My Word for 2019

by | Feb 18, 2019 | Leadership

I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions, but I do make goals every year. And as a compliment to those goals, I select one word that becomes my theme for the year. In this session, I share “My Word for 2019.”

Leadership Training Session Video



Session Outline

Many of you might have seen the social media “one word movement”. If you haven’t, just search #oneword2019.  The premise of this movement is to supplant New Year’s resolutions with just one word to focus on this year. Melinda Gates, wife of Bill Gates, practices this and she’s not the only one.  There has even been a book written about this concept entitled, “One Word That Will Change Your Life”.  

Personally, I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I do make goals every year. Over the last few years, I’ve been choosing one word that serves not as a replacement to my goals, but as a compliment to them. One word can easily be posted in my office or on the mirror in my house. It’s simple to remember and powerful enough to convict. This word becomes my theme and provides vision, direction, and focus to the year.

My word for 2019? Redeem.


I know that might sound like a surprising choice. It’s not a common word in colloquial English and doesn’t correspond to an easily identifiable goal. But it is much more relatable that you might think.

Redeem means to “buy back” or “exchange”. Think about the last time you went to a family entertainment center like an arcade or Chucky Cheese’s or Dave and Busters. When you win a game, you receive tickets or more recently, points on a card. You can then take the tickets or points to the redemption counter to exchange them for something else of value.

I want to take this concept and redeem my life. Here’s what I mean: What if we could take our past experiences and present realities and exchange them for something better…like being a more productive, effective person?

Redeeming the Past

Our lives are a collection of successes and failures. We all have moments we wish we could forget and memories we cherish. There are decisions that worked out and others that leave us saying, “What was I thinking?”. 

What if we could redeem those past experiences? What if we exchanged them for something else…like the currency of perspective?

One of my goals is to reflect on those monumental experiences and take the time to learn from them. I have to make decisions in the future. I want to learn what not to do from the failures and understand the principles behind the successes. I recognize that the methods for success might change, but those principles are foundational and withstand the test of time.  I can’t change the past, but I can choose to not repeat my same mistakes or let my past define me. By gaining perspective, I exchange those experiences for perspective which can help me be a more mature person.

Redeeming the Present

I don’t want to stop with redeeming my past. I also want to redeem present realities.  What are present realities? They are basically moments or experiences; my goal is to exchange this time for the currency of investment. The uses for future investment are endless, but here are a few examples:

What if I took those moments in the car waiting in traffic, the time I spend on a walk or run, or waiting in line at the grocery store and invested it?  I could engage in contemplative thought, dream, or listen to a podcast or audiobook.

What if I not only took advantage of these unexpected moments of margin, but I thought about these situations in advance? I could be prepared and have a plan for that time sitting in the airport or a doctor’s office.  I could bring my tablet or book and use what most people see as an inconvenience as an opportunity for professional investment.

Finally, what if I was more intentional with my time? Everyone has to eat, but instead of eating lunch alone, I could grab lunch with a coworker or friend. I could exchange that time for relational investment. Relational investment is one of the greatest forms of investment and is the mark of a great leader.

My Word

Past experiences and present realities are commodities that can be redeemed or exchanged for future significance.  My goal for the year is to exchange these moments for perspective and investment (personal, professional, and relational).

It’s much more than a New Year’s resolution. My word for the year, redemption, is a choice to intentionally maximize future significance today.

Game Plan

  1. Think through your goals, resolutions, and priorities for this next year. Goals don’t have to be set on January first…it’s not too late to do this!
  2. Choose one word that will help you accomplish those items.

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