Around this time of year when we flip the calendar from one year to the next, most people make a long list of New Year’s Resolutions. It is a noble idea in theory, but often in practice, doesn’t amount to much. Resolutions often get cast aside and discarded, making their creators feel inadequate and unproductive.
So why not skip the New Year’s Resolutions altogether this time and opt for an alternative New Year’s ritual: the Focus Word! I find it helps me to choose a word to give me an over-arching focus for the new year. For many people, the Focus Word approach feels more manageable and powerful than a laundry list of New Year’s Resolutions which can often feel like another to-do list. One word is ideal. It gives you focus.
I believe that choosing a Focus Word for the year is so compelling because it takes the “should” out of our wish for personal and professional development. Our Focus Word serves as a gentle (but powerful!) reminder, rather than a drill sergeant barking orders at us.
I’ve been following this Focus Word theme for years now.
- In 2011, my word was Implement. Boy, did I implement that year as I changed my business brand and model, and went with my husband on 13 interviews around the U.S. to choose a place for him to do a residency and for us to relocate to from NY.
- My word in 2012 was Change as we relocated across country from New York to California and completely changed our lives and I expanded my business.
- In 2013, my word was Discover as I acclimated to living in Northern California and embraced our new life. I took Italian classes, became a “real” cyclist, got back on stage with local theater groups, and more.
- In 2014, my word was Presence as a reminder to live in the moment and savor all of the experiences personally and professionally that I was blessed to have in my life.
- In 2015, my word was Adventure. My husband finished his 3-year veterinary residency and we spent a month in beautiful Italy. What an adventure indeed!!
- In 2016, my word was Savor. It was a great reminder to slow down and enjoy life more. I renewed my life-long hobbies of reading and writing. I read 84 books that year and started writing creatively again.
- In 2017, I chose Creativity and loved it! I started writing my first novel, attended some amazing writer conferences, and brought a creative flair to everything I did, personally and professionally.
- In 2018, I chose the word Embrace. I embraced my favorite hobbies such as reading, writing, and cycling, my health, my marriage, my business, and yes, even embraced my age (I turned 50 that January … yikes! how did that happen?!).
- In 2019, I chose the word Dedicate. I dedicated myself to using what I already owned, enjoying what I already had, focusing on the hobbies I already loved, nurturing the relationships I was already in, and giving my all to my existing business and professional projects. The focus was more about enjoying the old than bringing in the new. And that felt just right last year.
- For 2020, my word is Experiment. I plan to Experiment in my writing, through decorating our new home, traveling to new places near and far, learning new languages, cooking more and different dishes/recipes, expanding my network of new friends, getting back on stage for a show I’ve never performed in, trying new sports, and maybe even learning to play piano finally. 🙂 It certainly makes the new year something much more exciting to look forward to when Experiment will be part of the process.
When I posted on social media about this one-word approach, I got a huge response to my appeal for people to share their word of the new year. People’s comments were very inspiring and thought-provoking. Interestingly, people often share that they experience a little resistance to their word at first. Or were surprised at their word. Or hoped that something bigger or better had come to mind. Try not to resist the word that presents itself to you!
The word you choose is usually the exact one that you need to be reminded of throughout the year. And by the way, the one word theme is not a cop out! It doesn’t mean that you won’t accomplish anything or fail to take action. From what I have seen with the one-word theme, you will. But many of us don’t need another to-do list. We need a theme, a rallying cry, a mantra, an affirmation, a reminder. Your one word can serve all of those purposes and more if you give it some serious thought, choose wisely (or better yet, let your word choose you!), and then keep that word front and center in your mind, guiding your actions and behavior during the year.
So… what is your one word for 2020? I’d love to hear it. Please send me an email or even better, share in the comments on my blog so others can be inspired too!
Happy New Year!