I tried out the suggestion of ‘One Word for One Year’

by Denise Dykstra

It’s the New Year, and I just love the “new start” feeling that comes with it.

My family members will roll their eyes and tell you how I get giddy and excited to watch the Rose Parade.  I love all the flowers, and I am tickled to death when the weather there is hot, because it reminds me not everywhere is a frozen blustery landscape.

I am also a planner geek.  I love planners, and new calendars, and it is very difficult for me to choose just one.  Yes, I am still a paper planner and paper calendar gal.

I keep trying to add everything to my phone calendar, but I just can’t stop using my paper ones.  Bless all the people who have to hear me say, “I am trying to envision what is on our wall calendar right now, but I can’t remember, so let me get back with you to let you know if that date works.”

So it should come as no surprise that at the beginning of the New Year, I enjoy a fresh start.  I used to post lists I would make of my New Year’s Resolutions.

One year I decided I would walk 365 miles in a year, and I would like to let you know I have never made that resolution again. It would not take long into the year before I was falling behind on a goal or had not finished one of my plans. I would feel all defeated, which is an understandable way to feel when it’s gray and gloomy, and there is no sunshine to cheer you up during the in between winter and spring season.

A friend suggested that I try doing a One Word Year.  


For one full year, you would concentrate on one word.  People have different ways of finding their one word, but once found, you would just look for ways to implement and bring the word into your daily life — all throughout the year.

For instance, the same friend who told me about the One Word idea had a year where her one word was PLAY.  Throughout the year, she found ways to “play.”  She is very successful in her work, and she is very busy with her husband, but realized she was so busy doing all the things she needed to do that she had forgotten to relax, enjoy life, and laugh.

So her one word for the entire year was “play,” and it was a delight to see how this idea transformed her year, as well as her life.

My one word in 2017 was JOY.  And it has been my one word ever since.  The first year I had the word “Joy” was one of my toughest years.  Every year since, something new has been thrown my way to show me how to “Find Joy.”  It’s why “Joy” is so important to me, I guess.  

I was really looking forward to a new word like “laughter” or something fun, but I can’t shake the word “Joy,” so I am assuming I have more to learn about it.  I must admit, it has been a great journey.

It’s also one of the reasons for this column.  Had I not been on this journey with “Joy,” that I have not completely exhausted, what would I have to share with all of you?

During this New Year, perhaps consider this idea of concentrating on One Word.  I will tell you that throughout the years, I have watched in amazement the change it has made in others lives, as well as my own.  Something so simple can be so transforming! 

Think on it, and let me know if you decide to join the One Word for a Year Club. (You can follow along with many hashtags, the most common seems to be #OneWord365) I am always fascinated by what word someone concentrates on.

Or, if you have done this before, how did concentrating on one word for one year impact your life?


  • My whole working life was hurry hurry! Even after I retired 12 years ago every thing still has to be right now. I think with your advice I will chose patience. Maybe after all these years I will ketch up with myself.

  • The lovely Hindu ladies who work at the public library where I volunteer have been on me from time to time to practice empathy, especially when politics drive me crazy. I think I should concentrate on that, on walking a mile in the shoes of someone whose actions and behavior I find objectionable. Maybe there’s a legitimate reason they are acting the way they are. And not just political figures, but the guy in the parking lot who feels the need to drive a bit recklessly, or the cashier who seems surly, or that very grumpy person sitting beside me at the oncologist. I’ll let you know how it works out!

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