"One Word"

Well it’s the middle of January (already) and I wonder how many people have already given up on their New Year’s Resolutions.

Every year, we engage in this ritual. We pick a single point in time each year to try and make a huge life decision, (usually with little thought or planning). We aim to change our attitudes and our behavior through a brief moment of reflection at 11:55pm on New Year’s Eve and expect that will suffice to allow us to reach our lofty goal. Yeah right!!

It would seem that our three most popular goals are 1) getting fit, 2) lose weight and 3) quit smoking. Yet within a month of setting these goals, we have tossed them by the wayside, some of us with a little twang of guilt.

According to research, most people — 75 percent — who make a resolution fail on their first attempt and most people — 67 percent — make more than one resolution.

Why not try something different this year!

Why not just undertake the reflective task of setting yourself “one word”. One big, contextual word for the year. That’s right, no resolutions, no SMART goals, just one word that is meaningful for you and what you want to achieve for the year ahead.

I recently finished reading “The Game Changer” by Dr Jason Fox. If you get the chance it’s a great read and fantastic for change management and motivation. Dr Fox talks about contextual momentum. This is getting the balance right between specific goals and open possibilities while still moving forward and making progress. He recognises that it is great to have small crisp action steps that give you daily and weekly traction. You can also plan for monthly and even quarterly goals, however when you start to plan longer term than that, things are not as easy and we can’t necessarily see that far out. There are too many factors we can’t yet use our crystal ball for. What we can do is set “one word”. One word against which we can measure all of the plans and goals we set for ourselves for that year.

If we are going to use the 1st January each year as a time for reflection, it certainly is a great time to hit the reset button. What do you want the coming year to represent for you. What “one word” will exemplify your contextual goal for the year. Then every time you set yourself a new goal, or a new project – you can measure it against your one word.

Now don’t go for the obvious here ok!! I know it sounds logical to pick the first word that comes into your head. But don’t do that! This takes time, reflection. Your word will be with you for a whole 12 months. Make it count. Consider: What do you want to achieve this year? Do you have a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? Or is this year about consolidation and sustaining what you have? Your word has to instantly represent to you what you want and how you will achieve it.

It took me days to come up with my word. In starting a new venture, I felt both courageous and fearful at the same time. I wanted a word that would give me guts and make me feel brave and just keep me going. Now having four kids, you can’t avoid animated movies. One of the favorites in our house is called “Spirit”. It’s about a horse who travels across the plains of the wild west to return to his family. He overcomes seemingly insurmountable obstacles on his way to achieve his goal. (If you get a chance to see it, indulge, it really is great and having Bryan Adams do the score is an added bonus). So after much soul searching, I had decided on my one word. Spirit! How could I demonstrate spirit every day, how could I keep getting up and demonstrate grit, mental toughness, courage and the will to keep going to achieve my goal and still be focused on my family and my values. So, now I have my word. I hope that with every SMART goal I set, every plan I make, every decision and every negotiation, I remember my one word.

My family has not escaped my excitement over this concept either. They were all set the task of coming up with their own “one word” that represented what they wanted to achieve so far.   So my family’s choice of words is Grow, Strive, Force, Attention and Lion. And for each of them, their word means something real and tangible for them. And we all know each other’s word. This will hold us accountable not only to ourselves, but also to each other.

So…… Now it’s your turn. What will your “one word” be. What will your one word be that you measure all goals against for this year. Have a go. Think about it carefully. Once you have it, toss it around in your head for a day or so and make sure it fits you like a good pair of jeans. Then use a whole A4 page and print out your word and put it on the fridge. Now you’re ready. Go for it. Achieve everything your word represents.