A new year is underway! The new year arrived in New England with unusually frigid temperatures and a blizzard is underway as I write. I am grateful to be warm and dry, that our power is on, and that my family is together. I see this as a fine start to what I know will be a big year.
But, big years do not happen magically. When we drift through life without intention, as so many people do, we are unfocused and usually scattered.
So, how can you make this year a big one? Some of us think we need to make resolutions, but you have probably read all sorts of articles about why resolutions fail — and I agree that New Year resolutions are far from the best way to make positive change in your life.
Here's what I recommend instead. Choose a word of the year.
Begin by reflecting, with clear eyes, on your life in the previous year. By getting clear, you can more easily envision what you want in the year ahead. Maybe you want more quiet in your life. Maybe you want to stretch into being bolder this year. Maybe you are ready to release old habits. Why not start now and choose 3 to 5 concepts that feel most important for this year of your life?
After you have your short list, you may see that some of the concepts are related, and you can feel which seem most on target. Getting to clarity will be the key for you to set intentions — intentions that will ignite the energy that will support you to consciously create the year you want.
I have been focusing on my intentions and choosing a word to guide my year for several years now. And, I help my clients to do that, too. The idea is to zero in on a word that will help me stay on track as my year unfolds.
Two years ago I chose the word SAVOR as my word of the year. I knew I wanted (and needed!) to slow down, but "slow down" was not quite it. I yearned to make time to truly connect to all there was to appreciate and hold those things in my heart. SAVOR was a rich word that entailed slowing down as well as bringing a focus on gratitude. And, it meant that all of that goodness would not be forgotten. SAVOR was a great word for me, and guided that year in wonderful ways.
At the start of last year, I chose the word VIBRANT. I had been recovering from surgery and was focused on restoring robust health. But, I applied the word VIBRANT to many other aspects of my life and how I wanted to be. It entailed a stretch for me. The sign I posted in my office and looked at every day said:
VIBRANT health | energy | creativity | thinking | service | action
I was motivated throughout the year to be true to my intentions for vibrancy in all of those aspects of my life.
I invite you to join me as I focus on choosing my word for the coming year.
Here’s a brief set of steps you can follow.
Start by answering these questions:
What am I no longer willing to tolerate?
What activities do I want to START doing this year?
What do I want to STOP doing this year?
What do I want to KEEP doing this year?
At the end of the year, what has to have happened in order for me to call the year my BEST YEAR EVER?
Next, go back to your list of up to 5 concepts you wrote down that felt most important for this year of your life. Do your answers to the questions above give you any new insights or ideas for things to swap out? (Maybe words like Presence, Friendship, Power, Risk, Freedom, Action, Openness, Love, Change, Happiness, or Trust might feel like they belong on your list. Let your intuition guide you here.) Do you see some words that feel squarely on target?
Now, narrow your list to one or two words. (I know it may be hard, but this is the time to get focused!) Write down why each word is a great choice. Consider what would be different for you every day if you chose it. Write out a short list of actual things you could create or bring into your life if you chose it. Then write down what you would cultivate as habits (or bring more focus to, if the habits are already in place) to embody the word.
Look again, and see if the right word shines clearly for you. Or, think a bit more and hone in on the word that captures what you want.
With your WORD OF THE YEAR selected, here are your next steps:
In addition to printing out and posting your word, also share it. And, ask for encouragement when you need it. It’s great to ask someone to be your partner and supporter. And, of course, commit to taking ongoing action based on your word.
So, this is my moment to share my word for 2018: LEAD
I intend to be a leader in my life, to be all that I can be in each moment. I intend to show up more and shine brightly. I intend to passionately lead my clients to create the futures they want. I intend to paint with the energy and passion of a leader, and not limit myself.
What will it take for me to LEAD in these ways? I commit to not shrinking back, even when I move into territory that’s new for me. I intend to focus on what matters most, and commit to those things with a whole heart. I commit to taking good care of myself so that I have the energy to see my vision through, all year long.
I invite you to share the word of the year that you choose, and tell me why you chose it. Leave a comment below, or send me an email to let me know. (Bonus points for adding what it will take for you to live your word of the year.)
I wish you a momentous year filled with growth, wisdom, happiness, and all that you desire.