Cover of the book "One Word that Will Change Your LIfe"

I love the movie City Slickers. 

It’s a comedy starring Billy Crystal as Mitch, a vacationing businessman, who takes on the adventure of driving cattle. 

In the middle of the movie, Mitch meets a rough-around-the-edges cowhand named Curly, played by Jack Palance. 

Curly tells Mitch that the secret to a great life is only one thing. 

Curly even emphasizes his point by holding one finger and saying, “You need to stick to that one thing.” 

Mitch asks, “What is that one thing?” 

Curly’s reply is “That’s what you gotta figure out!” 

I thought One Word was a joke. 

How can reading a book about a single word really have that much impact on my life? 

I’ve read thousands of books in my lifetime and what I’ve found is there are very few originals. Meaning, most books about business, self-help, marketing, etc., are regurgitated from someone else’s point of view. 

Most content I read in books isn’t anything profound or new. 

But, once I got into One Word, I realized this was different. 

I’d describe One Word as this: a methodology and process for simplifying your life through the focusing on only One Word for an entire year. 

This process and methodology creates clarity, passion, and life-change. 

You see, resolutions fail, and goals can be easily forgotten, but One Word sticks. 

By living a single word that embodies the essence of your life at this moment, you’ll find refreshed purpose throughout an entire year. 

How to choose your One Word. 

Choosing your One Word is a three-step process. 

  1. Prepare your heart by looking in. 
  2. Discover your word by looking up. 
  3. Live your word by looking out. 
pie chart showing the breakdown of the One Word process.

Step 1: Prepare Your Heart by Looking In. 

This first step forces you to take time to unplug from the noise and distractions of daily life. 

It asks you to quiet your mind, listen, and ask yourself these questions while journaling your thoughts: 

  • What do I need? This isn’t about what you want, but rather what you truly need. What areas of your life need the most change and why is this change necessary? 
  • What’s in my way? This question asks: What’s preventing me from having what I need? Sometimes the barriers in your life might just be staring at you in the mirror. 
  • What needs to go? Maybe you’re being held hostage by past hurts, wounds, or mistakes. Perhaps this pain and anger needs to get resolved so you can heal and in order to move forward. 

Step 2: Discover Your Word By Looking Up. 

Not to get overtly religious, but there IS a spiritual aspect to choosing your One Word. 

This part was the most enjoyable because it forced me to surrender control (ironically my 2019 One Word was surrender) and seek understanding at the highest level. 

Discovering my One Word starts in September/October, and I make sure to give myself plenty of time to listen, process, and validate. This process can take days, weeks, or months. 

It’s a process of elimination where I write down several words that come to mind, pray about them, seek wisdom from my mentors and peers, and ultimately trust my One Word will come. 

It always does. 

Step 3: Live Your Word by Looking Out. 

Once you’ve moved through the first two steps, you’re ready to live your word out loud. 

You’ll want to integrate your One Word into your daily life by doing things like posting your word in prominent places, sharing it with those you trust, communicating to your inner circle, or by making your One Word a screensaver. 

It’s critical to remember and focus on your word throughout the year because it’s easy to forget with life’s stresses and challenges constantly distracting you. 

My One Word journey started eight years ago with the word “Intentional.” Here’s the progression, below. Take a minute and read through the pattern and correlation between these words, it’s almost spooky.

Intentional -> Breakthrough -> Surrender -> Change -> Hope -> Resilient -> Freedom -> Self-Worth 

For 2024, it’s “Self-Worth.” I want to talk about this word for a minute because of where it came from.

Why My Word for 2024 Is The Most Important Word of My Entire Life 

2023 has been the single hardest year of my entire life.

The “stuff” I’ve endured impacted how I chose Self-Worth as my 2024 One Word.

It’s been the most difficult because of a number of reasons.

  • SGS went through a reset where I had to make some TOUGH staffing decisions while adding new, strategic team members. 
  • My step-father passed away, very suddenly, impacting my family.
  • Another business I own became insolvent that I ended up taking over. 
  • I experienced some personal struggles with my kids, which every parent goes through with older kids. 
  • I had the pleasure of experiencing true love then losing it – As Lord Alfred Tennyson once said, “tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
  • I’ve gone through legal struggles as a result of a failed partnership. 
  • And, I had a cancer diagnosis. 

All in all, 2023 can suck it, but I’m incredibly grateful for the profound lessons learned.

I’ve learned to set boundaries, I’ve become stronger in all areas of my life, and I’ve become healthier at the age of 45 than I’ve ever been. I feel great and am involved in some great things. The One Word process took my circumstances and helped me see my value and my worth. You see, your worth is driven from within – or at least it should be. Setting boundaries, doing healthy things, and living a clean life comes from how you feel about yourself on the INSIDE. 

Sometimes in life, we need an “internal reset” to see our self-worth. And, you need to surround yourself with great people who positively impact your worth, too. You become who you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with negative people, you’ll become negative. Conversely, if you surround yourself with successful, growth-minded people, you’ll become successful too. 

I owe one person much of the credit for me seeing my self-worth. I won’t mention them by name but here’s what I’ll tell this small, yet mighty person: Thank you for helping me see that I deserve happiness. Thank you for the million affirming words that helped me chart a course of confidence and for the steel-infused backbone that I now possess. I am fighting for ME for once in my life and you were the single greatest reason that I’m where I am, today. You are a light. You are a force for good. You are the whisper that my soul won’t soon forget. 

I obviously did the work, too, but let’s give credit where is due. 

I don’t believe there are coincidences in life. Everything happens for a reason and the correlation between my words is astonishing as to what my One Words are doing to change my life. 

One Word Keeps You Focused When Facing Life’s Challenges 

The One Word process isn’t about just choosing a word to guide your life. 

It’s about uncovering a word that will drive growth. It keeps your focus when life’s challenges arise. 

Growth is hard. It can feel excruciating and intense. Growth means you’ll lose things, shed bad habits, end certain relationships, and experience painful grief.

The One Word process helps you keep perspective during this season of growth. Growth doesn’t happen when sitting in comfort. 

All SGS team members choose a One Word, each year. And it’s amazing to see the growth that happens as a result of this cool process. 

It helps us focus on a word as a means to examining past successes, struggles, as well as your future hopes and dreams. 

Once you have your word, you’ll find that you can narrow your focus and simplify just about everything in your life and work. 

Let me challenge you, intrepid entrepreneur and reader: How are you simplifying your life and embracing focus in order to grow?