Can 6 Words Really Make a Difference?

One Word x6

Six years ago, I began a new habit; a habit that’s served me well! I began adopting a single word for an entire year – my One Word. This simple small change has resulted in some deep profound learning over the years! And a few unexpected surprises as well! Here’s a quick summary of my One Word experience:

2013 PROACTIVE: Initiating rather than reacting = “response-able”

I chose this word because I had a bad habit: complaining rather than taking action. Since complaining is actually advertising my fears, I was determined to put complaining to an end! I didn’t want to remain stuck in that cycle anymore!

Well, not only did my One Word help me with my little complaining issue, it also spurred me on to become a DISC consultant to further equip me as a coach. Personalities have always fascinated me so deepening my knowledge there – priceless!

The benefits to focusing on PROACTIVE were not isolated to work and my professional goals. It urged me forward in positive ways in my relationships, confronting fears, even slowing down and relaxing more – something that doesn’t come naturally to me! It made a powerful difference in the planning and execution of my daughter’s wedding, and so much more.

And the extra good news – that proactive thing has stuck!

One thing I’ve learned is that no matter what One Word I land on, it will take on a whole new meaning by the end of the year!

2014 FAITH-FULL : Committed to my calling & full of trust in Him!

I caught a lot of flak for this word that many considered not a “real” word, but when God gives me a word, I’m going to just go with it no matter what everyone else thinks! I’m so glad I did! It was a powerful reminder time and time again as my husband and I packed up the home that we had built, downsized, moved to a new town where we radically remodeled our new home. And let me tell you – making friends in this season of life, in a new town when both you and your husband work out of your home, isn’t easy! And friends are a big deal to me!

My One Word kept my eyes on Him and He has faithfully provided sweet new relationships, and met my every need through the challenging remodeling process!

2015 RELEASE: Let go of what you can’t change or what isn’t helpful.

In many ways, 2015 was about surrender. Isn’t that what it means to truly RELEASE? While I am still learning to let go – I think it is an ongoing process, my year focused on releasing allowed me to see it in a more positive light; that letting go is actually quite empowering!

2016 RECEIVE: Even what seems less than desirable at first, may be a gift.

When I prayerfully selected this as my One Word, I had no inkling how it would play out in my life. Naively, I anticipated a steady stream of new coaching clients and/or customers for my publishing business. Or maybe God had some other exciting venture in mind for me to receive. Never once did it cross my mind that Lyme disease would be the “gift.” With my One Word, the battle that followed took on a whole new meaning. Battling Lyme is ROUGH! It’s not a quick battle and it’s not an easy one. I am ever so grateful for the many lessons my One Word provided in that season. Lessons like…

  • It’s OK to accept help
  • Appreciating what’s really important
  • Slowing down and savoring life
  • Seeing the bright side
  • Reconnecting with my purpose
  • Depending on God more

It really was a year of ups and downs and all kids of crazy surprises – celebrating my 30 anniversary in the Bahamas, my youngest son getting married, and experiencing firsthand just how fragile life is!

This year made me consider my future One Word choices carefully!

2017 REFRESH: Give new life, strength, and energy.

Still recovering from Lyme, but gaining energy and strength, I had a brand new outlook on life. I wanted to freshen up the way I did just about everything! Guided by my One Word, I was motivated to make more time and space in my life for the things I love to do. To help me make it a priority, I made an effort to do something every day that makes my heart happy. Those heart happy activities could be anything from reading a book in the tub, coloring in one of my adult coloring books, enjoying time with a friend in person or on the phone, or working on a creative project. It may seem silly, but it was such a positive experience that I’ve continued to make that a part of my day and it’s something I continue to track!

The word REFRESH also…

  • Provided a focus– especially in difficult moments.
  • Stretched me and helped me to let go of old ways of doing things that no longer served me.
  • Challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and try new ways of doing things in all areas of my life.
  • Guided my decisions by encouraging me to make them refreshing rather than taxing.
  • Changed my perspective as I actively searched how to bring new life, strength, and energy to the various aspects of my life.

2018 ACCEPT: Receive circumstances & people as gifts – Trust God!

Possibilities –that’s been a reoccurring theme for me this year and it goes hand in hand with my One Word. A small shift in thinking that has made a great big difference.

Because I’m ambitious, I have high hopes for what I’ll be able to accomplish in a year and this past year has been no exception. What’s been different is how I look at the inevitable bumps, obstacles, disappointments, and circumstances that feel like they are against me. I’ve been able to ACCEPT them in part because I’ve considered them to be the path to brand, new even better, possibilities. I’ve always known that God works all things out for good (Romans 8:28), but somehow the knowing sank in a little deeper this year!

So what’s my One Word 2019? Well, interestingly enough, God has a way of gently showing me my new word in the fall so that for the last couple of months of the year I feel like I am straddling two words. Unless something drastic happens to show me otherwise, my One Word for 2019 is..

ABIDE: Dwell in Him; wait in expectation, remain tough!

I’ll keep you posted as to what I discover in the New Year!

Want to learn more about One Word? Learn how to launch your own One Word Adventure here.

What’s your One Word experience been like? Have you discovered your One Word for 2019 yet?

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.


  1. April on December 5, 2018 at 10:01 am

    The “one word” is one of my favorite exercises you’ve introduced.

    One memorable year was filtered through the word “Empty.” I let go of expectations and hopes our first year in a new town with a mind to simply accept whatever God had for me. My disappointments were real but the focus allowed me to view them from a different perspective –and learn to trust God for HIS purposes.

    This year? Haven’t pinpointed the word yet but it will carry the idea of an active pursuit of kingdom treasures.

    • Marvae on December 5, 2018 at 10:27 am

      It makes my heart happy to hear that this has been a favorite exercise for you April! It has a way of changing our thinking in a way that’s makes a profound difference! I look forward to hearing what word you land on to walk out that active pursuit of kingdom treasures!

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