The Word of 2017

It’s time to reveal my word for 2017! It’s…. ENGAGE.



I choose a word every year. Last year’s was Brave. It served me well; I accomplished a lot this year, and whenever I balked at the fear of what would happen if I moved forward, I used Brave to remind myself to conquer that fear. It helped that I had the perfect talisman for Brave in my pocket at all times: my Gryffindor key chain.

I haven’t yet found a talisman to represent ENGAGE (a faux-diamond ring, maybe?) but I’m hopeful that this year’s word will have just as much impact as last year’s.

What the word means to me:

ENGAGING means getting involved on a deeper level. It means joining conversations and participating in groups that I might not have otherwise sought out. It also signifies fully committing oneself, which I’m interpreting as staying in the present moment and doing the activity in front of me instead of allowing myself to be distracted.

Why I chose it:

I’m a huge proponent of self-study and personal growth. Two books that have greatly influenced me over the past few years are Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before, about knowing oneself better in order to create habit changes; and Susan Cain’s Quiet, about what it means to be introverted. In Better Than Before, I learned that I was an Upholder, which means I don’t feel that I need outside help to accomplish things. After reading Quiet, I felt like my introversion was legitimized, and I allowed myself more alone time to recharge.

Both of those lessons boosted my self-awareness and happiness, but they came at a price that I’ve only lately understood. I’ve allowed those messages of not needing anyone else for company or for accountability affect how I view new relationships. I’m good at keeping in touch with my family and close friend group, but I rarely reach out to make new connections. I rarely ENGAGE.

For example: I had an epiphany about an online book group I’d been thinking of joining. My first thought was that I didn’t need the group in order to get myself to read. I knew I could meet reading goals on my own. But I’d allowed myself to forget that engaging with fellow readers is not only about my productivity. It’s about making connections, joining a discussion, and meeting the people who might potentially read my books someday! It’s about finding my tribe, and that’s something I can’t do on my own, even if I am an Upholder/introvert.

That’s one of my reasons for picking ENGAGE: because I want to reach out into the reading world and find my tribe. I also want to reach out into the world of political and social activism, because I think our country is going to need more of that work in 2017.

Finally, I chose ENGAGE to remind myself to commit to the moment and be present. (“Present” was also a contender for my word this year, until I thought of “Engage.”) I want to be fully there when I play with my kids, when I take a walk, when I talk to my husband. I don’t want to get distracted by my phone or even my Kindle. This year is so precious, with my first child in his last year before school, and my second child a sweet, adorable baby. I want to be ENGAGED for all of this time.

What’s your word for 2017? Please share in comments or on Twitter, and tag me @sowulwords. Don’t forget to include why you’ve chosen your word. I love getting inspired by other people’s words!

5 Responses to “The Word of 2017”

  1. I love hearing about other people’s words of the year–I love the concept and have found it meaningful in my life, too. (Brave was my word year before last!) Last year, my word was quality, the concept being if I put forth quality efforts, invested in quality over quantity in every area, I would see positive results and be happier. I found this valuable all year long, and it kept me from either half-assing my efforts or becoming perfectionistic. I want to continue using it as a watchword in future.

    I’ve been contemplating 2017’s word, and I think it will be “deeper.” Reach deeper inside myself in my work and relationships, dive deeper in study and reading rather than just skimming the surface. Do fewer things but do them better. That sort of thing. I love the idea of a talisman–I’d love to have one to symbolize my word. This year, a friend gave me a sign painted with my word for my birthday, but I can’t carry it with me :).

    I’ve read and learned from both the books you mentioned, too. I’m an introvert also, but I’m an Obliger rather than an Upholder.

    Oh, and when I saw your word I immediately thought of Star Trek Next Generation’s Captain Jean Luc Picard–he used to say, “Engage,” when giving orders on the bridge. (Sorry, my inner geek is showing.)

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Deeper is a GREAT word. I wish you luck with it! Hard to think of a talisman that will work- maybe a deep-diving sea creature?

      Ha, I’m not a Trekkie, but that’s a good reference for Engage!

      • Thanks! I was thinking of something related to the ocean or deep sea diving, or perhaps a tree with deep roots as a talisman. Something will present itself, just as the word itself did.

  2. Sara L. says:

    “Engage” is a great word to help define your path next year. And in a way, you need a little of your 2016 word “Brave” (or rather, bravery) in order to engage more with other people. I love all of your reasons for choosing it, too. It shows how important it is to you in all areas of life.

    I tend not to choose words for the new year (I do better with looking back on what I learned the previous year, then carrying those lessons / ideas onward). I always have goals in mind, though, and I keep working toward them. And based on what I want to accomplish in 2017… I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a year of bravery, perseverance, faith, and (dare I say it?) adventure. 🙂

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      I liked that you used words to describe your past year in today’s post, Sara. Of course there’s more than one word to describe a year, and my hopes for 2017 go beyond Engaging. But I like the focus it provides.

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