One Word for the new year

I had never heard of the One Word concept until this year, hence why I’m a little late to the party. But over the new year period, my Twitter feed has been full of One Word pledges from my PLN. Their words have inspired me to revisit my own goals and resolutions. I started by reading the book that sparked it all.

The book is simple and short, yet inspirational. It can be read in under an hour. I encourage you to read it yourself in order to understand the root of the concept and the process of living it.

What is One Word?

According to the book, 87% of us make new year’s resolutions. These famously fail in the vast majority of cases due to mishaps, failures and false starts. Most people don’t even make it to the end of January! With One Word, our goals are summarised and focused into one powerful, carefully chosen word. The word is less of a goal and more of a way of being. By selecting only one word, we remain focused and determined. The word becomes a journey with inevitable ups and downs.

“Instead of being weighed down by unrealistic resolutions and unmet goals, One Word provides an entirely new perspective on how we approach our year. It frees us up. One Word gives us renewed purpose and meaning.”

Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page

The graphic above was created by Mark French to represent the One Words that have been chosen in his PLN. These are just some ideas. The book guides you through a process to carefully select your word. The process starts by “looking in” and answering these three questions:

What do I need?

What’s in my way?

What needs to go?

My #OneWord2018: Balance

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 6.48.11 AM

My word became clear as I worked my way through the process. It just happens to be one of the attributes of the IB Learner Profile:

Balanced: We understand the importance of balancing different aspects of our lives – intellectual, physical and emotional – to achieve well-being for ourselves and others.

The word perfectly captures my goals. Right now, I feel like I’m spinning lots of plates. It’s a common excuse that there aren’t enough hours in the day, but I don’t believe this. We just need to be intentional about prioritising and striking a balance. It started with a simple resolution (one that would have inevitably failed… like every year): I want to get fit. I want to look after myself by eating more sensibly and exercising regularly. A lack of time has always been the excuse not to. With deeper consideration, I realised that there are other aspects of my life that have also taken a backseat. Time and effort in one area are usually at the expense of another. For example, I feel like I have excelled with blogging this year. I have consistently published new content every week. I am also proud of my leadership journey to date, but many hours go into that as well. These successes have come at the cost of a social life and valuable downtime with my girlfriend. Also, with more professional learning and reading last year, I read less fiction (something that I’m really sad about). On top of everything, I will start a part-time Master’s degree in March. While balancing all of these aspects, I also need to adopt healthier sleep patterns! This is just a small snapshot of my unbalanced, unsustainable life. By balancing the different aspects, I will no longer need to sacrifice any.

As the book points out, this is not a task to be achieved. It’s about a new, improved way of being. There’s no finish line. My aim is to become a more rounded, balanced person and teacher. I ask all of my friends, online and offline, to keep me accountable.

“We encourage you to share your word with your inner circle – family and close friends. This group, your Stretch Team, will encourage, motivate, and celebrate your success.”

Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page

One Word with children

Many parents and teachers have introduced the One Word concept to children with great success. Children could come up with their own word or it could be a collective word for the class/family. This HyperDoc by Sean Fahey is a great place to start. I’d like to introduce it to my students next week. As ongoing reminders, students can stick their One Words to their lockers and add it to Seesaw. The class can become the Stretch Team for the individuals. They can keep me accountable for my word, too.

Examples from my PLN

For more information and examples, click the following links to find more blog posts. Also, check out the #OneWord2018 hashtag on Twitter.

Adam Welcome: More

Bethany Hill: Incessant

Mark French: Reflective

Tamara Letter: Inspire

Scott Titmas: Create

Marilyn McAlister: Present

What is your One Word for 2018? Let me know below so that I can be in your Stretch Team! Your ideas in the comments section, as always, will add value to the post and inspire others.

Happy new year! Good luck with your goals and let me know if I can help.

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  1. Thanks for sharing your one word, Adam. I think balance is a good word that could apply to many of us. It’s interesting to create a visual of all the one-words from your PLN. I like the idea of using the technique with a class to derive a word that becomes like a class motto. Sean Fahey’s hyperdoc looks useful. Beginning with Kid President and then motivational songs it can’t go wrong. I wish you a successful and well-balanced year.

    1. Hi Norah,

      Thank you for the encouragement. We used the HyperDoc today (although I adapted it slightly). The students really impressed me with their words. They chose words that were important and meaningful to them and were able to articulate what they want to achieve. Other students are aware of the word choices and will join me on the Stretch Team.

      Happy new year!


  2. Amazing.”Balance” covers so many aspects of life.
    Mine is “want less”.
    Although its two words:).
    Want less of material things..and connect more with people who matter

    1. Hi Sahar,

      Thank you. The more I think about balance, the more I can apply it to different aspects of life. Good luck with your TWO words. It’s important to focus on what really matters. Good choice!

      Happy new year!


    1. Hi Tima,

      Great word. Let me know what you think of the book and let me know how I can help.

      Sadly, for question 3, I thought of #pypbookstudy as a thing that needs to go (in its current form anyway). We’ll keep reading and sharing nevertheless.

      Happy new year!


      1. I’m keen. Will read it and pose some questions and share some thoughts.

        Not having read it yet, may be off, but have you thought about doing this with your class? Use the 3-Y routine to get them to think deeper and reason their choice.

        Why might this word matter to me?
        Why might it matter to people around me [family, friends, city, nation]?
        Why might it matter to the world?

        1. Hi Tima,

          Yes. The students did it today. I was very impressed with their word choices and the way that they were able to articulate the reasons and goals behind them. We will also do it on Wednesday to decide on One Word collectively for the class. I like your 3-Y idea. I’ll let you know how it goes! Thanks!



    1. Hi Krista,

      That’s a great word choice that you can apply across different areas of your life. Simple and powerful!

      Good luck on your journey and let me know how you get on.


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