One day over lunch this summer, I got to talking with some friends about our intentions for the year ahead. Our conversation turned to the idea of having a word for the year: something that would reflect a theme we chose to have running through each of our lives over the next 12 months.
We went around the table and asked each other what our word for the year would be. Responses were wide and varied, and each prompted deeper conversation and refection.
I love the idea of having a word for the year. Mine is ‘consolidation’. Yep, it’s not sexy, but it’s meaningful to me. That’s because I’m a person who loves the next bright, shiny thing, and I’m notorious for starting things and not finishing them. That’s a constant source of frustration for me, and as I reflected on what I wanted this coming year to be about for me, that word kept coming up. So I grabbed it, and it’s stuck with me.
I reckon there are two simple criteria for a word for the year to be effective:
- Meaningful: it’s got to mean something to you. Meaningful things can promise to take away pain or to give you gain. See above for my example. If it’s meaningful, you’re also likely to remember it.
- Focusing: when you’re faced with a decision, your word should help you focus on what’s most important. For example, if I’m tempted to explore a brand new market for my business this year, I’m less likely to say ‘yes’ to that because this year is about consolidating my work in my existing markets. Focus is essential for getting what we want (check out Daniel Goleman’s work on this).
How do you come up with your own word for the year? I suspect, deep down, most of us have an inkling of what it is. It might be that as you’ve been reading this, it’s already popped out. If so, grab it and own it. If it’s not there yet, I suggest you reflect on these questions and write some notes as you do so.
- If I could have, do or be one thing this year, what would that be?
- What would it look like if I got out of my own way a bit more? What will it take to do that?
- What do I keep telling myself I need more of to be successful?
Your answers to these questions will most likely point to your word for the year. You might end up with a few. I had ‘spaciousness’, ‘simplicity’ and ‘magnification’ as close contenders. If you’ve come up with more than one, leave it for a day or two and notice which word keeps rising to the surface. That’s your word.
Finally, write it big and bold and stick it somewhere you’ll see it every day.
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