Around this time of year when we flip the calendar from one year to the next, most people make a long list of New Year’s Resolutions. It is a noble idea in theory, but often in practice, doesn’t amount to much. Resolutions often get cast aside and discarded, making their creators feel inadequate and unproductive.

So why not skip the New Year’s Resolutions altogether this time and opt for an alternative New Year’s ritual: the One-Word Theme!

I find it helps me to choose a word to give me an over-arching theme for the new year. For many people, the one word approach feels more manageable and powerful than a laundry list of New Year’s Resolutions which can often feel like another to-do list. One word is ideal. It gives you focus.

I believe that choosing a word for the year is so compelling because it takes the “should” out of our wish for personal and professional development. Our word serves as a gentle (but powerful!) reminder, rather than a drill sergeant barking orders at us.

I’ve been following this one word theme for years now.

  • In 2011, my word was Implement. Boy, did I implement that year as I changed my business brand and model, and went with my husband on 13 interviews around the U.S. to choose a place for him to do a residency and for us to relocate to from NY.
  • My word in 2012 was Change as we relocated across country from New York to California and completely changed our lives and I expanded my business.
  • In 2013, my word was Discover as I acclimated to living in Northern California and embraced our new life. I took Italian classes, became a “real” cyclist, got back on stage with local theater groups, and more.
  • In 2014, my word was Presence as a reminder to live in the moment and savor all of the experiences personally and professionally that I was blessed to have in my life.
  • In 2015, my word was Adventure. My husband finished his 3-year veterinary residency and we spent a month in beautiful Italy. What an adventure indeed!!
  • In 2016, my word was Savor. It was a great reminder to slow down and enjoy life more. I renewed my life-long hobbies of reading and writing. I read 84 books that year and started writing creatively again.
  • In 2017, I chose Creativity and loved it! I started writing my first novel, attended some amazing writer conferences, and brought a creative flair to everything I did, personally and professionally.

For 2018, I’ve chosen the word Embrace. It took a little bit of time to reveal itself, but once it did, I realized it was the right word and theme for this year. I plan to embrace my favorite hobbies such as reading and writing, embrace my health, embrace my marriage, embrace my business, and yes, even embrace my age (I am turning 50 at the end of January… yikes! How did that happen?!).

I love how Embrace makes me feel like I am enjoying what I have, while reaching for what I want. It feels positive and proactive. It feels like it will push me outside my comfort zone, but not so far that I lose sight of what I already have that needs to be embraced.

When I posted on social media about this one-word approach, I got a huge response to my appeal for people to share their word of the new year. People’s comments were very inspiring and thought-provoking. Interestingly, people often share that they experience a little resistance to their word at first. Or were surprised at their word. Or hoped that something bigger or better had come to mind. Try not to resist the word that presents itself to you!

The word you choose is usually the exact one that you need to be reminded of throughout the year. And by the way, the one word theme is not a cop out! It doesn’t mean that you won’t accomplish anything or fail to take action. From what I have seen with the one-word theme, you will. But many of us don’t need another to-do list. We need a theme, a rallying cry, a mantra, an affirmation, a reminder. Your one word can serve all of those purposes and more if you give it some serious thought, choose wisely (or better yet, let your word choose you!), and then keep that word front and center in your mind, guiding your actions and behavior during the year.

So… what is your one word for 2018? I’d love to hear it. Please send me an email or even better, share in the comments below so others can be inspired too!

Happy New Year!

About Lisa Montanaro

Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and enjoy productive and profitable businesses. To receive her free Toolkit, Achieve Powerhouse Success with Purpose, Passion & Productivity, visit Lisa is the author of "The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life" published by Peter Pauper Press. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help you be purposeful, passionate and productive, contact Lisa at (530) 302-5306 or by e-mail at .

14 Responses to “What’s Your Word of 2018? An Alternative New Year’s Ritual (Instead of Pesky Old New Year’s Resolutions!)”

  1. Jonda Beattie

    Lisa, I can’t believe we have chosen the same word. I too am embracing the current season of my life – especially becoming a grandmother for the first time at 74. I am also embracing new strategies with my work and life. My word last year was release and I feel that set me up for this year’s word.

  2. Lisa Montanaro

    Jonda – That is so cool that we selected the same word for this year. Love it!! And how wonderful that you are becoming a grandmother. So exciting! And new strategies for work and life sound like a good plan, especially after “releasing” last year anything you didn’t want, or that wasn’t working for you. Brava!! Here’s to a great 2018.

  3. Hazel Thornton

    I chose a word this year — CONNECT — and blogged about why I chose it, and how I plan to implement it. In reading your list of previous words, I realize that you may have been the first person I knew personally to take this approach to New Year’s Resolutions!

  4. Lisa Montanaro

    Hazel – I love Connect for you. I read your blog post and the examples of how you plan to incorporate Connect. Perfect for you! And I love that you put some guidelines to it also. And that’s neat that I’m the first person you know that has done this exercise. It has served me well for years now and I love passing it onto colleagues, clients and readers. Happy new year!

    • Lisa Montanaro

      Cheri – Good for you for recognizing that you need to move forward and shake things up after a stagnant second half of last year. Progress is such a good word. I wish you constant motion forward in 2018.

  5. Miranda Wise

    This year my word is Self-Care. I will stop breastfeeding at some point and be able to “have my body back to myself.” Then I can focus on eating and exercising to lose the baby weight instead of being concerned about milk supply. It’s kind of a weird word for a new mom, but my belief on motherhood is that it’s best to take care of myself first, then my marriage, then my baby. I see it like a tower where I am the foundation, my marriage is a support, and taking care of both enable me to uplift the baby and give her the best. I’m thinking a Self-Care 2018 will set a good pattern for the foundation.

    • Lisa Montanaro

      Hi Miranda –

      Happy New Year!! I love this. The year to get your body back. 🙂 The focus on not only exercise and healthy eating, but overall self care is so awesome. And recognizing that you need to focus on YOU first and build the foundation is so important. And not always a priority for new parents, so brava!!

  6. Kim Cossette Andre

    I love your choice of Embrace – I actually chose the same word last year with the intention to embrace the day, each moment, etc. 🙂 This year’s word is Excellence which has nothing to do with perfection, but everything to do with bringing my best self to each moment. No more half-assed, mediocre ANYthing.

    • Lisa Montanaro

      Hi Kim – Love that you are differentiating Excellence from perfection. So important! Bringing your best self to everything you do and not half assing anything sounds like a recipe for an awesome year. Happy 2018!!

  7. Susan Weber

    Believe it or not, my word for the year for 2018 is…declutter. After being in business now for just over 7 years, it’s time for me to declutter my home and home office. The older I get, the less it matters about the stuff. By decluttering, my hope is to bring balance back into my life – with respect to work and life…less work and more living! Thank you, Lisa, for always having such thought-provoking newsletters.

    • Lisa Montanaro

      Susan – I think Declutter is a fabulous word! And I know a few professional organizers (or former professional organizers) who are also focusing on that this year. Some are moving, some have just become empty nesters, and others are just feeling like they want to lighten the load. And I love that you are clear that you want more living and less work. Good for you for knowing that and reaching for that balance. Here’s to your year of decluttering! 🙂

  8. Devora Farrell

    I just stumbled on this post today, and even though we’re about to begin month seven of 2018, my word is “dedicated.” My clients will see that I am right there with them, whether in person or virtual. I will be prepared for each client, each session. I will be someone they can count on.

    • Lisa Montanaro

      Hi Devora – Thanks for your comment! I love the word Dedicated as a theme for the year. And it is never too late to set an intention. Still half the year left! Lots of time to dedicate yourself to your personal and professional endeavors. 🙂


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