If you could make 2017 a better year--happier, more successful, more productive, or more whatever-you-want--with a single word, would you do it? Well you can. What's that powerful word? It's up to you to find out.
That advice comes from Dan Britton, Jimmy Page, and Jon Gordon, co-authors of One Word That Will Change Your Life. Every year, the authors note, 87 percent of adults make New Year's resolutions, and half have failed at those resolutions before January is even over. There's a simpler and more powerful approach, they discovered. Instead of loading up your coming year with good intentions and to-do lists, focus on just one word to inspire and motivate you for the next 12 months. People can forget resolutions, or even sentences, they explain, but a single word is easy to remember and keep top of mind. "We've never forgotten our word," they write.
Here's how to find your own word to inspire you for the coming year:
1. Unplug from your daily life.
This could mean going for a walk in nature, spending some time at meditation, or even sitting alone in a cafe (often where I do my best thinking). Whatever works for you, it's important to give yourself the time to get off on your own, away from email, texts, and phone calls, so you can really hear what's in your heart.
2. Ask yourself three questions.
1. What do I need. Not want, but need. 2. What's in my way? 3. What has to go?
A year ago, when I first read and wrote about choosing one word for this column, I found myself writing about how isolated I was feeling. My husband Bill and I had recently relocated from Woodstock, New York to Snohomish, Washington, leaving nearly everyone we knew behind. My work schedule left too little time for socializing and I wrote that I was afraid of of indifference, that I needed to be more connected to friends, to Bill, and to my own self.
3. Open your heart and mind and let your word come to you.
Sometimes the best words choose you, the authors say. If you believe in God, ask God what he wants to do in you and through you in the coming year. If not, it still makes sense to try to still your mind, and see what word comes to you, from the life force around you, or from deep inside you. For me, the word that bubbled up in 2016 was "Connect."
4. Keep your word in front of you through the year.
Write it on a sign that you pin to your office or living room wall. Turn it into your screen saver, or your smartphone screen lock. Put it in your email signature. Most important, tell the people in your life about it so they can remind you to act on your word as the year goes on.
In my case, besides telling the people in my life--and the readers of this column--about my word, I found an artisan online who made a simple silver bangle and hand-stamped the word "Connect" on it for me. I've worn that bracelet every day for the past year, sometimes running my fingers over the word before I put it on.
It worked. With the constant reminder to reach out and make contact with the people around me, I ended 2016 with many more good friends than when I started. We had moved for my husband's music career, and he immediately fell into a fun, raucous, irreverent and talented group of musicians here that assembles every Thursday for an open mic/jam session, parties together, travels together, and has formed a very real community. A year ago, I felt very much on the periphery of that community, and while they all (along with Bill) went off to the Oregon Country Fair together, I turned up my nose at the thought of camping in the dust and waiting for bus rides to and from the event. Instead, I spent those few days by myself at a hotel on the coast instead, meeting up with Bill after the fair was over and everyone else had gone home. This year, feeling deeply part of the group, I made sure I had a ticket to go along with everyone to the fair as soon as tickets became available. The authors claim they've never had anyone tell them that picking a word failed to work.
What's your word for 2017?
The only down side to how well "Connect" worked for me last year is that this time when I set out to find my word for the year, I took the whole thing much more seriously. It felt like I was making a really important decision.
Last year was a tough year for Bill and me. Although many wonderful things have happened for us, including a new house and a new job for Bill booking music at a local venue, the year was dominated by the death of one of our closest friends, the one who inspired us to make the move to the West Coast.
Death, I discovered brings not only grief but also anger, and there's been a lot of both floating around the two of us for the past six months. For various reasons, it's also been a year of no vacations and few outings. I had started to feel like all forms of pleasure and fun were missing from our lives.
Feeling that absence, I began tossing words around in my head to set my theme for 2017: "Joy," "Happiness," "Love," "Courage," (because the loss of our friend had left me fearful of what might else might happen). But then I sat down with my journal today and began answering those three questions. I found myself writing about how life is short and I was wasting mine by being miserable. And a word came to me that I wasn't expecting: "Now."
As in now, this moment, is all we have, all we can be sure of. Do what you dream of now, instead of putting it off for later. Remember to be here now, in this present moment, instead of constantly living in the future as I tend to do. And so "Now" is my word for 2017. I can't wait to see where it will take me.
What word will inspire you?