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One Word That Can Change Your Life

by | Jan 29, 2016

Throughout my life, I have been a veracious annual goal setter. I have been known to create a multi-page document each December detailing my goals in each element of my life, including faith, husband, father, work, church, community, etc.

Did it work? Actually, for the most part, I would say yes. But over time, as my life got more and more congested, I found my goals document to feel more like a noose around my neck, rather than an inspiration for my life.

Then, several years ago, I was introduced to a completely opposite approach to goal setting by my close friend Henry Ho. One that is unbelievably simple. One that creates potent focus. One that you simply can’t forget or ignore.

What is it? ONE WORD. One word that serves as the primary theme for your year.  

This may not be news to you. There is now a One Word website, One Word book, and of course, a ton of social media buzz through One Word Twitter and Facebook.


Each year, our WorkMatters team now goes through a simple process to determine the personal word to guide each of our lives at work and home. And, we choose one word for WorkMatters that will provide focus, purpose and motivation for our plans for the year.

Intrigued? It’s absolutely not too late to determine your 2016 word. The One Word website can give you great instructions, but here are some personal recommendations to make your One Word work for you:

  • It must start and end with God – if you are a Christian, this process starts with God. Pray deeply and listen earnestly to what the Holy Spirit says.
  • Let your word choose you – when you ask God to direct you, your one word will come to you; you won’t choose it, it will chose you!
  • Give it time – sometimes your word will come quickly, sometimes it will take time. Either way, after your word chooses you make sure to pray for confirmation. You want it to feel so right that you get goose bumps!
  • Find your theme verse – pray and adopt a single verse that serves as your theme verse for the year.
  • Go deep – after you have your word, begin to explore it. Look for scripture that illuminates it; look for articles and stories that bring it to life.
  • Live it – be intentional with your word. Create reminders around you. Each day, pray that you will find ways to live your word. Celebrate your successes!
  • Share it – consider adopting this process across your team or even across your company.
  • Over time, it will mark your journey with God – said Henry Ho, “there is a benefit of gratitude and perspective over time whenever I look back over my list of Words of the Year from 2002 to now. It marks my journey with God and helps me remember the Lord’s presence in my life during those times.”

By the end of 2016, you will be an expert on this word. You will know what the Bible says about it. You will have real life stories of living it. And you will have influenced others either indirectly or directly as a result of this one word choosing you!

P.S. My word for 2016 is JOY. And, our 2016 one word for WorkMatters? MULTIPLY (more on that later)!

David Roth

David Roth has been the president and CEO of Workmatters since October, 2003. Workmatters is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in Northwest Arkansas in 2003 with a mission is to help people pursue God’s purpose for their work. Since then, Workmatters has been used to impact thousands of leaders in Northwest Arkansas and across the U.S. Prior to leading Workmatters, Mr. Roth was vice president, sales and marketing for J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. Before joining J.B. Hunt in 1999, David was the senior vice president of marketing for Manugistics, a supply chain management software provider in Maryland and vice president of marketing for American Software in Atlanta, Ga. He also has nine years of supply chain management experience with McKesson Corporation in San Francisco, Calif. and Harrison, Ark. David has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Arkansas. He resides in Fayetteville, Ark. with his wife, Theresa and has two sons, Dylan and Tyler.