One Word for 2024

“There is a cognitive cost to shifting your attention from one task to another. When our attention is shifted, there is a “residue” that remains in the brain and impairs our cognitive performance on the new task. Put differently, you may think your attention has fully shifted to the next task, but your brain has a lag—it thinks otherwise!” – Sahil Bloom

For the ninth 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 2024?

Committing to one word as an annual theme has been transformative for me. While I retain the all-important “to-do” lists that remind me of the urgent, necessary and creative tasks of my life, my one word helps me determine my priorities.

For example, my word for 2023 was STRENGTH. After eight years of caregiving for two family members diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I was worn out and had neglected my physical well-being. Here’s a sample of what I learned by keeping strength top of mind:

  • There are new and creative ways to incorporate movement and strength into my daily life. While not all my attempts were successful, I’m pleased with the commitment I’ve been able to foster because of Justin Agustin, Yoga with Adriene and Vinny Crispino. They are not only amazing teachers but they allow me to continually strengthen my body and mind in the morning, between webinars and at the end of hectic days.
  • Simply seeing the word “strength” on my desk helped me exceed a corporate goal. The hustle involved in being The Phone Lady can be overwhelming and there were days when my discipline was, well, a little shaky. Then I’d remember my one word and I’d set aside my visions of craving to simply read a book or disappear into binge-watching British detectives.
  • It takes strength and determination to say “no”. This has been the hardest lesson for me. The first time I did it, I found myself holding my breath expecting the worst possible outcome. Yet the reactions are always gracious and understanding. I wish I’d grasped this knowledge years ago.

For 2024 my word is FOCUS.

I believe it supports the strength I’ve been able to cultivate and I really, really, really want to gain control of my ‘monkey brain’.

The history of this word is fascinating. In the 1640s it’s primary meaning was “point of convergence” and, from the Latin, focus was related to “hearth, fireplace, home, family”. It was introduced into English 1650s and the meaning “center of activity or energy” was first recorded in 1796.

This year I have goals centred around my post-war home, which always requires attention. This year will see me transition away from oil heating, a process that’s full of the unexpected. There’s also my commitment to spend more time nurturing relationships with family and friends. And there are incredible opportunities and creative projects that require The Phone Lady’s laser focus.

And I’ve been further inspired by these words from Steve Jobs:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

I look forward to sharing the outcome of this one word with you at the end of this year.

In the meantime, what’s your one word for 2024? What does it represent? Do share in the comment section below. Hearing from you year after year continues to motivate others to give this powerful practice a try.

If you’d like to learn more about my journey, you can read about the impact of past words here:

Happy New Year everyone! May 2024 contain wishes come true and … lots of great conversations.

6 thoughts on “One Word for 2024”

  1. Happy New Year Mary Jane.

    My word for this year is Peace. I will focus on Peace for my mind, heart and body to help me achieve my goals for 2024.

    Penny Doherty

    • Thanks, Penny and Happy New Year to you and your family as well. Peace is such an important word, not only personally, but for the world. And my belief is, that if we live with peace of mind, heart and body, that adds to a universal peace that does create peace for humanity. I did look up the etymology of the word and I found it all so fascinating I’m posting the entire definition here. Best wishes to you for a peaceful, prosperous and love-filled 2024.

      Etymology of the word “Peace”
      mid-12c., pes, “freedom from civil disorder, internal peace of a nation,” from Anglo-French pes, Old French pais “peace, reconciliation, silence, permission” (11c., Modern French paix), from Latin pacem (nominative pax) “compact, agreement, treaty of peace, tranquility, absence of war” (source of Provençal patz, Spanish paz, Italian pace), from PIE root *pag- “to fasten” (which is the source also of Latin pacisci “to covenant or agree;” see pact), perhaps on the notion of “a binding together” by treaty or agreement.

      It replaced Old English frið, also sibb, which also meant “happiness.” The modern spelling is from 1500s, reflecting vowel shift.

      It is attested from mid-13c. as “friendly relations between people.” The sense of “spiritual peace of the heart, soul or conscience, freedom from disturbance by the passions” (as in peace of mind) is from c. 1200. The sense of “state of quiet or tranquility” is by 1300, as is the meaning “absence or cessation of war or hostility.” Specifically as “treaty or agreement made between conflicting parties to refrain from further hostilities,” c. 1400.

      Used in various greetings from c. 1300, from Biblical Latin pax, Greek eirēnē, which translators took to render Hebrew shalom, properly “safety, welfare, prosperity.”

    • Linda … what a great word. And it suits you so well. I’m aware of your creative journey this past year and know this word will guide you to even more interesting projects and results. Here’s some information on the etymology of “create” – “to bring into being,” early 15c., from Latin creatus, past participle of creare “to make, bring forth, produce, procreate, beget, cause,” related to Ceres and to crescere “arise, be born, increase, grow,” FYI Ceres was theRoman goddess of agriculture, also the name given to the first-found and largest asteroid (discovered 1801 by Piazzi at Palermo), from PIE *ker-es-, from root *ker- (2) “to grow.” Her festival, Cerealia, was April 10.

  2. Happy new year Mary Jane,

    And thank you for your wonderful newsletters.

    I also have been choosing one (+one) word for the year.

    Wasn’t 100% sure about mine, so I went to my FB groups to ask my network what they are choosing, so I could get some new ideas…

    In the end my original word(s) resonated the most with me.

    Ease and Abundance (last year was Joy and Trust).

    I also have been caring for family members this year, and had to travel to them every few weeks since they live in NY.

    So this year asking for my life to be easier, work and personal.

    Also wanted to include abundance- I want to experience more abundance this year- abundance of time, abundance of opportunities, abundance of money, etc. and to experience all that with ease not stress.

    • These are both powerful words, Aviva. Thank you for sharing them.

      For the word “ease” it can be a verb or a noun. As a verb the etymology is c. 1200, “physical comfort, undisturbed state of the body; tranquility, peace of mind,” from Old French aise “comfort, pleasure, well-being; opportunity,” while as a noun, the etymology is c. 1300, “to help, assist,” from Old French aiser, from aise (see ease (n.)). Meaning “to give ease, mitigate, alleviate, relieve from pain or care” is from mid-14c. Meaning “render less difficult” is from 1630s; the sense of “to relax one’s efforts” is from 1863.

      So, the word applies to both yourself and the support you are providing to your family.

      For abundance – “copious quantity or supply,” mid-14c., from Old French abondance and directly from Latin abundantia “fullness, plenty,”

      Wishing you both ease and abundance. I look forward to hearing the impact of these two words next January.


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