyone’s ONE WORD!

    My word for 2018 is SIMPLIFY.

    I plan to pare down my wardrobe to make easier choices and get rid of things I don’t use in the house. I’ll eliminate inactive accounts of all kinds, save new documents in the cloud as much as possible and scan printed documents and throw away the paper. At the office we’ll look at what we can STOP doing whenever we are going to START doing something different. Is there paperwork or procedures that we no longer need?

    I’ll choose my favourite foods and simple meals and create a flexible rotation and standardize my grocery list.

    I’ll go to only the business events that can provide value and start saying “no” to social events that I really don’t want to attend.

    I’m very excited to live my word for 2018 and enjoy a simpler life!

    • The Phone Lady says:

      So glad you’ve taken the time to comment, Jeanie, since you have inspired this annual post. And I so admire your choice of word and how you describe its impact on you personally and on your business. You continue to inspire and I thank you for sharing.

  11. Mary Jane Copps says:

    And via Twitter from @NatashaVox – she has chosen the word BOLD – from Old English is means brave, confident, strong and from the Italian is means daring and fearless. Sounds like Natasha is going to have a fabulous 2018!

  12. Linda Daley says:

    REACH – that’s it. I’m going to expand my reach… helping small business people do better, trying new things, and connecting with new people. Wonderful inspiration here!

    • The Phone Lady says:

      This is an amazing word, Linda. It contains a lot of inspiration all on its own. From Old English it means to “reach out, stretch out, extend, hold forth,” but also “succeed in touching, address, speak to,” and “offer, present, give, grant”. From the German is means “stretch out the hand”, from Lithuanian “to stretch oneself” and from Old Irish “I stretch”. Sounds to me like you are going to be doing a lot of giving, growing and meeting a lot of new people this year. And you might want to take up yoga. 🙂

  13. The Phone Lady says:

    And from Twitter:

    @MerylACook says: “My #oneword for 2018 is two words – Choose Joy!” You can’t go wrong with this approach Meryl. Choosing joy in each moment is going to make for a wonderful 2018.

    And @MrGaryHunt says “My #oneword for 2018 is FOCUS. I as well signed up for Seth’s marketing course. Seth is a master. Gonna be a great year lots of book work and learning as l work toward my designation and several other things in the works” . I’m excited that Gary will be taking this course with me. It is going to add some incredible energy to our 2018.

  14. Mary Jane Copps says:

    And from Twitter:

    @MennaRiley says My #oneword2018 is FUN! As in: I will endeavor to find the fun in everything I do. Which sounds like I haven’t been having fun all these years (I have!) but it’s just a good reminder to stop and smell the roses

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Great word, Menna. There is lots of research out there that connects our ability to have fun to our ability to continually be creative and productive. I look forward to seeing the results of your focus on fun in 2018.

  15. Sheila Kelly says:

    “What is most important for me to know for the upcoming year?” That is the question I asked my inner guidance system towards the end of 2017. The answer camer in one (unexpected) word… embodify.

    When I googled “embodify,” google gave me all kinds of information about “embody.” Embodify, it seems, is not (yet) a recognized word.

    Whereas embody means to give something form, embodify seems to capture a sense of making something complete and whole. If I embodify something, I am grounded in it so completely that it defines everything I am and informs everything I do. It is, in fact, who I am.

    Embodify. When I asked what I was to embodify, the words “inner beauty” came to mind. As a woman “of a certain age,” this is extremely powerful and relevant for me.

    Great question, Mary Jane. Thank you!

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Very inspirational, Sheila. Thanks for sharing. I could not find any additional information on “embodify” but I did discover that “embody” first appeared around 1540 with an original meaning of a soul or spirit invested with a physical form. This fits in nicely with the wholeness you mention. May 2018 be a most beautiful year for you!

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