One Word

It’s that time of year when one of our #healthed skills, goal setting, gets a lot of media coverage. New Year’s Resolutions will be talked about at home and people will be encouraged to think of ways in which to improve themselves, usually after dwelling on their imperfections. However, because these resolutions tend to be behavior based often we set ourselves up for failure. “I want to quit caffeine”, “I want to visit the gym more”, “I’m going to lose weight”. The trouble with these resolutions is that they are too easily broken, which inevitably leads to failure (or guilt).

One alternative to the traditional new years resolution is the concept of one word. The theory behind this idea is that we choose a guiding word that points us towards the type of person that we want to become. And unlike a resolution, a single word can’t be broken. I think of it more as a gentle nudge in the direction towards a more improved version of myself. In this article by Nicole Dean she suggests that you decide what one thing, if applied to every area of your life, will have the most impact and bring the most positive changes into your life. Then you work to apply that word to every area situation and task you find yourself in.

I can’t remember where I first heard of this idea but I embraced the concept back in 2014 and first publicly shared this in a blog post about professional growth plans by Paul Rosengard.


In 2014 I chose the word resilience because I wanted my students to become more aware of the fact that the skills learned in my health class would allow them to face difficult situations in life with confidence. Over the year I would seek out articles on resilience and share them with students and my own peers. Three years later, as a result of the constant ‘drip, drip, drip’ reminder, the concept of resilience is now firmly embedded in my mind, and I find it easier to weave that concept into my teaching.

In 2015 my word was advocacy. I chose that word because I always felt that for my students to become fully health literate they should feel confident and competent in advocating for those around them who were less healthy than themselves…and yet up until that point I hadn’t found a way in which to include advocacy into my teaching. As a result of my one word for that year I was able to create an interactive advocacy e-book that I used in class with much success. This project has already been adopted by other teachers both within my building and further afield. Again, that one word has firmly embedded advocacy into my teaching and I am much more confident in my ability to create young advocates.

2016’s word was provocation and was inspired by Andy Vasily and his reflections upon his use of provocations to challenge the thinking of his students. This use of cognitive dissonance encourages students to think about their views and beliefs and challenges them sufficiently enough to motivate them to want to learn more.

And so with all of the above in mind I can reveal that my one word for 2017, and the topic of my next blog post, will be collaboration. I’ll talk more about why I chose that specific word and how I think it will improve both my teaching, and increase the engagement of students in my classroom in my first blog post of 2017. Until then, I’ll let you think about which word you think would best be your motivation or mantra for 2017. Looking for motivation? Check out this list of possible words to consider from the #onelittleword2017 expert Ali Edwards. Her blog shows one way in which the one word concept can be expanded upon.

I’ve Picked My Word For The Year. Now What? is a great blog post from Kimberly Job.

My One Word for 2017 and Beyond by Neil Gupta suggests 4 ways to make the most of your one word.

This Happier Podcast episode from Gretchen Rubin discusses choosing your one word.

Here are a few #slowchathealth questions to take us towards the end of the year.

Q1. Have you ever chosen a #oneword before? How was it for you? #slowchathealth

Q2. What will your #oneword be for 2017? #slowchathealth

2 thoughts on “One Word

  1. Pingback: The PE Playbook – December 2016 Edition – drowningintheshallow

  2. Pingback: Collaboration – #slowchathealth

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