Creating your ‘one’ word for the year ahead is like setting your compass – the overarching direction for what you want to achieve – so you can be guided and rallied by the force of what that word means to you. This process can become an empowering yearly ritual.
Your word could be the difference that makes the difference
A new year represents a fresh opportunity to think about what you want to achieve. Many of us love creating goals at the start of the year (making them SMART is ideal) so we can then chunk down to 90 day plans. Goals are great, especially when you want specific predictable outcomes like, for example, losing weight, saving money, buying a house, or training for a fun run.
Sometimes though, when you’re inspired to step the realms of the completely unknown (such as setting up a business for the first time, getting established in a new role) having one word that represents who you need to be and what its going to take to get you there, can be a powerful place to commit to the year ahead from. In the event of stormy weather (aka: stuff happens and goal posts change) your word can help keep you focused in the right direction. Once you’ve decided your word, SMART goals can then help chunk down and map out your specific route.
Coming up with a word that means so much can be tricky. Or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, thinking of a word may seem like a piece of cake – after all, it’s just one word. For example, when you consider words like positive, growth and success, well most of us would say yep, that’s what I want, but in reality, these aren’t going to be your inspired beacon through setbacks and obstacles that will probably crop up along the way.
Don’t fall into the trap of trivialising your one word. Invest the time to sit down with playful curiousity to nut it out.
Your word needs to be bold and have compelling meaning for you
Your word needs to stick for 12 months. Here are some tips to get the ball rolling. These categories of words come from Dr Jason Fox who found that the words that usually work best usually fall within one of the following three categories: abstract, active, or aspect/archetypal.
Consider words like balance, playful, momentum, care, integrity. Also think about emotive words like joyful and courageous.
The key to abstract words is to really make them tangible and real — otherwise they’re just, well, abstract.
The way you make an abstract word real is to package it in a way people get. “Clever balancing act”, for example, makes for a good hash tag. “Lean in” could be a way to bring the word ‘lean’ into things which is about expecting more of you.
Abstract words can be challenging. If an abstract word resonates most with you, give thought to how you will bring the word to life in your everyday. For example, a word like momentum represents energy, strength, spunk, doing what it takes, drive, all of which are required in spades in building a business from scratch.
Include words like unite, unleash, create, reinvigorate, build, integrate, and make. Active words particularly come to life through your projects. If you choose the word ‘create’, for example, you can bet that people will want to know what you’re creating.
Aspect words or archetypes might be the best fit for you for the year ahead. Aspect words are used in order to take on the qualities of something. They include words like tiger, big cat, and rock star.
Or perhaps an archetype word might fit you best for the year ahead? Maybe magician, explorer, creator, warrior, soldier, or queen? These are words in which you take upon the role of something. In moments of uncertainty and doubt, you ask yourself “what would a [insert archetype] do?”
An explorer might conjure up a journey to seek out and experience the new and unknown. To step out and beyond to escape from boredom and the average day to day. Someone who’s believes they’ve been in a rut for a ages might find this archetype compelling.
Three Must Do’s to Create Your Word
- Take time to create it, don’t rush it. Come up with some ideas, let them settle, and then revisit your list. Keep challenging your best word ideas with alternatives until you come up with ‘the’one.
- Don’t attach any outcomes to your word. Keep your word at a higher level than any specific result. The journey of success is marked with setbacks, failure and success in equal measure. Your word needs to fit equally well across all parts of the journey.
- Your word needs to matter to only one person – you! Don’t worry about what others might think if you share it with them. Make your word distinct and unique to you.
Creating a word for the year ahead can be an empowering way to stay true to your intentions and be all you can be. Your word is not a blueprint or a goal, it’s a guiding light that can keep you on track – especially when the going gets tough and you could easily go off course. Make your word bold, compelling and a stretch. Your growth and development lies outside of your comfort zone. So let’s stretch that zone – here’s to a fantastic year ahead.