Start the Year with One Word by Violet Nesdoly

Happy New Year!

By now you’ve probably switched calendars, thought about—maybe even listed—a few resolutions and goals for the year, and caught yourself writing 2016 instead of 2017 a time or two. Plus, you may have chosen your one word for 2017.

The custom of choosing a word for the year has been around for a while. I’m not sure whose idea it was to begin with, but memory and scrapbooking enthusiast Ali Edwards has been choosing a yearly word since 2006 and has even developed a One Little Word business, offering prompts and scrapbooking products to members. I like her definition of “one word”:

“… a word to focus on, to live with, to investigate, to write about, to craft with, and to reflect upon …”

My word for 2017 came to me in the early hours of December 18. I had just written a blog post about my 2016 word (“mindfulness”), and choosing a word for 2017 was on my mind as I snuggled under the covers for a few more winks.

Also around that time, I had been noticing that many of the big-name bloggers and productivity specialists I follow were trying to convince me that I needed to be more focused to accomplish more and thus, make more money in 2017. To do that I would want to sign up for their webinars and courses. But hurry because the special price would go away soon. I felt so bombarded by voices, it was becoming hard to hear the voice I really wanted to hear. How could I listen above the noise?

That word LISTEN sparked a frisson of recognition in me. You could say that morning it woke me up. LISTEN would be my one word for 2017!

Because I always choose a scripture to go along with my word, I knew just what that would be too—Jesus’ words from John 10:

“To him [the Good Shepherd] the doorkeeper opens and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him for they know his voice” (John 10:3-4 NASB).

I want 2017 to be a year of listening for, recognizing, and hearing to the extent of obeying the voice of my Shepherd above all other voices (regarding what to do in writing, where to expend my efforts in all areas of life, how to relate to people, etc.).

During 2017 I’ll explore many other facets of the word as well, such as listening to nature, to people, and to all the ways one hears and listens metaphorically—by reading, tuning into my intuition, visually observing and hearing the unspoken communication of those around me, that sort of thing.

I’m planning to try some activities this year related to my word. You may want to join me:

1. Find and collect quotes with 2017’s one word in them.
2. Find, collect, and memorize Bible verses that relate to my word.
3. Make a playlist with songs that relate to my word.
4. Look for and watch TED Talks about my word.
5. Journal / blog about my word.
6. Collect objects with my word on them to display around the house.
7. Make a collage or other art project relating to my word.
8. Write a creed or manifesto as an ideal for how attending to my word will affect my behaviour.

Do you choose a word for the year? Does your word choice have a story behind it? What ideas for activities could you add to the list above? We’d love it if you left your responses in comments below.

Violet Nesdoly lives near Vancouver B.C. and has had poetry published in Prairie Messenger,, Time of Singing, Your Daily Poem, and many anthologies. She has published two books of poems, Calendar (2004) and Family Reunion (2007), and the novel Destiny’s Hands (2012). She loves trying out new poetic forms and writes often about nature and faith. Find out more about her and her work at

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  1. Pam Mytroen says:

    This is so good, and so defining for a year., Violet. What an important word, especially as it relates to listening to the voice of our Shepherd.

  2. Violet Nesdoly says:

    Thanks, Pam! On re-reading my post, I see I have some promises to keep (to myself). How quickly the euphoria of choosing a new word for the year evaporates and if one isn’t careful, life goes on just as before… though I will say the word “listen” often comes to me in various settings! Do you choose a word for the year?

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