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WORK-LIFE BALANCE

How One Word Can Help Change Your Life

Rather than a laundry list of resolutions, this year try narrowing your focus to just one word. You'll see improvements spread through all aspects of your life.
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Youngna Park / Flickr.com

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My wife is a scrapbooker. She has done some amazing projects of our family. Thanks to her scrapbooking, we have a remarkable record of our lives and some interesting insights. As a creative person, she also takes on projects such as the One Word project.

The One Word project challenges a person to select one word and then track his or her life in relevance to that word for one year. Pictures, quotes, and events that reflect that word are then captured into a scrapbook for an entire year. What I like about the One Word project is its singularity. It causes you to choose an area of intense concentration and awareness. With that one frame of reference for performance, I believe that you can make real change in your life by awareness and practice.

For my own 2014 One Word project, I am considering a number of candidate words. My goal will be to look for examples, take pictures, and capture quotes and interactions that reflect the highest quality of that one word. Here are some candidates that I'm considering. They may be good candidates for you as well if you chose to take on the One Word project:

  • Focus--Try to limit the list of things that will receive your attention and time. So much of our work is squeezed in between the interruptions of our lives. What would a focused life look like? I see athletes, parents, inventors, and other great exemplars of focus accomplish amazing things. Focus is part exclusion and part attention. Those things that you choose not to focus on free up more space, time, and resources to those things that do get your attention.
  • Intention--Similar to focus might be the term intention. What choices am I making out of reflex rather than consideration and personal desire? I see someone running in the falling snow, and I know that was a decision that took consideration and a long-range goal for which the person was willing to sacrifice immediate comfort.
  • Presence--Having young children is a great litmus test for this idea of presence. This is being completely connected to the environment and people who are in your vicinity when you are together. It is the opposite of the digital distraction fog that has been written about so much lately. Children are reminders that a half-considered response, mumbled while you are texting, has consequences when compared with giving all of your attention to the person in front of you in the moment.
  • Connection--I lost another friend this year; maybe you did, too. My contact with a half-dozen others has been slipping as well. Yet, I tripled my "contacts" and "friends" through social media and database building. The quantity-over-quality conundrum is not new. But the idea of sacrificing connection at a personal level for volume and frequency just gets easier if there is not an active resistance.
  • Assistance--My greatest joy in life is helping people. The more successful people I meet and interview, I find that this is the core motivator in their choices as well. This word reminds me to work on helping more people in a more signifcant way.

One word. That's the challenge. Can you declare a theme to guide your decisions and desires for a year, and then use it as a measure on how you spend your time and resources? I am not a partitioned person; I do not have a way to parse my life into work, play, family, friends, hobbies, and faith. My life is one big casserole. For me, I believe that the one word has to fit all of them to be of realistic value. If you have read this far, then 60 seconds of further consideration is a small investment. If you can think of a word for your One Word project, write it down in the comments section.

IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Feb 12, 2014

TOM SEARCY | Columnist | Founder, Hunt Big Sales

Author, speaker, and consultant Tom Searcy is the foremost expert in large account sales. With Hunt Big Sales, he has helped clients land more than $5 billion in new sales. Click to get Searcy's weekly tips, or to learn more about Hunt Big Sales.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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