One Word for 2023

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” – John Keating

For the eighth year, I’m sharing with you the concept of One Word. I was introduced to this idea at the end of 2015 by my colleague and friend Jeanie Burke. It involves choosing one word to express your resolutions/hopes/wishes/goals for the coming year. I’ve been amazed at the impact of this seemingly simple exercise.

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 on their website Get One Word. Simply, 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 impact of choosing one word? And what’s my choice for 2023?

For 2022 my word was ACCEPT. I already knew the year was going to be challenging, balancing caregiving with being The Phone Lady. My belief was that the key to navigating everything was going to be accepting some of life’s less attractive truths, such as :

  • Life can be incredibly messy and this includes a messy house, a messy work schedule and, well, messing up. I had to accept that I was often forgetful, that I did a lot of “last minute” preparation, and that many of the projects I wanted to complete are still on my to-do list.
  • Sometimes sleep doesn’t happen. It took me a long time to accept this, as sleeping has always been one of my superpowers. But the combination of work, caregiving and running a household often had me wide awake at 3 am. When I focused on my lack of sleep, everything became more difficult. Often, when I accepted that the extra hours were an opportunity and that I could trust my natural rhythms to provide the rest I needed, I remained energized and centered.
  • Emotions can take over … very quickly. This was – and remains – the hardest thing to accept. There were moments in the past year when I “lost it”. With a combination of less sleep, frustration and worry, it was definitely difficult to stay calm and cheerful. I do regret some of my reactions but I also learned to accept my imperfect humanness and I continue to work on staying calm … and carrying on.
  • Don’t stop asking for help. This was perhaps the biggest lesson for me. I’m independent to a fault and asking for help has always been difficult. But when my husband, David, entered the stage of Alzheimer’s where he struggled to sleep, it became obvious that how we were managing our lives was unsustainable. I had to accept that much more help was necessary. It will come as no surprise that I picked up the phone. I talked to everyone who was part of our support system – doctors, government agencies, the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia, and even the folks at 811. And I kept calling, kept asking questions and requesting more help. It arrived in September with David being accepted at a wonderful enhanced care home about 6 minutes from our house. While there’s heartbreak in letting go of the commitment we had to keeping him here at home, he’s incredibly happy in his new “apartment” and the staff are amazing.  They really, really like my singing, dancing, laughing husband, and they take care of him in ways I could not.

So acceptance is now part of my (almost) daily yoga practice and creates the foundation for my 2023 word: STRENGTH.

The word comes to us from the ancient Proto-Germanic word strangiz, eventually showing up in Old English around the 14th century. It is defined as one’s physical strength as well as having vigor and fortitude. When I recently found a button with this word in a dusty bowl, on a dusty shelf, it had an immediate impact. During 2023 I want this word to invigorate my relationship with:

  • My physical well-being. In the last few years, I’ve moved a lot less. There’s been the sitting in front of a camera and increased time driving a car, with less time walking, stretching and being active. While I’m not one to diet or look at numbers on a scale, I’ve always been able to count on my strength for everything from moving furniture to opening a jar. I’m not willing to let this simply fade away and I know that my physical strength supports both a higher energy level and improved focus.
  • My monkey brain. You know what I mean – all those voices in my head that chatter away, creating distraction, worry and doubt. It’s exhausting. In 2023 I want to turn down the volume on this nonsense and give my full attention to the people and projects that keep me inspired.
  • My ability to say ‘no’. I’m really bad at this important life skill. I love to help, to find solutions, to support others. But I need to uncover a deeper level of honesty within myself and identify the moments when it’s vital that I say ‘no’.

I’m sure there’s more the word strength will bring into my life this coming year, and I look forward to sharing this with you at year end.

If you are interested in reading more about my experiences with One Word, here are my posts from previous years:

In the meantime … what about you? What is your One Word? And what does it represent? Please share in the comment section below.  Happy New Year everyone!


12 thoughts on “One Word for 2023”

  1. Ha, I always think I don’t have a “word” but then it seems to arrive. For 2023, my word will be LEARN. I neglected my learning in 2022 in favour of “doing”. It’s time for some new ideas and thoughts 😉 As always, thanks for your ongoing inspiration, Mary Jane!

    • Thanks for sharing, Linda. Learn also comes to us from the Proto-Germanic, meaning to follow or find the track, showing up in Old English as leornian, meaning to “get knowledge, be cultivated; study, read, think about”. Sounds to me like you are going to have a busy year!

  2. Mary Jane,

    Waving ‘hello’ from the past. I follow you, and read your exceptionally insightful articles, still to this day. Thank you for all the help you have provided to so many including me, throughout your calling as, ‘The Phone Lady’.

    I relate to all of your truths. And, if I may, I would like to choose your One Word too, strength.

    Take good care and Happy New Year,

    • Dana … so lovely to hear from you! It has been ages but I’ve never forgotten our great conversations and our wonderful lunch in Toronto all those years ago. Wishing you all the best for 2023 and, of course, glad to share the word “strength”.

  3. I’m still working out my word…I think it’s going to be a phrase… slow & steady…maybe. Last year was recover. This year I want to focus on building…but not too quickly.

    • I think a phrase is a good idea. I was playing with one myself … a bit more assertive than yours but I am significantly older … “If Not Now, When?”

      • Hi Mary Jane. Happy New Year. I have been following your journey through your writings dealing with your husband’s Alzheimer’s. It is a long and hard road but I am proud of you and how you try to make the best of a very difficult and at times heartbreaking illness.
        My life this year has been complicated with serious family illnesses and the total destruction of my beloved cottage due to hurricane Fiona. Fortunately, we did not stay at the cottage that fateful night.
        My business is thriving and I have chosen the word WISDOM to guide me throughout the year in my personal and professional life.
        Take care of yourself and be good to yourself….you are an amazing, strong woman. Penny

        • Happy New Year, Penny. I am sorry to hear that you are also impacted by illnesses in your family. And that you lost your cottage to Fiona. It sounds like it may have been a family cottage for more than one generation. And yes, very glad you weren’t there that night. What a devastating storm. I love the word WISDOM – it comes to us from Old English meaning “learned, sagacious; sane; prudent, discreet; experienced; having the power of discerning and judging rightly,” It will be a wonderful guide for the year ahead. Glad to know your business is thriving. You are also incredibly strong and you will meet, embrace and gather more wisdom from any challenge that comes your way.

    • Thank you, Heather, for reading and commenting. Balance is a wonderful word that touches our lives in so many ways. Here’s two of the definitions that stood out to me: “bring or keep in equilibrium” is from 1630s; that of “keep oneself in equilibrium” is from 1833. When I read these, it makes me think we should all choose “balance” as our word. 🙂

  4. Mine is Create. I’m still in the first year of retirement. I’ve waited a long time to have time, and I don’t want to lose sight of taking the time to be creative despite the other things competing for my time.

    • Thanks for sharing this, Linda. The word “create” arrives in the early 15th century and means “to bring into being,” and “to make, bring forth, produce, procreate, beget, cause,” related to Ceres and to crescere “arise, be born, increase, grow”. While competing responsibilities often make me feel like I’m not creating, I try to step back and recognize that I’ve flexed my creativity muscles while preparing a meal, writing a letter to a friend and struggling to learn how to knit. Sometimes we are creative without realizing it. I wish you well with your 2023 word and hope you check in and let me know how it influences your year.


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