My One Word for 2017 and Beyond


It’s becoming a tradition for me to begin thinking about in at the beginning of December. As the days get closer to the end of the month, a myriad of emotions ensue ranging from hopfulness, passion, and to excitement, nevousness, and doubt. For the past two years, I have participated in the One Word Challenge, and choosing next year’s One Word hasn’t been easy.

The One Word Challenge is for leaders to identify one word they will use for the next year that helps to anchor them in stretching and reaching for something more. At first, I thought it was a fad with people creating graphics of their word, posting them on social media for a few weeks, and then it disappearing – no different than 99% of New Year’s Resolutions out there. But, the challenge has been pivotal in my personal growth not only as a leader but a person in all areas.

Last year, I instituted some leadership defiance and went with two words – Not Yet. In the wake of the growth mindset craze, I wanted something to provoke me to not be comfortable and settle with my current state and limitations. Over the course of the year, these two words stayed in my heart and on my lips when I was confronted with trials or roadblocks that did took me out of my comfort zone.


The year prior, I chose Inspire. I made it my goal to not just get work done by checking boxes off the list, but that I would seek opportunities to inspire others through my words and actions in the midst of everything. My hope was that I would be cognizant of how I acted and reacted in situations that could either cause people to walk away feeling discouraged or hopeful.


After many hours of introspection, I have decided to commit and announce my One Word for not just 2017 but beyond – INSPIRE. While I understand the positivity in selecting a new word each year, I can’t escape the hunger in my chest to truly live all areas of my life as an inspiration to others. I can feel the awesome weight of responsibility this causes, but it is motivating to make every moment count as an opportunity to inspire others. I don’t think that feeling is ever going away for me, so I am committing to “Inspire” as my One Word for life!


As I plan for the upcoming year, I challenge you to select your One Word. In the past, I’ve been asked about about this concept, so here are 4 Ways to Make the Most of Your One Word

  1. Create a Visual Poster and Publish It. There’s nothing better than creating a graphic picture to memoralize and publicize your word. Make it fun and energizing for you. I use Canvato make my posters. It takes a little practice, but it gets easier over time. Once you create your visual, post it on social media and even print it out and post it around your room!
  2. Write a Blog About It. I write blog posts as a way to self-reflect and also up my game in being accountable. Choosing one word is a good start, but creating a blog helps to consider your “why” and share it with others. If you haven’t written a blog yet, check out free blog platforms, like WordPress.
  3. Tell Everyone! Be proud of your one word – tell others what it is and why you chose it. Even though they might not participate in the One Word Challenge, it helps if they know the one word you are pursing, so they can help cheer you on and even hold you accountable!
  4. Build in Checkpoints for Reflections. Like setting any other goal, it’s easy to talk the talk up front by setting up plans on how you will work on or accomplish it. Know that other things will compete for your attention, so build in checkpoints to self-reflect. I love the Reminder app on my phone – you can set it to remind you daily, weekly, or monthly to think through how your actions and words have matched against your word. Keep in mind, “what gets monitored, gets done”.

I’d love to share in your excitement and work in selecting and writing about your One Word. Feel free to tag me in your Twitter posts when you share your One Word graphic and blog to the world at @drneilgupta.

Good luck!


Thanks for sharing Neil! My word for 2015 was also inspire:) I am just finishing up my post for one word for 2017. I love this concept as a framework for all our actions and words for the year. Thanks for continuing to inspire my friend!


I absolutely love the ‘one word’ concept, your choice for this year, and the poster!

I’ve been in a busy ‘robot’ rut: discouraged & frustrated from the too many new ADHD students in my shrinking-sized resource classroom environment this year, plus working until 6-8 pm due to too many new referrals for the past 2 years (we placed about 20 news ones last year in the SPED program).

I have become a little inspired by a new MLM that I joined a few months ago (which suggests that we do what we can to inspire and change ourselves and those around us enough to inspire and change things around us for the better; and even encourages us to keep up with national and world news-that I usually try to avoid), so this fits right in with my goal to better myself and inspire others.
Thank you!

Neil, thanks for sharing and reflecting. At the start of the school year, my word was “engage”. But things got in the way, like prostate cancer, and my focus was no longer on my students. Now it’s time for me to re-engage in ALL aspects of my life.

I’m listening to your Four Ways to Share and have created an image on Canva. I’ve written a blog post and have shared it on as many social platforms as I can. I am proud of my word.

You are welcome. It gets tough when we see the high needs of our students. We know the work it takes, and it sometimes feels overwhelming. So, it’s important to take time to recharge and refuel for the sake of our students – and take on that calling to go above just teaching and inspire others!

Leave a comment