One word. Each year, I pick a single word by which to live. It becomes my mantra for the next 12 months, acting as a guide not just for personal goals, but also personal growth.

Coffeen peggy
Coffeen was a former editor and podcast host with Progressive Dairy. 

Since writing about my one word for the first time in 2017, others have been equally inspired by this practice described in the book My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word by Michael W. Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen. In fact, a few readers annually reach out to share the word they have selected to guide them over the coming year. Here are a few I pulled from a recent Facebook thread on the topic, where friends had shared their 2020 or 2021 words:

  • Katie Coyne – brave
  • Josh Hushon – gratitude
  • Joseta Halbur – acceptance
  • Antony Cappelle – relax
  • Moriah Brey – curiosity

Knowing that something I shared through this editorial page several years ago lives on through our readers and impacts their lives fills my heart. In fact, my word for 2020 was “fullness.” It was all about stepping into the fullness of my purpose. It was a year of shedding fears and limiting beliefs, and creating new thought patterns and narratives.

In months of COVID-19 isolation, I began to chip away at my own layers to discover which things in life truly bring me the greatest joy. This has helped me to prioritize how and on whom I expend my time and energy. It revealed to me that having a full plate was not the same as having a full cup.

Like others in the unofficial one-word club, the chronology of my words marks the walk of deepening my faith while stepping into my purpose. Words like “obedience,” “fearless,” “release,” “stand” and “fullness.”


Like stepping stones across a stream, each of these words serves as a solid rock to stand on for that year. It’s a practice that builds courage and confidence to stretch, grow and advance from one stone to the next instead of staying stuck in one place, afraid to take the next step.

So what is my word for 2021?

It is perseverance. This word starting popping up a few weeks back, and each time, my ears or eyes just seemed drawn toward it. Like any word nerd, I looked up its meaning to find two beautiful definitions:

  • Patient endurance
  • Passionate patience

We’ve all been told good things come to those who wait, but in today’s world of instant access to information and gratification, patience has become a lost art. Look no further than (Sustainability: More than a game) to read our cover story about reaching Generation Z with dairy sustainability messages through video gaming. It cites one survey that showed the average attention span of individuals born between 1997 and 2021 is a mere eight seconds.

I’m no Gen Zer, but I do know purposeful, passionate, patient endurance is a growth area for me. Particularly, the perseverance to envision and work toward big, lofty dreams. The kind of dreams that won’t happen all at once, but rather, require little steps of inspired action, with the acceptance that struggles are part of the journey, but not a destination at which to stop. The verse Melissa Hart shares at the end of her article Across the road, embodies this, which is why it now hangs on a sticky note on my computer screen where I see it every day.

Are you looking for ideas for your own one word for 2021? Take a read through this issue, and you too may find inspiration in a word that pops off the page. From my editor’s chair, I jotted down a few words and themes from several other articles in this issue that may reflect what you want to focus on or who you want to be in 2021: courage, Psychological safety: Risk-taking in the workplace; communication, Would your dairy farm owner team be a winning sports team?; sustainable, Sustainability: More than a game; temperance, Just dropping by... 12 months to a better life; tolerance, On the Edge of Common Sense: Tolerance.

I invite you to join in this activity. Choose a word, write it down and put it in a place where you will see it every day. Share with me your word and the reasons behind it. Perhaps it will turn up in the Jan. 1, 2022 issue of Progressive Dairy.

So here’s to 2021, and the one word that will change your life this year.