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  • Writer's pictureCharles Williams

One Word 2020

The end of any year brings about resolutions. Promises made to oneself about how life will be lived in the upcoming year. Promises to live a healthier life. Promises to live a more frugal life. Promises to live a more balanced life. Promises that end up broken.

I’m not trying to be cynical. On the contrary, I think making promises should be a respected thing … one that should not be taken lightly. However, the problem with these self-made promises is that they are most often designed to fail.

Consider the following scenario.

1. Develop (or revise from previous year) ambitious goal

2. Get excited about potential outcomes from goal

3. Share goal with family and friends who boost excitement

4. Start making progress towards goal … maybe

5. Make excuses and/or procrastinate continued efforts to pursue goal

6. Fail to meet goal

7. Try again

Sound familiar?

This is an unproductive cycle that impacts plenty of people. Don’t believe me? Google “why resolutions fail” and you will get over 40 million results. I’m not going to waste your time by repackaging all of that information and resharing it. Instead, I wanted to share something with you that I came across and that I am going to attempt in the upcoming year.

One Word

While not new, this is a new concept for me and I liked the simplicity of it. Choose one word that will serve as an anchor … as a foundation … for what you want to accomplish in the upcoming year. Instead of making ambitious goals that often lack any specific plans, centering yourself on a single word … a single concept … helps to keep you focused regardless of what you are doing.

My word is intentional.

You see, I have a problem. I get really excited about passion projects and often try to tackle too many things at a time. This, coupled with the fact that I do not believe in quitting, ensures that I have a very active lifestyle. My wife says I have adult ADHD. This morning alone, I watched two videos as part of the Ditch That Textbook Summit and am now contributing to what I plan to be a monthly blog (third month in a row!). It is the first day of the new year. It is not even 9:00 AM.

Therefore, I need to be intentional.

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of goals that I have created for 2020.

-I want to write my first book.

-I want to present at more conferences than I did last year.

-I want to host more workshops than I did last year.

-I want to grow my business.

For any of these to be successful, I need to be intentional about my actions and how they will serve as catalysts for reaching my goals.

We each have before us at any given time a plethora of choices. Choices that will impact the next set of choices that will impact the next set ultimately leading to an outcome. If we are not intentional about the choices that we make, we risk navigating far from our intended destination. And its important to remember that all choices have outcomes - big or small - they all have outcomes.

As I begin 2020 focused on the word “intentional,” I will be sure to slow down, evaluate the choices that I have, the potential outcome, and then attempt to choose those that lead me in the right direction.

I believe so much in this approach that I am going to have my staff complete a One Word project on our first day back. I’ve designed our calendar so that we have a day back without students - a day when we get to refocus and prepare for the second half of the school year. In turn, I hope that they will do something similar with their students.

And I hope that you, too, will choose One Word.

Check out these resources for more information.


Charles Williams is a professional educator with nearly 15 years of experience. Williams currently serves as a K-8 Principal in Chicago, IL. He is also a member of Great Expectations Mentoring and Men of Color in Education. Williams has presented at numerous conferences including the Statewide ESSA Conference, the Annual INCS Conference, and the CPS Leadership Institute. He has also started his own educational consulting firm, CW Consulting.

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