One Word for 2019

There’s power in resolution, in the simple act of saying to myself, “This is going to happen.” -MJC

For the fourth year, I’m sharing with you the concept of One Word. I was introduced to this idea in 2016 by my colleague and friend Jeanie Burke, President of Home Instead Senior Care Halifax. It involves choosing one word to express your resolutions/hopes/wishes/goals for the coming year. I’ve been amazed at the positive impact of this seemingly simple exercise, especially as I look back on my word for 2018.

There’s a lot of information available on the One Word concept. My research indicates the idea became a movement due to the writings and work of Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page, and you can find more information at their website Get One Word. Simply put, instead of making a list of specific resolutions, which are often abandoned or forgotten by February, choose one word as your theme for the coming year. What’s the outcome? Here’s my experience:

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 was a clear vision of where I want to take The Phone Lady that still leaves plenty of room to adapt to how business communication keeps changing.

My word for 2018 was IMPERFECT and it makes me laugh to write about it now. The intent was to acknowledge my perfectionist streak and prevent it from getting in my way; I intended to move past “But it’s not perfect.” to “Here it is. What do you think?”

And I did do this, launching several new courses (that still need tweaking), sharing the beta version of my online course, as well as forcing myself to make and share video content. But the real power of this word has appeared more in my personal life. During the year I juggled my responsibilities as a daughter-in-law, caring for my mother-in-law and the family as they came to terms with her dementia and the necessity of moving her to full-time care,  along with my responsibilities as wife/partner/friend to husband David, who’s recent diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s has began to impact our daily lives in surprising (often hilarious) ways.

As I write this I am living in the most imperfect house ever. Even as a young person working three jobs, I never let my surroundings get this … chaotic. But as I end the year with time to organize and purge, I know that accepting this imperfection in order to focus on the best priorities for family, work and myself has been the right decision and that this acceptance will allow me to embrace whatever comes next.

Which brings me to my word for 2019. At first, I thought the word was going to be patience, but when I looked up its meaning and history, I discovered it was connected to suffering and submission, and that’s not right. So I’ve settled on the simplest of words … “BE”.

Throughout the year I want to truly BE in the moment I’m in, not in the anxious worry or preparation for what’s next. Each and every second I spend as The Phone Lady is amazing, an unexpected blessing, yet I often rush past it, on to the next project and deadline. And with husband David, I allow my worry to take me too far into the future, adding unnecessary anxiety to our days and limiting our moments of joy.

This will be a challenge for sure … but I’ve always loved a good challenge! I look forward to sharing my experience with you next December.

By the way, what’s your “one word”? Please share in the comment section below. And … Happy New Year!





24 thoughts on “One Word for 2019”

  1. Thank you MJ, for your inspirational post. I love the concept of one-word.

    My life is always emtional, here, there, and everywhere. I have to be more present in the now, to find joy in each moment. If joy is replaced with anger, sadness, or depression, I need to find that lost joy immediately, now.

    With love, Lisette

    • Hi Dear Lisette, Our mental health is so important and often very fragile. We have to take care of this aspect of ourselves everyday. Here’s a Ted Talk that might offer you a new perspective And I encourage you to get back to your writing. You are a beautiful writer and often, when things seem bleak, writing allows us to find the light, joy and love in our lives. Hugs to you, mj

  2. Positive.

    The circumstances in both my private and professional life are challenging. Positivity will serve me well.

    Thank you for the suggestion. Your email pops in regularly in the early hours of Monday here in the UK And is always a good read.

    Best wishes for 2019

    • Thanks, Colin, for sharing your positivity. It will support you through your challenges throughout 2019. Wishing you lots of delight, joy and love in the mix as well.

  3. Good morning, Mary Jane.

    Presently “be” works very well for me.

    That is being with myself, with loved ones, with friends and with new and old acquaintances in that deliberate sequence if possible.

    Happy 2019!


  4. this year my word is PATIENCE.

    I need more Patience in all I do including personal standards & business growth.

    All the Best in 2019!


    • Thanks for sharing your work, Bruce. Patience is something that everyone needs more of … wishing you well throughout 2019. Joy, health and prosperity. Happy 2019!

  5. Happy New Year, Mary Jane!

    My word for this year is family: redefining its shape and respecting its boundaries. Friends have always been my kin-folk, so rediscovering blood relationships is a new direction for me.

    Thank you for posing the question… I wish you much joy in this New Year, and success piled upon past successes; and not a little peace!

    • Thank you so much. And what a unique word to choose – not an action but a group of people that you want to give your attention to throughout the year. I like it very, very much. And I wish you all that is peaceful, joyful and fulfilling throughout the year ahead.

  6. I really enjoyed this, MJ! I love that you share your words from the last three years and the impact choosing those words has had on you personally and professionally. It really is all about ‘intention’, isn’t it?

    My word for 2019 is MOMENTUM. I’m ready and willing to get out of my own way in order to shine as brightly as possible — without fear or limitation.

    Wishing you a BEautiful New Year!

    • Tamara … momentum is a great word. I’m looking forward to seeing how it manifests throughout the year. And thanks for the “BEautiful” – very nice!

  7. Breakthrough is my word for 2019.

    Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful words of advice, comfort, challenges and so much more.

    I chose my word for 2019 in mid December. As I was writing this, I looked at the last 5 letters in my word…yes, there will be rough patches as I strive for my breakthrough!!!

    Happy New Year. Penny

    • Hi Penny, and thanks for sharing your word. It is a word that I know took much thought and I love how you see the word “rough” in it. I sent you wishes and support for many breakthroughs in 2019!

  8. Loved the post Mary Jane! I certainly appreciate how chaotic life can be. Your positive attitude inspires and your one word to live by, ‘BE’ for 2019 will be in the back of my mind through the upcoming year. My word for 2019 is REACH.

    There are a lot of goals for this year and it’s never too early to start!

    Thank you and I wish you all the best for 2019.


    • Thanks, Susan. Reach is a wonderful word to choose. It conjures up images of physical reaching for something but also we can reach for things in intellectual and emotional ways. I believe it will be a wonderful inspiration for you throughout the year.

  9. I think my word for 2019 will have to be BUILD. I’m looking to build a lot of new things, new bridges, and new approaches this year. So when I find something that’s challenging me, I’ll try to remember to BUILD a way over, through, or around it.

    • Thanks, Megann. Lovely to hear from you and the image of build made me smile. I visualized you pouring over blueprints. I know there will be a lot of great stories that come out of all the ways you build this year.

  10. Great word. My past words have been intention, dream, inspire, grow, commitment, then focus for 2018, and mine for 2019 is LOVE 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing all your words, Krysta. You’ve definitely embraced this practice for several years, which I admire. And what a great word for 2019. Love is, after all, our highest calling. Have a very “love”ly 2019.


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