My One Word For 2016: Improvisation

Discover your one word to simplify what you do and inspire you to do something new

A couple of years ago I read the book One Word that will Change Your Life. And it did.myoneword

Since then, instead of a New Year’s Resolution goal I choose one word to focus on for the year. It’s more visionary than just setting goals, and it becomes my guiding principle or ethos.

The Difference Between Goals and Visions


Goals are specific and measurable. We like to call them SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound). They have endpoints and once achieved, you’re done. Goals tell us WHAT we need to do.

Here’re a couple of examples of goals:

  • I will read 2 books each month
  • I will loose 10 pounds by April 1, 2016


A vision, on the other hand, is more of a broad idea of HOW you will look or feel in the future. It’s HOW you imagine yourself. Unlike goals, it’s not specific but very open-minded. A vision is harder to put into words, but somehow, it’s a little easier to encompass with one word.

My Previous One Words

In 2014 I chose simplicity, first because I was approaching retirement from my fire department, and second because I had been diagnosed with cancer (this was my second battle in 14 years) and was now responding positively to treatment. That year was the beginning of a major transformation in my life style. Reducing some of life’s clutter, including debt and stuff, and adapting to a less decision-intense world would make my life simpler.

For the year 2015 I remembered the Jimmy Buffett song, Survive. This was a year full of unexpected health snags that attacked my body and my mind. And while I had my share of struggles (recovering from major surgery and being diagnosed and successfully treated for a third time with cancer) in 2015 I did survive. So that was a good word for that year.

My One Word For 2016

Each of my one words has become a foundation to build on for the next year, and this year’s word lifts me even higher. My 2016 word is simply improvisation. Now that I am well into my transformation from a full-time firefighter (I’m still teaching and writing) and feeling better, I will spend less time planning or dreaming and more time doing. I will make more leaps and venture farther and experience new things. I will step outside of my comfort zone.

Discover Your One Word

Using the one word concept can help you, your family, your team, or your organization simplify what you do and inspire you to do something new, better, or more fun. Here are a few resources to help you find your one word:

Read the book One Word that will Change Your Life

Watch John Saddington’s Vlog One Word: Team