Statistics tell us that just 8% achieve their New Year Resolutions. Chances are if you made some resolutions you already feel like you have ‘failed’. You started well, but life got in the way and now you have given up altogether.
What this statistics does for many people makes them give up making goals in the future. For many people formal goals just don’t work for them. They aren’t goal setting type people. Nothing wrong with that, although without goals we are at the whim of whatever shows up in our lives (some people are saying, what’s wrong with that).
When we make goals for a year many of us start with too many goals, a wish list of things we want to change. A seldom recognized truth is that change is possible, but focus is required. This has been a growing revelation and commitment for me over the last decade. But this is difficult for someone like me. I have 20 good ideas before breakfast; and I want them all to happen now. I love options and opportunities.
A couple of years ago I heard someone talking about choosing just one word to be your focus for the next twelve months, and to help you keep your attention fixed on your word.
Our resolutions and goals seldom work because they are based on the type of person we’re tired of being. We want self-improvement but we are moving away from something rather than towards something.
It’s okay to want to be a better you, and the New Year is a natural time to start. The question is, how?
My One Word replaces broken promises with a vision for real change. When you choose a single word, you have a clarity and focus. You are moving toward the future rather than swearing off the past.
Think of the one word as a theme that helps you to focus all of your decision-making, interactions and development through one filter. It enables you channel your attention.
The one word is unique to you and may make sense to only you.
For instance my one word theme this year is: perceptiveness. I had a couple of other words that I was playing with: focus, intentionality, and contentedness. For me the theme of perceptiveness was the culmination of 12 months of growth, self-awareness and conviction. My theme has been helping me daily. For instance, most days as I am talking with someone my One Word helps me to listen more attentively. I am using this theme as I might say to myself, “Craig, perceptiveness. Listen to what is truly being said, and not said. Listen to their hopes, dreams and disappointments.”
It has also helped me to be attentive to myself, “Be perceptive to what I am feeling and why.” “Be perceptive to how I am coming across right now.” Be perceptive to which values I want to live out now”.
There are so many other contexts and ways in which this theme is being helpful to me.
BENEFITS OF ONE WORD THEME
- There is only one thing to remember.
- Give you a clear filter to evaluate things from
- The focus allows me to play with it in various contexts and ways
- It helps me to focus first on who I want to be, rather on what I want to do or achieve. (this is really important for a task orientated person)
- You don’t beat yourself up because it is about progress and not perfection.
A disclaimer: I still have specific goals around my business, family, health, financial and fun. These are secondary to my theme. Next blog I am going to show you a way to make these goals come alive that is fun and liberating.
A SIMPLE PROCESS
So how do you go about picking a word? I’ve listed out a few steps to help you get started!
STEP 1: DETERMINE THE KIND OF PERSON YOU WANT TO BECOME
The first step is to simply take some time and decide what kind of person you want to be at the end of this year. This goes beyond simply being healthier and wealthier, but it must drive deep into your soul. What about the condition of your being?
Step 2: IDENTIFY THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THAT PERSON
Get a picture of that person and then simply identify their major characteristics. Is that person gentle? Is that person generous? What are the qualities of the person you want to become?
Step 3: PICK A WORD
Once you have a list of the characteristics, simply pick a word. There might be fifteen things that you want to change, but you must resist the temptation to promise you will do them all. Instead, simply commit to ONE WORD.
This will provide you with a lens to see the changes you need to make as well as a way to determine whether or not change is actually happening. Understand that this process is hard, but staying focused on your word will help you to struggle in the right direction.
UNNATURAL BUT WORTH IT
Before you embark on this journey, a little word of warning: Don’t be surprised if living out your “one word” feels unnatural and awkward at first. Remember, the reason you want to change is due to the fact that this characteristic is not currently present in your day-to-day life.
Give it time and stay with it.