Top 20 Training has a special relationship with the staff at Notre Dame Academy in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Dr. Bonnie Jungels, principal of NDA, shared an experience she had after reading the book One Word That Will Change Your Life by Gordon, Page and Britton. The authors guide the reader through a simple process of discerning one word to focus on for the year.

Last year Dr. Jungels chose one word to see if this practice would make a significant difference in her life. Her word in 2022 was connection. Having read former surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy’ s book Together: Loneliness, Health and What Happens When We Find Connection, she recognized the importance of belonging and community in her life, especially after lengthy experiences of social isolation during the COVID years. Focusing on this one word helped her initiate more connections in her life leading to more awareness, joy, and gratitude.

Dr. Jungels then used the One Word exercise with her 8th grade class at Notre Dame Academy. The students embraced the task and thoughtfully considered one word that would carry them through the rest of their careers at NDA and into their new high school experience. To prepare for discovering their word, they asked themselves a few questions:

  • What do I need?
  • What is in my way?
  • What do I need to add or change?

After reflecting on these questions, they asked: What word can I focus on through my last months at NDA and my first months in high school?

The following are examples of the words students chose, why they chose that word and how they will implement their word:

ThoughtIt’s important to put thought into my words and actions. If I don’t put thought into my words and actions, I lose my purpose. Thoughts power all I do and help me stay on track. I will put my word on my bed stand and in my locker.

ResponsibleI need to be more responsible because currently I am not responsible. Being irresponsible is affecting me negatively in my life. The rare times when I’m responsible it makes me feel good, which is motivation for me to be responsible. I will ask people to remind me to be responsible and eventually learning to be responsible by myself without other outside help. I will think about my word every day and ask myself if I have been responsible during the day.

PerseveranceI want to keep trying even when things get hard. I don’t want to be a quitter. I sometimes give up and I want to stop doing that. I will write my word on my mirror, put it on a Post It Note in my locker, and remember this word when I feel like giving up.

EncouragementI want to help others succeed. I want to encourage myself. I want this word to help me and others succeed and go out of our comfort zones. I will put this word on my bathroom mirror, in my locker, and remember the word throughout the year.

Responsibility:  I am a better person when I am responsible. My grades are better when I turn all of my assignments in on time. People want to be friends with a responsible person. I will turn all of my assignments in on time, make responsible choices, and eat responsibly.

Inspired by Dr. Jungels’ students, I asked myself the questions listed above in order to come up with my word for 2023. I chose the word TEAM. In doing so, I have become aware of the importance of team each day as well as the negative results that result when people don’t function as a team. I will discuss with relatives and people I encounter how they experience TEAM in their life and how we can make TEAM happen. Being focused on TEAM as my word for the year has already resulted in more positive and productive interactions.

Reflection: What’s your one word?

These eighth-grade students adeptly discerned personally significant words for their individual lives. Reflect on the questions above and identify the One Word that will make a difference in your life in 2023. If you like, send us your word to be listed in next week’s Wellness Wednesday.

From Willow, Kevin, and Tom, who have benefitted from being a team.

Paul Bernabei, Director
Top 20 Training