One Word: Here’s What I Learned

One Word

One Word: I’ve been practicing this habit now for ten years! This coming year will be year number eleven! It’s always an interesting journey and rarely the journey I anticipate it being.

Every year I’m taken aback by all I learn along the way. So many valuable lessons. But to really seal the deal and get the most from my One Word experience, I find I useful to take time to reflect, digest, and document the learning. The bonus: I am able to glance back with ease and see how far I’ve come!

If the idea of adopting One Word for the year is new to you, learn more about how you might get started here.

My 2023 One Word: Surrender

Most years, I know what my One Word for the coming year will be in November. When the word surrender bubbled up, I honestly was hoping another word would surface before the end of the year. In my mind, the word sounded hard and anything but fun!

Turns out my experience was wildly positive! And while I am not naturally a “surrender” sort of gal, what God really wanted me to glean from this word is that life and work are much easier when I surrender. He wants me to enjoy life, rest, and to depend on Him which all involved me surrendering. After all, trying to hustle and strive literally wears me out!

Here’s what I learned:

1. The Meaning

SURRENDER: To yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand; to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another. (Merriam Webster)

In my mind, if I surrendered, really surrendered, I would be giving up – giving up on my goals and yielding my power. I like to be in control, and as a driven type, I like goals and doing what it takes to achieve those goals. I don’t mind working hard.

What I discovered is that surrender is more about relaxing, accepting, and trusting than it is about giving up the power I don’t actually possess in the first place. It was an invitation, rather than a demand to relax, accept, and trust, When I accepted the invitation, the outcome was significantly better than if I’d forced my own way.

2. My Motivation

There were issues I had to confront in the process of embracing the word surrender like…

      • What was keeping me from letting go and surrendering?
        When I boiled it all down, did I really trust that God had my best interests in mind? More on this later.
      • What were my negative feelings about around the prospect of yielding?
        The feeling of being out of control is not a fond one for me. Yet the feeling of being in control is actually an illusion, so, I’ve had to grow more comfortable with surrendering and my experience as proven that when I do surrender everything works out just fine! In fact, it often works out better! That doesn’t mean I lay down and hope it all works out. It means that I do my part and when it seems like it is not panning out, I choose to dwell on the fact that God’s got me rather than allowing fear to creep in.
      • Were the goals I was pursuing the right goals for me and for the right reasons?
        Because I am ambitious, I set BIG goals. Achieving is my lens, but it is not God’s lens. I want to successfully reach my goals, however, He is more interested in the state of my heart than whether or not I conquer my goals! Was I willing to release my goals and trust He would guide me in a way that would honor His desires for me?
      • What does a surrendered heart look like for me?
        It has taken great strength and courage for me to surrender. What God asks me to pursue is very different from what the world views as successful. His hope for me is that my trust and dependence on Him will increase and then increase a little more. He and I are the only ones privy to the successes – just the two of us. It’s nothing the people around me are able to actually see.

3. More Malleable

Yes! More malleable also known as more go-with-the flow! In the past I would get slightly disappointed and worked up when life wasn’t working out the way I’d planned. Stressed when it appeared that I didn’t have enough time to accomplish what I thought I needed to accomplish.

I’ve been practicing being more flexible and surrendering to whatever came my way, believing that God knew what needed to be done and that He would work everything out in an amazing way. Just having that mindset when those inconvenient events or circumstances popped up has made a tremendous difference. And surprise – He always works things out in a uniquely creative way!

Being more malleable is a good thing!

4. Mindset Matters

How willing I am to surrender reveals a lot about my mindset and beliefs. Do I believe that God wants good things for me? That He is really for me and interested in giving me the desires of my heart?

One of the scriptures that I have been dwelling on this year is this one. It hangs on my office wall:

As I delight in Him, really delight in Him, my desires become His desires and those desires are the best!

I’ve been in awe of how He has supernaturally intervened on my behalf when I fully trust Him AND do my part. There’s rarely a connection between my efforts and His provision, so there’s no doubting it’s all Him! Doing my part actually demonstrates my trust in God and has proven to be a factor even though there isn’t always a direct correlation to the results.

5. Much More Mellow

Yes, I’m more pleasant, relaxed, and gentle when I surrender. That’s more in keeping with the loving woman God created me to be than when I’m fighting whatever I’m facing.

The truth is the burden lifts when I surrender. I don’t have to try and figure it all out because I know the One who is more than able to work all things out. Even though I have no idea how it will all come together, I know that it will, and that enables me to relax. After all, stressing, worrying, or fretting don’t help anyway!

He longs to carry my load – to shoulder the brunt of my burdens. He is tickled when I mellow out and watch Him work with awe!

It’s exciting to see how focusing on a single word leads to growth and happy personal and professional changes! And because it is a year long focus the changes stick!

Enough about me! What’s your One Word adventure been like?

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 Bradshaw on January 3, 2024 at 5:34 pm

    My word for 2023 was “Contentment” ie being content with/grateful for what I had in material goods and relationships. I didn’t allow myself to pursue more or “better” in either category. I purchased only items I needed, nothing more. In relationships, I worked at more deeply developing the ones I already had. God used the focus to truly deepen my contentment in every way. And funny thing, now that the ban on buying extras is lifted for 2024, I find I’m not interested. I feel like a significant shift has taken place.

  2. Marvae Eikanas on January 3, 2024 at 5:50 pm

    Learning to be content is so incredibly valuable! What an exciting shift! Thanks for sharing April! What’s your One Word for 2024?

  3. April Bradshaw on January 4, 2024 at 4:35 am

    Remembering this is true for both me and my loved ones.

    • Marvae Eikanas on January 4, 2024 at 9:58 am

      Held…what a visual I get from that word April! A strong sense of being deeply loved and secure as well. Praying God uses that word in a powerful way in your life this year!

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