When I first heard about choosing a word of the year, the process reminded me of the work I was doing in strategic planning. Strategic thinking and planning, by design, should bring to the forefront what is most important. 

Identifying values, articulating your purpose or mission, and looking forward at an aspirational vision ground you in what matters most. The exercise works for companies as well as individuals.

Selecting one word that would drive your choices and decisions for the coming year made sense.  I would have one more tool to eliminate distractions and maintain focus on keeping the main thing the main thing (per Stephen Covey). 

First attempts at three words

I gave it a try for the first time in 2016. I chose . . .

  1. Courage (to seize my dreams)
  2. Do (well, you can’t seize anything without planning and doing the work)
  3. Gift (every day is a gift to give back to others)

In 2017, I selected these:

  1. Simplify (my life, concepts that I teach, move toward a level of minimalism)
  2. Resolve (to just stay the course)
  3. Create (better understand my own creativity and the inner artist within)

In 2018?  Well – since I cannot find them written anywhere, I think 2017 rolled right into 2018. Consistency might have been a good choice.

I would love to tell you these words resulted in extraordinary results. But truthfully, I just tucked them on my desk and in my journal. Did they increase my focus? Drive significant outcomes?

No. However, once a year, I took a hard look at my life, my work, my dreams, and my purpose. What was I doing to improve myself and the world around me. Perhaps that was enough.

This week, as I walked through a local hobby store, this small wooden plaque shouted, “Pick me up . This is you. This is what you do best!”


Once again, I sat down to reflect, to assess, and to plot a path for the coming year. I started with the one word that has crept into my thinking anytime I considered my purpose – my unique contribution to those I love and the world around me. The word that literally seemed to shout at me from the display shelf.


Remembering I needed (or so I thought) three words, I began to brainstorm.


What did I decide?

There is one word that truly defines me. My mission, my goal in life, throughout my life, is, has been, and will likely always be to inspire. 

Inspire hope, optimism, kindness, the possibility that you and me can become our best. In everything I do, no matter how large or small the action, I aspire to empower myself and everyone around me to be and become our best.

The change may not consist of any giant leaps or magical transformations. Instead, we grow into ourselves in small ways. Tiny actions, taken consistently over time, can transform each of us to be more than we ever imagined possible.

The same can happen in our schools, our workplaces, our neighborhoods, our country, our world. 

My one word for life: Inspire.

What will I focus on inspiring in 2019?

  • Kindness
  • Optimism
  • Possibilities

What is your one word or three for 2019?

Happy New Year!

Send me a note or share these ideas with others. And always—be and become #yourbest.